You and I we’re gonna live forever.
In recent weeks, several folks, including a scientist, have made claims about impending human immortality. These claims are usually preceded by an “if” statement or some other sort of qualifying remark. The possibility of being able to live incredibly long lives raises some interesting questions. The one I am most interested in is, how would immortality change the way human beings live their lives. If it became possible to beat death by disease and natural causes would people eliminate the less natural ways of dying? Would people take fewer risks, commit less violence, incite fewer wars, and generally try to live safe lives? Or would the battle for scant resources increase as human population rapidly increases? The technology to sustain life indefinitely may only be available to the more affluent countries of the world at first, but slowly the entire world would reap the benefits.
People generally act violently to assert power, obtain some goal, or to defend themselves against a threat. Being medically immortal does not eliminate any of those elements from the world. It does create an incentive against dying from unnatural causes that is, potentially, stronger than the current one. Will that be enough to bring a more peaceful world?
Another question raised by possible immortality is the effect on those whose religious beliefs include a conception of the after life. Would those folks eschew perpetual life to taste the life beyond? It is essentially a choice between a known existence and an unknown belief. There is no doubt that many world religions would be faced with major philosophical issues.
The science of immortality is something I will be keeping an eye on in the coming years.