It's OK to Want to Live Forever, Says Brilliant* Bioethicist

In his column, "It's not immoral to want to be immortal," brilliant University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Arthur Caplan refutes those who say that we should all just "go gentle into that good night." From his column:

What is particularly interesting is that many of those raising the question of the ethics of immortality do so with an answer already in mind — “No, it’s not right!” Both conservative and liberal writers alike are expressing a lot of moral angst in recent books, articles and opinion pieces about the prospect of people hanging around long, long after the last broadcast of "The Price Is Right" has aired, which could be an eternity.

Caplan ably shoots down the usual suite of anti-longevity arguments: (1) more decrepitude, (2) against God and/or nature, and (3) what about the kids? The point of (1) is not to be older longer, but to be younger longer; (2) in the Bible lots of people lived centuries and Mother Nature could care less one way or the other how long you live; and (3) we can take care of the kids.

He correctly concludes:

Despite a lot of hand-wringing and finger-pointing, it is not obvious that wanting to live a lot longer is evil or immoral. The case against trying is not convincing.

*Obviously so because he agrees with me.

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  • ||

    I don't know if I'd want to live forever.
    It just seems like an awful long time.

  • ||

    I am curious about what people of faith think about trying to live forever.

    If you are agnostic/athiest, I could see not wanting to go gently into the night, since you are pretty uncertain of what lies beyond.

    But if you are religious, I would imagine the prospects of passing away aren't as scary since most believe they are going to a better place (a paradise if you will)


    As for the idea of living forever, I dunno if I would want that. I have seen older people who just get tired of living, and who don;t fear death because they have lived a full life and are ready to go. I imagine some of that is in part to the physical deterioration of mind/body that occurs as you get older, but still...I dunno if I would want to live for say a 500 years.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I can't imagine being tired of living. Unless, of course you're health is bad or about to be really bad.

  • ||

    ChicagoTom: 500 years with an option for renewal, that's all I'm asking for. Have a good weekend.

  • Episiarch||

    I'd be interested in living "forever" for several reasons.

    You'd be amongst the first to do so (Connor MacLeod notwithstanding), and would be helping forge a new culture. How would relationships and marriages work? What happens when a 300-year old person (who looks 30) dates a 25-year old? How many children would murder their parents because they'll now never inherit their money? Space travel would become more feasible as a 100-year journey might be boring but you won't die during it.

    Awesome stuff. I hope to be there.

  • Elemenope||

    I would imagine the prospects of passing away aren't as scary since most believe they are going to a better place (a paradise if you will)...

    Since many (not all, obviously) religious people are complete losers by the standards of their own faith, I've never really understood this way of thinking.

    Just because you believe there's a heaven doesn't mean at all you'll be going there.

  • NP||

    There's nothing wrong with trying to achieve the unattainable, be it perfection or immortality. If anything that's what makes us thrive, and also what gives life meaning, or at least purpose. But there can be no meaning of the beginning without the end, which unfortunately I don't think many science people (and I use this vague term deliberately) realize. I hope prominent bioethicists like Caplan would make this important distinction.

  • Liam Gallagher||

    You and I are gonna live forever. Gonna live forever...

  • jp||

    Bioethicist: An academic who makes a living by "detecting" ethical "problems" and then resolving them by pulling shit out of his ass.

  • Mike Laursen||

    ... long, long after the last broadcast of "The Price Is Right" has aired, which could be an eternity.

    Is that some kind of dig at Drew Carey? 'Cause I'll kick his ass. Everybody loves Drew Carey!

  • MK2||

    One more good reason to stay fit.

  • ||

    There's no time for us
    There's no place for us
    What is this thing that builds our dreams yet slips away
    From us

    Who wants to live forever?
    Who wants to live forever?

    There's no chance for us
    It's all decided for us
    This world has only one sweet moment set aside for us

    Who wants to live forever?
    Who wants to live forever?

    Who dares to love forever?
    When love must die

    But touch my tears with your lips
    Touch my world with your fingertips
    And we can have forever
    And we can love forever
    Forever is our today
    Who wants to live forever?
    Who wants to live forever?
    Forever is our today

    Who waits forever anyway?

  • I\'m gonna live forever||

    I'm gonna learn how to fly.

  • Kolohe||

    Epi @ 4:09-
    Being the well-read man of the genre I think you are, you may have already read it. But if not, I recommend Poul Anderson's 'Boat of a Million Years.'

  • Episiarch||

    Kolohe, thanks for the recommendation. Any Anderson I read would have been many years ago, and I don't really remember. I know I read some of his stuff.

  • New World Dan||

    I'm an evangellical atheiest and I want to live better, but not longer. The finality of death and the finiteness of life is what makes life interesting. As the old saying goes, work expands to fill the time allowed. If you have forever to live your life, you'll spend most of it sitting on your ass. Nothing personal, Mr. Bailey, but anyone who wants to live forever is a fool; be careful what you wish for you just might get it.

  • ||

    I want to live forever because I can always change my mind later. That's not true for the alternative.

  • TallDave||

    Ron, your shameful shilling for Big Methuselah has reached a new low.

  • Episiarch||

    but anyone who wants to live forever is a fool

    You're looking at it wrong. You could live many "lives"--change what you do every 30 years. You would eventually become rich unless you were very stupid, and could do more and more travel. Learn languages. Travel through space. Watch culture and the world change.

    If you get bored with it, off yourself. But you make the choice, not nature.

  • Yahoo Answerer: Now with Spell||

    If I can be healthy the whole time, sure, why not. I do not want to live for an eternity with a constantly declining state of health and / or awareness.

  • TallDave||

    BTW, I like the Life Extension Foundation Vitamin and Herbal mixes myself. Nice collection of anti-aging stuff backed by research.

    http://www.lef.org/

    Not sure I buy all the claims in their monthly catalog, though.

  • Team America||

    Today's immortals are tomorrows Neanderthals.

  • Episiarch||

    See, there's a problem though. There can be only one.

  • .||

    The whole immortality thing raises some interesting philosophical questions.

    for instance, what would happen when large numbers of people started to outlive entire societies or even civilizations? I gotta thing something fundamental would change in them after a couple cycles.

  • ||

    The idea that folks are being unethical by trying for longevity cuz of posited negative impacts on folks younger than them strikes me as a quite savage collectivist sentiment.

    Caplan is on the right side here but he still seems pretty confused:

    It is true, as some critics of living longer point out, that it will be hard for the young to displace the old if the old don't get out of the way.

    Oh really? Is there evidence that that's what we saw with previous increases in longevity?

    But that simply means the need to change social customs and laws to ensure that if lifespans expand, the old don't hog up all the resources.

    Government "social security" schemes are the obvious problem here.

    Such changes might include...allowing people to hold a particular job for a fixed period of time so that younger people have the opportunity to move up the ranks.

    What?? That's a draconian government coercion solution for a problem that doesn't exist! If folks are working longer, that means that they are also consuming goods and services that other folks, including younger folks, will produce.

    Or we could implement forms of affirmative action for younger people to ensure they have a shot at top leadership positions.

    WTF?? Promotion by merit is far more fair, and it serves everyone better to have folks who, according to the market, are doing their jobs well be rewarded for it.

  • economist||

    This is a lot of BS Ron! Remember when you changed your stance on global warming?

  • Yahoo Answerer: Now with Spell||

    "for instance, what would happen when large numbers of people started to outlive entire societies or even civilizations? I gotta thing something fundamental would change in them after a couple cycles."

    How is this different from someone who lived in Kosovo his whole life and outlived Yugoslavia and then became part of a different country? Why need anything change dramatically? The only danger in my mind is having large numbers of unhealthy (due to age) people. But advances in medicine may change that as well.

  • ||

    What about the "Die young stay pretty" argument? What an oversight!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jO5VV5PISHU

  • ||

    Eat lotsa anti-oxidants. Exercise (so take even more anti-oxidants cuz exercise produces lotsa free radicals. Eat foods (red wine, olive oil) with and/or take resveritol supplements.

  • ||

    I dunno about living "forever." How am I living? Old and worn out, but never dying or young and virile, getting laid on a regular basis (at least in theory it would work that way)? Or would I be stuck in a perpetual, literally, mid-life crisis? I know I don't have the coin to buy that many motorcycles to compensate.

    I haven't RTFA'd yet, but I get the feeling that living forever would veer directly into a Twilight Zone episode PDQ on the cruel irony side of the equation.

    That, and never retiring? Working forever too? Or do we get a bit of "Where's Matt", living a life of travel and leisure? (Not betting on that) Give me a decent trust fund and I'll think about it.

  • windycityatty||

    30 comments in and nobody has brought up the moral dimension of world over-population if people lived hundreds of years? Am I the only philosophy major that had to read "Lifeboat Ethics"?

    Put into practice - everybody lives 500 hundred years, but only 10% have enough food, shelter, etc...to live above basic sustenance. Then all out war over scarce resources as the population rapidly gets larger and larger as more people are born but very few die and that 10% becomes 5% - millions of somebody's aint goona be happy going from "comfortable" to third-world Ethiopian-style with protruding bellies and permanent fly contacts on their eyes. The result - global thermonuclear war. Or perhaps new stringent laws making it illegal for couples to have children, etc... Likely, we all die in the mushroom cloud. But at least some of us will have been 175 yrs old at the time!

    No serious ethical considerations here at all. Whaaa??

  • eonomist||

    windycityatty,
    Um, you're probably one of only a few philosophy majors here. I know the work you're referring to, but I haven't read it. Then again, ChemE majors don't read much about population ethics. In general, though, I would say that the rights of actual living individuals to live as long as they like on their own resources overrides the "rights" of nonexistent persons who may or may not come to exist. Or, to put it more succinctly, use the pill.

  • ||

    If you are agnostic/athiest, I could see not wanting to go gently into the night, since you are pretty uncertain of what lies beyond.

    I'm fairly certain of what lies ahead. As someone Dawkin's quoted said - I was dead for billions of years before I was born.

    I have a hard time getting worked up about this topic. It might matter in a century but now, not so much.

  • .||

    "How is this different from someone who lived in Kosovo his whole life and outlived Yugoslavia and then became part of a different country? Why need anything change dramatically? The only danger in my mind is having large numbers of unhealthy (due to age) people. But advances in medicine may change that as well."

    I wasn't referring to outliving a country. The fundamental principles of the people living in Yugoslavia didn't change the second the country split up. I am referring to the changes of a "people" that occur over the span of hundreds of years. If the majority of the population were to never die, how would that effect society and the people living in it? Would it becomes static? Would it be this jumble of people from different ages? Something else?

  • ||

    "ChicagoTom: 500 years with an option for renewal, that's all I'm asking for"

    Why are you so afraid of death?

  • ||

    "The idea that folks are being unethical by trying for longevity cuz of posited negative impacts on folks younger than them strikes me as a quite savage collectivist sentiment."

    Er, it's not just negative impact on younger folks. It'll be negative impacts on everyone, because everyone will be contending for the same pot of resources.

    Or are you assuming that the long-lived will invariably become gods among men, wealthy, powerful, and untouchable. That's a pipe dream.

  • ||

    Why are you so afraid of death?

    Huh? Did somebody say they were afraid of death? In my case death is like bankruptcy. I'm not afraid of it, but all the same I'd rather avoid it.

  • Kolohe||

    "for instance, what would happen when large numbers of people started to outlive entire societies or even civilizations? I gotta thing something fundamental would change in them after a couple cycles."

    How is this different from someone who lived in Kosovo his whole life and outlived Yugoslavia and then became part of a different country? Why need anything change dramatically? The only danger in my mind is having large numbers of unhealthy (due to age) people. But advances in medicine may change that as well.



    The changes in society will be based entirely upon the actual delivery system of life extension and specifically it's affordability.

    Right now, Bill Gates will probably live as long as any other non-smoking middle class white male born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. For now, for all practical purposes 'all men are created equal' in terms of mortality.

    If some sort of life extension (of 50 years or greater) comes about that is a cheap and easy as delivering clean drinking water, then I don't see society changing that much at all. If it remains the domain of the super-rich, like space travel is currently, I also don't see much society change, just some legal changes on the margin.

    But if such a treatment available to about 20-30% - or 70-80% - while the rest must do without, the rise of a such a two-class society will not be able to be sustained with our current political institutions or even classical liberal theory. Either one class will abolish the other, or a dual-caste arangement will be codified, thus eliminating the assumption of equality before the law.

    I see some of the same potential for gene manipulation that would even more literally eliminate the postulate that all men are created equal.

    This is no way saying that these types of things should not be done, just that I think people here are seriously underestimated the ramifications to the current social assumptions that keep everything running

  • ||

    I think at root it's probably caused by people not wanting to give up their stuff.

    But I bought all these DVDs! I can't die! And these comics! The death of Superman will make me rich, it's just a matter of time!

  • ||

    I want to live long enough to be able to travel to the edge of the milky way and far enough out to be able to see the whole thing at once.

    How long will i have to live to do that?

  • ||

    "Huh? Did somebody say they were afraid of death? In my case death is like bankruptcy. I'm not afraid of it, but all the same I'd rather avoid it."

    Even if everyone you know and love dies long before you do, and you have nothing in common with anyone around you?

    I don't see the point.

  • ||

    Jon H. What, in your estimation, is the ideal life span for humanity? Is science being unethical by trying to extend the human life span? Is it unethical to live a healthy lifestyle attempting to extend your own time on the planet?

    Be careful how you respond, you don't wish to appear a dumbass.

  • ||

    "You'd be amongst the first to do so (Connor MacLeod notwithstanding), and would be helping forge a new culture."

    Bollocks and flattery. You'd be helping perpetuate the old culture.

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    .. I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the quote from Heller's Yossarian who said something like, "I want to live forever or die in the attempt"

    .. Hobbit

  • ||

    Even if everyone you know and love dies long before you do, and you have nothing in common with anyone around you?

    Amazingly enough, the three people I have most loved are all dead. I still want to live. If you were to relocate me to Iraq, I would still want to live. There are people I haven't met, places I haven't been, knowledge I haven't learned.

  • ||

    "Is it unethical to live a healthy lifestyle attempting to extend your own time on the planet? "

    No, because that's no different than simply trying to live as long within the normal range as possible, and not die early.

    There's a difference between trying to live active and mentally sharp until you're 105, and trying to make the 20s and 30s last 80 years with a death at 170 or more.

    The 'I wanna live to 500' people strike me as being as silly as the head-freezing cryonics fools.

  • ||

    Speaking as one who is among the older here, I would like to mention that the older I get the faster time seems to go by. It could very well be that as one's life approached "forever" one's subjective perception of it would shrink to an infinitely short or rapid experience. I do realize that is all very subjective, but it's a thought.

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    .. something to consider ..

    .. from what I've seen, world population is projected to level off in 50-100 years at something like 15 billion people .. fair enough .. but that projection is based on folks generally checking out on the south side of 100 years old .. if people live a lot longer worldwide, it's going to get a bit crowded ..

    .. some sci-fi author mentioned something like "the whole world is begging for a star drive" ..

    .. Hobbit

  • ||

    The 'I wanna live to 500' people strike me as being as silly as the head-freezing cryonics fools.

    When Louis Pasteur formulated the germ theory of disease, leading to a huge expansion of the average human life span, those who knew that disease was cause by unbalanced humors, demons and God's displeasure felt much the same.

    I don't expect my lifespan will be much extended by todays research, but I do expect that children being born today lives will be affected. Perhaps revolutionarily affected. That will be a good thing.

  • ||

    @Jon H

    Er, it's not just negative impact on younger folks. It'll be negative impacts on everyone, because everyone will be contending for the same pot of resources.



    Everyone contends for the same pot of resources now and they always have - if you really want to put it in those terms.

    Even if everyone you know and love dies long before you do, and you have nothing in common with anyone around you?



    I have very little in common with those around me now and in fact, never have had - that's one reason I come here.

  • ||

    I would certainly welcome the chance to live significantly longer. But, let's say they find a way to stop the natural deterioration of the aging process -- you could stay looking 30, your hair wouldn't go gray (or fall out), you wouldn't end up wrinkled, stooped, senile, or holding up traffic driving slowly with your left turn signal on. But, that still leaves the question of to what extent preventing that deterioration would change the risk of getting cancer, heart disease or some other chronic debilitating, if not deadly, disease. Certainly there is some overlap, particularly for some cancers, but it's not clear how much stopping the aging process would help to prevent any of the many ways some sickness can kill you.

    Further, even assuming you could significantly reduce the risks of deadly disease, there is always a finite risk of dying in a accident on any given day. So if aging and disease don't get you, it's only a matter of time until plain old bad luck does.

    An interesting question (at least to me), along the lines of Episiarch's discussion of cultural changes, would be to see how our risk-averseness changes under the prospect of a greatly extended potential lifespan. With much more future to lose, the cost of taking risks (and I'm not talking skydiving here - I mean the normal everyday risks) is much higher so I'd expect to see people becoming even more safety-conscious. What kind of cultural changes would a change in our risk-taking behavior involve?

    While I'd still rather live longer if it were possible, I think the prospect of always looking over your shoulder, if you will, waiting for the inevitable disease or accident that you know is coming might alter or mitigate the benefits of a longer life to some extent.

    I guess one way to look at it is that even now we all have some fear of contracting a deadly disease, but the longer we survive without doing so the less we stand to lose if it does happen. That's why we don't feel as bad about an 85 year-old dying of cancer as we do a 25-year-old. But what if we're perpetually 25-years old? How would our fear of disease, and the psychological implications of that fear, change if we all had hundreds, if not thousands, of potential years to lose when our number finally comes up? I don't know I'd still like the chance to find out.

  • John Dillinger||

    Time is one thing I got plenty of.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    SASOB, brilliant! I think you might be on to something. If you live to be 500 years old how fargin' fast would a day go by (relatively speaking, of course)?

    But, then again, maybe it would go the other way.

    All I know is I got up about 20 minutes ago, decided to work in the yard after a cup of coffee and now I just got back from a nice lunch with Mrs TWC and it is 3:57. How is that going to work when I'm as old as you?

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Brian, interesting observations, reminds me that we should all sit down one evening and talk about this stuff. Like we did when we were 17. Except we'll drink better wine.

  • Bingo||

    for instance, what would happen when large numbers of people started to outlive entire societies or even civilizations?



    This question makes no sense. Societies and civilizations are largely created by the people living in them. If the entire populace is immortal then then society and civilization will be immortal as well. It will certainly evolve, but it will never abruptly end.

  • .||

    "This question makes no sense. Societies and civilizations are largely created by the people living in them. If the entire populace is immortal then then society and civilization will be immortal as well. It will certainly evolve, but it will never abruptly end."

    Not entire populations, just "large numbers of people." Ten percent of 300 million is a large number of people.

    My word choice was poor. By outliving a civilization, I meant something like living long enough for a civilization to more or less completely change. As in, if 5-10% of US citizens were to be able to attain an indefinite lifespan, what would be there role 1000 years from now? What would the relationship between them and regular people? Would those people attain some sort of wisdom from seeing the rise and fall of other peoples? Or would their presence change the way things happen?

  • ||

    I think an extension of human life, if it can be done, is a great idea. Who said that our life span of 70 to 90 is ideal? I think human life is much too short. Seven hundred years sounds much better.

    I have met some people who are tired of life, even some young people who look forward to retirement, but I do not understand this kind of mindset. My father who is 84 and who had very difficult life - World War II veteran, and 10 year's in prison in Stalinist's Russia -still he says that he would do anything to be young again. To feel young and alive, to feel that world is your oyster, full of possibilities.

    It will not be the same type of existence: people can try many different things, may be even flying to the stars. It would take hundreds of years to get there but if you have very long life spans it you may just see your destination.

    We were programmed with pre-determined obsolescence. It is probably an evolutionary adaptation to keep developing new traits and adapt to the changing conditions. However, if we reach a stage where we can significantly extend our lifespan then may be we deserve a longer life to.

    Lastly if you really get tired of life sometimes in 6 or 7 hundred years you can always find a way to bail out.

  • ||

    I plan to outlive the hell out of people, grow steadily more bored and despondent, and then insult every being in the known universe - in alphabetical order.

  • ||

    @ TWC,

    Thanks, guy. But uh,...what the hell do ya mean by " How is that going to work when I'm as old as you?" You ain't that much younger than I, sonny - I'm only fifty eight. ;-)

  • Mike Laursen||

    Put into practice - everybody lives 500 hundred years, but only 10% have enough food, shelter, etc...to live above basic sustenance.

    Can we start from the beginning of your scenario? How exactly is everybody going to live "500 hundred years" if there's only food for 10% of them?

  • Mike Laursen||

    By outliving a civilization, I meant something like living long enough for a civilization to more or less completely change.

    Don't we already have examples of people like that? Imagine you were born in 1908, and still alive today. You've seen a shitload of social change.

  • ||

    Anyone wanting to live forever isn't married to my wife, (or her sister) obviously.

    As an atheist I do know what's on the other side. Ain't nothing or nobody.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    You ain't that much younger than I, sonny...

    Well, since you put it like that....

    Mike L, my dad is 80 and of all the things that have changed the one thing that amazes him most is people walking around talking on cell phones.

    Mind you, he comes from an era when nobody ever believed that Buck Rogers was anything but fantasy. Still, it isn't rockets to the moon, it's cell phones that knock him out.

  • kitty cat man||

    I just want to spend about a hundred years in my twenties - as long as that wouldn't mean also about a hundred years as a junior high student. And that's the key. As long as the time frame for physical maturation is not slowed down, then at least about 100 years as a twenty year old would be niiiicccceee....Young, dumb, and full of....

    The problem with how things work now is that by the time you are old and wise enough to thoroughly enjoy the pleasures of youth your youth has passed ("youth is wasted on the young"). So, yep, let's extend the hell out of our youth - and while we're at it cure all STDs.

  • Sam Grove||

    But if you are religious, I would imagine the prospects of passing away aren't as scary since most believe they are going to a better place (a paradise if you will)

    Unless one is religious because one fears death.

  • Freedom Geek||

    I want to live indefinitely. Maybe those pro-death people are right and I would get bored or Everything I love would die but then I could just kill myself. Oh and those people using limited resources/overpopulation as an argument against living indefinitely are idiots. If you must have a horrible un-libertarian solution like banning longevity research then make it so you have to die only if you have children instead. At least that gives people a little bit of choice. Still I believe the marketplace will be able to handle this with new technologies to gain more resources such as asteroid mining.

  • Neu Mejican||

    every thousand years
    this metal sphere
    ten times the size of Jupiter
    floats just a few yards past the earth
    you climb on your roof
    and take a swipe at it
    with a single feather
    hit it once every thousand years
    `til you've worn it down
    to the size of a pea
    yeah I'd say that's a long time
    but it's only half a blink
    in the place you're gonna be

    where you gonna be
    where will you spend eternity

  • windycityatty||

    "Put into practice - everybody lives 500 hundred years, but only 10% have enough food, shelter, etc...to live above basic sustenance.

    Can we start from the beginning of your scenario? How exactly is everybody going to live "500 hundred years" if there's only food for 10% of them?"

    Well Mike, I believe the first thing to do would be to teach everyone to read. Since what I wrote was that only 10% of the whole population had enough to live ABOVE basic sustenance. Thus, the vast majority -90%- would be at some basic or minimal level of sustenance.

    But to really start at the beginning of the scenario - one would have to link the words "put into practice" with "lifeboat ethics" which is something I failed to do very clearly.
    Much apologies.

    As the population steadily increases the percent of people that could afford to live about abstract poverty would slowly dwindle (somewhat in proportion to the population increase) - but since they have means and money before they hit poverty-and brains to see it coming- they could decide to take out a very large number of people with them. Thus, a situation where the 2% headed to poverty want some other 2% of the 10% "rich white folk" to go the way of sub-saharan Africa and not them - the warring parties nuke each other and take out 85% of the rest. Basically, its earth in 75 years. Hope that clears things up.

  • ||

    Word, jimmy smith, word.

    As a corollary, smartass sob's theory @ 6:17 only works if you're single. If you're married, the passage of time is like being trapped in a singularity's event horizon.

  • ||

    (2) in the Bible lots of people lived centuries and Mother Nature could care less one way or the other how long you live

    I'm not sure I could manage eternity hearing "could care less" in these constructions.

    Over.

    And over.

    And over.

    And over.

    So... No.

  • Max||

    Long before actual life extension becomes a reality--if it ever does--many fools will be seaprated from their money by life extension scams.

  • ||

    Max: True. Very true.

  • ||

    This thread is probably dead, but there's one other point that didn't get discussed. Assuming one can live indefinitely and becomes commmon practice, that implies one would have to CHOOSE his departure.

    The ethical implications of this seems more immediate than the imagined availability of resources at some future date.

  • Some Guy||

    I read somewhere that even after eliminating all diseases and stopping aging, out lifespan would only increase to about 300 years due to the fact you can't stop accidents and other forms of deaths.

    People will still get murdered, die in car accidents, get killed skiing, or get wiped out by the next super-volcano eruption. The goal is to live forever, but it's never going to happen. But living to 300 sure beats living to 80 if you can lead a healthy happy life for that long.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Since what I wrote was that only 10% of the whole population had enough to live ABOVE basic sustenance. Thus, the vast majority -90%- would be at some basic or minimal level of sustenance.

    OK, which gets to my second question to you. Why are you assuming life extension advances would just suddenly be sprung on the world rather than developed over many, many years? That's not the way such advances have occurred up to this point.

  • Naga Sadow||

    I for one oppose these unnatrual means of life extension. Black magic and deals with the devil for me, please.

  • Mike Laursen||

    This thread is probably dead...

    Well, dammit, some of us think a thread can live forever!

    ... that implies one would have to CHOOSE his departure.

    I imagine some folks who think suicide is immoral would just engage in riskier and riskier behavior rather than consciously choosing to end it. Sort of like Kurt Vonnegut said about smoking being "a fairly sure, fairly honorable form of suicide."

  • Mike Laursen||

    I read somewhere that even after eliminating all diseases and stopping aging, out lifespan would only increase to about 300 years due to the fact you can't stop accidents and other forms of deaths.

    Not true. OSHA, FEMA, the CDC, etc. will be there to stop that from happening.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Good fiction on the topic:

    Old 20th by Joe Haldeman

    Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow

  • ||

    The goal is to live forever, but it's never going to happen.



    Hm. "Forever" is a very long time...but so is "never."

  • ||

    in the Bible lots of people lived centuries

    For someone who usually argues from the POV of economics, science and individual liberty, it's very telling that RB has to resort to argument from mythology. Especially since it seems that few people here believe in biblical literalism.

    and Mother Nature could care less one way or the other how long you live

    Almost clever, but typically disingenuous. Well, which is it, Ron, the Bible, or Age of Reason neoclassical allusion?

    Suspect that anthropomorphised Mother Nature as envisioned by popular sixties television commercials for margarine ("It's not nice to fool mother nature") cares very much.

    Actual evolutionary forces are not conscious entities, hence incapable of caring. As such, you'd think that our limited, though increasing, lifespans would tell you something about the limits of organisms.

    Ron, your shameful shilling for Big Methuselah has reached a new low.

    TallDave is my new best buddy.

  • ||

    For someone who usually argues from the POV of economics, science and individual liberty, it's very telling that RB has to resort to argument from mythology.

    Wow, what poor comprehension. For starters, "RB" isn't resorting to anything. It's Caplan's argument.

    At any rate, the Bible isn't being referenced to affirmatively support the argument. It's a rhetorical device to deflate the counterarguments of those who happen to lean on the Bible for other matters.

    As in: "So you think it would rub your God the wrong way for people to live for centuries? Well, your God thought it was OK back in the day, according to your Bible."

  • TallDave||

    Zman,

    Did you buy your rubber bands yet?

  • TallDave||

    every thousand years
    this metal sphere
    ten times the size of Jupiter
    floats just a few yards past the earth
    you climb on your roof
    and take a swipe at it


    and its gravitational pull crushes you into something about as thin as a piece of paper, and you're dead

  • TallDave||

    Why are you so afraid of death?

    We're programmed with a compulsion for self-preservation, and also being dead interferes with accomplishing many goals.

  • ||

    I am too tired to read the thread; if this has been said, my apologies.

    I see nothing wrong with immortality, well, except for some on this board who will remain unnamed. Obviously though, there will have to be a concommitant moratorium on births, otherwise our population would grow geometrically.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    This thread is probably dead...

    Well, dammit, some of us think a thread can live forever!



    One major diff in the early days of BBS was that the threads actually burned out when they were done, rather than being left behind in a cloud of dust within 24 hours of the first comment.

    Guys like Hobbit who get home from work late or guys like Prole in Hawaii sometimes miss out entirely because the thread is done by 3:00 pm EST.

    [shrugs]

    Just Sayin'

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Since what I wrote was that only 10% of the whole population had enough to live ABOVE basic sustenance. Thus, the vast majority -90%- would be at some basic or minimal level of sustenance.

    Was going to say this before but then I got into the wine.

    There is no reason to believe that scenario. Every country in the civilized world has seen enormous population gains in the last two centuries, yet in every case people have a better quality of life than they did even a century ago.

  • ||

    Jon h wrote, "[Would you want to live forever] Even if everyone you know and love dies long before you do, and you have nothing in common with anyone around you?"

    If you could remain vigorous throughout your long lifespan, you would learn and experience more and more, meeting and interacting with many people. As you piled knowledge and experience on top of knowledge and experience, how could you not have more and more in common with virtually everyone?

    You would, however, have to learn to move on from one transitory experience and relationship to another. Getting too invested in and being unable to let go of things that cannot last forever would probably drive one into insanity or despondence. To be fully engaged with life and other people, on the other hand, as an immortal among the mortal and ephemeral, you'd probably have to be the Kirkegaardian "Knight of Faith" that my son is hearing about at college.

    I certainly don't want to die anytime soon, even after having outlived parents and numerous beloved pets of many years' companionship. My grief at their deaths did not diminish my own appetite for living. If anything, it heightened my appreciation of every moment I can spend with those I love and doing the things I love to do. Such moments are gifts to treasure, would you not agree?

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