Do You Really Want to Live Forever?

The new book Immortality warns against the quest for eternal life


Imagine you are offered a trustworthy opportunity for immortality in which your mind (perhaps also your body) will persist eternally. Let's further stipulate that the offer includes perpetual youthful health and the ability to upgrade to any cognitive and physical technologies that become available in the future. There is one more stipulation: You could never decide later to die. Would you take it? Metaphysician and former British diplomat Stephen Cave thinks accepting such an offer would be a bad idea. 

Cave's fascinating new book, Immortality, posits that civilization is a major side effect of humanity's attempts to live forever. He argues that our sophisticated minds inexorably recognize that, like all other living things, we will one day die. Simultaneously, Cave asserts, "The one thing that these minds cannot imagine is that very state of nonexistence; it is literally inconceivable. Death therefore presents itself as both inevitable and impossible. This is what I will call the Mortality Paradox, and its resolution is what gives shape to the immortality narratives, and therefore to civilization." 

Cave identifies four immortality narratives that drive civilizations over time which he calls; (1) Staying Alive, (2) Resurrection, (3) Soul, and (4) Legacy. Cave gracefully marches through his four immortality narratives citing examples from history, psychology, and religion up to the modern day. "At its core, a civilization is a collection of life extension technologies: agriculture to ensure food in steady supply, clothing to stave off cold, architecture to provide shelter and safety, better weapons for hunting and defense, and medicine to combat injury and disease," he writes.

In the Staying Alive narrative Cave opens with the quest of the First Emperor of China to find the elixir of life but lands us soon the 21st century where transhumanists aim to use modern science to finally achieve the goal of perpetual youthful life. He notes that in the last century, humans have in fact doubled average human life expectancy.

Why not simply repair the damage caused by aging, thus defeating physical death? This is the goal of transhumanists like theoretical biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey who has devised the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) program. SENS technologies would include genetic interventions to rejuvenate cells, stem cell transplants to replace aged organs and tissues, and nano-machines to patrol our bodies to prevent infections and kill nascent cancers. Ultimately, Cave cannot argue that these life-extension technologies will not work for individuals but suggests that they would produce problems like overpopulation and environmental collapse that would eventually subvert them. He also cites calculations done by a demographer that assuming aging and disease is defeated by biomedical technology accidents would still do in would-be immortals. The average life expectancy of medical immortals would be 5,775 years. Frankly, I will be happy to take that.

Resurrection is his next immortality narrative. Of course, the most prevalent resurrection story is that of Jesus of Nazareth 2,000 years ago. The New Testament explicitly states that one day every individual will once again live in his or her real but improved physical bodies. Physical resurrection is also the orthodox belief of the other two Abrahamic religions, Judaism and Islam. Thus, Cave notes, half of the world's population officially believes in the future resurrection of their physical bodies. He adds, however, that many Christians, Jews, and Muslims actually subscribe to another immortality narrative, Soul.

Cave identifies three major problems with the Resurrection Narrative: the Cannibal problem, the Transformation problem, and the Duplication problem. Briefly, if resurrection is to mean anything, it must mean that a specific individual is brought back to life. The question is what happens when atoms have been shared by more than one person: Who gets to use the specific nitrogen and carbon atoms when everyone is brought back to life? I don't think that that is much of problem since atoms are interchangeable and presumably God could simply put any random carbon and nitrogen atoms back in the same places they were in your physical body. They needn't be the exact same atoms that you had when you died.

The Transformation problem is harder. Many believers would have died old, decrepit, and demented. That's not how they believe they will be resurrected; they expect to get better, incorruptible bodies. By being thus transformed would the resurrected believer really be the same person who had died or a different person? And then there is the problem of duplication. God could not just reassemble a believer as she was when she died, he could also reassemble her as a 5-year-old girl. Cave argues that these three problems calls into question the notion that it would truly be a specific individual believer rising from the grave.

Besides these ancient resurrection dogmas, modern technophilic thinkers have devised a couple more: cryonics and mind uploading. Cryonicists aim to avoid the three ancient resurrection problems by having their bodies frozen at minus 276 degrees Fahrenheit in liquid nitrogen with idea that future technologies will be able to revive them. Cryonicists believe that reviving individual brains with their unique patterns and history would be the way to guarantee that specific individuals are actually brought back to life. 

Cave notes that this focus on preserving a person's mind leads other modern would-be computational resurrectionists to argue for uploading minds (information encoded in an individual's brain) onto another piece of hardware, an electronic avatar, a robot, or another brain which would be psychologically identical to the original mind. Cave argues that computational resurrection does not actually achieve immortality for a specific individual, but merely makes an exact psychological copy of him. There is the additional problem that if minds can be digitized they can be duplicated many times. If this occurs who then is the original resurrectee? "When you closed your eyes on your deathbed, you could not expect to open them again in silicon form," he explains. The result of mind uploading "would all just be high-tech ways of producing a counterfeit you."

Counterfeit? Counterfeit means to make a copy with the intention to deceive or defraud. I doubt that people who decide to take advantage of mind uploading would be defrauded or deceived. Even if digital duplicates were made of the same individual's mind, I suspect that they would have no problem with that—the more versions of their specific memories, desires, and psychology the merrier. 

Cave does not address one other popular version of how computational immortality might occur. As the 21st century advances our bodies and minds will be increasingly integrated with digital appliances of various sorts, e.g., more and more of our memories and reasoning abilities could be located on silicon (or whatever quantum computations devices come later) and accessed via radio. Eventually more and more of the information that makes up an individual's mind will have migrated into these digital devices. When the biological portion of an individual's techno-complex eventually dies it may be regretted but the event will not significantly disrupt the continuity of the individual's self-consciousness.

The most popular immortality narrative is Soul. Most Christians now believe that their souls, which persist after death, will be reunited with their resurrected bodies. Souls thus solve a lot of the identity problems associated with the earlier Resurrection narrative. Cave argues that Soul narrative resolves the Mortality Paradox by denying "that the failing body is the true self, identifying the person instead with exactly that mental life that seems so inextinguishable." In Christianity all souls are equal before God, so if the omnipotent and omniscient Creator of the universe is interested in your life then who are your politicians to ignore your desires?

What about the afterlife? Cave cites American evangelist James L. Garlow who says that in Heaven "your every desire is satisfied more abundantly than you've ever dreamed." But what if your desire is to be reunited with your wife who instead desires to spend her eternity with her childhood sweetheart? A more sophisticated theocentric view of the soul's afterlife is that Heaven is the eternal exaltation of God. But what can this mean? Cave points out that an afterlife without time is not really a life at all. "Everything that makes up a human life—experience, learning, growth, communication, even singing hosannas—requires the passage of time. Without time, nothing can happen; it is a state of stasis, a cessation of thought and action," he argues. "The attraction of the soul view was the unique aura it gave to every individual life, but its logical conclusion is an eternity of nothing, with life negated altogether."

The major Eastern religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, also subscribe to versions of the Soul narrative involving cycles of reincarnation. Cave points out though that both religions' accounts of souls are pared down to being some kind of vague continuum of awareness. After death your individual experiences, memories, hopes, desires are all forgotten as your soul moves from one body to the next. Cave is correct when he asserts, "If you have a soul, yet it does not take your mind, personality, or consciousness with it, then its survival after the death of your body should be of as much interest to you as the survival of your toenails."

Cave tries to imagine the sorts of scientific experiments that might show that people do have nonmaterial souls. For example, he asks if souls are maintainers of awareness why is it that when our bodies are knocked unconscious or anaesthetized that our nonmaterial souls apparently lose consciousness too? If your soul is the essential you it must harbor your emotions, memories, ability to speak, and moral norms. However, neuroscience shows that damage to specific areas of your brain can eliminate all of these qualities that make up you as an individual. "Those who believe that the soul could preserve these abilities after the total destruction of the brain in death must explain why the soul cannot preserve these abilities when only a small part of the brain is destroyed," challenges Cave. 

The final immortality narrative is Legacy. It comes in two varieties: fame and progeny. Achieving fame and glory in the here-and-now have some obvious benefits, e.g., increased status, more money, more power, and more opportunities to mate. In addition, fame means that you will be remembered by later generations. Cave considers the bundle theory of the self in which bits and pieces of your memories, personality, and images continue to exist in the cultural realm after your death. But you are still dead—your consciousness and personality is not dispersed into books, movies, or the minds of fans. And research shows that it takes only 70 years after our deaths before most of us are forgotten. Can you name all of your great-grandparents?

People also want to live on through their children. Your genes live on through your children, but genes are simply machines for making proteins in response to environmental cues. You are merely the disposable container that genes use to make more copies of themselves. Reproduction, as satisfying as most people find it, is no way to preserve one's individual consciousness.

Cave concludes, "All four fundamental immortality narratives are illusions. None of them will enable us to live forever." But even if one of the immortality narratives were true or possible, Cave argues that on the one hand, boredom and apathy would eventually set in after one has done and seen everything, and other the hand, the prospect of an infinite future means that there is no urgency to do or see anything resulting in paralysis. Meaningful lives require a time limit, he argues.

Since the immortality narratives fail, we are still left with our fear of death and non-existence. To overcome our fears and to escape the clutches of the Mortality Paradox Cave advocates turning to what he calls the Wisdom narrative. He thinks that he has made the case that a genuinely unending life would most likely be terrible. However, he acknowledges that this realization is unlikely to convince people that it's great to be dead. So the next step toward wisdom is to accept the notion that the "fear of being actually dead is nonsensical." And the final step is to cultivate virtues that undermine our will to live forever and thus reduce our existential angst.

The model for realizing that the fear of death is nonsensical is the Greek philosopher Epicurus who wrote, "While we are, death is not; when death is come, we are not." Cave interprets Epicurus as chiefly arguing that we should not fear the state of being dead. Being dead is nothing, so why fear nothing? Cave asserts that wisdom comes when we realize "that we can never be dead, that fearing being dead is therefore a nonsense." Oddly, I don't think that I (and many others) suffer from Cave's Mortality Paradox—I can imagine non-existence. Consequently, with regard to death there is nothing to fear but nothing itself.

In order to further undermine our fear of death Cave counsels that we adopt the three virtues of empathy, mindfulness, and gratitude. Empathy reduces our fear of the death by shifting the focus from ourselves; mindfulness encourages us to enjoy the present moment; and gratitude makes us conscious of what an incredible stroke of luck it is to be alive in the first place. It seems to me that the cultivation of these virtues is valuable in its own right, and if such cultivation happens to reduce one's fear of death then that's a nice bonus.

As comforting as they have been and as much as they have inspired people to build civilizations, Cave is right that the Resurrection, Soul, and Legacy narratives are illusions. So too is the modern version of the Staying Alive narrative if it is interpreted such that it results in infinite life rather than radically increased life expectancies. However, toward the end, Cave grants the transhumanists who are pursuing medical immortality would not suffer from the problem of eternal boredom since they would eventually die of accidents in any case. And of course, if the radically long-lived did get bored they could simply stop whatever treatments they are using to maintain their lives.

Finally, back to the question of whether you would accept an offer of true immortality—your consciousness (and perhaps your body) persisting eternally. Cave clearly believes that it would be a bad idea. He cites many legendary examples in which mortals are granted immortality who come later to regret it. Mostly because they become very bored. And yet, as far as I know, no one seriously claims that God suffers from ennui. 

Nevertheless, before I read Cave's book, I would have answered absolutely I would accept such an offer. Now, I am thinking about it a bit more. Since I need more time to contemplate the upsides and the downsides of eternal life, I will happily accept any legitimate offer for a dramatically extended and healthy lifespan.

Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey is the author of Liberation Biology (Prometheus).

NEXT: Scheduled to Talk Ron Paul on RT Network at in the 2 pm-2:30 pacific half hour

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  1. Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey concludes he wants to live a very long time so that he can decide if he really might regret choosing immortality.

    Will he still be posting the monthly Climate Change updates? Because if so, I think I can safely assume that no one wants that.

    1. On the plus side, if he lives 5,000 years, he can find out which side of the climate change argument was correct.

      1. my curiosity about living forever ended with the movie “Zardoz”…
        no, it wasn’t the ridiculous outfits that Sean Connery wears…
        it was the apparent boredom that sets in…

  2. It would seem that, should one regret the decision to keep on living, the solution to the problem is obvious.

    1. It seems that part of the bargain is an inability to die.

      1. Which is what makes the hypothetical a bit silly, IMO. I think one of the primary reasons people fear death is that it represents a loss of control of onesself and ones identity – the ultimate loss of choice, which is a necessary component of the human experience. They’d fear an un-endable life for the same reason. But aside from making it an arbitrary rule for the purpose of a thought experiment, there’s no real reason why, in practicality, if any technological breakthrough ever made it possible to achieve virtual immortality, that it would be un-endable any more than our lives are now.

        In practicality, extending our lives long enough that we get bored with living them and conscientiously end them of our own free will would still be vastly preferable than, say, developing cancer sometime between your late 60’s and mid 70’s and expiring through a painful process of progressive organ failure lasting months or years, which is the statistically probable method of dying now. At least in my opinion. I think it’s an ultimately very libertarian concept: free choice. In this case, the ultimate free choice. Finally stripping nature of the power of foisting an unwanted choice upon us and putting it entirely in our own hands.

  3. Hey Ron, is it “Cave” or “Case”?

    1. ji: It’s Cave, not Case. All fixed now. Thanks very much.

      1. Isn’t Case the protagonist in Neuromancer?

        1. Cave Johnson here for another Aperture Science investment opportunity, immortality!

  4. To live eternally would imply that the universe lasts forever and does not suffer heat death. Until thermodynamics laws are somehow stopped, how can we live eternally in this universe ?

    1. Congress is currently working on the Thermodynamics Limitation Act.

      Since they feel they can repeal economic principles and the constitution any time they like, why not the fundamental laws of nature?

    2. yeah, i wondered about that…
      makes this whole question mute…

      1. Mute? As in silent, or “moot” as in deprived of practical significance? I’m confused.

        1. Good point! Use of language grammar would improve markedly ^_~

  5. Here’s one problem with immortality: Social Security and Medicare and pension systems are already going bankrupt because people are living longer. If people start living to 150 or 200, we go extra-bankrupt.

    Or maybe you say that anyone who gets immortality treatment has a retirement age of 150? Or a lifetime cap of 30 years of benefits? Good luck working all that out in the political arena.

    1. Spoken like a true libertarian.

      I bet you want immortals living in the streets and eating dog food. Won’t someone stand up for the immortals?

      1. LOL, that’s the first time anyone around here has called me that!

    2. Not a problem. If you live 5,000 years, even 1 percent interest in your savings account will make you rich before you get to middle age.

      1. That’s only a solution if they all voluntarily decline their Social Security, Medicare, and other pension benefits.

    3. If you were effectively immortal, I doubt that you’d ever completely stop working. My guess is that people would start taking multiple year hiatuses when they get tired of a certain career, financed on their own dime (as they’d have plenty of time to save for it), and then go back to work, possibly after switching career fields and retraining for their new chosen profession.

      1. Either that or they’d simply stick to one career and get really, really good at it.

        1. chuckle … the proverbial question: How long is a piece of string??? How good do you want to get? 0_@

  6. I have this idea (for a while now):

    How about cloning oneself, but having the genes knocked out which build the grey matter in one’s brain? So you get this idiot child copy of yourself, get it raised to about age 5 or 6 (while ensuring that the skull grows at a normal rate even if there’s no grey matter in it) then do a brain transplant, some nano/biotechnological refurbishing of the brain’s vascular system and voila: there’s a fresh you with all of your personality and memories (almost) intact.

    Obviously not all of the technologies are available as of today, but I don’t see any insurmountable problems, either.

    Maybe not eternity, but a couple of centuries or so should be child’s play.

    1. Won’t work.

      Like any other organ, the brain also wears out.

      1. For some people relatively quickly (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s etc.), for others much more slowly (some die at an advanced age with their mental faculties being fairly intact).

        I was alluding to vascular retuning: obviously a new body worth dick if you’re going to get a stroke at (the new-body) age 13.

        More interesting would be the attachment of all sensory organs to the transplanted brain (eyes, hearing, olfactory sense, taste etc.). Of course if someone is able to attach a transplanted brain to a spinal cord, then the (bio)technology is present for making the other connections, too…

        1. hmmm …. The Ship Who Sings, Anne McCaffery ….. interesting posit @_0

      2. The brain doesn’t really wear out.

        The blood vessels that feed it will wear out far sooner.

        By the time you are a teenager, you have all the neurons you will ever have.

        1. I seem to recall reading that they found that braincells can in fact regrow.

          1. Um, there is some growth in the olfactory bulb, and maybe one other small region, during adulthood, but I don’t know anything about regrowth.

    2. What if you’re ugly? Can’t you get a George Clooney idiot clone?

      1. Probably you could buy one… but taking immuno-suppressants as long as your new life lasts might be a high price to pay.

    3. You could put your brain in a robot body. But you could only be five foot nothing. Chainsaw arms optional.

    4. There already exists a proof-of-principle for this notion. It’s called an anencephaly.

    5. a clone would have different life experiences, therefore a totally different personality ^_~

  7. I believe in reincarnation, so I’m not too worried about dying. You kind of need to recharge after 80 or 90 years. I do wish they’d do something about aging though, cause I want to look good.

  8. Final oblivion used to frighten me. Now I’m almost looking forward to it.

    1. Who gets your stuff?

      1. It will all be sold, and the proceeds will be used to care for abandoned cats.

        1. What kind of cats? Even my modest savings could be used to rear a litter of tigers. Cats all the way down?

          1. Why are all these mother fucking cats on my mother fucking plane of existence?

        2. I hope you understand that once you get them on the entitlement wagon they’re gonna expect support for all of their nine lives.

  9. The major Eastern religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, also subscribe to versions of the Soul narrative involving cycles of reincarnation. Case points out though that both religions’ accounts of souls are pared down to being some kind of vague continuum of awareness. After death your individual experiences, memories, hopes, desires are all forgotten as your soul moves from one body to the next.

    That is absolutely not true. One of the major differences between Hinduism and Buddhism is the Buddhist argument for anatta, i.e. the denial of an eternal and/or unchanging soul. Yes, Buddhism speaks of reincarnation; however, as Nagasena explains in The Questions of King Menander the process of reincarnation is akin to that of an acorn falling from an old, dying tree and eventually growing into a new tree.

  10. Here’s the reincarnation chart:

    I wouldn’t mind being a centaur; because, you know, horse dick.

    1. Why the fuck does a Wolverine get a +8 to dexterity Bonus.

      this is not a dexterous animal:


  11. Mr Bailey writes, “The average life expectancy of medical immortals would be 5,775 years. Frankly, I will be happy to take that.”

    Sure, you say that now. But ten bucks says you’d start bitching at 5,000 or so about why life has to be so short.

    1. If you don’t age, your life expectancy doesn’t change: that’s 5775 years from now for anyone now alive, on average. It’s another way of saying that you’ll always have 1/5775 chance of a lethal accident in the coming year.

      1. “on average”

        And every time some poor schmuck dies before 5,775, you celebrate, ’cause it means the rest of us get to take up the slack.

  12. The one thing that these minds cannot imagine is that very state of nonexistence


    I go to sleep everyday and wake up most of the time not remember what the fuck happened over the past 8 hour. For all intents and purposes my mind, as far as my conscious mind goes, did not exist for that duration. Imagining going to sleep and not waking up takes very little imagination.

    In fact so very little effort that at age 5 I was able to imagine that and subsequently very afraid of going asleep for that very reason.

    1. You’re not thinking straight. All you know of unconsciousness is that while you’re conscious after it occurs, you know there was a period when you were unconscious — and even that you only know because of the passage of time, i.e. events, in the external world. If you could wake up to a world where exactly nothing had changed, you wouldn’t even know you’d been asleep. Haven’t you had the experience of dozing off, waking up, and not realizing you’d been asleep until some external clue like a clock told you?

      So you can’t imagine what future unconsciousness would be like, only what waking up from it is like.

      1. Not only that, but a lapse in consciousness is indistinguishable after the fact from amnesia. How do you know you didn’t have experiences that you just can’t remember now? A sufficient dose of Versed or other drugs will do that reliably. Apparently just being very young will do it too.

        1. Being very young OR very old.

  13. Stephen Cave sounds like a moron.

  14. The average life expectancy of medical immortals would be 5,775 years.

    I’m guessing that after the first 3,000 years, one would become quite adept at avoiding accidents, and hence live even longer than that.

  15. And the final step is to cultivate virtues that undermine our will to live forever and thus reduce our existential angst.

    No, the final step is the government setting up death panels to determine who gets to live another 1,000 years.

  16. Unless we can tame the 2nd law of thermodynamics, we will all die eventually.

    Greg Egan’s Diaspora addresses some of these concerns about having a purpose if you live forever. And the answer is yeah, there is stuff to live for like visiting other stars. I think his Permutation City addresses the issue of the humanity of computer copies of people.

    As far as boredom goes, I think that is a personal issue.

    I have a Nook that has more books than I can read in my lifetime. I would like to read them all. I would love to travel everywhere. And visiting other planets would be coo. Also, at the rate I am going, it will take me 1000 years to get all my characters to level 80 on World of Warcraft. And what about sex? Jesus Christ I can’t imagine that ever getting old.

    1. Egan’s a good source for perspectives on immortality. _Permutation City_ addresses the “boredom” issue. If we’re eligible for upgrades then how we feel about our circumstances should eventually be controllable. We’d only get bored if we actually wanted to.

      My favorite story about immortals is Egan’s _Border Guards_ http://gregegan.customer.netsp…..order.html

  17. Think I’m going to actually read this article when I get home, looks interesting.

  18. I’m personally of the opinion that anyone who says, “But, overpopulation!” has just volunteered for summary execution.

  19. Cave sounds like a Zardoz fan.

    I would gladly accept. Eternal life might be tough, but considering the alternative…….

  20. “Everything that makes up a human life?experience, learning, growth, communication, even singing hosannas?requires the passage of time. Without time, nothing can happen; it is a state of stasis, a cessation of thought and action,” he argues. “The attraction of the soul view was the unique aura it gave to every individual life, but its logical conclusion is an eternity of nothing, with life negated altogether.”

    So that means it’s actually logically consistent with just dying.

  21. Also, anyone else keep thinking of Cave Johnson while reading this?

    1. How can you protect the state of CA from terrorists if there is no state of CA because it went bankrupt and Bain Capital bought it and split it off into smaller units? Of course they can raid it for the deficit.

      Or look at it another way: the congress-persons and public unions are a form of terrorism. So they are just using these fees to combat their evil acts.

  22. In the Staying Alive narrative Cave opens with the quest of the First Emperor of China to find the elixir of life but lands us soon the 21st century where http://www.ceinturesfr.com/cei…..-c-15.html transhumanists aim to use modern science to finally achieve the goal of perpetual youthful life. He notes that in the last century, humans have in fact doubled average human life expectancy.

  23. “If your soul is the essential”–brilliant.

  24. Is it just me, or are there more immortals?

    If it was just me it would get pretty lonely after a few cosmic decades.

  25. From what perspective can you imagine non-existence? I think you’re full of it.

    The counterfeiting problem is one of the reasons I don’t believe experience (or mind) is a product of physical processes. If it were, then how could you think that reproducing the physical circumstances wouldn’t copy your experience? But then how could you be experiencing double, or triple, or however multiplied? Would you have an expanded sensorium, seeing 2 views at once?

  26. I don’t think we can really imagine non-existence either. I can imagine, though, being reborn not only in a new time and place, but with the body and mind of a newborn. That’s what I imagine in my next life, and it really doesn’t bother me that I won’t remember this one.

  27. As a Buddhist, I believe that our self is basically our karma, and that our bodies and minds will naturally reflect that. I am basically all the causes that I have made in my life, my personality is both cause and effect.

  28. It is impossible to imagine one’s own death from the viewpoint of a living being. Yeah, that is obvious.

    But you can imagine what your toaster’s perception of the world is – zip, nada. So when you die you will have the same perception of the world as your toaster. Is that so hard to imagine?

    I’m actually looking forward to it. I mean, it is coming no matter what I do so I decided long ago to get comfortable with it. The up-sides of not having to put up with BS and pain are pretty comforting.

    1. No, I don’t think you are imagining your toaster’s perspective. Of course, it’s possible that inanimate objects are conscious, since we don’t know what does or can produce consciousness, but assuming it isn’t, how can you imagine not thinking? Imagination is a kind of thought. You can’t possibly be aware of non-awareness, you can only imagine being unaware of particular details.

  29. The attraction of the soul view was the unique aura it gave to every individual life, http://www.petwinkel.com/pet-air-jordan-c-52.html but its logical conclusion is an eternity of nothing, with life negated altogether.”

  30. I plan to live forever, of course, but barring that I’d settle for a couple thousand years. Even five hundred would be pretty nice.

    CEO Nwabudike Morgan

  31. Sounds liek a plan dude.


  32. A curious experience to read about a book that is apparently written by someone very much more intelligent than the person reviewing it. Most curious

    1. FC: That’s how I learn new information.

      1. O, it was not the fact that you read it that struck me as odd; twas your comments that seemed to either whiz by the point or cloak it in a damp blanket. Like I said, the craziest experience — someone relating, or reporting, real insight and intelligence, but including uninspiring side chatter about it.

  33. If existential angst is the cause of civilization and we cultivate virtues to alleviate that existential angst wouldn’t that also lead to the dismantling of civilization? Gamboling for all!!!

  34. For some it was Zardoz. For me, it was Wowbagger.

    Douglas Adams had a pretty good take on immortality for a mortal (gone too soon, though).

  35. You need to understand what time is–and you don’t. You think durational time is all that there is. You are just starting to understand that time may be manipulable. But you’ll get there.

    Boredom ceases to be a factor very quickly. Limit duration. See? No boredom.

    Also think of ‘time’ as referring to a plural thing.

    You attain immortality when you attain ‘self’. Once you think you are forever, you are. Even those who put forth the notion that ‘this is all there is, when you die, you’re just gone’ think of themselves as ‘forever’. When the meat rots enough you break out into…..there are no words. But it is an interesting experience.

    You will go on to try to experience everything. It will be a great adventure. Perhaps you can come to the Center of All Things and we can have a chat, face to….face. Actually, you will do just that–in some ways, you ARE doing just that right now. The notion will come, in your mad dash around the plenum, that you WILL see everything–and you will then discover another type of time. Oh, the places you’ll go!

    Also, I’m very curious about the physical and technological immortalities you want to attempt–you do manage that as well. That leads to the events of the early 4000’s. and THAT’s cool.

    1. Wat.

    2. Time is a relative measurement … just ask the astronauts on the ISS … 24 hrs to them is a lot more than that here on the planet below …. the further out you go, the greater the differential. Life for a tortoise has a greater “perceived” time – their rate of perception of “time” is way behind our own 0_~

  36. i propose we follow the type of immortality the protoss use.
    encase our minds in heavily armed and armored walking tanks, great for killing stalker, roaches, and marauders.

  37. I’m surprised that no one has mentioned Robert A. Heinlein’s fictional character, Lazarus Long, yet. Heinlein explored the staying alive aspect of immortality through him. Voluntary selective breeding for long life by his ancestors got him to a point where rejuvenation technology was able to extend his life much farther, to at least an age of about 2,000. Boredom was an issue. He tried to commit suicide, but was “rescued” and offered new experiences to keep him interested in staying around.

    The idea that life without change, and hence without time, is the equivalent of non-existence is a good argument against heaven, hell, and the concept of a soul.

  38. Exactly. I’d love to live longer, so long as I was in good health. The first few thousand years would be great, but after a few billion and with no end in sight I doubt it would be much fun.

  39. Many people reconcile themselves with death through the human genius for rationalization: They accept or invent reasons for why death is good. If one offers them an unfamiliar way to avoid death, they react with moral horror and furiously invent more complicated rationalizations. E.g., see the works of Leon Kass.

    It is the same sort of “reasoning” that lead various people to oppose vaccination for smallpox, fertility treatments, and just about every other advance in human well-being.

  40. We all have a mini immortality in that via our genes a little bit of us is continued in our descendants; being virtually immortal, given a physical body of being around 25-35yo with excellent health, I really don’t think I could suffer from ennui. Looking back @ the growth of the “communications” history of mankind, from grunts-drums-et al-ISS, Cassini, etc would YOU? So much still to be discovered, not just our own planet (from nano to geologic) then dreams of visiting other planets – our bucket lists would never be fulfilled as each new boundary breach would add more than we could possibly tick off. Supporting the thus exponential population growth, these new frontiers would see the dispersal of possibly whole groups of mankind to our own planets (whether terraformed or in “shell” life centres)or other solar systems. Food production here could be such that we all contribute (group husbandry, etc) using high tech thus leaving large areas of original geology/forestation/et al to maintain our climate (allowing for “normal” climate changes=inc diversity). The whole panorama sounds mind blowingly astounding to me. Being a Senior, there are just so many things I do NOT know, have questions about, have not done but would be thrilled to do! the bonus of getting to meet love my descendants, not just “disappear into the woodwork after 70 years (approx) 0_@

  41. Eternal life despite the risks mentioned in the article would be immediately acceptable to me. As long as I had a youthful body, no death and no sickness to worry about, I would enjoy the variety that I can always find or create myself. To me I would enjoy a permanent home, with friends that actually would be around forever, family that I never have to say goodby to, playing and working the things we love to do now. How about colonizing the planets? Or inventing a space craft to travel to the stars? All possible with time on my hands for eternity. I agree some would be bored perhaps, but I know my personality is one of creating my own purpose so I would not be bored. Even if I had to be a cyborg to live forever, I would as long as I had my mind placed into it. I think many of us long somehow to live for eternity, because the alternative death does scare us simply because we are used to living and this is all we know. I prefer living!

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