Thu, Oct 23, 2008
I don't have the time to fully read all of these posts right now, but I'm new to this site and love the content I am seeing.
I thought I'd start by posting a link to a presentation given by Aubrey de Grey, a professor over at Cambridge. He gives a good argument for why medical immortality is possible, and that, with the right funding, it could happen within our lifetimes.
The view that he puts forth is that we don't need to find the technologies to live to 5,000 years right now. What we need is to reach the life-extension singularity, where every one year of research leads to an increase in life expectancy of one year. He thinks this can happen within the next two or three decades, but only if we put about 0.9-1 billion dollars of money into researching this problem yearly. When you think of all the money wasted on the Iraq war, or the 850 billion being spent on this bailout, this amount of money really is not that significant.
I also wanted to comment on the prospect of choosing death over life-extension. I have thought about this for some time, and after asking many people what they would want, I have found people often say 'death' because they think extremely long lives would be utterly boring after awhile. Well, I have never been so bored that I wanted to die, so I can't see boredom as an impediment to long lives. That said, I could easily imagine slipping into an existential despair at the pointlessness of an everlasting life, and this isn't something I can imagine I can deal with until I experience it. However, that is no reason not to pursue immortality. Humans are adaptable, and although I think immortality would fundamentally change the human experience, I think it is foolish not explore this next step in our technological evolution.
P.S. As for the overpopulation problem that inevitably comes up in a discussion of the mechanics of an immortal human species, I think an easy way around that problem would be that if you opt to take the path of medical immortality, you must be barred from having children. Once you have children, you should no longer be allowed to pursue medical immortality. Thus people will have a choice: children or immortality. I can't imagine choosing the former over the latter, but that is up to the individual.