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02:47 PM on 11/16/2010
So many SciFi stories, so little time. My favorite in dealing with this would have to be the Common Wealth series of books written by Peter Hamilton. It's a great read. Starts with Pandora's Star--very good.
07:35 PM on 11/16/2010
I like sci-fi. That sounds like it would be a great read.

I liked Stephen Baxter's Destiny's Child series. There was character, a woman, who lived to be over 500,000 years old.

The genre covers a lot of aspects of what it might mean to live forever.
02:15 PM on 11/16/2010
A couple of quick thoughts on this essay; I would like to apologize if I duplicate the comments of other posters.

1) As an aside, Americans who live past 65 (by 2005's numbers) have a life expectancy of 82.1 for men and 85 for women [Bodenheimer & Grumbach (2009). Understanding Health Policy, 179].

2) Arguments against radical life extension, which assert a correlation between human accomplishments and our limited lifespans, do not have much empirical backing.

3) If human beings find ways of better utilizing resources, ie. through solar power, then over-population is not as serious a problem. At the same time, it is important to note that societies, if given enough time, do a good job of changing their reproduction habits in response to changes in the environment, ie. a population's child birth rates correlate with the per-capita wealth and education levels of its citizenry.

4) Society has a right to try to mitigate suffering, and one of the key ways of achieving this goal is to ameliorate the impact of age related diseases (by slowing or reversing key aspects of the aging process). The benefits of doing so are significant while the risks, say of creating "immortal" human beings, is quite small at this time.

5) Our society is already going through a radical transformation due to the growth of technology.

6) RE: 'Robot Wars' post: Other famous authors, such as Tolkein, posit views in support of extending human lifespans.

Anthony Hopper
amh42@georgetown.edu
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DAE
02:04 PM on 11/16/2010
I've finally figured it out. After we die we get transmogrified into dark matter which emits dark energy. This explains it all!
01:55 PM on 11/16/2010
I would like to live for a very long time but not forever.
Everything you hold sacred or place any value in would become meaningless -- from the love you have for your family, to appreciating a sunset.

A beautiful thing about being human is that you're only temporary.
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JR Jake
02:35 PM on 11/16/2010
You don't beieve that for a second now do ya? Everything would matter that much more especially if you are trying to find your way to loved ones who might be in a different time zone. Coming back as a healthy person and living your 75 years, and than progressing to another level where you await those who you had departed. The possibilitilies are endless especially when you can create 20,000 year plays and the characters are defined by history to a point, but you get to finish the life of Michaelangelo, Artistotle, Mark Twain, Eisenhower.....the list is endless. The possibilities are mind boggling......yeah forever sounds like a fun time.
03:24 PM on 11/16/2010
For me, I do believe this.

It sounds like what you're speaking of is an after-life, which is something else entirely different to me.

20,000 years could be fun, but even this amount of time isn't considered a hair on a flea in the presence of eternity.

I don't know but I assumed when talking of "forever", there will eventually come a point when anything with human value becomes meaningless.
01:24 PM on 11/16/2010
Humans can't live forever because the planet will no longer be able to sustain the mass of human life that will arise from immortality unless there are severe restrictions on procreation, which will get the panties of the wingers in a bunch. We are almost there now, in fact. I don't want to live forever, but about 300 years would be pretty rockin.' Then I might have a fair chance of doing and experiencing everything I want to before I die (too many interests for my own good).

As for women, the misandrist shot at men that was taken here is a cheap shot. Plus women never get tired of attention, as long as it is from the people they want it from (starting with rich or famous guys). In addition, the biological clock wouldn't be such an urgent issue.

The one issue this piece doesn't address is the quality of life. Who wants to live for centuries if your lifestyle consists on coming home from work everyday, having a couple beers and watching nothing but lowbrow sitcoms and reality shows before it's time for bed?That's not living, it's waiting to die. Heck, you can even call it being a zombie without portfolio.
12:24 PM on 11/16/2010
Isaac Asimov dealt with this in his robot novels and he came to the same conclusions as did Seth.
12:45 PM on 11/16/2010
Couldn't have a better endorsement!
10:15 PM on 11/16/2010
If we live for centuries, no one will risk shoeing a horse, because one might get kicked. How will the shoes get on the horses centuries from now? Unshod horses can't be ridden as hard. And people will stop writing letters, and books, because, without horses, there won't be a way to deliver them. Everyone will quite obviously become illiterate.

Thousands of years doing, what? Playing kick-the-can and jacks?

No thanks.

;-)
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MyNameIsJames
What should a person say in their micro-bio
11:57 AM on 11/16/2010
Living forever with a human consciousness would be a nightmare.
11:43 AM on 11/16/2010
Great post Seth. I don't really see how anyone can say that they will someday cure death. Death comes to us in many ways, old age is only one of them. A slip on the ice, a red light not seen, the incurable disease, the frayed power cord; their are millions of ways to die that doctors can do nothing about. And for many of us who are already aging it is already too late.

Ghost

Every day
Within the mirror
My image seems to fade,
Before my own eyes...I dematerialize.
My beard, once black,
Now turns to white from gray.
I am half ghost already.
My restless spirit haunts a darkened house,
Roaming from room to room
In a fog of forgetfulness;
Searching, searching...ever searching;
But for what, for what, for what?
The chords of consciousness are frayed.
I feel my inner being depart from me.
The bright world becomes a realm of shadows.
I can think of no reason for being here.
My story has been read, I am epilogue.
Soon the hard bound covers will close on my pages,
And I will be placed with the others on the shelf;
Gathering enternity's dust.
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bushitbrain
11:37 AM on 11/16/2010
First popularized by Harrington, in `The Immortalist', & later by Tim Leary, Kudos to Seth for provoking people to think about the Other unthinkable: Living forever. Just as we cannot bring ourselves to think about Dying while we're healthy, the same is true of immortality, partly because it's So Far-Out, & society programs us: death & taxes are inevitable; Translation:"Life's a Bitch, & Then, You Die."
Indeed, Seth's critique is to Way too cynical, dismal, & surprisingly terrestrial for an extra-terrestrial scientist. He knows damn well, that if a big rock does'nt take us out & we advance the human life span significantly, we will ultimately split mother Earth for new worlds, in which many of the `boredoms' or other bummers he bemoans will be solved, & fade into historical insignificance, in the face of The Greatest Adventure.
Anyone who seriously does not want to live another healthy, sexy, adventurous 300 years, w/10 yrs studying this, 20 yrs w/this spouse, 30 yrs w/another career, on Another World, in zero or light gravity, is moribund & good as dead already. Perhaps if we ultimately complete SETI, & find out the ETI we've contacted is nearly immortal & loving it, Seth will join the immortalist club.
11:28 AM on 11/16/2010
Whether immortality is good or bad is really irrelevant. It's coming, and eventually it will be dirt cheap, just like every other product of technology. It can't be stopped unless we also intend to stop research on things like alzheimers, heart disease, diabetes, and MS. The main question is do YOU want to be among the last to age and die? Do you really want to be sitting around a hospice, peeing in a diaper, too far gone to be cured, knowing that those in their 30's, 40's, maybe even 60's, will never experience these indignities? If not, then better support funding to accelerate anti aging research.
11:21 AM on 11/16/2010
anybody who would want to "live forever" in this form is akin to a lifer, upon being released from prison, clamoring to be put back in his cell "forever."

life is eternal. this life isn't. your consciousness (in the first place not "yours" or anybody's anyways), doesn't die with your body. why you would want to tie it permanently to one single form in one single point in an infinite wave is beyond me, considering the infinite diversity of form and possibility inherent in the truth of eternal life.
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eljefefx
11:06 AM on 11/16/2010
I wonder what your view is on the Singularity.
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scott63
Genius IQ public High School education.
10:49 AM on 11/16/2010
I see a future more in line with the movie Surrogates than the Matrix. I totally believe that if people could transfer their consciousness into fully functional flawless android avatars a majority would. Imagin interacting daily in the real world free from any worry of harm or social scorn, the temptation would be tremendous.
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moonflowerjewelry
Buy American made, no excuses.
10:25 AM on 11/16/2010
There are a few science fiction fantasies that I just shake my head at (okay, warp drive would be cool) , exponentially increased life span always tops the list. Perhaps because it is rooted in extreme fear coupled with extreme selfishness. It (like a belief in heaven) is a seductive distraction from living your life in the moment and being the best person you can be. It involves the world view that what is right in front of us is NEVER as good as what might/could/should happen some mysterious way down the road. The other side of the coin is that, if it were possible, only the very, very rich would have access - a purposeful form of eugenics. It would all but guarantee that the rest of us (our progeny, really) would be further forced into exteme slavery, poor health, and severely curtailed life spans.
11:16 AM on 11/16/2010
This is ridiculous. You've probably got something in your pocket right now that you would have said thirty years ago that only the "very, very rich" could ever afford. It's called a cell phone. Curing aging is going to be the same way: first impossible, then expensive, and finally dirt cheap.
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progressivegreg
Scotty, beam me up
10:20 AM on 11/16/2010
Live forever? Not me, one word BORING! Imagine knowing everything and never, ever being surprised, imagine going to the same job on the same path forever! Even if you change jobs every couple of hundred years the burn out would be horrible. To everything there is a season.