onsdag 2. februar 2011

Immortality Issues

The Norse goddess Idunn offers apples of immortality to the gods.The Norse goddess Idunn offers apples of immortality to the gods
For some reason, we have always had a fascination of sorts regarding immortality. It certainly is an interesting topic which often has been a subject of thought for yours truly. Today, one of my favorite Youtube subscribtions, Zinnia Jones, uploaded a video that touches an issue on the subject(the video is posted at the bottom if you are interested in watching it). In the video ZJ suggests the possibility of “rearranging the structure of matter so as to create a more stable and resilient embodiment of our consciousness”. This claim is then followed by the question whether or not this should actually be done if it was within our grasp.
This, to me, is an interesting question. If gaining immortality was possible, should we do it? What would it mean if the entire or a portion of the population achieved immortality? One of the first things that pop into mind is overpopulation. This “argument” is countered in the video with the fact that we already have an overpopulation problem. While I am enticed by the concept of immortality and would possibly want it for myself if it was possible, I am forced to give this counter argument a second thought. Yes, we do have an overpopulation problem, but does that mean it is okay to add other factors that contribute to it?
If immortality became available to most or all human beings, I do not think certain aspects of life would change too dramatically. People would still want to procreate, for example. If noone ever dies naturally, but people continue procreating, we are bound to hit a dramatic limit eventually.
My question is how we would balance this if such a situation occured. Should there be waiting lists for having babies where you have to wait for someone to die(for any reason) before you are allowed offspring? Should offspring be limited only to those worthy? What would make you worthy? 
Personally I have not yet made up my mind on the subject. There are numerous ethical issues that follows such a premise which are not black/white. This being said, I do support the scientific research on how human lifespan can be prolonged. I think I am speaking for most people as well as myself when I say that I would absolutely like to live longer than average.
But how long?

Source of inspiration:

3 kommentarer:

  1. Personally, I think questions like overpopulation are irrelevant. It is just the same equations as today, but with a much lower mortality rate.
    No, I just think humanity cannot handle immortality, mentally.

    We want it because it is beyond our grasp, cannot comprehend it; and because we hate losing anything - ever.
    The eternal compels and intrigues us. It defies understanding - the only way we can deal with infinity is by defining it, making it non-infinite.
    Death frightens us, because it is very finite, yet as uncomprehendable as infinity. So we dream of the eternal afterlife as a way to cope with the void that looms over us, and our fears of letting go of what we have.
    Dreams of immortality is just a different flavour of the illusion of Heaven, without having to die first.

    Life is about change. Every experience, every memory changes a person irrevocably, wether we like it or not. We are not the same as we were yesterday, and even less so than we were a decade ago - and neither is the world around us. This tends to be forgotten when humans think of life beyond our seemingly meager life spans.

    A ten year old child dreams of how awesome it will be when they are twenty, and they can eat cake for breakfast and candy for dinner every day, and never have to do boring chores like clean their room.
    The mortal human dreams of how awesome it will be when they are immortal, and can live forever, never have to lose people they care about and never having to let go of anything - ever.

    But ten becomes twenty, and the child realises eating cake for breakfast makes you sick, and cleaning your apartment once in a while is necessary. And they dream back of how great it was when they were ten and didn't have to worry about chores like food, housing, money, love troubles and the like.
    Some dream onwards, how things will be so much better when they are thirty, and have awesome jobs that will make all the problems go away, and they can enjoy all the good things in life.

    And so it goes on. Today sucks, yesterday was better, tomorrow will be different. An endless cycle of missing the point.

    Being and non-being create each other.
    Difficult and easy support each other.
    Long and short define each other.
    High and low depend on each other.
    Before and after follow each other.

    Without loss, there is no having.
    Without death, there is no life.

    I don't want to live forever. I want to live now.

  2. Personally, I think that people need to be able to die, by natural causes.
    -If- immortality was something that could be achieved, how long do you think it would take until the average Mary and Joe could get their hands on it? Could they ever get there?
    And though it might become available for the public in some countries, it might not in others. I am of course talking about the poor countries. The ones where they have the "A bit like Robin Hood but the opposite" Take from the poor and give to the ones that are already rich.

  3. I digressed a bit last night, but to clarify on the overpopulation thing:

    It is indeed an interesting question, but one that needs to be answered long before anything remotely like immortality comes into play.
    Overpopulation is a real issue today, and it increases exponentially with both the increasing lifespans and the increasing population.
    Even just doubling the life expectancy from today's 80 to 160 would force massive changes in society and people's attitudes towards procreation.
    For every 30 years added to our lives, we share the earth with one more generation than before.

    This issue needs to be resolved, and can only really be let go when/if we start to colonise off-world.