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Author Topic: Immortality
Jeff C.
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So I was wondering what everyone here thought about the idea of (almost) living forever. I'm not talking about spirituality or anything, just the same old scifi concept of immortality.

I noticed there was a movie coming out with Jude Law and Olivia Wilde about living forever (for a price) and it seemed pretty interesting, and quite possible given the progression of medicine.

There's also supposed to be a company (independent research, of course) in New Zealand working to stop aging. I don't remember the name of it, but it sounded promising.

But what do you guys think about the implacations of living forever, only really dying when and if you want to? I kind of like the idea, but I've only lived a mere 27 years, so my experience is limited. Maybe by the time I'm 80 years old I'll want to go ahead and die. Who can say?

Still, it's a fun thought. You'd get to see the world change and you'd see so many things happen. At the same time, though, people might get so complacent that there might not be any progress.

Thoughts?

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Mucus
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It's not bad until some jerk decapitates you in order to get their rocks off.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
So I was wondering what everyone here thought about the idea of (almost) living forever.
What do you mean by almost? What, exactly, is the scenario that you're proposing?
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Stone_Wolf_
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quote:
So I was wondering what everyone here thought about the idea of (almost) living forever.
I might sign up, but only if there is a family pack...having to keep living while my wife and children aged and died before my eyes would suck donkey nuggets.
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AchillesHeel
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People are stupid. I have only been around twenty-three years, and as a law of existence people are stupid. This is not new, and it will not change unless we start spaying and neutering our stupid. Who would actually want to bare witness to the same system repeating itself continually?
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Lyrhawn
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I'd sign up.

I'd be the best historian ever.

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rivka
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Lyrhawn, have you read any of Kage Baker's The Company series?
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by AchillesHeel:
People are stupid. I have only been around twenty-three years, and as a law of existence people are stupid. This is not new, and it will not change unless we start spaying and neutering our stupid. Who would actually want to bare witness to the same system repeating itself continually?

So, a Eugenics fan, then?
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mr_porteiro_head
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Do you know who else was a fan of eugenics?


Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

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The White Whale
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Boat_of_a_Million_Years
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Jake
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That is such a remarkably terrible novel. I have no idea why it has the reputation that it does.

[Edit - I was talking about Boat of a Million Years. I really enjoyed the first few Company books, though they were definitely not perfect).]

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Rakeesh
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Well, it IS remarkable! [Wink]
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Jake
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:: laugh :: Too true.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Lyrhawn, have you read any of Kage Baker's The Company series?

I haven't, but this looks pretty interesting.

Have you read them? How quick a read are they?

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Jake
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They're very quick, fun reads. The later books in the series are pretty bad, but the earlier ones are pretty entertaining.
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Blayne Bradley
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I'd sign up.

I'd be the best historian ever.

My thoughts exactly, I'ld sign up for this reason.

And if I kept my youth, I'ld be the first to find out if sex ever gets boring.

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Aros
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Here's a link to get started on the current science:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategies_for_Engineered_Negligible_Senescence

I think strategies related to lengthening telomeres is rather valid. The last time I looked, there were a number of companies (reputable or otherwise) that are actively pursuing it. There's at least one that claims that they can do it now (and their "treatments" are EXPENSIVE).

Basically, telomeres are like fuses that control cell death. After so many replications, the telomeres shorten to the point where cell replication ceases. Some animals are or may be biologically immortal (hydra, one species of jellyfish), and proponents of telomere lengthening argue that the species are immortal because their telomeres do not shorten.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_immortality

I guess there have been some studies that show successful reversal of some aging processes in mice.

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neo-dragon
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Anyone watching the current season of Torchwood, aka "Miracle Day"?

The premise is that everyone on Earth is suddenly granted immortality. Of course, it's not the typical eternal youth and super healing kind. People still age, get sick, and suffer debilitating injuries, they just don't die from them.

The show addresses the related issues such as the skyrocketing population, and the need to completely rethink medicine and healthcare as well as the definition of murder.

But to address the point of this thread more directly, I've put a fair amount of thought into it. From my perspective here are the pros and cons of immortality (of the typical eternal youth variety):

Pros:
- Don't have to worry about death (obviously), growing old and frail, or maintaining good health.
- Get to live long enough to see what becomes of Earth and the human race.
- Enough time to do anything you could possibly want to.

Cons:
- Boredom
- Watching Loved ones grow old and die... over and over again.
- Memory limits? I tried looking into this one briefly but didn't find any definitive answers. The question is, how many memories can the human brain hold? How many centuries could a person live before he could no longer remember his parents' names and faces or where he came from?

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manji
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I always wonder why people assume that boredom would be an issue with immortality. Or rather, why it would be even more of an issue than it is today. Many people are already bored, or at least dissatisfied, with their lives.

For particularly energetic immortals, I doubt boredom would be an insurmountable problem, as they would find something to occupy their energy and time.

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0Megabyte
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Very true. It always seems that fiction places immortality into one of those boxes. It would be boring! It would be too sad! Etc, etc... honestly, it sounds a bit like sour grapes to me.

Immortality sounds like fun! Unless there can be only one... then I'd have to cut off the heads of the other immortals with a katana, and God knows how I'd deal with it years later when some incredibly stupid aliens appear to attack me for no reason, since they get everything they wanted by leaving me be.

Wait, sorry, that's the plot of the first two Highlander films. Never mind.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
Do you know who else was a fan of eugenics?


Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

And nearly all of the academic community in the early 20th century!

Nazis certainly didn't have a monopoly on Eugenics, and indeed many American academics praised Nazi Eugenics at the time. I wasn't trying to call AH a Nazi, I was just confirming that his apparent position is that of a eugenicist.

Roosevelt and Churchill were also racists ...just like most of the academic community in the early 20th century. But while racism isn't very popular here anymore, and the name Eugenics has certainly fallen out of favor, some of the underlying principles of Eugenics are still bandied about today. Especially among college-aged Americans. See the movie Idiocracy, for example.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Lyrhawn, have you read any of Kage Baker's The Company series?

I haven't, but this looks pretty interesting.

Have you read them? How quick a read are they?

I've read and enjoyed the first one (free ebook), and plan to continue eventually.
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Mucus
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A thought.

Watching loved ones grow old and die.

I can see emotionally where people are coming from, but it seems to me that there's an element of selfishness there. Even now, chances are you're going to watch loved ones grow old and many will die. If you have a partner, the common choices are that you'll watch them die, or that they'll watch you die. It seems to me that the more selfless scenario is to be around and comfort them while they die, rather than die first and have them deal with losing you.

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Samprimary
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quote:
But what do you guys think about the implacations of living forever, only really dying when and if you want to? I kind of like the idea, but I've only lived a mere 27 years, so my experience is limited. Maybe by the time I'm 80 years old I'll want to go ahead and die. Who can say?
do it, then if at 80 you want to make that choice, feel free to choose to die.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I'd sign up.

I'd be the best historian ever.

My thoughts exactly, I'ld sign up for this reason.

And if I kept my youth, I'ld be the first to find out if sex ever gets boring.

Personally, I think I'd rather be the LAST person to find out if sex ever gets boring.
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neo-dragon
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quote:
Originally posted by manji:
I always wonder why people assume that boredom would be an issue with immortality. Or rather, why it would be even more of an issue than it is today. Many people are already bored, or at least dissatisfied, with their lives.

For particularly energetic immortals, I doubt boredom would be an insurmountable problem, as they would find something to occupy their energy and time.

The thing is, a mortal mind simply can't conceive of infinity. Not as more than an abstract concept, anyway. The fact that people suffer from boredom now with their 80 years or so of life in which they can't possibly experience more than a fraction of what existence has to offer only seems to confirm the fact that given billions of years people would run out of things they find worth doing.
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AchillesHeel
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Part of that boredom is the aging of the brain and how capable we are at learning new things at older ages. As a part of the digital generation I can't quite understand why anyone would so wholly ignore such fascinating technology that is literally turning science fiction into fact, but it still took my grand-mother two years before she stopped asking which button on her cellphone was the pick-up button.
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shadowland
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quote:
Originally posted by neo-dragon:
The fact that people suffer from boredom now with their 80 years or so of life in which they can't possibly experience more than a fraction of what existence has to offer only seems to confirm the fact that given billions of years people would run out of things they find worth doing.

I think one of the primary reasons why people get bored with their lives is because they don't feel they have enough time to pursue some of the things they would really like to do or think would be interesting, so they do less interesting things instead. It's not that they've run out of things they find worth doing, it's that their available time limits what they can pursue.

It would seem to me that having more future time available to pursue activities and goals would only increase the number of things I would find worth doing. Sure, there would be many boring moments, but I don't think my life in general would be boring.

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Jeff C.
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If I lived forever (or at least several thousand years), I'd try to do a wide variety of things and get multiple careers. I'd be a lawyer, a writer, an artist, a writer, I'd learn how to play an entire orchestra, I'd own a business and accumulate a vast empire of wealth, I'd explore the world, and then hopefully find a way to travel amongst the stars at some point.

Because really, if you're able to position yourself in the right place in society or accumulate enough money, you'd probably want to start funding scientific ventures, like space travel. It seems logical for someone who lives for that long to eventually want to do that. Once you're out exploring the galaxy, your life will change considerably. Even if you didn't go out amongst the stars like that, the world itself would continue to change anyway, and you'd get see a lot of scientific progress, which is always cool.

If any of you have ever seen Man From Earth, you might remember the main character said something about how the longer you live, the faster the days are. It's like when you were a kid and a day seemed to stretch on forever, but now they're relatively short. Supposedly that's true, so if you lived to be that long, a day in your mind might be a week or a month. If that's the case, maybe you'd only remember a few things, like key events, while forgetting trivial events like what you had for breakfast or whatever. It'd make sense if you think about it.

Anyway, that's one answer to what someone asked about memory, but here's another: we are constantly forming new pathways whenever we learn something. Our brains change over time, and we even grow new brain cells (it's true) in a process called Neurogenesis, although it's not a frequent event. Well, your brain can hold almost an infinite amount of information. Obviously there's a limit, but studies have shown that it's impossible to fill all of it up, even over the course of several lifetimes. Now, if we somehow did, I think our brains would adapt somehow, possibly in the way I mentioned earlier.

Also something cool to note: over the course of a single day, your brain changes its neural pathways at least a few times. In fact, less than a few hours after you learn something, your pathways change. That's how complex our brains are.

Just some food for thought.

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