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Eternal Life - Pros & Cons. If not, why not?

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Meadow337, Jan 9, 2014.

  1. Meadow337

    Meadow337 Former Moderator

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    Splitting this question off from the evolution thread because it is interesting enough to warrant its own discussion.

    So - eternal life / greatly extended life span - if technology / *cough* evolution permits and it becomes possible - what are your thoughts?

    Generally the view is quite polarised on this. Some say YES! Great idea, life is too short, it just gets going when its over and imagine having the time to do, experience, learn more.

    Others say its a really bad idea - ennui and boredom will set in quickly and we and society will stagnate.
     
  2. Dmitri Dmitriev

    Dmitri Dmitriev Member

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    Okay, since we are doing this discussion here, I want to reiterate the last three comments on the Evolution thread.

     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2014
  3. regdog

    regdog Moderator Staff Member

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    Eternal life is a bad idea. There are not enough natural resources on the planet to sustain billions of people living forever because it will climb to trillions etc. Life is a cycle, one that must end.
     
  4. Meadow337

    Meadow337 Former Moderator

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    Lets assume that without the biological pressure of needing to reproduce to replenish the generations and 'carry on your name / genes/ whatever makes ppl feel this way' the birthrate will drop exponentially creating a stable population.

    Personally for me, I'm only just discovering who I am, the thought of running out time to explore everything I want to see, learn, know, read, experience, visit is horrifying.
     
  5. Dmitri Dmitriev

    Dmitri Dmitriev Member

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    Dearest Sneezy and sparkchaser,
    I feel as though these topics are ones we have already tackled (or begun to tackle) in the previous century.

    Hitler and his Nazi's attempted to use human evolution as an excuse to kill all the Jews and create a "superior Aryan race." We won't be able to control artificial evolution (to such an extent) for humans because we can't force them into a pen, or force them to mate without severely damaging our ethics and society.
    On the other hand, people who know their genetic line is at risk for certain diseases might be very careful when choosing a mate or having a baby if it means their child has a lower chance of being born with said disease/disorder. Would you abort a baby if you knew it was going to be born with SCID's? How about autism? Would you design a baby to reduce the chance of having cancer later in life? How about having blue eyes, or a smarter brain?

    Life extension is already here in the form of life support (and other medical aids). An added ~20 years might not be eternal life, (and in many cases is only available to the suitably wealthy (ie. us)), but nobody says "Goddamn, now those old fogies will live forever." Rather they praise the technology for preserving and sustaining the life we hold so dear.

    I feel like the reaction to eternal/infinitely extended life would be rather similar.
     
  6. Meadow337

    Meadow337 Former Moderator

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    I feel there are several issues you have raised Dmitri, personally I feel quite passionately strongly that until the whole study of DNA is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more advanced than it is now, giving in to fear mongering nonsense by saying because your DNA says you have an X% chance of ... you must take this or that action when there are SOOOO many other factors in addition to just DNA that result in the expression of the potential is just plain stupidity, and dangerous, as the more people who give in to such fear-based medical advice is just giving them ammunition to force people to have abortions if certain conditions exist ie eugenics.

    The ethics of society? Don't make me laugh. If you think people will rise up and make an outcry you are sadly mistaken - to use your own example - where was the outcry amongst the average German citizen when they started burning books and building the camps? We are giving up rights left and right center in the name of 'safety' and getting any one worked up about that is impossible. They looked the other way for economic growth, national pride and well just the age old 'not my problem' thing us humans do so well. They did it then, we are doing it now. We will do it in the future.

    I do agree with you about the general attitude to longer life. When its either your own life or dear old Gramps - very few people will say 'don't do anything to let me have a few more years'.
     
  7. Peder

    Peder Well-Known Member

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    For those interested in some serious reading on the topic:

    "Winner of the Pulitzer prize in 1974 and the culmination of a life's work, The Denial of Death is Ernest Becker's brilliant and impassioned answer to the "why" of human existence. In bold contrast to the predominant Freudian school of thought, Becker tackles the problem of the vital lie -- man's refusal to acknowledge his own mortality. In doing so, he sheds new light on the nature of humanity and issues a call to life and its living that still resonates more than twenty years after its writing." - Amazon summary​

    Perhaps a little dated, but more convincing to me than most modern feel-good (or existentialist) books on the topic. And one can learn something about Kierkegaard along the way.
     
  8. regdog

    regdog Moderator Staff Member

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    I understand. There is so much I want to see and do and don't know if I'll be able to, but to live forever. Not for me. Imagine see endless wars, death, suffering. the accidental deaths of countless people you are about. Sure there are great things to be seen and done. but that's why we have to make the most of what time we do have.

    And again, the earth cannot sustain a population that never dies off
     
  9. Dmitri Dmitriev

    Dmitri Dmitriev Member

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    I agree, the earth can't sustain such a population... but I'd like to think of eternal life as one where we don't die from old age and not the kind that survives gross mutilation (left untreated, of course). (Such immortality only exists in fiction and among the most spineless creatures of our planet (ie. jellyfish, worms, starfish).)

    I wonder if eventually, when the stresses on the earth truly become unbearable, we will be ruled by more socialist (or communist) policies to control resources... or if we will develop a culture that cuts the heads of those who fail to contribute to society (or meet their quota).

    I do believe in the ethics of society, and I believe people will cry out if they feel something is unjust, unfair, or inhumane. In the fascist totalitarian state of Nazi Germany, those who cried out (too loudly) were hushed and the rest either didn't know, were scared shitless, or (like you said) didn't care. But "not my problem" is someone else's problem, and those someone else's usually group together and find a way to change (or escape:confused:) the state of affairs. History has many examples; if humans are unhappy, then there can be a war or a revolution (or both!)(and on a smaller scale, lawsuits, petitions, and compromises). I don't see why that won't happen again in the case of artificial evolution.
     
  10. readsalot

    readsalot Member

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    Eternal life on this Earth would probably be a bad idea b/c of natural resources.
     
  11. Meadow337

    Meadow337 Former Moderator

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    Just a word about resources - right now there is no shortage of food. We produce enough food to feed everyone. What there is is incredible disparity in distribution and astronomical waste. Did you know fully 1/3 of all food is wasted just because we don't like 'imperfect' food. No twisty carrots - just straight ones. Only round potatoes etc.

    If we just changed that and made that food available, there are both the means and resources to do it, but no will whatsoever, we could change the face of world hunger today.

    Instead what we have is politics which pays farmers not to farm and GMO crops owned by corporations who sue if you are a victim of the natural processes of nature.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2014
  12. readsalot

    readsalot Member

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    Probably all true...but how are you going to change the hearts of the politicians and money hungry corporations?
     
  13. Meadow337

    Meadow337 Former Moderator

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    The same way anything changes - when it becomes unprofitable to continue as it is, it will change.

    I think however that my point was that there are more than enough resources to feed the world now with current technology, with farmers being paid not to farm, etc. In the future who knows what we can do, so to say 'resources' is a reason for being against longevity isn't really a valid one. I assume that all technology will advance, including food production.
     
  14. Conscious Bob

    Conscious Bob Well-Known Member

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    It may be that for humans to travel vast distances through space some sort of life extension science may be applicable.
     
  15. Gita V.Reddy

    Gita V.Reddy Active Member

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    No. I am certain we would value life less if we were eternal. Change too would become difficult in the world because people would stick to their ideas and that would lead to more conflict. The conflicts might not lead in deaths because we would be immortal but there could be other types of destruction.
    Many of us might procrastinate for ever :), where would be the hurry to achieve anything?
    What a load of memories we would have to carry? What if they were painful ones?
    How about the stages of life? Would we all be immortal children? It might be fun but who would look after us? Young for ever? Forever in a golden youth? Or old, and living on and on? I prefer a mortal life; a cycle to enjoy the different seasons of life. I like to begin a day with the thought that it was a precious gift and would like to live it as if it was my last.

    ,
     
  16. Meadow337

    Meadow337 Former Moderator

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    On the other hand we might grow, mature, learn, develop. Peace might actually finally be achievable because the world might not be run by people with emotional IQ of a 2 year old where they play stupid tit-for-tat games with people's lives, and we might grow out of thinking that violence is a solution to anything.

    Imagine a life where we go on past the point where we just start to learn what is actually important in life.
     
  17. Peder

    Peder Well-Known Member

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    I, very personally, think the evidence is quite ambiguous on whether human beings have a propensity for good or for bad behavior. That a capability for each exists, in each and every person, it seems to me there is no doubt. But "propensity?" I wonder. I'm inclined more to think that an old old urge for survival is what beats to some degree in all of our breasts, the subliminal instinct of days long gone by when, it was vital for the survival of the species..

    You can tell I have a somewhat dim view of what people are capable of --- not just the "other" guys -- but we, all of us, ourselves.
     
  18. Meadow337

    Meadow337 Former Moderator

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    While on the other hand I have both hope and optimism :)
     
  19. Peder

    Peder Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I'm afraid that is a deep-seated difference between us.
     
  20. Meadow337

    Meadow337 Former Moderator

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    vive la différence - this is what makes life interesting.
     

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