My youngest and I got into a discussion about afterlife/living forever last night. At 14, he has’nt much in the life experience department, and obviously the thought of living forever appeals to him at this point of time. He is in agreement that having to “repeat” a life doesnt sound too good (so much for re-incarnation), but that he would not hesitate to make use of any type of science that the future might hold that would prolong his life indefinately.
I, on the other hand, feel that this would be akin to hell.
What is your personal take on this? If the science existed, would you opt for eternal life in your current body?
Well, current science precludes living forever because of entropy. One can talk about life extension but only until the universe runs out of usable energy. More pressingly, our stellar region will eventually succumb to a level of entropy beyond which we cannot survive, and any other galaxies may have moved so far away by then due to expansion that they’re unreachable. Humanity (if it still exists in one form or the other) dies a slow protracted death until it exhausts it’s last bits of energy. (OR chooses to end itself and spare itself the pain).
The only way out here is finding a way to reverse entropy. My hopes for that wouldn’t be too good.
Granted that’s billionses of years and as far as we’re concerned “forever”. So lets take that argument and run with it…
I’d like to live as long as I want given the opportunity to “opt out” at any point. I may find reason to wonder and explore for all that ‘eternity’, and enjoy it. Or I may succumb to being tired of life, bored, or something else I can’t anticipate because no-one has lived that long. I mean with that opportunity it makes interstellar travel a possibility, etc. So I mean what wonders you could go explore! Possibly, who knows, finding life out there, alternate worlds… perhaps science discovers even more wonderous things to go and experience/explore: wormhole travel? alcubierre drive, who knows… but I could never find out if I decide to end myself, or by implication, not extend my life. Hence that decision would be a major one I wouldn’t take lightly.
Basically I’m pro-choice eternal life. I’d love for humanity to have the tools to make that decision, and see where it flows from there.
Yes, if I could I would live forever with a body that never ages.
A few reasons comes to mind: There is still alot of things I would like to experience in life, alot of things a would like to achieve, alot of places I would like to see.
I would like to explore other worlds other life, i would like to space travel.
I would like to experience and see all the interesting technology that would exist in the future. I would like to be able to time travel. And I think there is still alot to learn of life and philosophy. And I would never be able to get tired of nature.
Yes the world is depressing sometimes but it gets better the next day.
There is no life for me after I die. I fear death.
And the more athiests that live longer the better the world would be…
i would love to live forever. i would hate to have to work forever though. and, even as you get older, and gain more experience, surely you can only get as qualified, and your mind can only concieve so many concepts. so you may start off being a rocket scientist, and it kick ass untill your are 864, but then rocket science and it’s branches are obsolete, and there isn’t a field in which you can adapt or learn sufficiently to make an awesome living. so you can to find what equates to a basically building novelities and toys, or running an antiques shop, or being a history professor (basic example, but you get the gist).
i allso want to travel space, find aliens, fall asleep watching jupiter’s gaint storm in my window.
but with that, goes life enhancing/extending technology. nanos, consciousness transferral. how does the synanpses of the human brain deal with such prolonged functioning? and, how will technology change the human form and mind? morality will change, cultures will change. you may eventually find yourself unable to adapt to a new and strange world, and being ostracized for being ‘normal’ and ‘outdated’.
No, not forever, and for two reasons. First, read Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, especially the third part where Gulliver meets the immortal Struldbruggs. To them, there is no end of tomorrows — every day there’s another tomorrow — so they never feel any need to do anything today, and hence they never actually do anything at all (apart from being generally miserable as well as senile around the age of 80, the latter of which isn’t really relevant to this discussion).
Second, there isn’t much to live for once you have reached one of two nexus points, namely (a) you understand everything there is to understand (or at least everything that is of even the slightest interest to you), or (b) you come to understand all that is within your capacity to understand, including that there are many interesting things that are simply beyond your ability to grasp and which will forever remain so. I don’t see that life could be interesting after that. Forever, as that song says, is a mighty long time.
As an aside relevant to reply #1, if there was a systematic way to reverse the trend towards increased universal entropy, time would reverse (to the best of our current scientific knowledge). This would mean that “you” could be born and die as often as “you” like. I’m sure there must be sci-fi stories out there that exploit this theme, though I can’t recall any…
Not forever, but as long as I want to, my choice when I want to end my existence. Have the time to do anything, learn anything, see humanity reach it’s potential, or not. Travel the stars, see what we don’t know about physics. I’ve got probably 50 more years left with any luck, 100 if science progresses as it should. Just imagine what we could be doing in 50 years. Just the possibility of what happens next would give me motivation to keep on living as long as my body keeps.
Well even if we extend our lives we still need energy, which means we have to eat, which means we need to make food, somehow. If we don’t, we die, so there’s no more endless tomorrows, hence we are motivated to atleast do things that ensure our survival. You could conceivably automate things to the point where all your food, drink, and all desires you have are fulfilled through seamless automation. But you’ve just bought yourself a ticket to the point that earth becomes uninhabitable due to expansion from the sun. Now you have to start working on that interstellar travel problem before that day arrives, otherwise once again, you’re dead, no endless tomorrows.
I don’t think having the capacity to “live forever” implies immortality. Accidents, black-holes, exploding suns, rogue asteroids, murderers, etc… can still ruin your eternity.
At the end of the day, considering the vastness of our cosmos and the time frame we have to try and explore and pry it apart until everything disappears over our visible/travel-able horizon… I’d say we’re going to be in a mad rush of discovery for a while still… and those who are not interested, will probably sit and veg. And if they so feel, just end it for themselves. More power to them… But I’m not one of those people.
I don’t think though, that our identity as “man” will be quite the same in a million or so years from now, nevermind a billion. I’m quite open to exploring a human hive-mind like idea where we are all neurally interconnected and living as a single organism with boundless experiences and explorations to be had at the whim of a thought. Perhaps that makes you bored quickly. Perhaps it doesn’t.
As an aside, check out this for a cool intro to the state-of-the-art in neural interfacing techniques. It’s quite breathtaking in opening one up for speculation.
Second, there isn’t much to live for once you have reached one of two nexus points, namely (a) you understand everything there is to understand (or at least everything that is of even the slightest interest to you), or (b) you come to understand all that is within your capacity to understand, including that there are many interesting things that are simply beyond your ability to grasp and which will forever remain so.
I assume you mean after neural augmentation?
I don’t see that life could be interesting after that. Forever, as that song says, is a mighty long time.
Indeed, but I can’t help thinking that most old people, however world-weary, are still suddenly a bit miff when those final hours arrive and they think about how much more they could’ve done, only to find themselves powerless to change the outcome.
I think a person could do many jobs in his life, chase countless dreams we currently write off as just “undoable” etc… if given the opportunity.
I’d also like to work on the assumption that keeping one young includes keeping the brain “supple” and adaptable to change, I’ll infer for a moment that the brain becomes more set in it’s ways due to aging. I’m very open for correction on this.
As an aside relevant to reply #1, if there was a systematic way to reverse the trend towards increased universal entropy, time would reverse (to the best of our current scientific knowledge).
Indeed, the only hope is that physics doesn’t work the way we think today.
I was proceeding from the point of departure that “forever” really is forever. Also, I think you may have missed Swift’s point that, done long enough, mundanity = death in everything but name. Sure, nobody knows how we’ll progress as a species or how knowledge will develop or what directions it may take. The best we can do is to relate the question to what we presently know and how we think things might be in the future. Of course, this raises the strong likelihood that one’s answer to the question posed may be very much dependent on where you find yourself historically. Speaking allegorically, it would come as no surprise to learn that God committed suicide while in a funk of omni-misery when humdrum trumped hope.
i actually just finished reading a scifi novel about people living to like a 1000 years, due to nanotechnology, and instead of mad exploration, they are all spending their lives changing their gender/appearance as per fashion, having sex, doing dangerous sports (since the nano’s keep them alive), and spending years travelling between stars and planets in stasis, since time means nothing to them.
they allso had no murders or crime, and trade-currency, everything is for free. nobody works, the machines do everything.
there are two ‘tribes’ of peoples, who shun the nano’s, and is engaged in war and fighting, and have their god/s.
and the tribes who don’t live that long, are the ones taking the time to explore the weird phenomena in the universe, risking their lives in trying dangerous things, needed to gather info.
i think that with vastly extended life, comes boredom, apathy, and within the first hundred or so years, you see what you want to see, do what you want to do, and after that spend your time trying to find stuff to keep you interrested.
This is a very interesting discussion and one I’ve had a few times with religious people. My answer is “Hell no” and the reason is along the lines of the Swift example that Mefiante gave and the Sci-Fi story that GCG discussed.
An eternity of Heaven would be hell. No matter what you get to do in Heaven, no matter how much you love doing it, eventually it will become tedious. It’s a concept that’s hard for people who believe in an eternal soul to accept.
The example that I give is a Star Trek: Voyager episode called Quincy (and I happily give them the episode to watch). In Star Trek, there is a race of beings called the Q who are what we might consider gods; they can materialise and dematerialise anywhere and anywhen in the universe and cause any effect on the physical universe that they want to. They can go back and watch the big bang as often as they like or go read a book in the peace and quiet after the universe has run down.
In this episode one member of the Q seeks asylum with the crew of Voyager and because the Q enjoy the “quaintness” of humans they play along with concepts like asylum because it usually leads to something more interesting down the line. The Q seeking asylum has to argue the case for why he wants to leave the Q-continuum and become mortal. He takes the crew into the Q-continuum and they perceive it in a way their human brains can understand; a long, straight, infinitely-long desert road with a run-down fifties garage at the roadside. On the porch are some people sitting and waiting.
Why don’t they go somewhere more interesting? Well, they have. They have all (independently) decided to go to both ends of the road on a whim (yeah, I know you can’t practically get there, but they did). Why don’t they talk to each other? They have run out of things to say, they have said everything that could be said and they’ve all taken on both sides of the discussion. Why don’t they do something? They’ve done everything, they have spent hundreds of years as the other person, they’ve all been the dog on the porch - or even been the porch for a millenium. There’s simply nothing left to do. And on the infinite timescale they’re not even close to a tenth of the way to the end, so they might as well wait.
It’s pretty easy to see why Quincy begged to be mortal so that he could one day die. Even knowing that there was a possibility of death and an end to it all is all he really wanted.
It’s funny, but they don’t like to talk to me about an eternal Heaven after that.
This sums up in entirety how I feel and perceive eternal life. I often get the line of “but you’ll be spending it with your loved ones and close family!!” - Yeah? I dont particularly LIKE my close family and my loved ones are my S/O and two kids. This forms the totality of my close relationships with people, so what the hell am I to look forward to actually here again? To spend time with my crazy dad and woo-bevarked Mom? Huh-uh, no thanks, closing my eyes to eternal sleep with zero conciousness sounds much more appealing to me.
It seems the feeling in general is that we don’t want to live forever (even in perfect health) because we will eventually run out of things to do. And even the things we enjoy doing today, will become humdrum eventually ( I don’t think this is nescesarily true, but nevertheless, lets assume that it is).
Therefor, infinite boredom is considered worse than death.
A comparatively simple creature, like a cat or a Croton, who is not overly obsessed with the mere entertainment value of life, will presumably not “mind” living forever. But wether such a creature has any concept of death in the first place is, of course, another matter.
I know nothing about souls, but if it is devoid of conciousness, and basically a “mindless creature”, then eternity in Heaven may no be as agonising as it appears at first glance.
So if god has any decency and wants to ensure that heaven doesn’t become a hell, he’d rob us of our highest cognitive abilities and we’d be his assorted pets and pot plants in the afterlife.
We’d have no memory of having higher cognitive abilities so we wouldn’t miss them. We’d be unable to understand our own memories and (in essence) the person that we were would cease to exist - an eternal death.