Dreamers and skeptics

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Who wants to live forever? Sign me up.

Researchers say a new range of drugs may unlock the key to a much longer lifespan: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2291254/New-drug-developed-using-compound-red-wine-help-humans-live-150.html

I discussed this a long time ago on this blog. Most of us have a few beliefs outside the mainstream. Maybe you think the Sasquatch is real (he isn’t) or aliens abducted your dad (they didn’t). My quirky idea, though, is entirely sensible, I swear it!

Here goes: Barring mass extinction or a cataclysmic event that stops scientific advancement, humans will become immortal.

We won’t be impervious to being crushed, shot or dynamited Looney Tunes style. But it seems inevitable to me that the factors that cause our bodies to age and eventually die – all of them physical factors, governed by the same laws that govern all physical materials – will one day come under our control.

Don’t get too excited. While this kind of research is ramping up fairly quickly, it’s probably too late for you and me. We’ll probably miss the window. My guess, though, is that your grandkids or their kids will be alive when humanity has its first immortals.

What baffles me is the people who argue against the appeal of immortality. I guess if you were religious, a prolonged life would just be more time apart from loved ones and your creator. But for the non-believers among us, the choice seems pretty simple. After all, if you ever get too bored to continue, you can always off yourself. Why wouldn’t you want the option of living as long as you could?

Then there are those who come up with what they think are moral objections.

“It’s unnatural.”

“What about resources for the next generation?”

“Will everyone have access to it?”

The first of these three is stupid. What is natural? Everything is natural and everything we construct is natural. Our evolution is on the cusp of transcending  biological determinism but that doesn’t mean we’re becoming unnatural.

The other two objections are good questions to ponder but should not stop advancement. Immortality will have massive, in some cases unfathomable, repercussions and we’ll muddle through it as our species has always muddled through things. The idea society must be perfected before it can advance another step is a great and dangerous fallacy.

These drugs aren’t promising immortality of course. But extended longevity could be the first step. Think about it: if immortality is still a hundred years away, a drug extending life to 150 years will get the middle-aged among us to that distant date.

Longevity drugs (and, it should be said, healthy living) may spell the difference between being the last generation to die and the first generation to live forever.

My colleague Dave says my immortality talk is complete foolishness.

"Maybe in the far, far, far distant future" it could happen, but not any time soon: "We can't even cure the common cold."

I think Dave is wrong, of course, but I wonder what you think: Are you an Erician or a Daveist in your optimism/skepticism about immortality?

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