Documenting the Coming Singularity

Monday, June 11, 2007

Death is Swallowed Up

"But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory."

Although the means may be different, the passion is the same, the desire to overturn the rule of death, to make taxes the only thing that's certain. The sentiment expressed by the apostle arises in the breast of all humanity, a shaking of fists against a ruthless destroyer. We say together, Let us have an end to death's reign.

I wish it were so. One would think, at least I would, that we would all feel this way. Not to force unending life upon those who do not want it, but rather to allow for the choice. Death now leaves no alternative. I vote for options.

I vote for a world in which anyone who so desires can choose to be healthy and strong indefinitely; rejuvenation treatments every 10 years, but only if you want them. I vote for the option to make backups of our minds that can be restored in artificial bodies should accidental death occur. I vote for the choice to be uploaded into virtual worlds, and to live there as long as I want to. I don't think that's asking too much.

I learned this morning of the death of a beloved aunt, gone at 66 years of age. The pattern of her experiences and personality, as wonderful as they were, are gone forever. Yes, a part of her lives on in our own memories, but the person she was is no more. Why should she have ended at 66?

Some have expressed to me that desiring more than 80 years or so seems greedy. Enough is enough. Life would get boring after that. But why 80 years? We only choose that number because it happens to be our approximate, average life expectancy where we live. Should those who live in Botswana be happy with 40 years? Would they be tired of life after 40 years? How about Ethiopians at 45?

The fact is, these numbers are completely arbitrary. We only think that 80 is acceptable and should be enough for anyone because that happens to be about all we can expect at this moment and in this country. Those who accept the Bible literally should recall that Methuselah lived to 969, and no one complains that he must have been bored from 80 on.

It's almost as if most of us have been brainwashed into a quiescent melancholy or quiet cynicism so that we accept death with meekness and without complaint. It is my belief that radical life-extension will come anyway, but perhaps it would arrive sooner if we all wanted death to be swallowed up.

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Spaceman Spiff said...

I want death to be swallowed up, and along with it greed, oppression, hatred and everything else that enslaves us.

It is notable that after we had eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and introduced corruption, God went to great lengths to prevent us from eating of the tree of life.

One way of understanding that is that God knows that eternal life for beings who had made such a choice would be torment, and that fruit would not be good for us until we had been redeemed.

I don't way wanting more than 80 years is greedy. But I do say grabbing for more than 80 while so many do not get 40 is greedy. And I do say the only reason it is a remote possibility is because of what our greed has produced. If we were primarily concerned with justice, with ending cycles of poverty, and the exploitation of such cycles, then such technology would be a lot farther away.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry about your Aunt. It hurts.

Two things -

1. Think about the possibility that we are already immortal.

2. If earth is overcrowded now, think how it would be if there was no physical death, or as is more likely the case, no more physical death for the wealthy. In our present state, physical immortality would lead to more social inequities than we have now, or a totalitarianism that would make those of the past seem mild. Get starships, then the situation may be different.