Immortality

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Re: Immortality

Postby AvatarIII » Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:59 pm UTC

I'll assume SerialTroll is trolling, but immortality for humanity could potentially lead to stagnation.

If humans were immortal in the sense they never died, EVER, that's all well and good, humanity could spread throughout space, but in a world where you can potentially live forever, but you still need to eat, and you can die by accident, the dangers and difficulties of space-flight would still exist, either the world would become over populated or people would stop having kids out of fear of overpopulation. the potential to live forever would probably put and end to dangerous pass-times or jobs, when you have a potential lifespan of forever, who is going to work the mines? this may lead to a world like the one depicted in the movie Surrogates, where people exist by proxy, holed up in panic rooms for fear of getting hit by a bus. Also in a world with infinite time, there would be no sense of urgency, I think human culture would becomes unrecognisable, and it's almost worthless speculating because it's a pretty unimaginable situation, it's hard enough imagining what the world will be like in less than a decade!

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Re: Immortality

Postby SerialTroll » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:26 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Care to clarify or support that claim, like, at all?


I'm glad you asked. There are a couple of reasons I have come to this concusion. I am not sure which is the most important component of the argument as either in isolation would be enough to spell the end of an advancing humanity.

1) Risk Aversion. Humankind advances have always been on the back of risk taking. Human space exploration is notoriously risky. Flight. Nuclear power. Even non-science based advances like the abolition of slavery have had a huge element of risk and cost in terms of human life. If I could snap my fingers and make us all unaging, then the price of these activities goes up. A fourty year old risking his life is only gambling another 35 years or so of his life. An unaging person is giving up centuries, millienia or more.

Assuming that folks stop having kids because of immortality or at least greatly reduce procreation out of a desire not to overpopulate, then we also will see a lower desire for risk taking. Young folks are most likely to engage in risky behavior, both positive and negative. Risk is necessary in the advance of society, and a progressively older society will become progressively risk averse.

Someone might argue that such a society would be more stable as a trade off to the speed of technological and societal advance. They might be right. But can you imagine hat society competing with a younger more nimble society? The younger one, not concerned about immortal individual units would run circles around the older one.

2) Innovation vs Age

Innovation and change rarely comes about because each and every memenr of society becomes convinced of a change. Rather society changes when a member comes up with a new innovation and convinces a group that he or she is right. Part of society resists the change but over time, a younger generation buys into the idea and you see societal change as a result of generational change.

Imagine if I could snap my fingers and make humans not age. But imagine I did this in the year 1800. Slavery. Women couldn't vote. Would this society ever evolve into one where blacks were free and women could vote. Would that society ever evolve into one where two men could marry? I sincerely doubt it. Political views don't change much once one hits 35 or so, at least not in the majority of people. As we get older, this becomes more and more true. While I am sure you can find a a counterexample, as a whole people stagnate in their views. Can you imagine the patriarchal society voluntarilly giving up power? Can you imagine the slaveholders giving up their livelihood? And there will be no civil war because you generally only convince young ones to give up their life. And then only when the perceived benefit outweights the perceived cost. And giving up immortality is one hell of a high cost.

I'd write more, but I have to leave. Hopefully I articulated the crux of my position and would be glad to elaborate more tonight.

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Re: Immortality

Postby SerialTroll » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:28 pm UTC

AvatarIII wrote:I'll assume SerialTroll is trolling, but immortality for humanity could potentially lead to stagnation.

If humans were immortal in the sense they never died, EVER, that's all well and good, humanity could spread throughout space, but in a world where you can potentially live forever, but you still need to eat, and you can die by accident, the dangers and difficulties of space-flight would still exist, either the world would become over populated or people would stop having kids out of fear of overpopulation. the potential to live forever would probably put and end to dangerous pass-times or jobs, when you have a potential lifespan of forever, who is going to work the mines? this may lead to a world like the one depicted in the movie Surrogates, where people exist by proxy, holed up in panic rooms for fear of getting hit by a bus. Also in a world with infinite time, there would be no sense of urgency, I think human culture would becomes unrecognisable, and it's almost worthless speculating because it's a pretty unimaginable situation, it's hard enough imagining what the world will be like in less than a decade!


Trolling can be a noble pursuit. I am defining immorat as unaging, not true immortality. I would not want true immortality on earth as I cannot imagine the horror of being buried alive or thrown into a volcano with no prospect of the torture eveer ending. If you haven't read "I Have No Mouth, but I Must Scream", I highly recommend it.

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Re: Immortality

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:29 pm UTC

SerialTroll wrote:Trolling can be a noble pursuit.
Not on the xkcd forums, it can't.
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Re: Immortality

Postby SerialTroll » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:02 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
SerialTroll wrote:Trolling can be a noble pursuit.
Not on the xkcd forums, it can't.


Sure it can. It might be frowned upon or even disallowed. But it don't change the intent. Provocative statements can either be an immature person looking for attention or an attempt to change a mindset. this ties in nicely to my original thesis which is that immortality of humans is the death of mankind. As folks age, they become less tolerant of this change. Less tolerant of provocative statements. Calcified.

George Carlin was a master troll and even if I don't agree with all of his points of views, I believe his intent was quite noble.

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Re: Immortality

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:08 pm UTC

Not dying of old age isn't the same as 'never dying'. And even if we have technology to, say, upload someone's entire consciousness the moment before impact into a sexy new body, that isn't going to make people LESS risk averse, it's going to make people MORE.

And this 'innovation vs age' think is also kind of silly; while in some fields, like math, it is true that people are generally less creatively productive as they age, in other fields, such as biology, the amount of publications and the quality of publications increases with primary investigators age. One problem with some older PIs in my department is that they are wholly incapable of thinking less than 10-15 year projects, and new students who can't figure out how to get plugged into an on going, multiple grant behemoth of a collaboration kind of wallow.

So immortality killing humanity? Maybe not so much.
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Re: Immortality

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:10 pm UTC

SerialTroll wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
SerialTroll wrote:Trolling can be a noble pursuit.
Not on the xkcd forums, it can't.


Sure it can. It might be frowned upon or even disallowed. But it don't change the intent. Provocative statements can either be an immature person looking for attention or an attempt to change a mindset. this ties in nicely to my original thesis which is that immortality of humans is the death of mankind. As folks age, they become less tolerant of this change. Less tolerant of provocative statements. Calcified.

George Carlin was a master troll and even if I don't agree with all of his points of views, I believe his intent was quite noble.
Playing devil's advocate, while often an excuse for trolling after someone is called out, is not actually the same thing as being a troll.

And in any case what made your one-liner look like potential trolling, apart from your username, had nothing to do with the fact that it was "provocative" or whatever other haughty adjective you think can apply to it. It looked like trolling because it was a one-liner that you were perfectly capable of backing up then and there, but instead chose to leave largely unclarified (e.g. what you mean by "mankind" that's different from "human beings") in hopes of getting a reaction from people asking for you to educate them in the wisdom behind your assertion.
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Re: Immortality

Postby Yoshisummons » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:17 pm UTC

Regardless of trolling or not I think he does have a point on the immortality stagnating Morales. Like currently speaking for gay's rights in America they honestly only have to wait until all the baby boomer generation homophobes die off. Since the older people have a majority of anti-gay rights while the young-ins are fairly unanimous in supporting gay rights.

An even worse prospect would be if in a world of immortal humans the younger generation would be a minority simply due to smaller numbers and unable to change the world to their moral's that disagree with the older generation's.
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Re: Immortality

Postby SerialTroll » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:21 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Not dying of old age isn't the same as 'never dying'. And even if we have technology to, say, upload someone's entire consciousness the moment before impact into a sexy new body, that isn't going to make people LESS risk averse, it's going to make people MORE.

And this 'innovation vs age' think is also kind of silly; while in some fields, like math, it is true that people are generally less creatively productive as they age, in other fields, such as biology, the amount of publications and the quality of publications increases with primary investigators age. One problem with some older PIs in my department is that they are wholly incapable of thinking less than 10-15 year projects, and new students who can't figure out how to get plugged into an on going, multiple grant behemoth of a collaboration kind of wallow.

So immortality killing humanity? Maybe not so much.


I'm on a bit of a civil war kick, and will use it as an example partially because it makes a good contrast with computers and mathematics. Take a look at some of the players in the abolitionist movement like Abe Lincoln. You know when he became inspired to do something about slavery? When he was a young man working in other states, he saw the slave trade and was revolted by it. Those early experiences shaped him for the rest of his life. In an un-aging society, you'd have older folks who are more set in their ways and much less apt to transform their views.

My question to this group. If the cure for aging were invented in 1780, available to all and the United States continued to colonize to the West coast, do you think we would have ever abolished slavery? Would it have happened in the same time frame? Would we have had a civil war? Would it have eventually happened, or would we today still be in the same condition today? The time frame question is the one that I think is the most interesting.

Or take gay rights. In some instances (myself included) people have changed their views on whether people should be allowed to marry folks of the same gender. But for the most part, the transformation of opinion hasn't been based on changing adults' views on the subject. Instead, it has been younger folks getting added to the system with a (relatively) less biased view who have caused the change in % of Americans supporting gay marriage. Old folks die out and take their world views with them. Younger folks are added to the system and bring new views. It is this life cycle that is the main driver of societal change.

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Re: Immortality

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:25 pm UTC

A stagnant society isn't the same as a society that doesn't suffer from old age; presumably, people will still have children, and those children will want to forge their own independence, and since we're making hand wavy assumptions about the world at this point anyway, why not assume there's plenty of room to expand to? I.e., a society that doesn't adapt to the whims of the newer generations is a society that quickly finds itself without any young people, and yes, stagnates. But the fact that people don't die doesn't mean they all have to stay in the same place, or stop having children.
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Re: Immortality

Postby SerialTroll » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:25 pm UTC

Yoshisummons wrote:Regardless of trolling or not I think he does have a point on the immortality stagnating Morales. Like currently speaking for gay's rights in America they honestly only have to wait until all the baby boomer generation homophobes die off. Since the older people have a majority of anti-gay rights while the young-ins are fairly unanimous in supporting gay rights.

An even worse prospect would be if in a world of immortal humans the younger generation would be a minority simply due to smaller numbers and unable to change the world to their moral's that disagree with the older generation's.


Thank you. You and I seem to be on the same wavelength, citing gay rights.

I also want to say that I don't exempt myself from this. I am pushing 40 and have changed my views on quite a few things. I like to think I am open to reasoned discussion. Yet, the more I read about the human brain the more I realize that we are barely a creature of reason. The majority of our opinions and behaviors are the result of societal conditioning and less about logic. To think that I am free from these biases would only confirm that bias and my own prejudices.

If we ever stop the cycle of death and birth, we doom mankind.

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Re: Immortality

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:27 pm UTC

SerialTroll wrote:If we ever stop the cycle of death and birth, we doom mankind.

Heh, again, with these unsubstantiated claims.
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Re: Immortality

Postby SerialTroll » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:31 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:A stagnant society isn't the same as a society that doesn't suffer from old age; presumably, people will still have children, and those children will want to forge their own independence, and since we're making hand wavy assumptions about the world at this point anyway, why not assume there's plenty of room to expand to? I.e., a society that doesn't adapt to the whims of the newer generations is a society that quickly finds itself without any young people, and yes, stagnates. But the fact that people don't die doesn't mean they all have to stay in the same place, or stop having children.


How does one have a society that doesn't age and yet has kids at any kind of rate that increases the population on an ongoing basis?

1) There isn't infinite space. Even if you invent space travel at a reasonable % of light, you will end up with a situation where your home base (Earth and planets nearby where "nearby" keeps growing) will grow older and older and a frontier will be populated by relatively younger folks. Perhaps in this case, you could say humanity hasn't stagnated because there is always a frontier. But even in that case, it will be a scant couple hundred thousand years until you run out of room in this galaxy. And during that time, society is still growing older and older and older. And mind you, that is a very rosy, unrealistic imagining of the future.

2) If you don't colonize space, there is a limit to the number of people you can have. And even if we ignore that and assume that every person will have 2 children (four per couple), the world will still continue to be dominated by older folks. It won't be long until centenarians outpopulate non-centenarians. This will actually be true in the space colonization scenario as well.

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Re: Immortality

Postby SerialTroll » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:32 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
SerialTroll wrote:If we ever stop the cycle of death and birth, we doom mankind.

Heh, again, with these unsubstantiated claims.


Okay, so you pull off the last sentence of my long posts and then claim they are unsubstantiated? Did you bother to read the rest of the post?

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Re: Immortality

Postby SerialTroll » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:39 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
SerialTroll wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
SerialTroll wrote:Trolling can be a noble pursuit.
Not on the xkcd forums, it can't.


Sure it can. It might be frowned upon or even disallowed. But it don't change the intent. Provocative statements can either be an immature person looking for attention or an attempt to change a mindset. this ties in nicely to my original thesis which is that immortality of humans is the death of mankind. As folks age, they become less tolerant of this change. Less tolerant of provocative statements. Calcified.

George Carlin was a master troll and even if I don't agree with all of his points of views, I believe his intent was quite noble.
Playing devil's advocate, while often an excuse for trolling after someone is called out, is not actually the same thing as being a troll.

And in any case what made your one-liner look like potential trolling, apart from your username, had nothing to do with the fact that it was "provocative" or whatever other haughty adjective you think can apply to it. It looked like trolling because it was a one-liner that you were perfectly capable of backing up then and there, but instead chose to leave largely unclarified (e.g. what you mean by "mankind" that's different from "human beings") in hopes of getting a reaction from people asking for you to educate them in the wisdom behind your assertion.


I'm going to suggest that if we want to discuss further trolling or George Carlin that we do so in PM. I gave only a one sentence reply to someone who thought I was trolling and did not intend for it to dominate the immortality discussion.

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Re: Immortality

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:41 pm UTC

Yoshisummons wrote:Regardless of trolling or not I think he does have a point
Right, which should have been just included in the first post.
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Re: Immortality

Postby elasto » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:53 pm UTC

SerialTroll wrote:1) There isn't infinite space. Even if you invent space travel at a reasonable % of light, you will end up with a situation where your home base (Earth and planets nearby where "nearby" keeps growing) will grow older and older and a frontier will be populated by relatively younger folks. Perhaps in this case, you could say humanity hasn't stagnated because there is always a frontier. But even in that case, it will be a scant couple hundred thousand years until you run out of room in this galaxy. And during that time, society is still growing older and older and older. And mind you, that is a very rosy, unrealistic imagining of the future.

2) If you don't colonize space, there is a limit to the number of people you can have. And even if we ignore that and assume that every person will have 2 children (four per couple), the world will still continue to be dominated by older folks. It won't be long until centenarians outpopulate non-centenarians. This will actually be true in the space colonization scenario as well.


Humans may end up defined not in terms of their bodies but their minds - eg. uploaded into countless Matrioshka brains.

Sure, there's still a limit on how many minds a universe can hold but it's essentially an unfathomable number; much, much higher than the number of bodies the universe could support. And, assuming the bottlenecks are in the right place, you could do tricks to increase the number of humans alive by halving the timeslice each one gets - ie having twice as many but running them at half the speed.

Also, people will presumably have kids for quite different motives when they can exert perfect control over their design.

(Hopefully racism and homophobia will be gone by that point but I wouldn't bet my life on it!)

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Re: Immortality

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:53 pm UTC

SerialTroll wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:A stagnant society isn't the same as a society that doesn't suffer from old age; presumably, people will still have children, and those children will want to forge their own independence, and since we're making hand wavy assumptions about the world at this point anyway, why not assume there's plenty of room to expand to? I.e., a society that doesn't adapt to the whims of the newer generations is a society that quickly finds itself without any young people, and yes, stagnates. But the fact that people don't die doesn't mean they all have to stay in the same place, or stop having children.


How does one have a society that doesn't age and yet has kids at any kind of rate that increases the population on an ongoing basis?

1) There isn't infinite space. Even if you invent space travel at a reasonable % of light, you will end up with a situation where your home base (Earth and planets nearby where "nearby" keeps growing) will grow older and older and a frontier will be populated by relatively younger folks. Perhaps in this case, you could say humanity hasn't stagnated because there is always a frontier. But even in that case, it will be a scant couple hundred thousand years until you run out of room in this galaxy. And during that time, society is still growing older and older and older. And mind you, that is a very rosy, unrealistic imagining of the future.

2) If you don't colonize space, there is a limit to the number of people you can have. And even if we ignore that and assume that every person will have 2 children (four per couple), the world will still continue to be dominated by older folks. It won't be long until centenarians outpopulate non-centenarians. This will actually be true in the space colonization scenario as well.

1 ) I directly addressed this handwavy point; if you can assume complete and total immortality, you can assume infinite space. Considering how much of the world currently lives in cities, and how much more living space could be created, the idea of not being able to produce more humans is an idea that is just as presumptuous as the idea of immortality.

2) Again, the point remains that children can simply leave and create their own city states. Or, le shock, the creators of said immortality regiment could think this into the system, and formulate a government that properly represents everyone of all ages.

Basically, you're making assumptions about the nature of the beast without accommodating for any other assumptions. So yes, of course you'll produce a stagnant society of old people [if you adopt the following as true].
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Re: Immortality

Postby SerialTroll » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:57 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
SerialTroll wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:A stagnant society isn't the same as a society that doesn't suffer from old age; presumably, people will still have children, and those children will want to forge their own independence, and since we're making hand wavy assumptions about the world at this point anyway, why not assume there's plenty of room to expand to? I.e., a society that doesn't adapt to the whims of the newer generations is a society that quickly finds itself without any young people, and yes, stagnates. But the fact that people don't die doesn't mean they all have to stay in the same place, or stop having children.


How does one have a society that doesn't age and yet has kids at any kind of rate that increases the population on an ongoing basis?

1) There isn't infinite space. Even if you invent space travel at a reasonable % of light, you will end up with a situation where your home base (Earth and planets nearby where "nearby" keeps growing) will grow older and older and a frontier will be populated by relatively younger folks. Perhaps in this case, you could say humanity hasn't stagnated because there is always a frontier. But even in that case, it will be a scant couple hundred thousand years until you run out of room in this galaxy. And during that time, society is still growing older and older and older. And mind you, that is a very rosy, unrealistic imagining of the future.

2) If you don't colonize space, there is a limit to the number of people you can have. And even if we ignore that and assume that every person will have 2 children (four per couple), the world will still continue to be dominated by older folks. It won't be long until centenarians outpopulate non-centenarians. This will actually be true in the space colonization scenario as well.

1 ) I directly addressed this handwavy point; if you can assume complete and total immortality, you can assume infinite space. Considering how much of the world currently lives in cities, and how much more living space could be created, the idea of not being able to produce more humans is an idea that is just as presumptuous as the idea of immortality.

2) Again, the point remains that children can simply leave and create their own city states. Or, le shock, the creators of said immortality regiment could think this into the system, and formulate a government that properly represents everyone of all ages.

Basically, you're making assumptions about the nature of the beast without accommodating for any other assumptions. So yes, of course you'll produce a stagnant society of old people [if you adopt the following as true].



Please allow me to clarify a point or two to make sure I understand your thought process.

1) You seem to agree that an aging population with no or little influx of new life would become stagnated.
2) You disagree with the premise that non-aging means that we would stop or significantly reduce the influx of new life.

Do those two statements accurately reflect your position?

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Re: Immortality

Postby SerialTroll » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:58 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
SerialTroll wrote:1) There isn't infinite space. Even if you invent space travel at a reasonable % of light, you will end up with a situation where your home base (Earth and planets nearby where "nearby" keeps growing) will grow older and older and a frontier will be populated by relatively younger folks. Perhaps in this case, you could say humanity hasn't stagnated because there is always a frontier. But even in that case, it will be a scant couple hundred thousand years until you run out of room in this galaxy. And during that time, society is still growing older and older and older. And mind you, that is a very rosy, unrealistic imagining of the future.

2) If you don't colonize space, there is a limit to the number of people you can have. And even if we ignore that and assume that every person will have 2 children (four per couple), the world will still continue to be dominated by older folks. It won't be long until centenarians outpopulate non-centenarians. This will actually be true in the space colonization scenario as well.


Humans may end up defined not in terms of their bodies but their minds - eg. uploaded into countless Matrioshka brains.

Sure, there's still a limit on how many minds a universe can hold but it's essentially an unfathomable number; much, much higher than the number of bodies the universe could support. And, assuming the bottlenecks are in the right place, you could do tricks to increase the number of humans alive by halving the timeslice each one gets - ie having twice as many but running them at half the speed.

Also, people will presumably have kids for quite different motives when they can exert perfect control over their design.

(Hopefully racism and homophobia will be gone by that point but I wouldn't bet my life on it!)


Let me re-ask my one question: If we figured out the whole "stop aging" thing in 1780, where do you think society would be today?

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Re: Immortality

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:00 pm UTC

SerialTroll wrote:Do those two statements accurately reflect your position?

Yes.
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Re: Immortality

Postby SerialTroll » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:04 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Karantalsis wrote:immortal humans, or at least humans that can live forever provided their brain doesn't get irreprably damaged by trauma or disease
The difference between these is pretty staggering, and shouldn't be glossed over with a mere "or at least". If the mortality effects of aging were completely eliminated, in the sense that there is no rise in mortality rates after people reach adulthood, then I calculated once that the American population would have a half-life of 750 years or so. That is, if mortality rates stayed forever at its lowest post-adolescent level (which probably consists mostly of deaths from accidents or really bad, non-age-related diseases), half of the people alive at any given time would likely be dead within 750 years. If we (arbitrarily) assume there are about a billion people alive today young enough and healthy enough to take advantage of such life-prolonging technology, they would all likely be dead in under 25,000 years. A hell of a long time, to be sure, but still a pretty negligible span in the grand scheme of things. It's not what I'd call particularly "immortal".


A couple problems with this. It makes the assumption that people are uniformly accident prone. I would argue that many of us are more safe than the average and that the population would become much more heavily weighted toward the safe end over time.

Second, society would QUICKLY adapt to reduce accidents if people were unaging. Risk aversion would skyrocket.

Your point remains that no aging isn't quite the same as a mythological immortality, but from the perspective of those of us who likely won't live to see a century, it is pretty darn close.

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Re: Immortality

Postby SerialTroll » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:07 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
SerialTroll wrote:Do those two statements accurately reflect your position?

Yes.


Good. So, I think we have a fundamental disagreement on aspect #2, and I am not sure we will resolve it. I view the universe as having a finite number of resources and any exponential curve will eventually butt up against the limits of those resources. You see it differently. There is no way to prove it one way or another.

So where I say that 'if we end the birth and death cycle, we end mankind", you would change to "if we end the birth cycle, we end mankind'. Fair enough.

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Re: Immortality

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:09 pm UTC

No, you're again, just operating under a set of assumptions I disagree with.
The universe is finite. The resources of the universe are also finite. Humanity becoming immortal and therefor draining the universe of it's resources or space is a HUGE leap to be making, considering you're assuming man will spread across the entire cosmos, continue consuming at the rate we are, and still need to eat. You're just operating under a set of assumptions to reach your conclusion; I disagree with your assumptions, not your conclusion.

But yes, 'if we end the birth cycle in mankinds current incarnation, we end mankind' is a statement I'm fine with. In the same way I'm fine with saying 'when we upload compartmentalized conscious multibrains into the galaxies hypercomputer, we end mankind'.
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Re: Immortality

Postby SerialTroll » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:47 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:No, you're again, just operating under a set of assumptions I disagree with.
The universe is finite. The resources of the universe are also finite. Humanity becoming immortal and therefor draining the universe of it's resources or space is a HUGE leap to be making, considering you're assuming man will spread across the entire cosmos, continue consuming at the rate we are, and still need to eat. You're just operating under a set of assumptions to reach your conclusion; I disagree with your assumptions, not your conclusion.

But yes, 'if we end the birth cycle in mankinds current incarnation, we end mankind' is a statement I'm fine with. In the same way I'm fine with saying 'when we upload compartmentalized conscious multibrains into the galaxies hypercomputer, we end mankind'.


Let me give you my thought process and tell me where you disagree.

1) Each individual requires some amount of resources. This may not be food or water. It may be energy.
2) Mankind may be able to decrease the amount of resources than any one individual requires, but it will still be a positive amount of resources.
3) Eventually we will reach some absolute minimum or approach it asymptotically
4) We will never achieve 100% efficiency in any of our processes, thus we are still subject to the laws of thermodynamics
5) A birth rate means the population is growing exponentially
6) 5 combined with 2 and 3 mean that our resource utilization is growing roughly at an exponential rate.
7) The universe has a finite amount of resources
8) Based on 6 and 7, I conclude that population must eventually hit an upper limit.

I do want to explicitly say I am looking for discussion not argument.

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Re: Immortality

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:12 pm UTC

SerialTroll wrote:1) Each individual requires some amount of resources. This may not be food or water. It may be energy.
2) Mankind may be able to decrease the amount of resources than any one individual requires, but it will still be a positive amount of resources.
3) Eventually we will reach some absolute minimum or approach it asymptotically
4) We will never achieve 100% efficiency in any of our processes, thus we are still subject to the laws of thermodynamics
5) A birth rate means the population is growing exponentially
6) 5 combined with 2 and 3 mean that our resource utilization is growing roughly at an exponential rate.
7) The universe has a finite amount of resources
8) Based on 6 and 7, I conclude that population must eventually hit an upper limit.


I agree with 1-4.
I disagree with 5, because 'birthrate' may be very very low (e.g., only 1 in 10 couples have one child), and again, depending on what type of immortality we're talking about, people may still die. But yes, assuming every couple has two children, and no one dies, you will have exponential growth of the population.
I agree with 6, but only if you change it to 'our resource utilization is growing at roughly the same rate as our population'.
I agree with 7, but I think you're vastly vastly underestimating our present consumption of said resources. An insanely large population can be sustained with technology that doesn't exist yet (see; assumptions!), so worrying about consuming the resources of the universe is to me, putting the cart before the horse. It's, as with many assumptions in this thread, worrying about, say, decreasing genetic diversity but accepting total and utter genetic manipulation.
Therefore, I agree with 8, but only insofar as cosmological time scales are concerned. Surely you've seen a population graph of humanity, and noted that the bulk of our numbers have been produced in recent time; we are no where NEAR maximizing efficient consumption of available resources and space on this planet, and indeed, haven't unlocked a number of technologies that would allow even greater populations to grow happily and sustainably.

I suppose what this comes down to, is that you feel because resource consumption for humanity is non-zero, that eventually, when the stars burn out and the last hydrogen atom decays into subatomic particles, humanity will be doomed. I don't disagree, I just don't think it's really an equivalent or pertinent comparison.

And also, I think you're debating in good faith, and wanted to thank you for being reasonable.
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Re: Immortality

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 27, 2012 7:02 pm UTC

SerialTroll wrote:5) A birth rate means the population is growing exponentially
No, because that birth rate could be falling, which would result in subexponential population growth. If the birth rate falls enough for it to be cubic or lower, then expanding outward from Earth at some constant velocity will be sufficient to find new resources for our growing population.
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Re: Immortality

Postby dudiobugtron » Tue Nov 27, 2012 7:23 pm UTC

The argument that 'as people get older they suck more' is a bit silly. Technology won't stagnate - so we can just use technology to overcome that suckiness. On the timescales people in this thread seem to be talking about, we'll also likely have the technology to 'rejuvenate' their brains (in fact, I think we have this technology already), archive old memories, etc... I'm sure we'd also much better technology for ensuring personal safety, or even for making 'back-up copies' of people.
Also, I don't see why a number of people who have already experienced everything life has to offer, but still have lots of years of life left, wouldn't want to do something a bit risky just for the thrill of it.
Or, we could just send robots out first to do all the risky stuff for us.

Also, just checking if I'm on the right page: is SerialTroll's argument that immortality is bad because it would mean humanity would stagnate once it had devoured the entire (devourable) universe?
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Re: Immortality

Postby Yoshisummons » Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:32 pm UTC

Well if we assumed of a society that suddenly became immortal and stop having children then the current morals of the majority would reign. If the population continued to grow at some rate the morals of the society as a whole would indeed change, the only question is how soon. At this point in the topic it seems we're all operating on different sets of assumptions of "immortal civilization" and are just arguing past each other. I have no idea what to add to this topic other than to add other than maybe fantasize about the path that humans would take to achieve a specific set of assumptions under a immortal society. Like what would be the societal impacts of

1: True immortal society that doesn't increase in population(When in these discussions I tend to describe immortal as never dying nor aging)
2: True immortal society that does increase in population
3: Eternal youth without any growth in population
4: Eternal youth with increasing population

Well the logical end of each is easy enough on our own to come to so where is the discussion? (I feel lost :( )
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Re: Immortality

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:38 pm UTC

Yoshisummons wrote:Well if we assumed of a society that suddenly became immortal and stop having children then the current morals of the majority would reign.
Except for all the people still too young to vote, which would likely push common morality a bit further in the directions it's been moving lately. Plus, people would probably change their morals over time, just more slowly. But things happening more slowly wouldn't be a problem for a population of immortals, would it?
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Re: Immortality

Postby dudiobugtron » Tue Nov 27, 2012 11:01 pm UTC

Yoshisummons wrote:Well if we assumed of a society that suddenly became immortal and stop having children then the current morals of the majority would reign.

I think this assumption is not likely to be true. It certainly is a possibility, but I don't think it's necessarily the case. Morals change all the time as people have new experiences, and as new opportunities and situations arise.
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Re: Immortality

Postby Yoshisummons » Wed Nov 28, 2012 2:18 am UTC

I believe Du Bois even said the wonderful quip of "liberty delayed is liberty denied." I don't know even with the rest of infinity to live with those rights for some reason it just doesn't sit well with me. Oh I think we all have our own anecdotal evidence of people changing their ways but how long do you guys suppose that would even take say for example for gay rights?(Sounds like a fantastic what-if?)
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Re: Immortality

Postby qetzal » Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:52 pm UTC

dudiobugtron wrote:On the timescales people in this thread seem to be talking about, we'll also likely have the technology to 'rejuvenate' their brains (in fact, I think we have this technology already)...


I haven't heard of any existing tech that allows anything I'd call brain rejuvenation. Can you elaborate?

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Re: Immortality

Postby ImagingGeek » Wed Nov 28, 2012 7:39 pm UTC

qetzal wrote:
dudiobugtron wrote:On the timescales people in this thread seem to be talking about, we'll also likely have the technology to 'rejuvenate' their brains (in fact, I think we have this technology already)...


I haven't heard of any existing tech that allows anything I'd call brain rejuvenation. Can you elaborate?

It doesn't exist. As good as we're getting at elongating human lifespans, neurodegeneration remains a black box. As it stands, you are essentially born with all the neurons in your CNS that you get - once gone, it doesn't look like many are regenerated. Its a huge issue medically, and also why treatments for related disorders (dementia, etc) have almost no effect. With things like depression, you can use drugs to help 'fix' the mis-firing neurons. Drugs cannot fix what is no longer there...

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Re: Immortality

Postby screen317 » Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:02 pm UTC

ImagingGeek wrote:
qetzal wrote:
dudiobugtron wrote:On the timescales people in this thread seem to be talking about, we'll also likely have the technology to 'rejuvenate' their brains (in fact, I think we have this technology already)...


I haven't heard of any existing tech that allows anything I'd call brain rejuvenation. Can you elaborate?

It doesn't exist. As good as we're getting at elongating human lifespans, neurodegeneration remains a black box. As it stands, you are essentially born with all the neurons in your CNS that you get - once gone, it doesn't look like many are regenerated. Its a huge issue medically, and also why treatments for related disorders (dementia, etc) have almost no effect. With things like depression, you can use drugs to help 'fix' the mis-firing neurons. Drugs cannot fix what is no longer there...

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Perhaps not drugs, but I imagine the many scientists studying neuronal stem cells would like to beg to differ. :)

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Re: Immortality

Postby ImagingGeek » Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:15 pm UTC

screen317 wrote:Perhaps not drugs, but I imagine the many scientists studying neuronal stem cells would like to beg to differ. :)

I know several of them - and they are a long ways away from being able to repair CNS tissue. The best we've got so far (as of Sept 2012) is a modest repair of three people with spinal cord injuries - not gain of mobility, but some minor recovery of sensation. And that required cells donated from foetal brains. Not exactly a huge improvement; nor a practical answer.

One day perhaps, but we are decades away from the clinic.

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Re: Immortality

Postby dudiobugtron » Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:20 pm UTC

The ability to replace neurons, like other essential body components, would IMO be required for any proper claim of "immortality".

But this is what I was thinking about when I posted about brain rejuvenation technology:

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature ... n_Set_Free

An excerpt:
A baby’s brain is a thirsty sponge, slurping up words, figuring out faces and learning which foods are good and bad to eat. Information about the world flooding into a young brain begins to carve out traces, like rushing water over soft limestone. As the outside world sculpts the growing brain, important connections between nerve cells become strong rivers, while smaller unused tributaries quietly disappear.

In time, these brain connections crystallize, forming indelible patterns etched into marble. Impressionable brain systems that allowed a child to easily learn a language, for instance, go away, abandoned for the speed and strength that come with rigidity. In a fully set brain, signals fly around effortlessly, making common­place tasks short work. A master of efficiency, the adult brain loses the exuberance of childhood.

But the adult brain need not remain in this petrified state. In a feat of neural alchemy, the brain can morph from marble back to limestone.

The potential for this metamorphosis has galvanized scientists, who now talk about a mind with the power to remake itself. In the last few years, researchers have found ways to soften the stone, recapturing some of the lost magic of a young brain.

“There’s been a very, very significant change,” says Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “I don’t think the import of that basic fact has fully expressed itself.”

Though this research is still in its early stages, studies suggest techniques that dissolve structures that pin brain cells in place, interrupt molecular stop signals and twerk the rush of nerve cell activity can restore the brain’s youthful glow. Scientists are already attempting to reverse brain rigidity, boosting what’s known as “plasticity” in people with a vision disorder once thought to be irreversible in adults.

These efforts are not an exercise in neural vanity. A malleable brain, researchers hope, can heal after a stroke, combat the decline in vision that comes with old age and perhaps even repair a severed spinal cord. An end to childhood — and the prodigal learning that comes with it — does not need to eliminate the brain’s capacity for change. “There are still windows of opportunity out there,” says neuroscientist Daphné Bavelier of the University of Rochester in New York. “It may require a little more work to open them, though.”
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Re: Immortality

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:21 pm UTC

dudiobugtron wrote:The ability to replace neurons, like other essential body components, would IMO be required for any proper claim of "immortality".

I think this is more true than you realize.
Or, if not replace them, do significantly more advanced treatment on/to them.
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Re: Immortality

Postby Radical_Initiator » Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:51 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
dudiobugtron wrote:The ability to replace neurons, like other essential body components, would IMO be required for any proper claim of "immortality".

I think this is more true than you realize.
Or, if not replace them, do significantly more advanced treatment on/to them.

Gah, could you imagine immortality after discovering you have a demyelinating disorder?
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Re: Immortality

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:57 pm UTC

ImagingGeek wrote:And that required cells donated from foetal brains. Not...a practical answer.
Why? It's not like we can't make more of them.

It may not be an answer everyone's ethically okay with, but I don't think that's the same as saying it's impractical. And I also tend to think that people's ethical views on stem cells would tend to change once it's their own gradual degeneration instead of someone else's.
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