What's so great about Tuesday?

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Cradarc
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What's so great about Tuesday?

Postby Cradarc » Thu Jun 25, 2015 1:02 am UTC

Suppose humanity is about to die out, but you discover a magical crystal that would make humanity immortal (in the sense that no one can die in any way) if you break it. A majority of the surviving population thinks you should break it, but you are their leader and you are given veto rights.
Breaking the crystal will save humanity. However, it would force everyone to become immortal, including those not yet born. Immortality does not grant immunity from pain.

For the sake of SB rules, some "generalized" philosophical questions are:
1. What gives life value?
2. How do we should we consider the ethical positions of those not yet born at the time of the ethical decision?
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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Whizbang » Thu Jun 25, 2015 1:13 am UTC

Those not yet born should not be considered, as they are a complete uncertainty and not yet conscious creatures. Instead, after the crystal is broken, the decision needs to be made whether or not to bring a new life into the world.

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby PAstrychef » Thu Jun 25, 2015 1:25 am UTC

Crickey. If this lot of humans becomes immortal, and their offspring are also immortal, then they will exhaust the available resources in about six generations (just guessing) considering the logarithmic way humans reproduce. So the question of future lives becomes rather larger. If, as part of the immortal business the humans need not eat nor breathe, then eventually there will be no more room for them to stand on. Even today the effects of increased life spans has been felt in the marketplace, as more people stay in jobs longer and advancement slows.
As for what gives life value, have you never encountered the hierarchy of needs?
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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Thesh » Thu Jun 25, 2015 2:04 am UTC

Yes.

PAstrychef wrote:Crickey. If this lot of humans becomes immortal, and their offspring are also immortal, then they will exhaust the available resources in about six generations (just guessing) considering the logarithmic way humans reproduce. So the question of future lives becomes rather larger. If, as part of the immortal business the humans need not eat nor breathe, then eventually there will be no more room for them to stand on. Even today the effects of increased life spans has been felt in the marketplace, as more people stay in jobs longer and advancement slows.
As for what gives life value, have you never encountered the hierarchy of needs?


Well, population controls will be necessary with immortality, but the capacity of the earth is probably in the hundreds of billions or trillions, given sufficient technological advancement (remember, the entire earth's population can live in Texas with a population density of New York). Nuclear power will be a necessity, vertical farming, eliminating houses in favor of apartments, artificial islands, etc. If you did assume a birth rate of 2% (although, obviously, there will still be deaths outside of the magical fantasy scenario), without population controls or any deaths whatsoever, then in 100 years our population will be around ~50 billion. Given that's a very high estimate (i.e. exponential instead of logarithmic), we would probably be okay for a while as long as we had the time to prepare, but in a century we could have space elevators, sending millions of people to live on space stations every year, then there is lunar colonization, Mars colonization, space stations further out to Jupiter, Saturn, colonization of their moons, hell over a century you could have automatic construction of fusion powered space stations in the Kuiper belt and start sending people there. Then you can start considering interstellar travel, colonizing other star systems, etc.

Now, this is all infeasible over the long term with 2% population growth, and limits on the number of children per person will be necessary. In the real world, with the medical implants/genetic alterations that provide immortality, you can require certain restrictions: if you want to live forever, you have to accept alterations that reduces your probability of having children to, let's say, 1/10th, or 1/100th, or even 1/1000th as time goes on based on the current birth projections and resources. I would also have a campaign promoting birth control and procedures such as vasectomies and voluntary sterilization.
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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby morriswalters » Thu Jun 25, 2015 3:31 am UTC

Cradarc wrote:Breaking the crystal will save humanity. However, it would force everyone to become immortal, including those not yet born.
Not just no, but hell no. You can make the body immortal with your magic crystal, but you can't increase the capacity of your brain to retain and access the experiences you gather. Eventually you would end up as an individual with knowledge that you have a past, without memories of most of it. Or of friends and family. And you would know it as you looked down upon your children. That eventually they would be strangers. Shoot me before that party starts.

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby ucim » Thu Jun 25, 2015 3:41 am UTC

This crystal is the doors of hell, dressed to look like the gateway to heaven. It's not even a moral dilemma. It's a Midas scenario. But you know that. Assuming you know we know that, why do you ask the question?

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Cradarc » Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:07 am UTC

Don't you have the obligation to save the people who wants to be saved? People are only worth saving if they eventually perish?
What is the moral reasoning behind this?
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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby ucim » Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:19 am UTC

Cradarc wrote:Don't you have the obligation to save the people who wants to be saved?


No.

First, just because somebody wants something does not put an obligation on me to supply it.

Second, the word "saved" is disingenuous. "Condemned" is what they are likely to realize is what's happened to them. Forever is a very long time. And although the details of the scenario don't really matter to this point, all you said is people won't die. Not that they won't suffer, grow feeble, become miserable, become ill, or any of those things that happen to pretty much all such anvilicous fables. Would you like to have the stomach flu - forever?

The only point in your scenario is that what glitters is not gold. This is grade-school stuff. There simply is no moral question of any interest once one realizes this.

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:22 am UTC

Probably OK if everyone involved is OK with it, but I think if even one person votes no, it's dicey. Using the crystal means you're stuck with whatever bad shit happens down the line. Fall in a volcano? Then (the way I'm interpreting the scenario) you're going to be burning for however long it takes to get you out, which quite possibly could be thousands of years. Normally we assume that people have a right not to be treated that way - again emphasizing that the potential suffering is unbounded, and in some cases probably far greater than anything a mortal human could experience - while there doesn't seem to be an analogous right to eternal life. Even human extinction doesn't seem to tip the scales.
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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Cradarc » Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:36 am UTC

ucim wrote:"Condemned" is what they are likely to realize is what's happened to them.

That's a dangerous train of thought. A psychopath who thinks life is condemnation will then be correct to not hit the breaks when a little kid crosses in front of his car: "The kid would realize adult life is a condemnation, so I'm actually helping him."
Kind of messed up don't you think?

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Fall in a volcano? Then (the way I'm interpreting the scenario) you're going to be burning for however long it takes to get you out, which quite possibly could be thousands of years. Normally we assume that people have a right not to be treated that way - again emphasizing that the potential suffering is unbounded, and in some cases probably far greater than anything a mortal human could experience - while there doesn't seem to be an analogous right to eternal life. Even human extinction doesn't seem to tip the scales.

Because people fall into volcanoes all the time. Potential suffering is unbounded for mortals too. Just because there's a chance someone could end up being brutally tortured in the future doesn't make you hesitate saving them from imminent danger.
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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Autolykos » Thu Jun 25, 2015 10:19 am UTC

What you propose is pretty damn close to the "Evil Genie" version of immortality (you'll age and get sick, but can never die, not even voluntarily). Was that intentional?
I would, however take a version of (almost) immortality like "People will be immune to ageing, diseases and poisons, a lot more resistant to physical damage, and heal very quickly. But they can still die given sufficiently extreme conditions.".

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby elasto » Thu Jun 25, 2015 11:11 am UTC

Cradarc wrote:That's a dangerous train of thought. A psychopath who thinks life is condemnation will then be correct to not hit the breaks when a little kid crosses in front of his car: "The kid would realize adult life is a condemnation, so I'm actually helping him."
Kind of messed up don't you think?

It's not life that is condemnation, it's eternal life - life that continues long after the heat death of the universe. At best it would be infinite boredom. At worst unending madness.

You need to refine this question to make it more interesting.
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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jun 25, 2015 11:11 am UTC

I think this question is a lot more interesting if you remove the fantasy aspect. I personally believe that scientific advancement should be used to prolong the life of humans, and that 'old age' should be viewed as a disease, not an inevitable condition.

But magic immortality of the 'cannot be physically destroyed' variety is a whole different can of worms. If you're asking 'should humans become gray goo that converts all of the universes matter to other humans', I would say no.
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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Whizbang » Thu Jun 25, 2015 12:31 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Cradarc wrote:Breaking the crystal will save humanity. However, it would force everyone to become immortal, including those not yet born.
Not just no, but hell no. You can make the body immortal with your magic crystal, but you can't increase the capacity of your brain to retain and access the experiences you gather. Eventually you would end up as an individual with knowledge that you have a past, without memories of most of it. Or of friends and family. And you would know it as you looked down upon your children. That eventually they would be strangers. Shoot me before that party starts.



Uh... It is a magic crystal. Any assumptions about what it does or does not do is wrong. We are told what it does, but not what it does not do. It may end up being as you say, but it also may just somehow magically enhance our memory and recall systems. Without more information, jumping to your conclusion is wrong.

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jun 25, 2015 12:40 pm UTC

Dibs on consciousness fission/fusion and ensorcelled cockery!

... we're claiming powers with this thing now, right?
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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jun 25, 2015 3:14 pm UTC

Cradarc wrote:Suppose humanity is about to die out, but you discover a magical crystal that would make humanity immortal (in the sense that no one can die in any way) if you break it. A majority of the surviving population thinks you should break it, but you are their leader and you are given veto rights.
Breaking the crystal will save humanity. However, it would force everyone to become immortal, including those not yet born. Immortality does not grant immunity from pain.

For the sake of SB rules, some "generalized" philosophical questions are:
1. What gives life value?
2. How do we should we consider the ethical positions of those not yet born at the time of the ethical decision?


I'd break it in a heartbeat.

I mean, assuming I for some reason believed a magic crystal would actually do that, but I suppose that's necessary to answer the scenario. Further detail on the exact type of immortality could potentially change that. If it's "alive, but in eternal torment", well, that sucks. If it's "alive pretty much as we are now", sure, gimmie.

Also, the idea that there could exist magical items of such power would be profoundly important, and something to pursue.

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Draconaes » Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:16 pm UTC

I would probably break the crystal, given the information stated here. As others have pointed out, the exact nature of the immortality is somewhat important. The biggest downside from what's been given in the OP is imo the removal of the ability to choose to die, but even this can probably be circumvented with some creativity (you could place yourself in some sort of stasis, perhaps?).

Even if this turns out to be a mistake, we now have eternity as a species to find another magic crystal to undo the curse. And to explicitly answer the question in the thread title, I don't see a reason to disallow humans to live forever, per se.

Future consciousnesses don't really need to be considered, I think, and, being immortal, reproducing seems unnecessary and perhaps even immoral under certain circumstances.

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Chen » Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:27 pm UTC

Yeah the nature of the immortality would be important. Could your body be damaged? Would it repair itself? Or would it just be invulnerable, but you'd still feel pain? Would you still fall unconscious without air to breath? Beyond the immortality aspect there'd be a whole bunch of interesting scientific things you could do depending on the nature of the immortality itself.

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jun 25, 2015 5:27 pm UTC

Chen wrote:Yeah the nature of the immortality would be important. Could your body be damaged? Would it repair itself? Or would it just be invulnerable, but you'd still feel pain? Would you still fall unconscious without air to breath? Beyond the immortality aspect there'd be a whole bunch of interesting scientific things you could do depending on the nature of the immortality itself.


Yeah. There's even kind of a disconnect between the scenario as described and the title. Really, the scenario is "Should all humans be FORCED to live forever"

Which is kind of a different thing entirely from if they should be allowed to be.

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby morriswalters » Thu Jun 25, 2015 5:32 pm UTC

Whizbang wrote:Uh... It is a magic crystal. Any assumptions about what it does or does not do is wrong. We are told what it does, but not what it does not do. It may end up being as you say, but it also may just somehow magically enhance our memory and recall systems. Without more information, jumping to your conclusion is wrong.
Cradarc wrote:in the sense that no one can die in any way
Given his setup, this would imply living past the heat death of the universe. Long before that the sun would cool off and expand into a red giant. Possibly engulfing earth. Is this Serious Business?

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby 44 stone lions » Thu Jun 25, 2015 9:38 pm UTC

As far as I know species extinction seems to be a natural part of the planets long term cycles. If you would talk about making ethical decisions on behalf of unborn human children, what about the species of 50-100 million years time whose existence may depend upon our eventual extinction? On one hand you brake the crystal and subject the entirety of the present and future human race to an unknown level of eternal misery, whist surely destroying any hope of the creation of future species on earth, and on the other hand you allow the preexisting natural cycle to continue.

Sucks for humanity but better than resorting to the unknown adverse consequences of magical crystals.

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jun 25, 2015 10:05 pm UTC

Isn't this sort of the plot of the orcs in warcraft? Where hellscream accepted the demons blood?
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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Cradarc » Fri Jun 26, 2015 12:37 am UTC

I initially thought about the immortality like a video game. You still suffer and die, but "respawn" immediately in perfect health, in the same location, with all your memories. I didn't think that much about senescence. I guess you would just be a perfectly healthy 10000 (or whatever) year old when you respawn.

A lot of you are missing the philosophical point. Why does the immortality factor change how we value life?
From what I've heard, it changes things because it increases the probability of future pain and suffering. That seems to imply a hedonistic perspective. Life is only worth preserving if there is a greater chance of happiness/pleasure than suffering. It also demonstrates that a some of you are rather pessimistic. Given an endless life, you focus on the opportunities for suffering rather than happiness.

The question about unborn descendants ties in with evolution. We live to reproduce and make offspring that can live. If the guiding moral principle is to preserve humanity, then immortality is a no-brainer.

Some more provoking questions:
Why is death bad?
If you believe in the soul/spirit that lives on after death, how do we know the soul/spirit won't be in eternal torture after death (AKA hell)?
If you don't believe in the soul/spirit, why does the suffering of people bother you more than the death of people? In both cases, it's just atoms and molecules reacting in a biological system.

It's interesting how we abhor death yet romanticize it into something desirable. You can't undo the hypothetical immortality, but once a person dies, you can't bring them back either. Could it be that we simply fear the unknown? We have become accustomed to death, so it feels like the safer choice.


Tyndmyr wrote:Yeah. There's even kind of a disconnect between the scenario as described and the title. Really, the scenario is "Should all humans be FORCED to live forever"
Which is kind of a different thing entirely from if they should be allowed to be.

Well, nobody is forced to live forever since the crystal isn't broken yet. People can always commit suicide before hand. Whether or not immortality is "forced" onto those not yet born is part of the problem.
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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby jseah » Fri Jun 26, 2015 12:44 am UTC

44 stone lions wrote:As far as I know species extinction seems to be a natural part of the planets long term cycles. If you would talk about making ethical decisions on behalf of unborn human children, what about the species of 50-100 million years time whose existence may depend upon our eventual extinction?

For this reason?

No way. I'll break the crystal anyway. If allowing humanity to survive an extinction event means destroying other species or even entire ecosystems, I'll do it in a heartbeat.

We've done far worse for a mere rise in quality of life, much less extinction threat.
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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby krogoth » Fri Jun 26, 2015 12:50 am UTC

This gives a whole new meaning to "life in prison", and is it moral to judge someone eternally for a mortal sin, though now I suppose it wouldn't be a mortal sin, it really would be an immortal sin I think?

In regards to the orcs Izawwlgood, they would be given "power necessary to conquer vast new lands" they were a proud conquering group, like Vikings, it would make them happy to die in battle as long as it brought honor to their clan. Thrall rejected this because they would be slaves, and he'd rather be free and fight on his own terms. Immortality wasn't a part of this afaik.

Wars would be very different between immortals, you would need to capture your opponents if they couldn't die and just restrict their movements.

If you don't believe in the soul/spirit, why does the suffering of people bother you more than the death of people? In both cases, it's just atoms and molecules reacting in a biological system.
People are more than the sum of their parts. As an Atheist I hate this question, I'm just atoms and molecules reacting in a biological system, and that's why I have empathy, and that's why it matters.
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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby ucim » Fri Jun 26, 2015 12:57 am UTC

Cradarc wrote:You still suffer and die, but "respawn" immediately in perfect health, in the same location, with all your memories.
Yeah, sucks to be the virgin tossed into the volcano.

Cradarc wrote:Well, nobody is forced to live forever since the crystal isn't broken yet.
The choice then becomes to commit suicide just in case, or to take the chance on eternal suffering. Because, chances are pretty good that given an infinite amount of time, you'll fall into a volcano at some point.

It would be an interesting weapon though. "Kill yourself or I'll break the crystal." If the desired outcome occurs, are you guilty of murder?

Cradarc wrote:If the guiding moral principle is to preserve humanity, then immortality is a no-brainer.
No, it's not. Because immortality does not preserve humanity, for reasons you suggest yourself.

Cradarc wrote:Why is death bad?
It's not, at least not intrinsically, and not in all instances. Sometimes dying sucks though. But so does surviving, sometimes. And dying before I'm ready sucks. (At least for me.)

Cradarc wrote:In both cases, it's just atoms and molecules reacting in a biological system.
You can answer that question yourself by considering a similar one: Why do you matter to yourself? You're just atoms and molecules. But that thought won't make you happy if you're sad, or relieve your own suffering.

Cradarc wrote:You can't undo the hypothetical immortality, but once a person dies, you can't bring them back either.
Yes, it sucks, but it doesn't suck forever.

The fact that you bring the question up tells me you don't really understand what "forever" is.

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby icanus » Fri Jun 26, 2015 5:31 am UTC

Cradarc wrote:It also demonstrates that a some of you are rather pessimistic. Given an endless life, you focus on the opportunities for suffering rather than happiness.

That's because the suffering is infinite and unavoidable, while the opportunity for happiness is finite. I'd suggest you look at this and try to figure out what percentage of that time will contain any opportunity for anything other than suffering. And then realise that "forever" doesn't end where the chart does, or indeed, at all.

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Moo » Fri Jun 26, 2015 9:09 am UTC

This reminds me of Drew Magary's "The End Specialist" (also published as The Postmortal in some places).

A cure is found for all illness and aging (but not death through injury for example), and the book explores the short , medium and long term effects of such a world. It's an interesting read, and paints a bleak picture of the world immortality would create. I tend to agree with the assessment that it is not a world we would want.
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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby morriswalters » Fri Jun 26, 2015 9:50 am UTC

Cradarc wrote: Why does the immortality factor change how we value life?
It reduces the value to zero. If you can't lose it than why value it at all? New sport, instead of cow tipping we have head chopping. Chop off random heads to aggravate people, watch them sputter as they respawn.

You haven't thought your scenario through. If for instance you you stop aging when you break the crystal, then you trap people at different points in their lives, babies will always be babies, people with disabilities will always have them. If instead you allow them to age you end up living till you are old and continue to age, whatever that means. Or you instantaneously make everyone 18, healthy and defect free and hold them there forever, after all it's magic. Forever is a long time, so limiting population isn't possible, no matter how small the increase over the time frame you end up with a world full of people, shoulder to shoulder, sooner or later. So everyone here is all there can ever be. No more cute babies forever.

Your magic crystal didn't magically increase the resources available to the 7 billion alive today, and if life can go on forever the resources available to us are limited. The biosphere is stressed now and if we couldn't die, it well could. Assuming the mass of the planet and the energy coming from our star there, is a limit to how much energy you could produce even if you converted the total mass of the planet to energy. Sooner or latter oil would be gone, as would coal.

And it isn't going to make people instant altruists. The cruel and the indifferent are still going to be here. Poverty won't magically disappear, the poor won't instantly become rich, and unless the magic crystal lets people quit eating they will still have to acquire food and there will still need to be an economy. And if everybody can take advantage of compound interest than compound interest will disappear as a thing. Run the numbers on that scenario.

Let's say that memory is magically made so that every memory you have ever had is available to you as quickly as the memory of the cup of coffee you just had. Eventually, because forever is a long time, you will have met everyone, seen everything, watched every possible plot play out for every story, ever told, in any media. Had sex with everyone who is available for sex, eaten everything that is available to eat. And be doomed or blessed, depending on how you feel about it, to rerun every possible experience that you can have until time ends. And remember every god damn bit of it.

Just think, you meet Joe Blow on the street and spend the next years cycling through every memory of every person you ever met to come up with Joe Blows name before you can figure out which Joe Blow it is. And which Mary is the Mary you see in the park? And then you go to the gym and run on the treadmill for the umpteenth time as your knees magically remake themselves moment to moment so that you don't end up crippled.

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Draconaes » Fri Jun 26, 2015 2:01 pm UTC

If there is a magic crystal that grants immortality, could we not create/discover one that takes it away? What about one that prevents the heat death of the universe? One that provides even more free energy beyond what is keeping everyone alive through whatever arcane mechanism? (I think immortal living things could already provide infinite free energy, but depending on the mechanics it might not be so great for any volunteers.)

Generally our decisions and ethics are based on the physical world, or should be. These crystals, if they existed, and the mechanisms by which they work would be part of said physical world, and could be studied, understood, and recreated. Breaking the crystal is a great short-term solution to the extinction issue and gives our species time to harness the incredible, godlike powers behind it.

As said before, though, how appealing or otherwise this appears depends very heavily on the exact, precise mechanics of the immortality. Is it a respawn mechanic? What counts as enough "death" to trigger it? What gets respawned? Gut bacteria? Air in your lungs? Enough stored chemical energy to power you for 4 hours? 24? 30 minutes? Any diseases you might have been carrying? Does your mind rewind to a set checkpoint 10 minutes previous? 5? 2 hours? Do your cells respawn individually after a set amount of time, such that you would regrow a lost arm? It's not that you are impervious to damage, else you would feel no pain. What's the timer on the respawn? A year? 5 minutes? A Century? How is natural cell replacement handled? How does aging work, or does it happen? What about normal growth (Growing from a baby to an adult vs. aging and breakdown of internal systems). What about inducing a coma? Brain damage? What happens to split brain patients? Are crippling injuries healed upon respawn/regeneration? Is it possible to transplant immortal tissue form one organism to another? We could breed immortal livestock (crops maybe for the less sadistic) and have infinite food.

edit: For that matter, what is the current state of the human population? What is the source of the extinction threat? Are we declining due to limited resources? Alien invasion? Impending cataclysm? Are there a few thousand humans left at this point, or are we a galaxy-spanning empire?

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby cphite » Fri Jun 26, 2015 6:39 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
Cradarc wrote:That's a dangerous train of thought. A psychopath who thinks life is condemnation will then be correct to not hit the breaks when a little kid crosses in front of his car: "The kid would realize adult life is a condemnation, so I'm actually helping him."
Kind of messed up don't you think?

It's not life that is condemnation, it's eternal life - life that continues long after the heat death of the universe. At best it would be infinite boredom. At worst unending madness.


Nah... we'd just have to hang out for 1010^56 years until another universe is spawned from random quantum fluctuations. Just need a little patience, that's all :D
http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0410270

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Whizbang » Fri Jun 26, 2015 6:41 pm UTC

Seriously, once you make it through your first inter-universal period, immortality is a breeze.

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Zamfir » Fri Jun 26, 2015 7:01 pm UTC

Whizbang wrote:Seriously, once you make it through your first inter-universal period, immortality is a breeze.

You too? What a coincidence, nice to meet you. makes secret immortals sign.

I heard this rumour about a Gathering, and how we're all supposed to chop off heads and stuff, dreadfully tasteless stuff. Did you hear anything about that?

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Yakk » Fri Jun 26, 2015 7:15 pm UTC

Cradarc wrote:I initially thought about the immortality like a video game. You still suffer and die, but "respawn" immediately in perfect health, in the same location, with all your memories. I didn't think that much about senescence. I guess you would just be a perfectly healthy 10000 (or whatever) year old when you respawn.

You aren't thinking about forever very well.
A lot of you are missing the philosophical point. Why does the immortality factor change how we value life?

Again, forever. Infinite time.

The philosophical point is that what you are doing has a ridiculous amount of impact. The universe you live in and experience is an eyeblink of an eyeblink of an eyeblink of an eyeblink of an eyeblink of an eyeblink of an ... etc.

The time it takes for the universe to go from nothing, to a big bang, to everything we see around us, to the death of every star, to the death of all matter, to the evaporation of every black hole, to a universe so uniformly cold and empty of everything that the arrow of time itself is lost, is nothing next to forever.

Forever.
From what I've heard, it changes things because it increases the probability of future pain and suffering.

It changes things because you aren't thinking on the scales required. Nobody is, because nobody is smart enough for the scales required.
That seems to imply a hedonistic perspective. Life is only worth preserving if there is a greater chance of happiness/pleasure than suffering. It also demonstrates that a some of you are rather pessimistic. Given an endless life, you focus on the opportunities for suffering rather than happiness.

If scale-invariance causes cold heat-death universes to be mathematically equivalent to hot big bangs, the universe can repeat on far larger scales for eternity.

However, there is no reason in your rules that you would experience said rescaling.

So you get a finite (if large) amount of existence where things exist to interact with. Then you spend eternity in a cold dark hell, respawning, dieing of explosive decompression and freezing, then respawning again.

Nothing would exist except for immortal humans.

Now, with the existence of other immortal humans, we could build a planet out of dieing human bodies. Simply stack a few trillion of them together. The ones in the middle are dieing constantly, then respawning, and then being crushed to death in eternal pain and suffering.

There would be no atmosphere, because there is only human flesh. Those on the surface would die from cold and pressure loss. There may be a sweet spot, where pressure from other bodies is enough to prevent explosive decompression, and things are warm enough that you don't freeze, yet not to hot that you boil. At such a sweet spot, you have the privilege of living for as long as it takes you to suffocate before respawning.

I'm not sure what would happen if we grew such human-flesh worlds to the size of stars or black holes. Could you build a human-flesh star that would engage in fusion at the core? It would be tricky.

The odds against such a system being truly stable seem low, so even if we have the happy situation of a thin layer of human flesh living as long as it takes to suffocate in relative comfort, in eternity this won't persist.
Some more provoking questions:

Honestly, those seem like freshman philosophy questions.
It's interesting how we abhor death yet romanticize it into something desirable.

I abhor eternal torture, which your proposal seems to imply.

I could be wrong, which is why breaking the crystal is tempting. With a few billion years, maybe we'd be able to head off the seemingly inevitable bad medium term consequences.

When every star goes out, when all matter except human flesh is gone, that is when the short term ends.

Because what I'm describing above -- repeated death in an airless frozen void, being crushed to death in a planet of human flesh (or a star or black hole of human flesh), etc -- those are all at best medium term projected consequences of your plan.

The long term doesn't end. In infinite time, our current understanding of science means that something human shaped and massed will experience every state transition that physics allows (which are pretty ridiculous) an infinite number of times. As what human beings find tolerable is extremely narrow (as far as the laws of physics are concerned), almost all of these state transitions will be very unpleasant. We find most of existence pleasant because we where evolved, through trial and error and much much death, to survive on the surface of this particular planet.

With evolution pressure removed, humans get to experience all of reality, and we aren't evolved to find most of reality pleasant. The life you live is a rare, strange corner of the universe. With pain and suffering intact and death unavailable, this means eternal endless constant pain and suffering.

The gamble you are talking about is huge.

I think I'd take it.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby morriswalters » Fri Jun 26, 2015 7:43 pm UTC

I will never be able to unthink some of those images.

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby cphite » Fri Jun 26, 2015 9:12 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:Because what I'm describing above -- repeated death in an airless frozen void, being crushed to death in a planet of human flesh (or a star or black hole of human flesh), etc -- those are all at best medium term projected consequences of your plan.


Utter speculation.

You're assuming first of all that "immortality" extends beyond the existence of matter; and that the crystal would grant human flesh some special property that allowed it to exist when all other forms of matter could not. You're assuming, conversely, that the crystal allows death or even harm in the first place. Maybe being immortal means being able to withstand the cold emptiness of space without any discomfort at all? Maybe we don't need heat, food, or such things anymore... We're dealing with magic here, after all.

And in the countless billions of years before heat death is even an issue, you're assuming that we don't find some means of escape. Shift to another universe? Create another universe? Track down folks who made the magic crystal thing and ask for advice? Or, barring all else, put ourselves into some sort of sleep/status for eternity; either to dream forever, or to simply exist in an unconscious void. Maybe we go into status for the transitions? After a while it would be tradition... the universe is about to reset, everyone get into stasis.

Or, if there are multiple universes, maybe they're on different times? When one is about to die we move to another.

Given the sheer amount of time in forever, we think of something. Maybe a lot of different things.

In other words, don't be such a pessimist. :P

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jun 26, 2015 9:21 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:
Whizbang wrote:Seriously, once you make it through your first inter-universal period, immortality is a breeze.

You too? What a coincidence, nice to meet you. makes secret immortals sign.

I heard this rumour about a Gathering, and how we're all supposed to chop off heads and stuff, dreadfully tasteless stuff. Did you hear anything about that?


Eh, we'll get to that one day, but the prize is SUPER lame, so I wouldn't fret about it. I understand it was somehow related to a plot to encourage church attendence.

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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Cradarc » Sat Jun 27, 2015 5:52 am UTC

So basically, dying is a good thing as long as you are ready for it. That's fine if you're only speaking for yourself, but you must also consider other people.
What if there is someone who never wants to die? What if someone wants to die "prematurely"? Is it immoral to go against their wishes?
The argument against breaking the crystal is that nobody would want to live forever. However, you can't really speak for other people. If there are lots of other people who really want immortality, are you going to screw them simply because you don't like the idea?

Draconaes and cphite make interesting points. We know what death means for the future. We can only speculate about what immortality means. Things thought to be true today can turn out to be more nuanced a couple thousand years later. If pain is the only issue, surely we can develop a way to take away our body's sensitivity to pain. We can then put people into a deep sleep, and it would effectively be "death".

Also, the earth can't possibly "overfill" with humans. At some point it would simply be too difficult to have babies, especially without anybody noticing.
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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby Izawwlgood » Sat Jun 27, 2015 6:12 am UTC

Cradarc wrote:Also, the earth can't possibly "overfill" with humans. At some point it would simply be too difficult to have babies, especially without anybody noticing.
At this point I'm convinced you haven't really thought about what you're proposing;
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Re: Should humans be allowed to live forever?

Postby PeteP » Sat Jun 27, 2015 11:14 am UTC

About the heat death of the universe. Depending on how the immortality works that might be avoidable. If it involves regeneration that doesn't require extra energy input immortals could get energy by eating the flesh of other immortals. With an infinite source of energy it should be possible to work against entropy.


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