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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Immortality: If you could live forever, would you? (Poll)

(Note: There is a poll on the left sidebar. Vote away!)

Some time ago there was a news story about a species of jellyfish that is essentially immortal. Apparently this species is able to revert back to its earliest stage of life over and over, effectively removing natural death from its biological spectrum. This would be similar to a human being having the ability to revert back to an infant and relive through childhood, adolescence, and so on, again...and again...and again.

Since scientists are hard at work trying to figure out how to reverse, or at least stop, the aging process, it seems only fair that I would bring up the age old question:
If you could live forever, would you? Why or why not?
Personally, I don't know. Assuming that to live forever means to live forever in general good health (unless I screw that up on my own by becoming a drunk or a parachute ninja), to answer that question is rather difficult. I mean, if you could live forever, but you kept aging, that would be nothing but terrible. Who wants to spend two hundred years with a walker or stuck in a chair watching re-runs of old sports games and eating Grape Nuts and prunes (because they're good for your bowel movements, after all)? Not even old people want to do that. They think they do, but in reality...they don't. They've simply come to terms with the mediocrity of elderly existence (E.E. for short).

But if I could live forever without aging terribly, without having my organs fail for reasons not of my own doing, or without having to revert back to childhood or turn into a half-robot monstrosity, I think I would. Here are a few reasons why:

--Space. The unfortunate thing about being alive in this time is that I'll get to see the space tourist industry rise to the occasion, but by the time I can afford one of these cool space trips, I'll be too damned old to survive the flight. Living forever might mean I get to see the stars with my own eyes from the safety of Earth orbit, or, if I'm lucky, maybe actual stars and other planets. Maybe I'll discover, once and for all, the planet where all the ninjas come from (you know what I'm talking about, so don't pretend like you're not on the up-and-up on Nunchuckto 9).

--Flying car. Happening in my life time? Yes. Will I be able to drive one before I get too old to have a license anymore? I doubt it. If I were immortal, well, enough said about that.

--The cure for cancer. I'm a survivor and, as such, have a soft spot in my heart for this discovery. It'll happen soon. I'd like to see us come up with the cure for everything. That would be kickass.

--Laser swords. You know some crazy guy in his basement is going to come up with one of these in 40 years, and it'll work, and we can go back to feudal times when duels were acceptable. And in 40 years, we'll be able to grow back limbs and all that, so a laser battle won't be such a bad thing. But, I'll probably be three-quarters-dead in 40 years. I want a laser sword. So. Yeah.

I am, of course, fully aware of the downsides to being immortal. For example, if you're the only immortal person in the universe, then that means you'll have to watch all your friends and family members and pets and politicians die. The last one might not be so bad, but the first three would suck, especially if you kept having to go through that century after century. Not to mention that after living for a few hundred years, there's not much you can do to avoid being that creepy old guy who hits on college chicks. You might not look old, but you really are, and if ever there was a need for an international law to protect the young from creepy old guys, it would definitely be for this.

The other downsides might be:
--Monogamy. I don't know many people who can stand being with someone for centuries and centuries. One century is pushing it, and if your significant other is immortal too, then you're in for a rude awakening.

--Crazy religious people will hate you. You'll either be loved like a God (which would be cute for about ten minutes, and then it'd get really old), or hated for being Satan (in which case you could spend an entire immortal life running from people who would rather have your head on a plate than see you outlive them). You'd likely have to keep it secret, particularly because of the next downside...

--Evil old white guys who don't want to die and crazy pseudo-scientists who want to use you as an experiment to discover the true meaning of life or whatever it is they're searching for. This all depends on the kind of immortality you have, and whether you're the only one alive or whether you're on a planet full of immortal people. But the worst case scenario doesn't look good.

So, now that I've pontificated on the great immortality debate, I want to know what you think: Would you want to be immortal? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments and check out the poll on the left sidebar!

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  1. I wouldn't want to live forever, but I would like to live longer than the pittance we currently get on Earth. A thousand years or so would be good for me.

  2. Adam: 1,000 years? That's it. Bleh. Short-changing jerk... :P

  3. I read relatively slowly. The only way I'm going to read everything I want (and learn everything I want to learn) is at least a limited form of immortality.

    I want my cat to be immortal too.

  4. mentatjack: Well, I would assume that if we can create artificial immortality for humans, the same could be said for cats. Just a few genetic tweaks, right?