"More Great Reasons To Be Dead"

Author Damien Broderick pointed to an almost Kassian article on healthy life extension recently. After some economic commentary and sweeping misjudgements of human nature, we hit the punchline:

It is, I suppose, just conceivable that Broderick may be right about the theoretical possibility of indefinitely prolonged life. However, human nature is less malleable than human physiology and ill-adapted to immortality's challenges. I also have my doubts about whether, if offered the everlasting option, all that many of us would take it.

After all, well-adjusted people tend to develop a serene acceptance of finitude. Then again, the sense of an ending is all that makes some lives, especially very long ones, bearable in the meantime.

One would hope that it goes without saying that this is rank and outright nonsense, just like the screeds put out by the likes of Leon Kass. I have nothing against people who want to age and die - but I suspect that they haven't really thought through or otherwise correctly grasped just how much suffering and pain is involved. We humans aren't really all that good at empathy or looking ahead; if we were, you can be sure that we would be far further ahead in medical research.

People eager to inflict death and suffering on others are a different kettle of fish, however. By the standards of this writer, everyone who seeks to cure disease or relieve suffering in the world is maladjusted. I don't really have any comment to make on that - I think it stands on its own as a shining example of foolishness. I have to say that I am continually surprised by the pro-death-and-suffering contingent. It's human nature, I suppose; any set of terrible ongoing circumstances, no matter how ugly and horrific, will give rise to people who attempt to accept and justify it.


That contingent continues to surprise me, too.

1. The author has no idea how ironic this passage is:

"Admittedly you can go to the Immortality Institute's website or log on to the World Transhumanist Association, but so far not a peep out of the federal Government."

Considering that Kass and the PCB is the most prominent group giving press and attention to the the transhumanist and life extension movements.

2. Why are pro-deathists, such as this one and the critic who noted Aubrey's being childless, so obsessed with procreation? Bizarre claims such "Without parenthood, the race would become spoiled and go to rack and ruin" seem to say more about the author than the human species.

Posted by: Kip Werking at July 9th, 2005 12:24 PM

Wow, this author took the time to notice that these issues are discussed by the Immortality Institute, but let his journalistic expidition stop right there. It's not like we haven't considered distribution, terrorism, economics, overpopulation, etc.

This guy's just a bad journalist. Given the huge number of people who have done reviews of Kurzweil's book, or of the visions of other "techno-triumphalist[s]" who predict that technology will conquer aging and provide "eternal youth", you'd think he would be under some sort of journalistic obligation to, I don't know, come up with something original? Wouldn't that involve more than just reading Broderick's review and then pissing on it?

Okay, assuming he has no problems with Ray's predictions, I can see a case made for not reading Ray's book. However, given all his dystopian panic, you'd think he could check out sources like de Grey and More and others who have commented on the political and social ramifications of indefinite or at least greatly extended lifespans.

But no, he decided to do a thought experiment of his own, and then pass judgment on a future that he has considered for all of what? A day? Wow, this guy should be elected President or Prime Minister or whatever position leads Australia. I can't tell you, though, because I haven't done the necessary research.

Posted by: Jay Fox at July 10th, 2005 9:15 AM
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