Issues With Immortality, Revisited

"Immortality" is a problematic term, and the press insist on using it when talking about efforts to extend healthy life: "As with cryonics, a proposal to extend life substantially is greeted with bizarre concerns about living too long, or the wrong people living longer. Why not apply such complaints to ordinary medical gains? A big part of the problem, I think, is that talk of 'immortality' invokes an extremely far view. But finite increases in lifespan really have little to do with immortality. Immortality means you never die, ever. But forever is a really really long time! In fact, nothing you can imagine is remotely as long. ... A thousand year lifespan would be fantastic, relative to our lifespan. I want it! But it is nothing like immortality. It would have clear stages, and a very real end to anticipate. Anyone with a halfway decent imagination couldn't remotely run out of new interesting things to do, places to visit, people to see, etc. Yes they'd have time for twenty times as many careers, hobbies, marriages, and vacations as we do now, but it should only take a moment's reflection to realize you there are far more than twenty times as many things to do than we manage in our lives. For example, any decent library holds twenty times more books than you've ever read."



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