Vernor Vinge on Radical Life Extension

From an interview with Vernor Vinge at Wired: "First of all, I'm all for human life extension. In The Singularity is Near, I think, [Ray Kurzweil] has a nice discussion of the situation that a lot of essayists have where they say, 'Oh, we really don't want that. A wise and philosophical person realizes that life needs be limited, and that's a good thing,' these essayists say. He does a good job of criticizing that point of view, and I certainly agree with that. Furthermore, I think that a human lifespan of a thousand years with post-Singularity technology is easily doable. I think a lifespan of a thousand years would actually - Singularity aside - would do human society and human nature a great deal of good, and don't think it is that difficult, it probably can even be achieved without having a Technological Singularity. Life spans of 10,000 to 100,000 years, then you begin to look at what's involved, the humans that are involved, and how capable a human mind is of absorbing variety. ... The complaint or the criticism here is that the human mind has a certain level of ability to handle different sorts of complexity, and if you believe that you could go 100,000 years and not be turned into a repeating tape loop, well, then let's talk about longer period of time. How about a billion years, or a hundred billion years? At a hundred billion years, you're out there re-engineering the universe. The age of the universe becomes your chief longevity problem. But there's still the issue of, what would it be like to be you after that? This raises the point, which actually I'm sure is also on Ray's mind, that if you're going to last that long you have to become something greater, and the Singularity is ideally set up to supply that. So the people who are into the intelligence amplification mode of looking at these things, this all fits. And I'm not saying that in a critical and negative way, it does all fit, and it puts you in a situation where you are talking realistically about living very long periods of time, perhaps so long that you have to re-engineer the universe because the universe is not long-lived enough. At the same time, you have to be growing and growing and growing. I mean, intellectually growing. Now, if you look at that situation, it ultimately gets you, I think, to a very interesting philosophical point, which really I don't think was within the horizon of what people normally thought about two or three or four hundred years ago."



Fantastic, original arguments.

Thank you Reason for a great website!

Posted by: neve at March 27th, 2012 9:33 AM

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