These days immortality is a lazy shorthand for vulnerable agelessness attained though medical technology: your body won't kill you while you have access to preventative therapies to treat aging, but falling pianos can still ruin your day. Aiming at the goal of indefinitely extended healthy lives is decried in some quarters, but the arguments marshaled against efforts to make the human condition better by eliminating the pain and suffering of degenerative aging have never looked all that coherent to me:
I was a bit perplexed, to say the least, when I read Big Think blogger John N. Gray's article "Immortality is a Waste of Time." His entire argument revolved around the notion that, because of unknown contingencies throughout life, the act of curtailing death's inevitability and infinity is thus a waste of time, money, thought and anxiety.
This is absurd. An absurdity flooded with fear-mongering imagery of our future, claiming the acts of planning for our possible deaths as being equivalent to "a society that is one of cryonic suspension, a freezer-centered society, a society in which we spend our thoughts, our desires, our passions, our incomes on tending freezers." Tending freezers, he says? Like we tend to our graveyards, our crematoriums, and mausoleums? Examples, I might add, to which wastes precious land to accommodate the bodies and/or ashes of our long-since-deceased (or soon-to-be-deceased) loved ones.
This notion that "history will go on," all while admitting that it "makes good sense to take care of your health, to try to remain healthy for as long as possible" and that "we should use the new technologies to enhance the mortal life we have," is contradictory and ahistorical. History most certainly went on, but then the goings-on of history were determined - not by a lack of care for what our future holds for us, but - by a global society who no longer saw it fit to merely live by age 30, or to go days without food, or to suffer from terrible diseases due to complete lack of medical aid and knowledge. Our society has spent centuries upon centuries fighting for a better world not just for themselves, but for those who'll come after them. Maybe our efforts won't lead to immortality in our lifetime. But then when is a good time to fight for it? Should we simply condemn our future relatives to a life - albeit one certainly going on - flooded with problems that could have been alleviated, if not addressed completely beforehand?