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Killing death: Some implications of extending human lifespan indefinitely

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It's a long read, but I advise everyone to read it from top to bottom.

If we end natural biological death, then we are radically changing our future prospect. We are not trying to imagine a world in which we do not exist anymore (what a bizarre prospect!), but we are instead thinking about a future world that is some time off, but that we will be part of nonetheless. Such a radical shift in perspective might help alleviate some problems of the present bias. Perhaps the most important impact could be on the perception of existential risks. Existential risks are risks that could result in the extinction of humankind, and one of the major reasons why we currently care so little about existential risks is that we expect not to be alive anyway when existential disaster strikes.

This is highly interesting - and I think it holds merit. Most people do not seem to care about the grander things in life, because they are either out of reach for them (due to chance, or due to ones own choices or circumstances) or because they indeed do not matter for them anymore. Once their lifespan lengthens, their concerns will increase as well.

From a macro-level perspective, the long-term planning capabilities of humankind might also drastically improve thanks to the end of natural biological death. After all, in our day-to-day politics, both voters and politicians care about the here and now categorically more than they do about the future. However, if neither politicians nor voters are subject to natural biological life cycles any longer, their preferences will almost certainly automatically shift towards longer term planning. In order for that to happen, neither voters nor politicians will have to become less selfish or more rational. Their incentive structure will automatically change due to the absence of natural biological death.

That makes sense, although politicial opportunism is also linked to one's term of office. I do not think those terms will lengthen, nor should we do so without thinking it through properly. So a small point of criticism there. Also:

Human life cycles typically follow a rigid sequence: Education (learning things), professional work (doing something with the things one learned), retirement (enjoying the fruits of one’s labor). With indefinite lifespans, that cycle would be broken: We could continuously learn things, and sometimes we would learn completely different things from the things we already know and do. Such a view on learning would mean that we are epistemically engaging with the world in a much more constant and involved way than we are doing today: When you live indefinitely long in good health, being stuck in “true and tried” belief systems is neither a necessary nor an attractive comfort.


Having rejuvenation technology that ends natural death at our disposal might be desirable, but there is at least one real-world, practical problem that needs to be addressed as well: Access to the technology. .... Unequal access might be one of the greatest risks associated with rejuvenation technology.

True access will have to be provided by means of the state: private parties will not be able to guarantee access for all, as the free market mechanisms underlying our current system will prevent that. This calls upon the question if nationalising such tech is not the best idea. The author stays silent on this part. He suggests leaving it to market:

Rejuvenation technology could potentially be handled in a similar way as drugs, involving patents. However, given the scope of rejuvenation technology (every human should have access to it), special regulation within an international framework might be more appropriate

Also, with respect to the conclusion:

A first step is to dramatically increase public funding for basic and applied research. Current funding is trivially minuscule in light of the immense benefits that ending natural death would entail. A second step is to begin designing an international framework for the eventual introduction of rejuvenation technology. In order to minimize the risks of rejuvenation technology, we need to plan ahead in order to be able to handle rejuvenation technology in a democratically sustainable way once it becomes available. An international framework should pursue two goals: Ensuring equal global access to the technology, and limiting the power of the first-mover innovator who initially develops the technology (while not curtailing the financial incentives to invest in research and development in the first place).

This appears to be very reasonable. There's not much more I can add to this, except that we should keep the private sector as much out as is reasonably possible.

I look forward to credit card debt that's been compounding for a millennium.

Future Fusion
3 points · 5 months ago

You'll have billions of years to pay it off so I wouldn't worry too much about it.

If y’all can just get me some more hair on the way, that’d be good

There is something promising coming in early 2020s.. Check out Tsuji

Transcending the limits of human biology with bicycles hardly raises any eyebrows.

This line made me chuckle. Otherwise, it was a great read and I hope the rejuvenation aspect comes through sometime in my lifetime. I am actually quite afraid of the singularity and I have Black Mirror to thank for that.

I'd rather hope time is an illusion, and that we are more than our mere bodies, consciousness without a beginning and an end, heading for the singularity in the omega point, than being captives in a prolonged finite pointless journey heading for the inevitable heath death of the universe.

Very interesting. I was not aware of the omega point. Reminded me of Itzhak Bentov's views

There may be a few great minds worth hanging onto for an extended lifetime. But i don't think the vast majority of humanity is not worth the effort. We are born then reproduce and die. I guess what I am asking is what would the average human contribute in a longer life then they already do in 70ish years? I don't see the upside of 500 year old gamers, car salesmen, plumbers ect.

Believe it or not - even the biggest buffoons want to accomplish something and tend to learn stuff/ be productive overtime. Idiots adapt and become civilized over time, though their spiritual/intelectual growth is much slower than others. But ''Why save the irreversable idiot'' is not a problem, guys who refuse to intelectually grow eventually will be killed by their own idiocy in one way or another.

2 points · 5 months ago · edited 5 months ago

We are born then reproduce and die.

That was my worldview as of until recently. I thought this was the point of all life on Earth.. and then I stumbled upon this: Biological Immortality

There already are animals that are immortal on Earth, created this way by Nature herself. These animals are born, age, reproduce and.. continue to exist. Many of them do die due to illnesses or injuries, but many do not. There are also animals who age extremely slow.

I guess what I am asking is what would the average human contribute in a longer life then they already do in 70ish years?

Life then would be completely different. You could spend 50 years as a gamer, then decide to be a car salesman for 50 years more and then, if you decide, you could study quantum mechanics for 50 years more.

edit: English grammar

We do not know. I know that I could fill my life up with 1000 years of performing 100 different jobs, no problem at all. Others wouldn't, and they would be free to 'opt-out' if you understand what I mean there.

The entire thing is that if the tech is there, we should have a choice - not an obligation.

Yeah, I understand most people don't want to die and that they feel there is a good reason for their being here in the first place. I also agree some percent of the people would find ways to be useful. I just wonder if it would be in humanities best interests to deny a new generation and maybe evolution to have a greater lifespan. I get the OPT OUT bit and don't understand why every adult on earth is denied an easy passage if they choose I.E. go to the doctor get a shot and "goto sleep" Disclaimer: I choose this side of the debate because "nobody wants to die" Thanks for the thoughts.

Thanks for the discussion! Your point of view is valued, make no mistake.

0 points · 5 months ago(1 child)

Seems most your post is about self termination, IMO it should be a basic human right. As to what do people over 50 contribute, I would say this is where most of the professors are and until the mind/body give out have a great deal to teach. You also need to keep in mind that the brain does have a finite amount of storage, we are not going to bring brain implants and add on storage it to this because that is not this threads point. As far as me being the one to decide, no I am hardly qualified, and maybe the metrics to gauge the worth of a person in the future will change. But surely no one would think that the basest of humanity would be good to keep around for the extended stay.

You don't... But it's not your call.

You don't think someone has a greater chance of contributing something valuable if they live longer?

Or let's take another look at this. Should we let those with medical conditions die at 50 or 60 because it's not likely they will contribute anything else?

I doubt in a world that has people living extremely long lives we would have much of these people with medical conditions or birth defects for that matter. I understand that people fear death and want to "live forever" I am just struggling to see the upside, what do we gain from this?

I'm never sure how to answer these sort of questions because they seem so odd to me. What do we have to gain by researching cancer and heart disease curse? What do we have to gain by reducing human suffering at all? When we developed laser eye surgery you probably didn't ask yourself "What's the point?"

It's a very strange existential question that almost makes existence itself sound questionable. Of course assuming that one wants to live longer and experience more things with their life. I believe that should be someone's choice.

But to provide a more concrete answer: Imagine if people who were 50-80 today didn't succumb to alzheimers, greater cancer risks, etc. These people would no longer be a burden on the healthcare system. If your loved ones could experience a greater quality of life, would you be for that?

Yeah is a very though question, I am sure that is why it is being felt out on a public forum. Cosmically speaking humanity has been around for a blink of the eye and or whole solar system is as significant as a grain of sand on a beach. So what we say today really won't matter if we can't find a harmony we ourselves and our plant, because we cant live super long and have a high birth rate for much longer.

1 point · 5 months ago

You're still free to die if you choose.

In the real world, all the death-worshippers will die out, while the rest of us continue to live for as long as we feel like it.

This is why you DO let the free market handle it, if a treatment cost 1.5 million dollars then you are leaving out the undesirables (the poor and uneducated). To have a boatload of money generally means that you are intelligent (yes I realize there are exceptions).

My problem with what you say is this. Uneducated don't mean less intelligent and can be taught given the extended lifetime, not a problem. Poor don't mean they have less to contribute to the idea of humanity, I have not seen anything to make me believe that wealthy people have less mental illness or as I see it more desirable traits like kindness, compassion, empathy, courage, integrity ect.

I see what you are trying to say but you are negating your own argument then. So if you don't see the upside in having 500 year old plumbers etc. then surely you don't see the upside in having 500 year old fast food workers/unemployed welfare recipients. The "filtering mechanism" I suggest isn't perfect but at least it's something no?

No, what I am saying is wealth is a very poor meter to decide longevity, possibly one of the worst.

Especially given that a significant percentage of the wealthy inherit their wealth, in which case it is not an indication of their talent or intelligence, just an accident of birth.

I strongly disagree, think about what it takes to achieve wealth. It's so very rare that maybe only 1 out of 10000 people will be multi-millionaires and it takes dedication and working smart. Furthermore wealthy people can afford a better education for their children despite them being set for life. Also yes there are a few wealthy deadbeat children but most people want to do something meaningful with their life.

Can you explain why you think that? It seems like it would be the complete opposite actually, it is quite difficult to achieve wealth and often requires ambition and creative thinking. Also wealthy people can afford a proper education for their children (as noted in my comment below).

With the advances in all the future fields/tech are going, I have read that individual wealth will become less important because energy will become very cheap and so will labor. So people will have to spend far less effort to meet their base needs like shelter, food, water. And with the internet of the future, education and information. Will reach nearly everyone that wants it. As seen in some of the northern Europe countries. Now as soon as people give up this glutinous want/need for extreme wealth, billions in the hands of the few at the cost of the many way of thinking. OPINION-people that have that much really only use the wealth to make more wealth. Not to live better or make the people/world better. When meta economics becomes about us and not me, many things will change. Some of this may never happen because of the way many humans are wired. Gluttony/hoarding/collecting more then we can use seems like what is programmed into us also, pushed at us from media. Why I see wealth being the problem is so much is gained though sociopathic or anti-social means theft, corruption, slavery in its many forms. Are these the people you really want to live extended lives just because they could pay? Now I know this is some crazy talk for the present but in 100 years when people could be able to extend their lives this much we could have very different views of what wealth is, will have changed alot. Sorry if this is not as clear as it could be but getting close to 18 hours awake and getting dull. But to sum it up our best scientists and artists and other great minds are not the most wealthy and some live very modestly.

First off northern European countries don't have as many deadbeat entitled people as the United States. Secondly I am sorry that you have been indoctrinated by the left-wing, with some personal growth I think that one day you'll understand how the world actually works. Until then refrain from commenting as it makes you sound unintelligent.

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