However, the idea of heaven is based on the notion that there is an immortality beyond this life, which is full of sin and suffering. Objectivism taught you that what is valuable is your own life "here on earth". Life-extension is the desire to hold on to those selfish individual values here, now, on earth. You cannot equate these two different versions of immortality.
Marcus, what an exciting thought, to live, if not forever, then 7-800 years! And some of the problems people are raising seem based on the assumption that everything would remain exactly as it it, but someone would suddenly wave a magic wand and we'd be able to live all those years. In fact, this kind of life span wouldn't be achieved overnight; it will take a long time, and as our lives grew longer and longer, we would be making the psychological and physical adjustments and the alterations in our planning necessary to accommodate it. I agree with Michael M. that, with a considerable life extension, much of who we are would gradually change -- and how interesting that might be!
Clarence, I don't want to be downloaded into a computer. What a horrible thought! I want to be me.
Erik: "Someday, people will be having sex well into their 520's."
I agree with Michael M. that, with a considerable life extension, much of who we are would gradually change -- and how interesting that might be!
Not just life extension - we do in fact change during a normal life-span. What links us with the younger people we were before is our sense of self and our memories (apart from the purely physical that is).
However, many times I have not understood, "how or why did I think, feel or do that back then?"
Of course, that comes down to forgetting some of the details of the situation afterwards, but it also comes down to having changed my thoughts, attitudes and feelings towards something.
Marcus, would you give the link for the article you quoted? I'm curious to read it because I like the man's writing.
Yes, the article is excellent reading, however as I warned in my article - I don't agree with most of it - and I suspect you wont either. A second point is, that the article itself is not about life-extension, but post-modernism. However, I would like to challenge anyone here to point out the error the writer makes in this article.
You cannot equate these two different versions of immortality.
Yes, I see your point. I suppose really the issue is whether we would still value in the way that we do if we were immortal. Have you ever read or seen Tuck Everlasting? (I know it may seem a bit off topic but the story touches on this very point.)
But Erik, I already am!
If that sentence was meant to convey what it seems to, I will simply say: Go girl! ;-)
As far as I'm concerned, mortality is a defect. If I could live indefinitely, barring accidents or murder, I would do so as long as I could retain biological youth. Being physically 18 forever is what I want, especially if I have my wife along for the ride.
Why should we settle for being human if we can make ourselves gods?
Hey Marcus, I like this thread. That must be a fun work you are doing.
Living "forever" is a stretch no matter how you slice it. We can always get hit by a bus. There are very real problems in extending the life expectancy but, for me, those new problems would beat the hell out of dealing with the grim reaper before I wanted to. I'd take a pill right now to live 800 years. After 10,000 years I can see where I might want to check out. Anyone here read Kubla Khan? That hits on this idea.
In all seriousness, over the course of 800 years a person would endure a great deal of heartache. Quite possibly more than was bargained for.
Very good article. You beat me to the punch on the complete immortality thing, though. Your research is merely in aging, not in trying to find a preventive cure for a safe falling on your head or getting shot.
Maybe someday man will be able to prevent accidents arising from the normal chaos of the universe's elements constantly bumping into each other (including ourselves), but aging is a wonderful place to start.
Next stage, how to forever prevent getting squished and what to do about it if you are.
The funniest thing said on this thread was by Michael M about the nay-sayers and chronic doubters:
Among the libertarians, there were scoffers. Murray Rothbard said that it was more important to fight the revolution against the state than to take vitamins. Now, he does neither.
Good luck with your research, Marcus. I hope you get the Nobel one day.
In the 1st place, bringing up the term "Immortal(ity)" is making the whole subject near-idiotic, given the silly but accepted connotation of "Invincibility," which too many responders seem to be thinking in terms of. Neither anti-aging research nor cryonics have anything to do with Superman/girl.
In the 2nd place, I just don't buy any reason to believe that there will ever be any 'cure' for Aging. If we can't do it for cars or houses, we sure won't be soon doing it for bodies (never mind brains.) --- Forestalling such, re increased ability for cellular 'maintenance' (by whatever new or futuristic nano-medical procedures), sure, can result in 'aging' being slowed; but at some point, there'll be a body-need for brain-transplants. Such would not be a 'cure' for aging (body-wise), but it definitely would be an indefinite (barring unforseen occurrences...such as a random bullet to the head) prolonging of one's life to the point of Virtual immortalness in a way that makes body-aging irrelevent...though nevertheless ongoing and more slowly.
Re cryonics: I really don't understand (supposedly 'rational,' non-religious) people's problems with this. "It's a long shot" some say? --- Uh-h-h...as compared to "NO shot" this means it's worth is, er, less in considering?
I'm all for ALL research in ALL areas re this subject...as well as more understanding about it by those interested. And no, I have no spot reserved next to Disney (or Presley or whoever.)
I predict that there will be an anti-aging cure soon making the extension of our lifespan beyond its current limit possible.
Our cells are constructed in such a way that they stop dividing after about 50 subdivisions. The telemeres degrade.
I think you predict in vain.
But even so, living forever is not such a good idea. We have brains with a finite information storage capacity. Sooner or later the "disk drive" is full. Or even before, maybe one gets tired of it all. How would like 100,000 years of same old same old? I wouldn't.
However 200-500 years in good health does not sound too bad.
Like most scientists of his day, [Lord Kelvin] is known for making some embarrassing mistakes in terms of predicting the future of technology. In 1895, as president of the Royal Society, Kelvin is quoted as saying, "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible," proven false a mere eight years later with the flight of Orville and Wilbur Wright's Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk in 1903. In 1897, he predicted that "Radio has no future;"  while the popularity of radio did not appear in his lifetime (it was not until the 1920s and 30s that it attained any degree of popularity), the statement was nevertheless proven false.
I don't know about you, Bob, but I wear glasses -- though I have been doing without them -- and I have a mouth full of prosthetics. People have artificial hearts and routine dialysis and diabetes is getting easier to medicate with hand-held pin-pricks. We can grow new organs from stem cells derived from our own skin.
Then, there is the problem to be solved of putting (trans- lating -ferring -mogrifying) human consciousness into a new and harder hardware.
Don't give up the ship.
As for the memory limits of the human brain, there are books and computers now. Who knows what a human "brain" might become. ("I'll take the Cray now and come back later for the Apple Tree of Knowledge.")