What if I told you that some people who are alive today are never going to die? To some Russian scientists, that’s a very real possibility. They believe they might have the technology by 2045 to allow a human being to live forever.
The human body is always going to wear out — as far as we know — so how is this possible? The scientists of the 2045 Initiative believe they’ll have the technology by then to transfer what they see as the essence of a human being into a machine. If you’re interested in the stages of development they plan to go through to get there, this story will interest you.
For the most part, I’m going to set aside the science of this and assume that some very smart people are able to develop the technology to sustain a human brain. I’m even going to assume that human consciousness is centered there, at least for the purpose of this discussion, even though I have serious doubts about that. (If you’re interested in why I started doubting this commonly accepted belief, you might be fascinated by Paul Pearsall’s book, “The Heart’s Code.”) I’m mostly interested now in the question of whether this kind of immortality would be a good thing or not.
Humans have been pursuing immortality for centuries. (Here’s a good brief history of such efforts.) Scientists, doctors and magicians have all pointed toward the idea of living forever, but few have seemed to ask whether this would be a good thing or not.
I want to live a long time. Most people do. I know of only one person who truly sees the world as such a painful and ugly place that she doesn’t want a long life. She’s a Christian, and she finds this world to be such an unhappy place that she’s eager to get this life over with and go “home” to be with God. That’s pretty unusual, though. Most of us are more like me. I’m planning to somehow live to be 120 years old.
But would it be a good thing if people could suddenly start living lives of virtually unlimited length? If the human race keeps reproducing, what happens when people quit dying? Would could we sustain that world? Could we deal with a population that was growing and growing — and almost nobody was dying? I don’t know.
And what about valuing life? Part of the reason we value life now is because of the brevity of our time in this world. If we were able to stay here — and somehow continue experiencing life — would our views about the value of life change? Would we eventually get bored enough to switch our mechanical bodies off? I wonder.
I can think of all sorts of potential issues with living this kind of extended lifespan. Still, I know if I were given a shot at it, I’d take it. I believe in God and look forward to experiencing Him in whatever the next world looks like. But I love the world here, too, and I have no desire to leave it quickly.
So if the technology were available and I could afford it, I’d pursue it when the time came that my physical body is broken down. It might be a bad idea. I might even get tired of it. And the woman who told me she’s eager to leave this world and be with God might even have the right idea. All I know is that I have an intense desire to live and to continue experiencing this world.
I’m nowhere near ready to go. I’m not going to be ready at 80 or 90 or whatever. What about you? Would you extend your life — potentially forever — through such technology? Why or why not? I’m curious whether your answer is similar to mine.