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Why Death?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote deirdre Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Dec 2016 at 06:23
It would be good if we could be immortal ,some people just don't deserve to live though. I would happily live foreverBig smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Princess Botchface Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Dec 2016 at 06:06
Dumb useless people who have like 20 kids even though they work part time at walmart will live forever... Humans would have to have a much higher median intelligence to survive ever lasting life as a species... and probably lost of VR porn...

I'd like to have the option to live indefinately, but there should be a clean, effective and easily acceptable method to turn in whenever I feel like I've had enough. Maybe have a minimum age requirement. For me personally I've been struggling with depression all of my life, some environmental but some also genetic (not sure how much of which), it runs in my family. It would suck to have to live with going through major depressive phases that last years indefinately. If there was a definitive cure for major depressive disorder maybe I'd have a different outlook but as it stands... 80 years or so of this nonsense is one thing but 800 sounds unbearable.


Edited by Princess Botchface - 06 Dec 2016 at 06:20
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Timrath Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 2017 at 18:18
Mortality exists because species that have it are more successful than species that don't have it.
An individual is only useful for its species for the time it takes to raise the next generation of offspring. Once the offspring have matured, the parents begin to be a liability for them (competing for resources, among many other factors), so they must be eliminated. The direct approach of the children killing their parents is too risky, because the parents would fight back and kill the children, so the better solution was to kill the parents by making them progressively weaker until they die by themselves or have become too weak to defend against infections or predators.

It is very unlikely that any complex being can ever achieve immortality. Jellyfish are primitive, so they don't lose much when they revert to an infant stage. A more complex being, like a fish, for example, could not do the same. The body is too structured, there are too many specialised cells, there's a central nervous system that contains learned abilities, which would all be lost.

If humans would invent a way to eliminate the adverse effects of old age, people would realise that the treatment shouldn't be made available for everyone. Only a select few would become immortal, while the rest of the population would only receive enough to increase the general well-being and productivity, without significantly expanding their lifespan. Eventually, things would go like this:
- The mortals would resent the immortals for keeping immortality from them, so they would try to take it by force.
- Alternative A: The immortals would either be defeated, or they'd surrender the secret of immortality to avoid violence. Immortality becomes available for everyone. Overpopulation of a cataclysmic scale would result in conflicts over habitable space and food sources. Obviously, the only way to keep the population from growing would be to cease reproduction, or reintroduce mortality. Reproduction can never cease, because we're genetically programmed to engage in it. Eventually, the problem solves itself: constant warfare and rampant overpopulation drive many societies into poverty, to a degree that they can no longer produce the drug, machine or treatment that grants immortality. Immortality is lost for the majority of the population, because they can no longer afford it. Only the elites can afford it, and the cycle repeats itself.
- Alternative B: The immortal elites decide to escape the cycle by removing themselves to a place where the mortals cannot reach them. They migrate into secret bunkers, submarine cities or orbital colonies. Immortality is lost from Earth. Eventually, those colonies succumb to epidemics, because germs never stop evolving, while the immortal humans must rely on their increasingly outdated DNA to defend against diseases. Keep in mind that individuals do not evolve. They may learn, but they cannot adapt their DNA. To have evolution, you need a succession of generations. Once you stop producing new generations, or the time between each new generation becomes too long, the microbes win the arms race.
- Alternative C: The inventor of immortality keeps his invention a secret. He, and a few select other individuals, are the only immortal humans. After a few decades, they realise that humans are bad at keeping secrets. The secret leaks out, and scenario A begins, or the immortals are all killed by religious fanatics who deem immortality to be an affront to their particular deity. It's also not unthinkable that one of the immortals decides to kill all the other immortals, to ensure that the secret never leaks out. The wisest thing would have been for the inventor never to share his secret with anyone, but the temptation to share eternal life with your loved ones or friends will in all likelihood be too great to resist.


Edited by Timrath - 06 Feb 2017 at 01:09
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Timrath Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 2017 at 20:03
What kind of immortality are we talking about anyway? True or practical?
If you're envisioning the complete elimination of death, forget it. That will never be possible. The closest we could theoretically ever get would be to eliminate aging. We could still die from infections, accidents or homicide, but it could be feasible with genetic engineering and a good helping of drugs. Worn out organs would have to be periodically replaced every few decades, because adapting our DNA to obtain the ability to regrow failed organs is probably either impossible, or disruptive to the stability of the genome. If you have ever developed or analysed any kind of software, you will know the nightmare that ensues when you try to edit spaghetti code. Small edits can be done, risky though they are, but adding new features will more likely than not earn you more bugs than the upgrade was worth.
The problem with genetically engineering a race of immortal beings, is that you'd have to repeat the work on each individual separately. You can't just engineer a pair and tell them to produce offspring, then wait a few centuries until they have populated the planet with the superior race. People want to be immortal NOW, and they want to be immortal THEMSELVES, not some distant offspring of a lucky pair of strangers. I'm not even sure you can genetically engineer a fully-grown person at all, considering how we consist of trillions of cells, each with their own DNA. No, if anything, the generation that will discover the secret to immortality, will itself not experience what they invented. Genetic enhancement can only be conferred to a freshly fertilised egg, or maybe even an unfertilised one, but not to a multicellular organism.

Any other ways of achieving immortality, beyond natural or artificial biological adjustment, would have to be the work of magic or theurgy. And since magic and God are rather unlikely to exist, these possibilities are even more unlikely. Even if God existed, He clearly doesn't want us to be immortal. It says so right in the Bible (it's our punishment for Adam and Eve committing the Original Sin). So don't expect any help from Him.

In short, even if the secret to immortality were to be discovered right this minute, it could only be applied to future generations, so everyone alive today would still be mortal.


Edited by Timrath - 05 Feb 2017 at 20:11
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Timrath Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 2017 at 20:51
The problem with eliminating mortality is that death has so many different causes, and each cause has to be solved separately, because they're all indepentend of each other.

- Heart failure: partially solved today by artificial hearts. We'd just have to replace the artificial heart every few decades.

- Infections: practically unsolvable. We cannot exterminate all pathogens on the planet, because they mutate faster than we can kill them. But even if we could make them magically disappear, other pathogens would evolve from currently benevolent microorganisms. Even worse: eliminating all pathogens from our environment would cause our immune system to attack our own body. Think of allergies, and now imagine them a thousand times worse.

- Cancer: unsolvable. Cancer develops when DNA is damaged, and there's no way to prevent DNA from getting damaged. Ultraviolet radiation, x-rays, rogue neutrons, viruses, toxins, and many other things have the ability to damage our DNA. Even if we could live in perfectly shielded environments, our DNA still degenerates over time from random copying errors during cell division. There's no way to prevent that. You can only cure it once it's there. Some forms of cancer, however, are difficult to detect at an early stage, and by the time you've detected it, it has caused too much damage. You could still cure it with sufficiently advanced technology, but the damage accumulates over time, and after a few centures your body would be too frail.

- Apoptosis: Our DNA contains a code that instructs its cell to kill itself after a certain number of divisions. That means that at some point, even if we live a perfectly healthy life, free of any disease or accident, we will die anyway, because our cells just shut down. We could in theory erase that command, but then we'd have no natural defence against cancer or degenerative diseases. The function of apoptosis is to protect us from cells that have gone rogue. Sometimes, cells will go crazy and multiply faster than they should (that's cancer, see above). This actually happens almost every day in your body. But because the cells have divided so many times, they eventually kill themselves by apoptosis before they can create a problem. Now, remove apoptosis, and you'll have 30 kinds of cancer within a month.

- Violence: unsolvable. There will always be violence. You can breed violence out of an individual or even a whole society, by eugenics and genetic engineering, but once a society has become completely non-violent, it will be defenceless against other, violent, societies or animals (possibly extraterrestials at some point in the future). A few fractions of a percent of your population killed because of violence is a small price to pay for the continued survival of your society as a whole. Since the capacity for violence is such an evolutionary advantage, we will not give it up.

- Accidents: will always occur.

- Cosmic catstrophes: We cannot prevent the sun from dying, asteroids from hitting the earth, volcanoes from erupting, entropy from turning the universe into a bleak, icy paralysis, the Big Rip from tearing the very protons and neutrons we're made of into their constituent quarks.

But short of all that, I'd have to go with what Nwabudike Morgan said in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri:
"I plan to live forever, of course, but barring that I'd settle for a couple thousand years. Even five hundred would be pretty nice."


Edited by Timrath - 05 Feb 2017 at 20:53
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote abstractdream Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Feb 2017 at 03:24
A species, any species cannot become immortal because of evolution. Mutations drive evolution and a species would stagnate once it becomes immortal. Live forever, procreation becomes moot. Who'd want to live without the mechanism for procreation?
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