TED Conversations

David Fuchs

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If physical immortality was perfected and happened tomorrow, and people could become young again, what would be the ramifications?



Since we are only a few years (10-20) away from this happening. I thought now would be a good time to discuss this.

How would physical immortality affect society, government, industry, relationships, war, funding for research, investments and investing, birth rates, the law, people psyches, what sort of people would become immortal if it was low cost and available to everyone, what sort of people would not become immortal, will there be a war between mortals and immortals. Would politicians continue down the same short sighted path, or would they take a longer view, and in the end would that be better or worse for the population at large.

We do not need to discuss population growth, exponential and exponential minus some (n) growth, leads to the planets "people limit" being exceeded within the same 5 year time period. We do how ever have to discuss how to slow down the birth rate through smart policies, education, and lifting people out of poverty,

I am giving a very short period to discussing immortality ... one month. Does anyone think we can get eternity right in that amount of time?


Closing Statement from David Fuchs

We live in an age that has linear growth in some areas and exponential growth in others. Growth of knowledge in biology is exponential. We have citizen scientists doing great science in back rooms and garages, adding to this growth of knowledge, and this trend towards more people doing biology and genetics will only grow as tools that are easier to use or more game like (http://fold.it) are developed. Robotic tools are also being developed, which will also accelerate our knowledge of biology and genetics, by allowing one person to do the work that would have required hundreds in the past.

Many of the points made here were valid, many were off topic, and many were a result of belief systems being threatened.

The good ...

Exponential population growth and exponential minus the death rate not being roughly equal long term (John Smith). That immortality could be a driving factor pushing us into space, colonizing the solar system and beyond (Dr Sivaram Hariharan). That some people might try to centralize power and control the rest of humanity. That perhaps people would grow up and begin taking the long view (online observer).

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    Dec 30 2012: Although immortality sounds great from the POV of mankind conquering space and time, the practical aspects of it namely the avoidance of cancer will be BIG ASK. As the living body is proportionally longer exposed to the battle of life against elements that seek to bring it down (Free-radical damage is one such example), the probability for cancer exponentially increases. Unless science also finds a way to solve this problem immortality might turn out to be a malignant/cancerous curse. But this is only looking at this from a totally materialistic POV. If one looks to the Hindu Vedaanta, we are already immortal as we are not the body but the spiritual consciousness in it. The body is just a cloak that the spirit puts on changes it as it get worn off and old. And I wonder whether any spirit would like to wear the same cloak forever in the name of immortality :-):-) Dr Sivaram Hariharan Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, PSG College of Pharmacy, Bhaarath.
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      Dec 30 2012: The following is speculation, the cancer question can possibly be answer with programmed cell death and DRACO (Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) Activated Caspase Oligomerizer) targeted at the specific cancer.

      The rest about already being immortal. I will stay away from, speculation about religion in a serious technical discussions, is inherently time consuming and unproductive.
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        Dec 30 2012: David,
        your claim that immortality is about religion is a misdirection. Immortality has been PROVEN by scientists. The subject now moves to the scientific arena.

        For those that examine the evidence and the scientific methods used by the famous scientists to obtain it, the result is “case proven”.

        Some scientists, and thinkers, who were initially open-minded skeptics but after thorough investigation accepted this truth are: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Oliver Lodge, Arthur Findlay, Camille Flammarion, Dr Baraduc, Professor Richet, Alfred Russel Wallace, Professor Robert Hare, Professor Albert Einstein, Marconi, F.W. Myers, Professor William James and Dr Carrington.

        “I tell you we do persist. Communication is possible. I have proved that the people who communicate are who and what they say they are. The conclusion is that survival is scientifically proved by scientific investigation.”
        Sir Oliver Lodge F.R.S.
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          Dec 30 2012: You reek of the irrational. Please go away.

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