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: I think we would be cruel to each other.
    When people really live their lives, it's when they are facing death. "If you died tomorrow, what would you do"- kind of thing.
    So the ramifications would be a monotonously and mankind would become extinct.
    But finally I would refer to the song by Queen: "Who wants to live forever?"
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      Dec 30 2012: A run of a thousand years might be fun though.
    • Dec 30 2012: It would not be immortality forever: eventually an accident, violence, disease or your brain being maxed out on memories (which would probably cause some kind of dementia) would get you and of course the heat death of the universe is more than willing to mop up the survivors.
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        Dec 30 2012: In the fullness of time, someone you know will walk up to you and say, hey brain add on do you want it? :)

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