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: As a Christian, I have no problem with spiritual or physical immortality. However I see no reason to believe that the disease ridden bodies we now inhabit will be capable of much longer life than we presently enjoy. If nothing else, Big Pharma will ensure that there is a need for ever increasing quantities of their product, & the genetic load of our increasing mutation count will do nothing to alleviate the problem.
    It may well be that we are already immortal spirits, & that immortal bodies are available to us. The only problem we have is in believing it.

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      Dec 30 2012: Nice religious and anti pharma rant. Now go away.

      This technology is going to happen and within 20 to 30 years. I am trying to determine what the outcome socially, technologically, government wise and business wise is going to be. This is not a place to espouse your religious views. I do not care about your views on religion. They are worthless in this debate.
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        Dec 30 2012: David: If as U say that the technology for immortality eventuates in another decade or two, one of the +ves to develop from this would be the colonizing of space. If overpopulation becomes a factor on this planet due to even say double triple lifespans, there would be no option but to look spaceward. BTW, I personally believe that in 20-30 yrs time lifespans would double or triple. Immortality may be further down the line say by 2100.
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        Dec 30 2012: Religion aside. You would need to give some specific reasoning behind your claim that immortality is viable within the next few decades.
        If we are going to live forever it would be nice if we could be more tolerant of others' views.

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