TED Conversations

Gerald O'brian


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If the cure for mortality is found within your lifetime, would you go for it and become immortal?

On the one hand, we're not made for eternal youth. And one could argue that knowing life is short (or just limited) is what makes it worth living. And perhaps death is a major spiritual part of life, whether you believe in a soul or in a metaphorical one.
On the other hand, how is aging yet not another disease? Dying at age 80 is no more a "natural" death than being eaten alive by a bear or killed by malaria. In fact, "old age" is probably the most unnatural cause of death, statistically. So all that's probably just a cultural habit : diseases are evil but aging is good. Another point is that, well, things have changed. Perhaps our new environment makes it suitable for immortal youths.
And of course, becoming immortal only means that you die when YOU chose to die.

So would you go for the injection or not, and how do you rationalize your decision?



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    Oct 29 2013: What a wonderful problem to consider. Would I want to become immortal... to be in my physical prime with no worries of degradation or illness? Of course! Imagine all that I could learn and do in that time! I could navigate the entire globe, and would be fit to endure long intergalactic journeys. I could become a master of all scientific disciplines, of countless instruments and musical styles, and a multidimensional artist. I could explore, experience, and learn enough that I would undoubtedly be a wise man by today's standards-- with the ability to see a much larger picture of the universe. I would love to have the time to transcend human greatness.

    But my choice is not so simple. I.. I.. I.. Selfishness is abundant. Are we all offered eternity? Is it given, or bought? What of my friends and family? What of the 7 billion strangers in this world? Could our planet handle the strain? Of course not. Overpopulation is an enormous concern even now, with roundabout 50 year lives. Inequity in resources and education allows some to ponder immortality while others struggle to secure basic necessities for themselves and their loved ones. Who has the time to observe the patterns of our unsustainable birthrate? This is clear, if we became immortal, we would have to drastically reduce our creation of offspring.

    Does that act defile nature and taint our souls, or would we no longer view children as necessary numbers... but rather as incredibly rare and cherished members of society? Is it better to uncontrollably pump out generation after generation of creatures who die with insufficient time to understand their environment and purpose-- who pass on fragments of their incomplete information to the malleable youth... or would it be better to have a smaller, more intelligent family of lifeforms?

    This proposition is a chance for a type of evolution that we may not be prepared to handle, but one I argue is necessary for the advancement of quality of life and universal importance.

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