Re: Immortality decay (was Re: Stewart Brand's The Clock of the Long Now)

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Tue Jan 16 2001 - 15:04:35 MST

Adrian Tymes <> writes:

> Question/problem: if physical immortality arrives, with attendant
> ability to cure gross defects like dementia and senility, but stagnates
> at that ability level for some length of time, would most people decay
> into conservative, nostalgic sheeple who use their collected wisdom and
> wealth to struggle to keep things the way they are, viewing young humans
> and robots (sentient or not) equally as slaves laboring to support them?

There seem to be a correlation with a constructive, self actualizing
personality and living long and active lives. Most likely you need the
personality to survive long enough and keep your brain plastic to
avoid dementia. Given advances in life extension it might turn out
that this personality trait also is needed to seek out and use the
methods for extending life. Unless we get an "immortality in a pill"
procedure it is likely that life extension will require plenty of
customer participation.

In some sense learning is getting better estimates of the grand
probability distribution of the universe - the likeliehood of
situations of kind A to become situations of kind B and so on. Age
allows us to acquire more data for our personal estimates of how
things are. The general knowledge acquired this way about very general
properties of reality are called 'wisdom'. In a changing environment
we need to be plastic and update our estimates over time (learning
which fields are changing and which are more static); this is why old
have been held in high esteem beside their rarity in most societies -
they were likely knowledgeable - and why in our current dynamic
societies they are less relevant.

In a future with life extension control over mental plasticity is
going to be cruicial, but maintaining a proper mindshape is going to
be a careful balance. Too much plasticity, and you forget your past
and your personality will drift, too little and you become a
struldbrug. Again, the mindset will be important to chose the right
methods and way of handling it personally.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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