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

From: John Marlow (
Date: Wed Jan 17 2001 - 02:39:55 MST

On 15 Jan 2001, at 21:51, Adrian Tymes wrote:

> 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?

Something else to consider: Authorities and leaders are often set in
their ways, resistant to change, perpetuating the status quo as it is-
-no further decay required. Many if not most people follow leaders.
If leaders become immortal, and remain resistant to change--society
itself stagnates.

Example--suppose Mediaeval Church leaders had been rendered immortal.
It seems likely that in such an event, we would still be burning
heretics like Bruno at the stake. Turnover is Nature's way of
ensuring constant advance. Rendering the body immortal does not cure
cerebral ossification. (Make no mistake, however: I wanna be

Anders Sandberg wrote:

> 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.

I think what you're saying is that in times past the old were
repositories of accumulated knowledge the relevance of which did not
change--whereas today most of what one learned more than ten or even
five years ago can be completely irrelevant, so no one gives a rip
about the old because the really recent, relevant stuff they already
know themselves(?). Fascinating take; no doubt largely correct for
many fields.

Such a narrow view on the part of the young, however, is to their
extreme disadvantage; it completely discounts wisdom, people skills,
insight, cross-fertilization based on knowledge of several fields,

John Marlow

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