Re: Desirability of Immortality

Michael Lorrey (
Wed, 18 Feb 1998 21:16:42 -0500


> While I agree that the kind of absent-minded foresight exhibited by Tithonus
> dominates the thinking of most people when they are formulating their opinions
> on immortality, I believe there are some fairly sophisticated concerns about
> the idea of immortal humans. The most obvious question is what effect would
> immortality have on human society? Some effects would appear evident but I'm
> not so sure.

I just read Poul Anderson's _The Boat of a Million Years_. Highly extropian....very

> Immortality would:
> "be the downfall of religions": I think this underestimates the concept of
> religions and the grip they have on the general populace. Religions do more
> than just offer a solace from that "death thing". Religions give people a way
> to get along in an otherwise incompehensible (from their point-of-view)
> universe. In my opinion, religions are also some of the most powerful memes in
> existence and "mere" immortality would not spell their end. It would be more
> interesting to speculate what the effect immortality would have on the
> evolution of memes. Immortality might intensify the competition between memes
> since they could no longer rely on the historical amnesia of ephemeral humans
> to forget problematic pasts.

I would think that successful religious memes in an era of immortality would be
ones of great evangelical fervor, that would look on the world as a physical
culmination of the prophesies of long ago. That we did it ourselves will not matter
(God helps those who help themselves). What will matter will be the seeming
establishment of the long promised New Jerusalem. Once Lamarkian memetic
propagation becomes the predominate evolutionary force, people will less and less
beleive in the 'obsolescent' theory of darwinian evolution. (If its not on TV, it
ain't true). Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

> "allow humans to achieve higher levels of understanding of the universe around
> them": I'm not sure about this one either. Aged people are not necessarily
> more enlightened than younger people. Most revolutionary concepts are born in
> the minds of the young not the old. Older people are considered "wiser" but
> not necessarily "enlightened".

But if people are young in mind and body forever, or at least for a much longer
period, would they not retain this youthfull imagination and enlightened viewpoint?

> I'm not a memory expert but without memory augmentation, immortality might not
> be a big advantage. To the extent that our memories and experiences (to the
> extent we can recall them) represent who we are and how we relate to our
> external surroundings, immortality would only benefit it us to the extent that
> it allowed people to utilize the memory capacity of the brain to its maximum.
> Additionally, old people are generally rigid in their beliefs and outlooks.
> Perhaps they've tried lots of lifestyles but eventually they settle on a few
> beliefs and they become very set in their ways. Imagine trying to change the
> mind of a 400 year old codger.

Rather than looking at that 400 year old as a wrinkly shriveled codger, imagine
someone who looks 25 but is actually 400 years old.


   Michael Lorrey
------------------------------------------------------------ Inventor of the Lorrey Drive
MikeySoft: Graphic Design/Animation/Publishing/Engineering
How many fnords did you see before breakfast today?