There’s an interesting discussion at The Volokh Conspiracy about the ramifications of radical life extension. That’s the now
unthinkable proposition that the human life expectancy can be raised indefinitely.
When dieing at age 65 is “dieing young”, would living to be 100, or 150 be enough for you? Small potatoes. Think what it would be like to expect to live to be 750, or even 1000, as set in Biblical precedent. If you could be healthy and youthful all that time, could you think of it as a good thing TM? Or like me, do you perceive problems with this scenario?
There’s so much packed into this discussion, which started with Aubrey De Grey’s conjectures at the Cato Institute, it’s hard not to get sidetracked into sub-discussions that are unimportant to the main discussion.
Ahhhh! You see, that’s the problem. There are no side discussions that are unimportant to the main discussion here. They’re all important. Is it really feasible that we could live that long, healthy? What about the population problem? Would childbirth become a crime (or at least, a bad thing TM) in this hypothetical world? Would dictators rule for hundreds of years, the way Castro has ruled for decades – or is this a red herring? Indeed, could change and innovation happen at all when the best minds become inevitably ossified, or at least, much better able to defend themselves from new concepts? And by the way, if we expected to live to be 750 years old, wouldn’t premature accidental death become our overwhelming obsession? Would any of this matter, if you could live that long?
Wouldn’t we all welcome death after we’ve had our fill of life on this third rock from the Sun?
I truly don’t know. I know that, as a Catholic, I don’t fear death, and see eternal afterlife as a situation where all the contradictions of eternal life in this world are resolved.
But life can be sweet. Very, very sweet. And maybe that’s so precisely because we know it ends. How much then is enough? With great relief, I recall that it’s not for me to decide. Not at all.