So why does technology-driven radical life extension spook so many people? I’m honestly baffled by this, and have yet to read anything that amounts to much more than someone’s account of having a vague moral instinct that living that long would be a perversion of human existence. – The Sude
Of the many ways to cut into this, here’s one of the more legitimately dire: ‘beating this thing called death,’ in the parlance of our times, requires some of us to live very much longer than others. People who live for 969 years will consume an extra 900-year-plus quantity of resources. Some significant portion of that will probably still be ‘dotage resources’ – health care costs. The possibilities of radically extending life are likely to be radically expensive, at least in the medium term: major, continuing organ replacements, disembodied Futurama heads hooked up to biomechanical apparati, etc., etc.
That calls for – I think requires – a transfer of resources away from two kinds of people: (a) some who are already alive and don’t have the potential or wherewithal to buy into the methuselocracy and (b) a possibly very large number of people who will have to not be born. In the methuselocracy the human population will probably drop significantly. John Gray might be happy about this, but many people are already unhappy with Gray because of it. You can maybe already grasp some of the darker implications of this line of probability, including robust rates of abortion, ever more strictly refined and revised applied eugenics, etc.
The idea here is not to scare people out of trying to extend human life. It’s from the Bible after all that we get the idea that we don’t live as long anymore as, well, we once were able to live. The idea is to point out that the ‘perversions’ of human existence with which we’ll have to contend are likely less to be perversions of the human experience of being alive per se as perversions of some of the definitional tenets of what our shared humanity entails. A lot of the anxiety here comes from religious sources, but not all. Human rights will be fundamentally rejiggered in the methuselocracy, for no more grandiose reason than that people who are alive have a selfish interest in generally not dying for as long as their resources and ingenuity permit. This as a social force in the world is probably not one we want to unfetter and urge on to ever greater feats of expression. Right?
PS – at the end – presumably! – you still die. Imagine what a cosmic bummer that is, being pulled back down from Mt. Olympus after 500 years of playing the field and another 500 of shuffleboard.