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The Quest for Immortality

 by Bennett Gordon

Tags: science, immortality, biotechnology, Aubrey de Grey, Methuselah Foundation, Cosmos Magazine, TED,

Prometheus Brings FireWithin 30 years, humans could be immune to disease, unaffected by the ravages of aging, and able live to 150 or perhaps 1,000 years old. We could be, Bryan Appleyard writes for Cosmos Magazine, “medically immortal.”

Medicine and biotechnology may soon begin advancing more quickly than nature can find ways to kill us. “Ultimately,” Appleyard writes, “the forward movement of technology will outstrip our own forward movement through time, and death, the old enemy, will have been vanquished.”

There is safety in arguing that people will soon become immortal. Most people predicting immortality will be dead by the time they can be proven wrong. If they are still alive, they will have been proven right. It’s a win-win bet. And anyone arguing against them is called “fatalistic” and in favor of people dying.

Of course, the shift toward immortality is controversial. For one thing, immortality confronts many of “the traditions of religion and philosophy” Appleyard reports. Since most religions are, in some sense, ways to cope with death, the elimination of death could have drastic consequences on the human psyche.

Although the hubristic undertones of wanting to live forever are self-evident, the religious argument against immortality not a given. “All the scriptures are pretty clear," said biogerontologist and chairman of the Methuselah Foundation Aubrey de Grey, "hastening death is deprecated and, if something is killing people, we are more or less instructed to do something about it.” In a talk for the Technology, Entertainment, Design Conference in 2005 (available below), de Grey says that arguments against immortality are “completely crazy.” While people should be thinking about the potential problems of immortality (overpopulation, scant resources, etc.), no one today has the right to hold up this research and impose their "fatalistic" judgments on future generations.

9/23/2010 3:30:58 PM

also billy your religion clearly states anyone who claims they are going to your so called heaven will burn.

9/23/2010 3:12:57 PM

any one who accepts death knows that all religion was made to take fear from the end with promise of immortality. Immortality will be achieved in time, but the problem with it is when we obtain it breeding must be restrained! Say you have 4.5 billion people by that time if they breed but will never die, we will over run our planet. the only true immortality would have to be technology we do not have yet mind transfer to a robotic body.

6/15/2008 10:18:45 PM

Count me among those not afraid to meet my Maker. When I am at His side in Heaven, I will look down with pity on the fools seeking immortality on Earth.

6/13/2008 4:28:41 PM

It will never happen. Think about it -- this like everything else will depend on money. If it's not profitable, it won't be done. And who can afford it? VERY FEW. There are people now who cannot even afford health insurance so I doubt they could afford this. And what would the QUALITY of life be........

agostinho matos
6/13/2008 12:52:54 PM

I would add to the previous comment, that such technology will be only available if patentable and profitable, which means that only a few will have access to it. In fact I don't believe in the part of your article that refers to the immunity to diseases . Name how many diseases were cured in the last 40 years. The pharmaceutical companies are not interested in cures but in the control of diseases, turning the patients into chronic patients, thus selling their products for the lifetime.

6/13/2008 11:46:52 AM

The article's optimism is welcomed, however history shows us a different and far more likely scenario. Between the 1920s and 1950s, two anti-cancer pioneers, Royal Rife and Max Gerson, each independently documented their proven successful approaches, and both ended up silenced, shut down and ruined by Big Pharma and the Federal Government. The reason is more people earn livings from the illness management industry than the number of people ill. Why should even newer technology change human nature and economics when the old "new" technology was trounced by these powerful forces?