Forever young

Immortality. It’s a concept that has been around for decades in science-fiction, but you might be unaware that the SENS Foundation are working on it for real. They are careful on their website to use terms like ‘rejuvenation’ and ‘restore youthful … structure to aged tissues’. But immortality is essentially what they mean.

A friend of mine – well, an acquaintance, anyway – is very keen on SENS’s founder, Aubrey de Grey, and his ideas. He’s very keen on the idea of living forever.

As for myself, I can’t help thinking that my friend, along with SENS, has failed to really think this through.

To be sure, having the ability to extend human life, possibly indefinitely, would be a pretty amazing scientific breakthrough. But what would it mean in practical terms? Having the ability to live longer would not magically change the world. It would not change things like political systems, social structures, or the economy. All you would be doing is living longer in the world as it is.

You might say to yourself, if I could live forever – or even just a few extra decades – I could do so many things! I’d travel, I’d learn to sword-fight, I’d reduce pollution, I’d… whatever.

But no. I’d say you’re actually more likely to seek out all those adventures and goals if you know your time was limited. If you thought you could do them whenever, you’d keep putting them off, wouldn’t you?

But the main thing is, you would still have to work. You still need to pay for things: food, clothes, housing, electricity, entertainment, and so on. The longer you live, the longer you need to work. Looking forward to retirement? Yeah, right! How much superannuation would you need to last you for, say, eternity? Even having just a few extra decades of life to pay for would require working for a sizeable chunk of it.

Your actual day-to-day life would not be any different. It would just… continue.

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