Is indefinite life/immortality possible and do people living today have any chance of attaining it?

I’m 23 years old and I’m hoping that I can live indefinitely. In fact I still hold some hope my 50 something parents have a chance of living indefinitely.

Aubrey DeGrey says we had a 50/50 chance of being able to slow or reverse aging within the next generation or so, so I should only be in my 40s when that is possible.

Then again he’s just about the most optimistic person in the field aside from Ray Kurzweil who is in his 60s and still believes he will live forever (alas, I don’t think he will :frowning: )

A lot of people would actually want such a technology to be illegal if it existed I would imagine. Many people think indefinite life is a bad idea, but if you ask me, if you offered life extension to them I think most would take it.

From Wiki:

I wonder how many religious people will have a problem with indefinite lifespans.

If intentionally ending life is “playing God”, why wouldn’t prolonging life through “unnatural” means?

Of course, people will argue that it will be no different from the medical advances we currently have. Blood pressure and diabetes drugs also prolong life.

But still, it will end up skeeving some people out. If people lose their fear of death, then they’ll stop worrying about the afterlife. Which means they’ll stop looking to the heavens for guidance. Which means people will become godless and evil.

But once enough pastors and ministers hit their 200th birthdays, this argument won’t carry so much. Though, I do think there will be fewer people in their congregations. I believe the longer we live, the less power the current religions will have over us.

There is a very good chance that someone alive today will still be alive 110 years from now; that is the year 2123. By that time I would expect the science of biotechnology to be quite considerably advanced. I wouldn’t expect the effects of aging to be completely reversable by that time, so anyone born today who becomes a supercentarian won’t become an immortal; but by 2123 I would guess that the first true immortals will have been born, or grown, or manufactured somehow.

In short - no-one alive today will become immortal - but I’d be surprised if some people alive today do not become contemporaries of the first individuals with indefinitely extended lifespans.

A couple of notes - no-one can really expect to live forever - the heat death of the universe would prevent that, unless the Big Rip or the Big Crunch happen first. So you might live hundreds of trillions of years, until the universe becomes unrecognisable.

Secondly - the technology of cryopreservation might become sufficiently advanced to allow the revival or reconstruction of some of the people alive today. Cryopreservation isn’t good enough to preserve you yet, but in the next hundred years or so that might change. Perhaps some sort of partial preservation might eventually be possible - if the frozen brain preserves a fraction of the necessary data, the future miracle-doctors might put the rest back together by extrapolating from some kind of average-ed out human mind. So you wouldn’t exactly survive, but maybe something that is about 40% you will persist. That might be the best anyone living today could hope for.

So basically we are the last generation to die? :frowning:

No need to wait for the Big Crunch. Only taking into account deaths resulting from accidents, murders, suicides,etc…it was calculated in a similar thread that people would only live on average some hundreds of years (600, maybe?)it deaths by old age and all other forms of health-related deaths could be completely eliminated.

Besides, even assuming that medecine can properly cure all those ills, there will still be health-related deaths (sudden major failure away from help, health monitoring equipment (I guess you need that in your body for "theorical immortality to be possible) failing, medical mistakes, new infectious agents, etc…It’s easy to die quickly (no oxygen to the brain for some minutes, for isntance).

So, I would rather bet on an average lifespan of, say, 300 years.

Of course, during this time there might be major changes. Say, you can upload your brain/body and a perfect copy will be released upon your untimely death. But there could be bad changes, too. For instance WWIII killing 5 billions people.
If you’re 23, you’ve about 60 years left. Assuming that life expectancy still progress as it currently does during those 60 years, maybe you could add 20 to those bringing you to 80. Assuming that technical progress is just linear instead of accelerating a lot (medical science didn’t improve as quickly as computer CPUs) 2090 would be as different to 2010 as 2010 was to 1930. That’s a massive improvement. But not as drastic as “no death”. If we didn’t kill off ourselves meanwhile, I think you could consider you happy if when your old, you can expect to live to around 100 in good health (most major impairment being treated, etc…)

As for your 50 yo parents, I guess they’re in the same boat I am (I’m 48) : no indefinitely long life (rather than “immortality”) for us.

It’s like flying cars, undersea habitats, and a Mars mission. It is something we could get (or get a lot closer to) if we tossed a couple trillion dollars at and made a top-notch research priority.

In practice, indefinitely extended human lifespans would be socially divisive. You think the 99% are pissed at the1% now? How about when they’re still billionaires and we’re all poor—and dying!

Wait until all of us have guaranteed health care. Then you can talk about your hyper-rich guys living to be 200.

Imagine how stagnant society would be if we all just stuck around forever. Progress happens when the old people die.

De Grey himself has said that you can’t just address one of the seven biological causes of aging he identifies, because the other 6 will end up killing/aging you.

Another claim made by people like De Grey is that aging will not be cured in 30 years, what they think/hope will happen is that there will be low hanging fruit, then more complex solutions, then even more complex ones, etc. and people will bootstrap to eternal life.

Example, within the next few decades maybe some medical changes will allow people to live an extra 20-40 years (caloric restriction or a medical intervention that replicates the effects of caloric restriction, stem cell organ and tissue replacements, turning on and off genes associated with aging, etc). Those would be low hanging fruits that are obtainable in the next few decades. People who undergo those treatments won’t live forever, they will just live a few decades longer than they would otherwise (dying at 110 instead of 80).

Within those extra 20-40 years of life, newer and better technologies will come out (maybe advanced genetic engineering, mechanical cellular organelles, cellular regeneration using nanotechnology, who knows).

After those 20-40 years pass, even more advances come to add another few decades.

With each 20-30 years added to lifespan new technologies will be added that add 30+ years.

I think it is all but guaranteed on a long enough timeline, but I don’t know if it’ll be soon. I’m in my 30s, I don’t know if I will see it, or if I even want to. Life is not that great, I don’t think I’d want to stick around forever unless/until neuroscience allows us to reprogram our subjective experiences.

Very true. But people might also be more conscientious about fixing problems now instead of hoping the next generation will get around to them.

OTOH imagine how energized society would be with everyone at optimal mental and physical health, rather than at various levels of decline.

Also note that much of the reason that having many old people in a field tends to lead to “stagnation” is because of ageing. Our ability to assimilate new knowledge and methods goes down over time. Remove ageing and perhaps old people would not be so set in their ways :slight_smile:

Imagine how massively overpopulated the world would become if life spans were increased by only a few decades let alone become indefinite.

Pass. Even if possible to do, I think it would be a bad thing.

If it truly became routine for people to live indefinitely and healthily, we would run into major population problems pretty rapidly in many places in the world.

I for one certainly don’t want to live indefinitely even if it was healthy, productive life. I am rather looking forward to that finish line (some day, not yet, hopefully).

Non existence was pretty great before I was born. I look forward to enjoying oblivion again someday :slight_smile:

We would just have to have a “baby hunting season” where people get to kill off most of the offspring that get born.

I think people would also care more about the environment and making the world a better place in general if they had the prospect of possibly living here for hundreds/thousands/millions of years.

I wonder how this would work in terms of ‘dog years’ - as in, how old would a 250-year old of the future appear to us now? Would people reach 40 or so as usual, and then just plateau; or would the entire ageing process simply be slowed down (leading to a painfully long adolescence, among other things…)? Personally, I’d prefer the former.

It would depend on the specific methods employed.
One thing I hadn’t really considered before is that the ideal for body and mind might be two different things. I’d ideally want my brain to be as young as possible (within reason), but my body probably to be at around the 23 years old mark.

It is my most fervent hope that I will live to see scientific immortality.

It is my belief that aging is a much harder problem than optimists believe. And the notion that every 20 years we’re going to make enough progress to let you live another 20 years is laughable.

We haven’t found anything close to reversing the effects of aging. What we’ve done is improve general health, improve nutrition, vaccinate, give antibiotics, get people central heating and air conditioning, remove dangerous chemicals, prevent accidents, and so on.

And when you treat all that, and keep people from dying of measles at 5, and getting hit by a car at 10, and dying of starvation at 14, and getting shot in a war at 18, and dying in a car crash at 30, and malaria at 40, and an infected cut at 50, and cancer at 60, and a fractured hip at 70, well, that person can live to be 90.

That’s a huge increase in longevity, but none of those advances are addressing aging, they’re just eliminating preventable causes of death one by one until it seems normal to live to 90. And then organ systems start to fail one after the other, and you fix one and another gets you. My Grandmother died at 92…of liver cancer. If she was 70, they could have treated her, but at 92 they didn’t bother, because what would be the point? Because even if she had survived the treatment–and she wouldn’t have because she was extremely frail by that point–something else would have come along in a year or two or three.

The only possibility for indefinite lifespan is to genetically engineer a brand new species that closely resembles humans, but doesn’t have the built-in aging process that all mammals seem to have. Humans already have extremely long lifespans compared to other mammals our size. And there aren’t any unaging mammals. Yes, there are reptiles and fish and many invertebrates that don’t seem to age and just keep going until something finally kills them. Maybe someday someone will engineer that trait into a human-like organism.

But that’s not going to happen to you, or to regular human beings. We’re going to have better and better treatment for the things that kill you, and drastically reduce early deaths. But we’re only going to push people to the upper limits of the natural human lifespan. Maybe one day we’ll see people routinely live to 100, and a few people into the 120s or even 130s.

Yes, we’ll see future scientific and medical advances in the future world of the future. Maybe I’m all wet, predicting that nothing can be done. But some technological advances we can see how they might be done, except we don’t have the resources or they can’t be done economically. We know fusion power will work, what we don’t know if any time in the next 100 years power from a fusion reactor will be cheaper than burning coal. You can have a “flying car” today, you just can’t have one that’s as safe and cheap as a family sedan. We could build a colony on the Moon, if only we decide to devote hundreds of billions of dollars every year to keep it there. And so on.

But aging isn’t anything like this. We don’t have anything on the horizon to indefinitely extend a mammal’s lifespan.

So don’t worry about being 110 and dying, and looking around at the 80 year old kids who are going to live forever. That isn’t going to happen.