What will we miss?

Part 1

It is often said that there are 2 things that are inevitable in our world. Death and taxes. I don’t know about taxes, but let’s see if death actually is inevitable.

But wait, I hear the arguments already.

Isn’t death what gives meaning to life?

If people don’t die, wouldn’t the earth be overpopulated?

What if someone meets with an accident?

Well, I am not going to approach this from a philosophical standpoint, but rather just explore the technical feasibility of a really long life.

I have often heard people saying that in the olden times' humans used to live for much longer than they do now. Stories of our great grandmothers living to a 100 and contrastingly, the news that your colleague at work having a heart attack at 35, are taken as solid evidence that the life expectancy of humans is slowly declining. But (fortunately), this is a good example of a logical fallacy known as the survivorship bias, and mankind as a whole is living longer and longer with each passing generation. The average life span of human beings has always been inching upwards.

Medical science has so far mostly concentrated on healing the sick and preventing diseases — basically fixing something that is broken or soon to break. But now we are on the threshold of enhancing something which is already working fine.

The time is not far when prosthetics become so common and much better than our natural limbs, that healthy person will voluntarily pay to replace their natural limbs with prosthetics. Imagine an arm, which can lift stronger, is more dextrous, doesn’t strain your heart to pump blood, is cancer-proof — I could go on, but you get the point.

Many low-key bodily enhancements are already around us. We have already embraced them and are so used to them that we don’t consider them alien anymore. Think of how your spectacles enhance your eyesight. Or how someone with heart disease lives on an artificial heart. Think of a paralympic champion using prosthetics.

Imagine medication that not only stalls age-related cognitive decline but also enhances cognitive ability.

Imagine an effective treatment for cancer (mole rats are immune to cancer, same in the case of humans with a condition called Laron syndrome — we sure have sources to learn from!)

Imagine replacements for every organ that could potentially fail.

Now let’s tread a step further.

Cryonics is a practice where a dead body is preserved in ultra-low temperatures (to prevent decay), in the hope humans would soon master the technology to breathe life back into a dead body. As we speak, there actually are companies, whose clients (mostly billionaires who can afford it), are mummified in such a manner in the hope of resurrection.

Pyramids of the future — actual preservation chambers at the Cryonics Institute

I understand that all this probably sounds insane and borderline blasphemous. The inevitability of death and the predictability of the human life cycle are so deeply ingrained in our minds (by religion and culture), that we find it incredibly hard to fathom death as just a ‘technical hurdle’.

I still hear a lot of murmurs, but that is okay.

We are all afraid of things that we don’t know. We are afraid of things that are a deviation from the ‘natural order of things.

Now let me be practical here, I know that me, (and if you are reading this in the 21st century, you too,) wouldn’t probably live much longer so as to break any convention. A 100 years from now, this current batch would be mostly done away with and we would have a fresh batch.

But mark my words, medical science and technology are evolving faster than we think. We are mastering better tools and technologies every day. It wouldn’t be long before death is more of a mere technical hurdle than an inevitability.

If this excites you, do check out:

Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow





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