Would you like to live forever? Though it may sound straight out of a science fiction movie, futurists believe technology could help make this possible. In fact, death might become a thing of the past as early as 2050. A combination of genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, and brain interfaces could give birth to a deathless world of humans.
When people talk about extending human life beyond what is currently possible they tend to fall into two categories, immortalists or health spanners.
Health spanners are not that interested in becoming a cyborg. Some say that they want to conquer and cure aging using medical technology. Think of it as the quest for eternal youth.
Up until around 1800, the average global life expectancy might have been between 30 and 40. Around the 1840s we started to see a dramatic rise in life expectancy. With today’s global life expectancy currently floating around 72 years. Accelerating technological, medical, and economic progress helped to increase life expectancy. As fewer people were dying early from disease, conflict, famine, and natural disasters.
However, there is evidence that lifespan the age it is possible to live to has not changed by much over time. In fact, one study found that the average life expectancy of a wealthy male ancient roman was 71. Almost the same as today’s average.
Health spanner’s way of a long life of humans
Some argue that if we eliminated all diseases, the average lifespan would extend only into the 90s. To live longer we’d have to slow aging itself. This is what health spanners are aiming for. They imagine a world where the 80s are the new 20s and people live to 200 or beyond.
To do this we would need to stop or stall the process of cell aging called senescence. This is no easy task. Researchers do not yet have the full picture of what drives senescence. nevertheless, scientists are working to understand and reverse engineer the process of senescence.
At the molecular level age could become just a number however this path towards life extension will only get us so far. if we want eternal life we are going to have to do something more extreme.
The immortalist’s way of forever life
Immortalists eventually want to merge humans with technology embracing trans-humanism. There are potentially three paths to living forever.
- Renewing your body using genetic engineering,
- Living in android bodies,
- Living in a virtual world.
Futurists like Dr. Ian Pearson have argued that by using the power of technology humanity might be able to merge our minds with machines. Making our bodies obsolete. He also argues that we could see this technology as early as 2050.
Renewing our body using genetic engineering
First in this future world,
- Damaged or aging body parts would simply be replaced with more resilient.
- Prosthetics organs could be 3D printed on demand.
Researchers from leading universities like Wake Forest University have already demonstrated that it is possible to print functioning organs. Bionic body parts would make you more than human.
Living in an android body
Even if your body was damaged beyond repair, it wouldn’t be a problem. Your mind would be already uploaded to the cloud-like in the Netflix science fiction show. Altered carbon humans may eventually be able to upload their digital brains to humanoid robotic avatars or new 3D printed human bodies. Humans might switch to different humanoid bodies after a certain period of time, in the same way, you might buy a new car with new features. This would make death obsolete.
Elon Musk’s Neuralink hopes to create one of the first crucial steps towards downloading the human mind to a computer. If the company is able to deliver on its bold promises, this fit bit in your skull with tiny wires could allow us to communicate with computers, interact with smart devices, download content into our brains, and eventually download our own brains into computers. Humans could potentially achieve AI symbiosis.
Living in a virtual world
A virtual world could be created to host your new downloadable mind. In this scenario right before you passed away your mind would be downloaded to a server that hosts a massive virtual world. Here you could live in this new virtual reality. The act of death would be the process of transferring your mind to a computer. There are plenty of exciting technologies out there that could eventually bring us into this deathless future.
But we will have a lot of hurdles before we get there. For example:
- We do have brain interface technology. However for us to download our brains effectively, we would need to have more advanced brain mapping technologies.
- We also need huge advancements in synthetic neurons and nanotechnology.
We have a better chance of extending our lives than making ourselves immortal.
What do you think?
Will we extend our life expectancy extensively? Will immortality be attainable?