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Transhumanist Children's Book Argues, "Death Is Wrong"

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the do-you-want-to-live-forever? dept.

Sci-Fi 334

destinyland writes "Hoping to inspire life-extending medical research, science fiction author Gennady Stolyarov has launched a campaign to give away 1,000 free copies of his transhumanist picture book for children, Death is Wrong. 'My greatest fear about the future is not of technology running out of control or posing existential risks to humankind,' he explains. 'Rather, my greatest fear is that, in the year 2045, I will be...wondering, "What happened to that Singularity we were promised by now...?"' Along with recent scientific discoveries, the book tells its young readers about long-lived plants and animals '"that point the way toward lengthening lifespans in humans,' in an attempt to avoid a future where children 'would pay no more attention to technological progress and life-extension possibilities than their predecessors did.'"

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Huh? (2, Insightful)

therealkevinkretz (1585825) | about 6 months ago | (#46498837)

This is here .... why?

Re:Huh? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46498913)

Because you haven't submitted any better articles.

Re:Huh? (4, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 6 months ago | (#46499033)

Because you haven't submitted any better articles.

Man. This is a barrel scraper 'tho.

I have one proposition for Gennady. Why not stop killing each other first? Work that angle on the "Death is Wrong" gig. Then, when we have problem A solved, get to the advanced degree shit. You dig?

Re:Huh? (5, Insightful)

bitt3n (941736) | about 6 months ago | (#46499281)

Why not stop killing each other first?

That's a terrible idea. If immortality turns out to be possible, we'll likely need a few perpetual wars to help thin out the population until we have the technology to blast the excess into space.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499321)

Why don't you do it if you think that takes priority? Is it because you're too busy karma whoring, shitposting, and desperately scrambling to compete with Taco Cowboy about who can post or semi-coherent crap the highest uo on the page?

Anyway, dipshits, this is here because it deals with transhumanism, which is singularity stuff, which works the tech angle as much as is possible without having also having any scientific substance.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499503)

Why don't you do it if you think that takes priority?

If you have proof that Jeremiah Cornelius is a murderer, you should share that with the local police. If you don't have proof, then your comment requesting him to "do it" (which in context means that you want him to stop killing people) makes absolutely no sense.

Re:Huh? (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 6 months ago | (#46499801)

Why don't you do it if you think that takes priority? Is it because you're too busy karma whoring, shitposting, and desperately scrambling to compete with Taco Cowboy about who can post or semi-coherent crap the highest uo on the page?

Anyway, dipshits, this is here because it deals with transhumanism, which is singularity stuff, which works the tech angle as much as is possible without having also having any scientific substance.

The technological singualrity will never happen, at least not until us regular humans get over greed and egoism. Until then, transhumanists are just one more group saying they know what's best for the rest of us. Maybe they do or maybe they don't, but religions and various philosophies have been promising that for ever. Why should anybody accept the transhumanist's version of what is best is any better than anybody elses.

One might even argue that it's ultimate goal is to wipe out humanity, replacing it with a new transhuman species. That's the same eugenic push a certain german chancellor pushed with his master race, but for transhumanists, it's not just about altering genetics, but also using nanotechnology and other technologies to surplant the human being.

Yeah, let your human children color a book that ultimately is to indoctrinate them about the lack of value for the human person. That would be good parenting. Of course in a transhuman future, there wouldn't be any children, but that's a whole different discussion.

Re:Huh? (3, Interesting)

Jhon (241832) | about 6 months ago | (#46499055)

Why is this here? Because it's arguing about extending human life.

To say "death is wrong" is like saying "fly death is wrong" or "spider death is wrong". It isn't wrong. It's built in to the system.

"And in spite of pride and erring reason spite, one truth stands clear -- what ever is, is right" (A. Pope -- An essay on man -- not sure if I have the quote exact, but it's pretty close).

I'm all for advances in science improving the QUALITY of life and allowing us to live as long as we naturally can -- but to live forever? Even beyond whatever is currently our max (maybe 120 or 130 years)? It poses ethical questions itself -- not the opposite that it's WRONG to not live forever.

Re:Huh? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499115)

To say "death is wrong" is like saying "fly death is wrong" or "spider death is wrong". It isn't wrong. It's built in to the system.

Naturalistic fallacy.

Re:Huh? (2)

TheLink (130905) | about 6 months ago | (#46499329)

"Death is wrong" is still stupid though. This is a nongeek/nerd article. Because any geek who knows his/her science knows what forever means AND thus logically won't want to live forever AND thus at a certain point Death is Right.

0) I doubt people are psychologically able and stable enough to _enjoy_ a mere billion years of existence. A thousand years, ten thousand years, maybe. But a billion? Now guess how long is forever. So many can barely tolerate a single day of no Internet access ;).
1) How many stars are going to last forever? What are you going to do when the last ones in your range die?
2) I doubt you want to live so long that this becomes very personally relevant: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

When I posted a comment on this sort of thing before, someone basically said we all know what living forever means, you don't have to tell us. But this whole "death is wrong" story is evidence that not all of us do.

Lastly, "May you live forever" would be a pretty scary witchdoctor curse if it worked, maybe someone should write a sci-fi horror story... I'm a crap writer tho.

Re:Huh? (1, Informative)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 6 months ago | (#46499439)

This is a nongeek/nerd article.

Well, it is a little bit. Transhumanism is an artifact of the techie community. It's the geek version of religious extremism.

Further, transhumanism is strictly a fantasy of the 0.1%, who have now allowed their self-regard to reach a point where there is significant danger of creating a breakaway culture in which access to life-extending and death-defying technologies is strictly apportioned to a very tiny fraction of population, not incidentally, the very same people who benefit from the suffering of others.

I really don't think anyone should welcome our transhumanist overlords. And any geek here who thinks they're going to be included in this immortalist revolution is delusional.

There is no one alive whose immortality would be of any benefit to the world.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499521)

meh, "trans-humanism" takes many flavors, strictly speaking both cybernetic prostheses and gene-therapy etc. falls under "trans-humanism" and I think there's value to be found in both. But living forever? Pretty common curse in literature and I think it's best left there - this is just another expression of how people in industrialized countries have stopped accepting death as part of life and quake in their boots at the thought of it, probably because they realize that they've done little of significance.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499707)

i know very few real tech people who are transhumanist..they are mostly technophiles who wandered
over from collecting energy crystals and want to tell you what a genius tesla was

Re:Huh? (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 6 months ago | (#46499729)

danger of creating a breakaway culture in which access to life-extending and death-defying technologies is strictly apportioned to a very tiny fraction of population, not incidentally, the very same people who benefit from the suffering of others.

As opposed to the "non-breakaway" US culture, where a small portion of very rich people - coincidentally "the very same people who benefit from the suffering of others" - can afford medical procedures that the rest of the population can't?

I really don't think anyone should welcome our transhumanist overlords. And any geek here who thinks they're going to be included in this immortalist revolution is delusional.

You make it sound as if every transhumanist wished for immortality. I have strong transhumanist inclinations but I believe that immortality is a logical contradiction. How does that compute to you?

Re:Huh? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 6 months ago | (#46499675)

0) I doubt people are psychologically able and stable enough to _enjoy_ a mere billion years of existence. A thousand years, ten thousand years, maybe. But a billion? Now guess how long is forever.

I doubt that there is an actual possibility for any entity to live for a billion years and still to be able to consider itself "itself". Unless you have the huge storage to keep the whole personality and all the memories mostly intact, if you picked two random points in the time line, the "same" entity in those two points would most likely be two completely different ones, making the continuity sort of a moot point.

Also, you've just mentioned the reason why heaven in many religions is not far removed from hell. You get screwed either way!

Re:Huh? (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 6 months ago | (#46499331)

It isn't wrong. It's built in to the system.

And that is wrong.

Re:Huh? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 6 months ago | (#46499623)

The system can't exist without it. Without the old dying to make room for the new evolution becomes impossible and we'd all still be single-celled organisms feeding on complex chemicals from volcanic vents. Or are you proposing that we've reached the pinnacle of evolution, or should take complete intentional control of our own development and population reduction from here forth? Because the first is a ridiculous claim, and the second has invariably been used as an excuse for atrocities against the human spirit whenever it's been attempted in the past.

Re: Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499715)

There are plenty of animals that are biologically immortal. Lobsters and jellyfish are just two examples.

Builtin mortality isn't a necessity for evolution, it's just that immortality isn't selected for in many environments.

Re:Huh? (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 6 months ago | (#46499725)

Indeed, and saying "Death is wrong" is in my view just another form of religion, most of which are based on the fear of death. It may be a good survival trait to have fear of death, but it leads to things like religions, including this new technological one, and prolonging life beyond when it serves an evolutionary incentive.

Death is just the end part of life. Avoid it if you still intend to reproduce or care for young, and otherwise, it's just death. Nothing mystical or something you can or should beat. Unless you want to believe in fairy tales, just accept it. Death is.

Re:Huh? (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 6 months ago | (#46499065)

Why is this here? It's here to tell you that we want the ability to transfer your consciousness to a chip just so we can hit CTRL+ALT+DEL over and over and over for shits and giggles. Any other brilliant questions?

Re:Huh? (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 6 months ago | (#46499151)

This is here .... why?

Because this isn'tStack Overflow.

Irresponsible or what? (5, Insightful)

flightmaker (1844046) | about 6 months ago | (#46498873)

There's already far too many humans on the planet. If we stop dying there'll be nothing to eat and nowhere to stand.

Re:Irresponsible or what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46498973)

That's why we need to bomb more countries to make place for our immortal children!

Re:Irresponsible or what? (1)

ClaraBow (212734) | about 6 months ago | (#46499545)

Sounds crazy, but that is exactly what would happen! Once we start running out of resources and space, we go into survival mode and revert to what ever it takes to survive -- if it means killing, so be it!

Re:Irresponsible or what? (3, Insightful)

zerosomething (1353609) | about 6 months ago | (#46499007)

There's already far too many humans on the planet. If we stop dying there'll be nothing to eat and nowhere to stand.

That's a very narrow and conservative point of view that doesn't allow for any kind of technological achievement that we don't yet understand. What makes you think we will only ever live on this planet, do you really think we can't, ever, utilize the vast resources out side this planet?

Re:Irresponsible or what? (0)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 months ago | (#46499043)

It might well be narrow and conservative (as in conservation) but it's very real. I you want to posit warp drives, generation ships and unlimited energy, go right ahead.

The rest of us will continue to imbibe caffeine rather than cannabis.

Re:Irresponsible or what? (3, Insightful)

DexterIsADog (2954149) | about 6 months ago | (#46499099)

You do know the gp was referring to the unthinkably vast resources waiting for us in our own solar system, don't you? Warp drives not required.

And it's the caffeine imbibers who you'll see go get those resources.

Re:Irresponsible or what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499195)

>That's a very narrow and conservative point of view that doesn't allow for any kind of technological achievement that we don't yet understand.

You're counting on some magical technology to be discovered that will save humanity? That is not only a huge gamble, it's an unbelievably stupid gamble as well.

Re:Irresponsible or what? (2)

DarkOx (621550) | about 6 months ago | (#46499207)

do you really think we can't, ever, utilize the vast resources out side this planet?

Given the vast distances and hostility of space and the fact that we have to use this planets resources to reach them in the first place, despite how much Star Trek I have watch, yes I thin that is a good possibility.

Re:Irresponsible or what? (1)

khasim (1285) | about 6 months ago | (#46499501)

Seconded.

Either postulate warp drive OR postulate "the Singularity".

But requiring warp drive AND the Singularity to fuel your dreams of being an immortal star-traveller ... now you are WAY into the science FANTASY realm.

I'd be more interested in what effect "the Singularity" would have on the people living in the third world. Will everyone become immortal? Or will it be just a few of the very rich (by world standards) and billions of people living their regular lifetimes?

Re:Irresponsible or what? (1)

rk (6314) | about 6 months ago | (#46499655)

Well, in fairness, if you have immortality, warp drive is less of a concern. What's 40,000 years if you live for a billion?

The one think the immortalists seem to miss is there's going to also have to be some huge advances in trauma medicine (unless you're talking we're to the point of uploading consciousness to robot bodies a la Moravec... that's so much change that if it were to happen hypothesizing on its results would be a series of science fiction stories, your guess is as good as mine what would actually happen.) you're not going to live MUCH longer. I can't find the article now, but I remember a statistical study where if you factor out all "natural" death, either murder or accident will get you sooner or later and life expectancy would still only be 5 or 6 centuries.

Re:Irresponsible or what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499757)

I don't even think we are concentrating on the vast resources inside this planet. How about building great buildings of steel (plentiful) and glass (plentiful), and within them creating vast gardens with dirt and seed (plentiful). Recycling and / or utilizing water effectively. There is room for many more people that can have a wonderful quality of life.

Re:Irresponsible or what? (4, Interesting)

PsychoSlashDot (207849) | about 6 months ago | (#46499135)

You know that birth rates are highest in areas where mortality rates are highest, right? It's not the stable, healthy, wealthy nations that are producing huge numbers of humans. It's the struggling, starving and poor nations that are breeding in excess. Part of longevity assumes appropriate availability of heath and nourishment resources. There's a strong reason to suspect that if we were effectively immortal, our birth rates would drop to sustainable rates, or less.

Re:Irresponsible or what? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 6 months ago | (#46499741)

>There's a strong reason to suspect that if we were effectively immortal, our birth rates would drop to sustainable rates, or less.

Really? Seems to me people like children. Maybe not everyone, and maybe not *today*, but at some point in their lives, once they've got the survival thing comfortably under control they're likely to want to have some - biological imperative versus rational opportunity. And if people are immortal then the sustainable birth rate is zero. Occasionally people will die by violence or accident, but that number will be vanishingly small compared to the population size. Which means there must be a universal ban on reproduction except under very specific circumstances. If the average woman is allowed to have only 0.0000000001 children per year you can't allow women them to make that choice for themselves, the birth rate will be far, far too high.

Re:Irresponsible or what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499181)

We might be able to live longer, but death is inevitable. In our finite universe the laws of thermodynamics hold.

Re:Irresponsible or what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499433)

Clearly Gennady Stolyarov should have a had better parenting [youtube.com] .

Re:Irresponsible or what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499185)

There's already far too many humans on the planet. If we stop dying there'll be nothing to eat and nowhere to stand.

Bullshit. Everyone living on the planet could fit onto a land mass the size of the city limits of Jacksonville Florida. You have absolutely no idea how much usable space is available and unused on this planet, including land that can be farmed. Don't buy into the psychotic delusions and propaganda of certain groups..

Re:Irresponsible or what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499343)

Bullshit. Everyone living on the planet could fit onto a land mass the size of the city limits of Jacksonville Florida. You have absolutely no idea how much usable space is available and unused on this planet, including land that can be farmed. Don't buy into the psychotic delusions and propaganda of certain groups..

Could fit - that doesn't mean it's realistic to anticipate humanity will ever organise that. Also I suspect you don't give a shit about the plight of all the other living organisms on the planet. It's only about humans, and the more the better, right.

Also, the smaller the population, the less competition there is between humans over resources. Hypothetically, depending on the politics, that can allow for a greater, more luxurious quality of life.

Re:Irresponsible or what? (1)

HairyNevus (992803) | about 6 months ago | (#46499791)

Depends how we build our cities. The Minneapolis Skyway System [wikipedia.org] is a good example of how to keep overcrowding down (albeit, there isn't much overcrowding in Minneapolis, but the proof-of-concept and scalability is there). We also might need to start looking at more experimental ideas like Arcologies [wikipedia.org] , which are still a ways off.

Re:Irresponsible or what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499671)

Everyone living on the planet could fit onto a land mass the size of the city limits of Jacksonville Florida
If you stacked people up like cordwood, possibly. Go live in Kolkata / Mumbai / Bangalore for a year and tell me you'd be happy living in a place with many times that population density. I wouldn't. It would drive me utterly fucking insane, probably to the point of being determined to take care of the population problem myself, like in that one Star Trek episode.

Fly over the middle of the US sometime (5, Insightful)

zerofoo (262795) | about 6 months ago | (#46499267)

and look out a window. The last time I landed in Las Vegas I was stunned at how much of the us is completely and totally unoccupied.

Drive out to state college PA sometime - nothing but trees on either side of you for hours on end.

I heard a stat a few years ago saying the entire population of the world could fit into the state of Texas at the density of NYC. Yes, that doesn't account for infrastructure, and food production, but the point is that the entire world would be left over for that.

There is lots of room on this blue marble. Technology will find a way to support us all.

Re:Irresponsible or what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499491)

Define "far too many". Scumbags like the 21-year-old father of six that maliciously attacked those people at SXSW [cnn.com] might qualify as someone the world doesn't need hanging around. On the other hand, countries that have people starving to death are being caused by civil strife, not lack of food resources (cite [google.com] ). So, for now, we can support the global population...just need to figure out the geopolitical and logistics nightmare, brb.

Why focus on length of life (5, Insightful)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 6 months ago | (#46498879)

when quality of life is what really matters? Maybe once we can create a sustainable society where people are actually happy we can focus on resource drains like people who never die.

Re:Why focus on length of life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46498939)

Probably because age is an easily quantifiable number, while happiness is a complex subject.

Re:Why focus on length of life (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 6 months ago | (#46499093)

when quality of life is what really matters?

Because it is possible for humanity as a whole to focus on more than one thing. Besides, most of the things that extend life also increase its quality. By a large margin, the most successful life extending technologies (so far) have been childhood vaccinations and public sanitation. Having your child not die probably enhances happiness as well as average lifespan.

Re:Why focus on length of life (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 6 months ago | (#46499537)

yeah that's definitely what I see right now, a world full of happy people. I've seen happier people in 3rd world countries living in huts than people in north america.

Old age and death phobia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499637)

I have an aunt about to hit 99. She spends at least 2 mornings a week at some sort of doctor - paid by Medicare. She is on about a dozen medications - expensive ones paid by Medicare. She's in the hospital at least twice a year - all paid for by Medicare.

She can't shit or pee well. She has a colostomy bag. She has trouble walking by herself. She is blind in one eye. We try to spend as much time as we can with her, but there aren't anyone her own age around to relate to.

Her life is in pain.

I don't want to get that old. I took/take care of myself. I have ate correctly and exercised since I was a kid. I am thinking slower. I move slower. I am unable to exercise and play sports like I did even 10 years ago. The fact of the matter is that nature cannot be beat.

Our culture is death phobic and we are under this illusion that we can still have a fulfilling life in old age.

We cannot.

Like all living creatures on this planet, we evolved a limited life span.

Because it is possible for humanity as a whole to focus on more than one thing. Besides, most of the things that extend life also increase its quality. By a large margin, the most successful life extending technologies (so far) have been childhood vaccinations and public sanitation. Having your child not die probably enhances happiness as well as average lifespan.

Childhood and infant death has been pretty much eliminated from Western society. We can talk about childhood cancer, but that will probably never be beat because those illnesses are just shit happens. Sometimes, things go haywire and people die. It's a fact of life.

And from reading the author's (of the article) drivel, it looks more like he is talking about extending life well past our time on this Earth.

And lastly, without death, our lives become even more meaningless then they already are. The meaning of our lives is to reproduce. Any other meaning attributed is a delusion to keep from jumping off of a bridge.

Re:Old age and death phobia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499743)

And lastly, without death, our lives become even more meaningless then they already are. The meaning of our lives is to reproduce. Any other meaning attributed is a delusion to keep from jumping off of a bridge.

I guess we should kill sterile people at birth then. Bye bye downies.

Face it, life is completely meaningless as it is. If humans are able to extend it indefinitely, let them try. Kids that were born recently may have access to technologies that keep them youthful and alive (and cancer-free) indefinitely. The older you are, the worse your chances. It's as simple as that. How's this for fairness: older people today will miss the chance to stay young and alive, while younger people will get to whine and moralize about the transition, while retaining the option to commit suicide.

Re:Why focus on length of life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499617)

when quality of life is what really matters?

It's not. Infinity with any measurable good is better than anything but infinite happiness in any finite time. Quality of life of the average American today spread over an infinite existence would vastly outweigh whomever has had the best life out of all of Humanity up to and including today. You, are a moron.

Re:Why focus on length of life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499665)

One could argue that people who never die could be less of a resource drain than people who do.

Re:Why focus on length of life (5, Insightful)

quantaman (517394) | about 6 months ago | (#46499769)

when quality of life is what really matters? Maybe once we can create a sustainable society where people are actually happy we can focus on resource drains like people who never die.

Why fight child poverty in North America when kids are starving in Africa? Why fight deforestation when global warming can do far more damage.

We can fight more than one battle at once, maybe these people are content enough with their lives that they really don't want them to end so that's the quest they're pursuing.

Btw, at any age being healthier probably translates into being happier.

Overpopulation? (0)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 6 months ago | (#46498887)

As awkward of a subject as it might be for some, it seems pretty clear that death is just as important a part of organic life as birth. If things didn't die, we would have far too many creatures to live in comfort together.

Re:Overpopulation? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46498961)

If only there was some way to prevent unwanted pregnancies... a sort of "birth control". Nah, better just resign ourselves and all future humans to the horrible infinite nothingness of death. Working on solutions to problems is hard! It's easier to just spout off some drivel about the circle of life.

Re:Overpopulation? (2)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 6 months ago | (#46499047)

Okay, let's only consider wanted pregnancies. Add people without ever removing any and see if overpopulation gets better or worse. Furthermore, do you understand how species development works? Have you heard of this "evolution" thing? Part of the deal is that unsuccessful traits need to fall away.

Re:Overpopulation? (1)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | about 6 months ago | (#46499389)

Fuck evolution and fuck nature. I don't give a shit how species development works or if it will continue to work at all. Intelligence has made evolution obsolete. If you think it's so important, then feel free to line yourself up to die.

Re:Overpopulation? (2)

tlambert (566799) | about 6 months ago | (#46499391)

Furthermore, do you understand how species development works? Have you heard of this "evolution" thing?

That would be the natural tendency of people with normal vision to out-compete people with impaired vision, and for people without diabetes to out-compete those with it, right?

Didn't we kind of lose that pressure when we started intervening technologically by putting up audible crossing indicators, manufacturing glasses, manufacturing injectable insulin, doing allergy testing, developed cochlear implants, started vaccinating people against diseases, and so on?

Most of the historical evolutionary pressures on humans which kept the number of recessive genes in the gene pool small (because the people who had them who expressed the traits... well, they died, rather than reproducing..) are no longer applicable. Thanks for playing, though.

Re:Overpopulation? (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 6 months ago | (#46499539)

Perhaps you should reread what "recessive genes" actually are.
E.g. the gene for red hair is recessive ... has nothing to do with your rant.

Re:Overpopulation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499399)

I can't help but wonder if some of the unexplained mass extinctions back in deep history could have been caused by the evolution of some animal that was immortal, or at least had a ridiculously long life. It could, in short order, take over the entire planet (or the areas of it that are habitable) at least, causing the extinction of a lot of other species until something else came along to feast on it.

Re: Overpopulation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499701)

I think that would be the sort of thing you'd see in the fossil record.

Ambitious ... $5,000! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46498911)

How is he going to raise that kind of money? I just don't think it's possible ...

Re:Ambitious ... $5,000! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499103)

What money?

You will... (1)

JockTroll (996521) | about 6 months ago | (#46498927)

... Die like the rest. Deal with it. But by all means go and delude some kids who will spend their early lives and probably up until mid-40s believing that, yes, they will live forever. It will only make it harder for them - and funnier for the rest of us - when in the end the dream evaporates and they will have spent a sizeable amount of the only life they have wondering about the centuries they will live to see instead of, like, living. :)

Re:You will... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499305)

Why would you find it "funny" to have someone destroyed his life by not living to the fullest?

Talk about insulated (2)

magarity (164372) | about 6 months ago | (#46498931)

Wow, I get the strong impression the author has only lived and traveled in developed nations his entire life. Its fun to wish for the things he writes about but they're unrealistic given human history.
It's especially awkward how he keeps saying he's not espousing a libertarian view and then does just that.

Positive outlook is forbidden? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499779)

The author is looking forward towards a better world, one filled with hope instead of one filled with suffering. You seem to be arguing that we should not be positive in our outlook as long as the current reality is bleak.

If I may say so, yours is a horribly blinkered and tragic viewpoint, one which condemns everyone to misery until some magical point in the future when our problems are finally solved, only then permitting us to consider good things.

The real world is bleak enough already. It doesn't need to be bleak in our hearts and minds and foresight as well.

Happy Sunday from the Golden Girls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46498943)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you ever knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend.

Promised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46498951)

"What happened to that Singularity we were promised by now...?"

Who promised this and why did you think they had the ability to make good on that promise?

Here's a suggestion for the next /. article. "Morons who successfully pass themselves off as Philosophers and Serious Thinkers.. - A Threat To Human Survival?"

Re:Promised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499147)

""What happened to that Singularity we were promised by now...?"
Who promised this and why did you think they had the ability to make good on that promise?"


Exactly this. Ray Kurzweil is a smart man who has done impressive things. At the same time he is a textbook example of the Dunning-Kruger effect when it comes to knowledge of biology.

Re:Promised? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 6 months ago | (#46499421)

We were promised flying cars, home fusion reactors and hoverboards for next year. We already should had sent a tripulated mission to Jupiter, and the world should had ended 2 years ago. Sometimes our expectations have no grounds on the real world.

But anyway, maybe believing in some fantasies (like there is such thing as justice, and in this case, living forever) could improve things, maybe with that belief we could finally care about making our world to be sustainable in the long term.

I RTFA. Gibberish. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46498955)

WTF!

Goes from a children's book to "liberty" and then slavery and then back to death is wrong and extending life.

Gibberish.

Re:I RTFA. Gibberish. (4, Informative)

hey! (33014) | about 6 months ago | (#46499351)

Science fiction author "Gennady Stolyarov" isn't listed in Internet Speculative Fiction Database either, and the book's publisher, "Rational Argumentator Press" has a grand total of *one* publication, and its web presence is a section of Mr. Stolyarov's personal site. So what we're dealing with here is the self-published work by an unpublished crank sci-fi author -- not that there's any dishonor in being an unpublished crank sci-fi author. There's lots of us around.

I peeked inside the book, and what strikes me is that if you squint, this *looks* like a religious tract pitched toward children, right down to the colorful but stiff illustrations. Take a look at the cover, with it's child dressed in a blue oxford shirt, red tie and khaki chinos banishing death. This is peculiar, in a way that I applaud; an image pitched at children by someone so far out of the mainstream that she has no idea what a culturally "normal" child looks like. That's a good thing for the world, although it may not do much for the author's message. It's more important for people with an oddball streak to write books than people who think like everyone else.

This book appears to come out of the same impetus that underlies a lot of religious impulse: rage at the fact we're are going to die. It's a fact we *should* be uncomfortable with. Religion does the most damage when it makes us too comfortable with the prospect of death. The afterlife becomes a make-up session where we can do the things we put off line life like reconciling with estranged loved ones.

Anyone who regards speculation about technological singularity enabling indefinite human life extension as a "promise" is taking far too much comfort in what is, at best, an intriguing idea. But the universe itself has a finite lifespan; any being who could last to the heat death of the universe, or even a single 2 million century "galactic year" would be so far from human that calling it "transhuman" would be like calling ourselves "transprotozoans".

Whether we just disappear after a mere century or so, or survive as something unrecognizable as human, our opportunity to experience the universe as ourselves, as humans, is brief. We should make the most of it, no matter what we plan to leave behind when our human existence is done.

FFS (5, Insightful)

koan (80826) | about 6 months ago | (#46498957)

Grow up, death is desirable, just imagine someone like Zuckerberg alive forever.

No one "promised" you a singularity, it was a prediction like flying cars (which are an absurdity when you think about it) and a very small percentage of population deserve such things.

Space travel (1)

Racemaniac (1099281) | about 6 months ago | (#46498969)

for all the negative remarks, maybe i'm the only one who wonders how awesome this would be for space travel XD
we would be able to explore a meaningful part of the galaxy XD.

Re:Space travel (1)

mooingyak (720677) | about 6 months ago | (#46499059)

for all the negative remarks, maybe i'm the only one who wonders how awesome this would be for space travel XD
we would be able to explore a meaningful part of the galaxy XD.

Not just able to, we might *need* to at that point.

Re:Space travel (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 6 months ago | (#46499081)

generational starships or just time dilation by going near speed of light, don't need longer lifespan for space travel

'Windows Is Wrong' (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46498983)

I'm distributing 1000 copies of my new book 'Windows Is Wrong' to children - got to indoctrinate them young!

Re:'Windows Is Wrong' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499143)

Except that Windows is fine these days. Mod parent down.

Less crazy by the moment (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499021)

the 100 year ban is over.

we waste time.

All I heard ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499037)

... was "Blah ... blah ... blah."

Death is necessary for evolution to take place (1)

dargaud (518470) | about 6 months ago | (#46499131)

Without death, there's no evolution possible as one generation can no longer replace the previous one. Immortality would be death of the specie (*), just the same as when cells become immortal we call it cancer and the organism dies. If it happened at once society would collapse as children would no longer inherit (and be able to afford a house), you'd no longuer be able to replace your boss at work, and indeed never get a job because nobody would move up the corporate ladder... A pretty good novel about that: The Postmortal by Drew Magary [amazon.com] .

(*) A justification is that an immortal 'specie' stays static. If another similar specie keeps evolving, it'll eventually outcompete it and beat it to death.

Want longer life spans ? Very simple: start breeding later in life and let evolution sort it out.

Re:Death is necessary for evolution to take place (2)

roman_mir (125474) | about 6 months ago | (#46499365)

Evolution is not more important than individuals, isn't it comparing apples and oranges? I agree with TFA, death is wrong. The author is 27 (I count, since he says in 2045 he'll be 58) and that's much younger than I am and he is thinking about it now, which shows his personal progress, which always a good sign.

In any case, saying that some complex environmental process, like evolution, is more important than lives of individuals that exist strikes me as very foolish. You don't know what will happen in 2 years time, we could have a massive war or disease that would eliminate 90% of population right there, given how interconnected the world is. Should we be waiting for evolution to produce humans that can withstand wars, diseases, environmental changes?

Why?

Who says that humans have any more entitlement to live on this planet than bacteria? And at the end bacteria will win out, and is that a better outcome from our own perspectives? Why should we root for bacteria than for ourselves? You think that evolution will give humans a better chance, I think you don't what you are talking about, evolution could as well lead to our extermination and let jellyfish populate most of the planet. Maybe even ground crawling jellyfish, and from my perspective I prefer to be here rather than having some jellyfish supersede myself.

Anyway, we have brains that allow us to modify our environment and those of us with any sense at all should do everything possible to ensure that our own lifespans are increased. Not lifespans of whatever may or may not come after us, but ourselves. If we don't do that and just disappear into the nothing sooner rather than later, as everything does, then there is no major distinction between us and the rest of the slime out there. As a thinking creature, I refuse to accept that. If we can't figure this out, then too bad for us of-course, but to consciously deny ourselves that very possibility, of extending our own lifespans is nothing but defeatism. The poor of mind and spirit can have that, let them perish. Those who want to reach for more than what we are given by the system that surrounds us must fight to take what we can.

Re:Death is necessary for evolution to take place (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 6 months ago | (#46499767)

Evolution is not more important than individuals

Evolution is certainly more inevitable than individuals, and without evolution, there wouldn't be any individuals either.

Because evolution happens no matter what, the immortals would become roadkill on the road of evolution.

Re:Death is necessary for evolution to take place (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499793)

Evolution is already endangered. We're able to keep all sorts of people alive far longer than would have been possible centuries ago (like the "bubble boy"). And we can enhance the fertility of genetically "abnormal" individuals too. Limited eugenics is also becoming more common, for example three-person IVF to eliminate inherited mitochondrial diseases.

As for the economy and society, those problems will be real but could be fixed with taxation/welfare or mandatory ageism.

More Like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499139)

Killing is wrong; death is a part of life.

Therefore, to say that death is wrong is to say that some fundamental part of life is wrong.

My take on death (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499197)

Death is appropriate and welcome when timely... it is untimely death (accident, too young, pain filled, etc) that is a tragedy.

Also, where's my flying car? (1, Interesting)

russotto (537200) | about 6 months ago | (#46499199)

The singularity is a fascinating idea that ain't going to happen. Vernor Vinge himself did a much better treatment [sdsu.edu] on what happens in this case.

We're already living in the Age of Failed Dreams. Advancements in technology, aside from computing, have all but halted. Flying cars? We can barely improve planes; yes, that IS your fathers airframe. Cheap and limitless energy? Nope. Life extension? John Adams died at 90 over 200 years ago, and he wasn't THAT unusual; many more live that long today, but few live much longer. Progress on stopping disease has even stopped and regressed. And most notably for the purposes of the singularity, strong general AI hasn't progressed much.

Re:Also, where's my flying car? (1)

dinfinity (2300094) | about 6 months ago | (#46499509)

Pretty much everything you said is false. And completely lacking evidence.

I, for one, Welcome (1)

retroworks (652802) | about 6 months ago | (#46499283)

the new Childrens Storybook Fiction Writer overlords.

Who's been promising a singularity? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 6 months ago | (#46499301)

What happened to that Singularity we were promised by now...?

I didn't promise anyone a singularity. Did you?

Sure, it'd be nice if it came along before I shuffle off, but right now life's too short to keep getting annoyed because you think you're entitled to stuff from sci-fi.

Re:Who's been promising a singularity? (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 6 months ago | (#46499347)

Netflix did but unfortunately it's STILL DVD-only!

Fear of what you don't understand (3, Informative)

zerosomething (1353609) | about 6 months ago | (#46499311)

It's really sad to see the comments about life extension being bad or we are going to overpopulate the planet etc. They truly show the lack of imagination and understanding of much of the /. readership. There are some truly closed minds here among people calling them selves Liberals, Libertarians and Progressives. The reactions are very much like those of a society and system of thinking that thinks a cat can steal the breath of a baby, a society where superstition is given more weight than science.

The population models of Thomas Malthus were wrong. Paul Ehrlich's reuse of those models was wrong and reusing those same tired models will continue to be wrong. You are placing your hopes in Armageddon and self distraction instead of the creativity and ingenuity of humanity to make more from what we have than the last generation thought possible.

Stop being small minded lovers of doom!

Re:Fear of what you don't understand (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 6 months ago | (#46499367)

it's really sad to see comments from those who can't accept reality, you'll live less than nine decades and die. your imagination will not help you, technology will not change this.

Even in greco-roman times people who took care of their health lived into their 70s.

Re:Fear of what you don't understand (1)

gIobaljustin (3526197) | about 6 months ago | (#46499717)

it's really sad to see comments from those who can't accept reality

What's really sad is that many of the people who say this sort of thing don't seem to realize that the same types of things have been said about many technological achievements throughout history.

Life is not about the individual (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | about 6 months ago | (#46499355)

An essence of life is the continuation and gradual improvement of the self-sustainment capabilities of the information pattern that is conserved; that is, the genome.
Individual organisms are temporary containers (guardians) of the pattern, ensuring that the pattern survives (remains embodied in local matter and energy) for some more time. But each individual is almost always a redundant guardian of the information. There are many backups.

The inevitability of either accidental catastrophic destruction of the organism container, or of slow entropic decay of the complex structure and complex process of the container, is why life a) creates multiple copies of the pattern, and b) has a "reproduction of the container" mechanism, whereby the physical container's complex structure and process can be periodically rebooted. The container of the information is recreated in its simplest possible physical form, that uses the least material, and is again at a relatively simple and uniform beginning of its structural evolution. The beginning (embryonic) stage of the form, being simpler and smaller and newer in arrangement of atoms, is refreshed and cleaned of defect (like a rebooted computer), ready to begin its new round of combatting accident and entropy.

Another essence of life is entailed in the simultaneous creation of multiple almost identical but subtly varying containers of almost identical but slightly varying information patterns. This does not have to be specially engineered, because the variation (by accident and entropy) would be the natural expected outcome of multiple concurrent complex physical construction processes. It is generally the prevention of the variation that is remarkable, and was among the first results of the evolutionary selection process. By creation of multiple co-existent almost identical copies, a game playing field is set up, and competition (and co-operation strategies) ensue, and evolutionary selection creates more viable forms, and forms more viable) that become able to inhabit more general physical environments over time.

Endless perpetuation of one individual organism instance is not an essential feature of this evolution of self-maintaining information patterns, and may arguably be counter-productive to the larger maintenance of life agenda of life.

I welcome the centenarian SAT (1)

epine (68316) | about 6 months ago | (#46499359)

I welcome the centenarian SAT, wherein the desiccated (if not decrepit) demonstrate that they retain the mental flexibility to allow necessary social change to redefine the terms of continued living.

The movement loses most of its gloss when retirement age gets bumped to 165. Under present conditions, the extremely gifted can amass enough wealth by the present retirement age to coast on equity for a long time.

This of course all changes once life extension begins to rock the boat. Living forever will, however, always remain highly appealing for the 1% of the 1% of the 1%.

niggers are wrong. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499385)

hopefully we can find a cure for them in the future!

Death leads to accomplishment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46499443)

Even if we get the population sorted out, if we live forever, what drive do we have to accomplish anything? "Oh, I'll just do it in a few thousand years." Death is the drive behind making life meaningful.

Re:Death leads to accomplishment (4, Insightful)

gIobaljustin (3526197) | about 6 months ago | (#46499649)

Even if we get the population sorted out, if we live forever, what drive do we have to accomplish anything?

Not everyone holds off on things simply because it'll be a while before they die. Lots of people just, you know, want to get things done.

Death is the drive behind making life meaningful.

People decide their own meaning.

Longevity vs. Quality of Life (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about 6 months ago | (#46499685)

Long (or unending) life is pointless if your quality of life keeps gradually decreasing over time.
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