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Biological immortality

This concept is as easy to understand as it is hard to implement. We speak here about the infinite continuation of human life in the same form as we know it, i.e. based on the same biochemical processes in our bodies that make us living now. There is a mechanism of aging and death which is built-in into our bodies by nature. If we could somehow switch off this mechanism, we could, in principle, live indefinitely long. Our life is based on a metabolism; the body has a capacity of self renewal. The process of life could be, in principle, unlimited in time.

Speaking specifically, however, about the form of life of which we are part, it is not clear whether it is possible to modify it in such a way that our bodies become immortal. Contemporary biology does not give, as yet, a definite answer to this question. It is possible that the mechanism of aging is built-in on such a deep level, that you cannot switch it off without radically altering the whole machinery of bodily life. And there are still chances of an accidental death, which become the more serious the longer we live. This is another reason of being skeptical about biological immortality. The third reason is that an infinite extension of biological life, if it is not accompanied by some kind of development, evolution, is hardly attractive. Just imagine that you have to live eternally, really eternally, repeating the same cycle of actions and feelings, again and again. To me this looks as a nightmare. Because of these reasons I believe that in order to become immortal we must go beyond our present form of life. This brings us to the last, and the most modern, concept of immortality: cybernetic immortality.

See also:

Copyright© 1997 Principia Cybernetica - Referencing this page

V. Turchin,

Mar 20, 1997 (modified)
Sep 1991 (created)


Metasystem Transition Theory


Will for immortality

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