Is immortality the paradise it is made out to be? David Murdock of Dole Foods is planning to live to 125. He’s currently a healthy 87 and a headache is one of the rarities in his life. He eats only fruits and vegetables; seafood, egg whites, beans and nuts. He completely avoids dairy products, red meat, and poultry – counting them as poisons. There’s a spring in his step and he looks forward to lasting far beyond his contemporaries. You can understand why he feels the way he does – blessed with health and wealth, heaven is not necessarily a better place. Earth is good enough as a substitute or a replacement. But is the human body built to last that long? The joints creak, eyesight fades, skin sags, hearing gets progressively faint and the heart, pumping every single second, can suddenly shudder to a halt. So why do we have this primal urge to live to eternity? Not all of us, surely. Once our friends and the people we count as close are gone, there is little incentive to linger.
So if you live long enough, what kind of a world can you look forward to? According to Michio Kaku molecular assemblers will create anything we want, at the touch of a button. Toilets will diagnose disease automatically (and fix doctor’s appointments?). We’ll all have x-ray vision without glasses and watch football games from the side of the ground in a simulation that’s very close to the real thing. Reminds me of the turn of the century book that predicted that we would all have our personal robots and live on different planets by 2000. If we were to imagine incremental leaps of inventions, there would be little to be excited about. Grand visions of energy, transportation, human strength and disease prevention are the holy grails – as if we would want to travel the whole world and to different planets, if only we had the means.
But while everything around us has changed with dizzying rapidity, especially over the last couple of decades, we still cling to what we have always cherished – friends, family, and recognition. There’s the old saying that ‘Success is worth nothing unless you have someone to share it with’. Living on Mars or another planet would have little meaning unless we could boast about it to folks back home. If a round trip took 20 years of earth time, we’re just going to be in time for the next class reunion – and no one would look the same. Even if medical science managed to find the key to eternal youth, going to the same parties and seeing the same people for decades is not exactly something to look forward to. So living to 150 – well, what for?