The Daily Ping

The 1st Ping was published on January 6, 2000.

September 23rd, 2001

Eternal Earthly Existence

I had mentioned this on my blog, but wanted to open up discussion here to see what you all thought.

Imagine this: people can live indefinitely. They stop physically aging at 25 and remain in control of their mental faculties (i.e. no senility). Basically: though people can die, there is no such thing as dying from “natural causes.”

My two questions are as follows: 1. How long would the average person live before they died, either by way of an accident or at the hands of somebody else? and 2. How would people live their lives differently? Would the average person’s mindset change knowing that if they died, it would be by an accident of their own or because of somebody else?

Ignore factors like overpopulation, poverty, etc. -ram

Posted in Everyday Life

DATE: Sunday September 23, 2001 -- 11:52:57AM
Ah, deep questions.

Humans tend to get stuck in their formative years. The obvious example is older people that just don't get computers. It isn't about senility, it's about forming certain indelible impressions in one's prime, and having a hard time getting past them.

I imagine that if one couldn't keep fresh, despair would take over once the world became too strange. Depressing, but certainly a factor for most people.

Me, I stay daisy fresh and live forever.

FROM: Franko
DATE: Sunday September 23, 2001 -- 12:40:22PM
Wow, the TV show and food ping topics go right over my head, but this one - I just might be able to add something to it. A lot of assumptions. It would be hard to create the world that you describe without bumping up against the overpopulation problem that has been assumed away.

Having said that, though, I would guess we would evolve to become a people much like Jorge Luis Borges describes in "The Immortal" (which can be found in Labyrinths among a few other books). He describes a people that have evolved (or devolved) into an almost inactive existence due to their immortality - they've basically done it all during the course of their endless lifetimes, and have eventually receded into solitary, meditative, mental states of being (Borges is more gifted than I in describing this state, I might add).

Granted, the ability to die due to accidents or killing changes this vision a little. I assume that after people got the whole war and conquest thing out of their system, we would settle in on a steady-state that would resemble Borges' vision. It's quite possible that once people reached that state, that given the option to end it all, they would make the choice to commit suicide. Still, fear of what awaits in the after-life (if anything at all), might make that a difficult choice to make, even given the rather dull alternative.

Sorry about the verbosity. Too much Sunday morning coffee.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Thursday September 27, 2001 -- 1:54:52PM
Frank -- Do you think that we'd tend towards the non-thrill-seeking type of lifestyle in our early years out of an exaggerated fear of accidentally causing our own demise, and then, as we got older, begin to take more risks as we began to feel more bored with life and what it had to offer?

What about scientific and technological advances? Would they advance more quickly or would research slow down?

FROM: Franko
DATE: Thursday September 27, 2001 -- 9:10:08PM
Well, my first response was simply a connection I made between the world you posed and the idea that immortality may not be all that it's cracked up to be. To carry this hypothetical world forward for dreaming up answers to your new questions moves a bit into the realm of the absurd. For instance, I guess you could have sex as much as you wanted, because it wouldn't matter if you overpopulated the world. Consider semi-eternal life is a long time to spend in good health with an ever-increasing base of members of the opposite sex you've never experienced before (For an analogy, it probably doesn't matter how many different sets of tits a given guy has seen in what may be a long lifetime, the second some hot new flava-of-the-month actress goes topless, he's just *got* to see her's as well). But maybe our sex drive would be reduced, if it really is fueled by our desire to keep the species going and to pass on our DNA strand to the next generations and so on. Well, in this world, the 1st generation can conceivably go on forever, so maybe there's no longer that burning desire to make more babies. Maybe not, but I think there'd still be a whole lot of screwing going on.

I suppose that technology would advance largely to help keep us entertained with new shit. No doubt that as technology advanced, there would be diminishing entertainment/novelty returns for a given individual as he lives longer and longer. At that point, the individual would probably lose interest in the world and a) just keep on living, but doing nothing, too afraid to end his life, b) end his life, or c) end his life and take out as many other poor jaded suckers as possible on the way out. Maybe c) would be the way that system would get refreshed every now and then. As far as taking more risks, possibly, but usually you take risks for rewards, and if the rewards are no longer of interest to an individual, there's really no point. Perhaps the only risk that would have any attraction is to flirt with death, since that would be the one elusive thing you hadn't experienced yet.

I would equate this scenario to a video game, say one of those simulation games like Sim City (yes, I'm not up on any video games from the last 10 years or so) or any similar game where you're allowed to live through epochs of evolution and changes and different experiences available in the game. After a certain point, no matter how long you've invested (in game-time or real clock-time), you've seen everything in this simulation world. You've lived through all the random acts thrown your way. You get bored, hit "Exit Game, Don't Save", and you probably never play it again. I've had that happen for even simpler video games from my long-ago youth, where you could max out: Like in Shamus (does that date me?), where the goal was to navigate 4 or 5 levels of tunnels and keys and monsters and ultimately find the hidden room or key or treasure or whatever. Once you did it, there wasn't any point in playing the game anymore.

Anyways, Ryan, let's hear what *you* think things would be like?

DATE: Saturday January 1, 2005 -- 3:40:00 pm

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