Google the phrase “can we be immortal” and see what you get. Better yet, let me save you the effort. You’ll find article after article describing how science is getting close to achieving immortality for mankind. And this is not just a futuristic, far-fetched idea. For example, check out this headline: Why Immortality is Already Within our Grasp and How we Could Achieve it. Or how about this one: Want to live FOREVER? You just have to make it to 2050, experts say.
Before we go further down this road, its important that we define immortality. Some futurist include in that idea the possibility of transferring our consciousness to a synthetic body when our biological body wears out. That’s not what we are talking about here, and for the record, I don’t think that’s possible. We are talking about biological immortality which is the absence of aging. Or as I refer to it in my book, The New World, “conditional immortality.” It is “conditional” because a person can die under certain circumstances, for instance, if you stop eating, or if you suffer serious trauma to the brain. But absent those kinds of eventualities, a person who does not age, will live forever.
By the way, as a side note, I borrowed this term from the world of biblical studies. Some biblical scholars believe that Adam and Eve, the first humans created by God, were conditionally immortal. That is, they didn’t age, and absent other factors, like the ones described above, they would live forever.
So, the question is can we stop, or significantly slow down, the aging process. Now before you assume all these headlines are coming from bloggers living in their parent’s basement, consider who is making these claims. Among them is Ray Kurzweil, Google’s chief futurist (wouldn’t you love to have that title!). Take a look at this headline from Business Insider; Google’s chief futurist Ray Kurzweil thinks we could start living forever by 2029. The year 2029 is when he believes the process will begin, but he sets his sites on 2045 saying, “The nonbiological intelligence created in that year will reach a level that’s a billion times more powerful than all human intelligence today.” Essentially, he believes that nanobots will replace our immune system, fixing the problems that cause aging in the cells. (It’s what the Pittsburgh Virus did to Raisa in The New World.) He notes that scientist are already using biotechnology to turn off the fat insulin receptor gene in animals. Without that gene activated, animals can eat larger quantities of food without developing diabetes or gaining weight. (Sing me up for that test study when they start on humans!)
Will all of this translate into immortality for human beings? I have my doubts, but even so, we may see our life span begin to grow in the next decade. Here’s a question, if it does, how will that change society. I speculate about that a bit in my second book, The Ten Thousand. Check it out on Amazon, or read the first two chapters at Booskie.