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Thread: Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Default Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

    In the world of today's medicine, we've made stunning advances in stem cell research for curing disease, prosthetics, regrowing whole body parts, cloning animals, and transplanting organs. We're only going to see an exponential increase in the amount of medical breakthroughs in our lifetimes, I would presume, which leads us to the ultimate question: avoiding death altogether!

    It may sound like fanciful science fiction, but I would imagine in roughly a century or two from now researchers will have pinpointed all the various reasons for how the complex biological machines that are our bodies break down and age over time, and more importantly how to slow or even stop this process altogether. What would be the impact of such a discovery and advancement in medical knowledge and practice? Wouldn't everyone alive be clambering to avoid death, to seek this medical solution? Especially if it were cheap and not just a luxury of the super rich and elite? Without an ageing population, we would have a more productive workforce, but also without people dying and continuing to mate and have children, the world would quickly become way too overpopulated. Do you think many people would voluntarily become sterilized in exchange for this medical cure?

    Of course, people could still die from infectious diseases, murder, warfare, workplace accidents, etc. However, the chance of death would be immensely diminished, considering how the number one causes of death for the human population around the globe are all linked to ageing and dying naturally.

    An even better question, I would imagine, is the revolt and chaos that might occur should the rich try to keep such a medical cure at an exorbitant price, so that only they could afford it, while everyone who is poor basically has to die and watch them live with eternal youth. That would certainly be cause for violent rebellion.

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    Default Re: Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

    I believe the movie you are looking for is "In Time", Roma

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    Default Re: Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

    The premise is scientific, but I don't think an answer can be.

    As for this...

    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix View Post
    It may sound like fanciful science fiction, but I would imagine in roughly a century or two from now researchers will have pinpointed all the various reasons for how the complex biological machines that are our bodies break down and age over time
    Telomeres
    Quote Originally Posted by Enros View Post
    You don't seem to be familiar with how the burden of proof works in when discussing social justice. It's not like science where it lies on the one making the claim. If someone claims to be oppressed, they don't have to prove it.


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    Default Re: Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

    Thanks for the link, sumskilz. Also, @ Gen. Chris, I'll look into that film.

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    Default Re: Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

    It'd certainly be a society of strict hierarchy, zero mobility and ultra conservative.

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    Default Re: Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

    To try to directly prevent the process of aging is unrealistic because it would require trillions of procedures to replace the telomeres of every chromosome in every cell of our bodies. But since chromosomes naturally shorten as cells divide, replacing telomeres would only work for a very limited time compared to actual non-aging - it would amount to living decades longer compared to living until accidental death, murder, or suicide. Preventing chromosomes from shortening in the first place is a different story, one that I don't know about.

    Trying to prevent biological aging essentially has the same problems with curing any genetic disease (At this point doctors and other specialists treat the symptoms of genetic disorders to improve patients' quality of living instead of treating the actual cause.). The other methods described by OP do not prevent aging; but they do extend patients' lives up to several decades. Cryonics is currently the closest anyone can get to not getting the symptoms of being older, but that's a far cry from living like how everyone else does.

    One of the amazing things about science is how is makes people have to think about ethics. There have been a lot of books and movies exploring the subject of societies or its people with the inability to age. Not being able to age itself is a morally ambiguous attribute.
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    Default Re: Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

    Pigs will be everywhere.


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    Default Re: Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

    I would say that considering the current conditions of the world life extension technologies are a must and hopefully with companies as large as Google (Calico) now throwing their weight behind it we should see some real first generation anti-aging products coming out around the 2030s. What is needed is a convergence of computing, robotics, nano and bio tech and luckily it seems we are heading that way.

    First gen products will probably only allow you to live to 100 years on average so an additional 20 or so years considering today's life expectancy of around 80. But of course in those 20 years successor products will come out and eventually the technology would allow for an eternal youth scenario and to of course reverse aging. So many people born in the 1950s (in developed countries) should have the ability to live far beyond what is considered a normal life expectancy. The treatment might be very expensive initially but hey you can always remortgage your house and demand will almost certainly be huge since many baby boomers (the generation that started the great era of decadence in the west) are now nearing their end of life and they are not taking it too well.

    I honestly don't expect society to become too odd in any way since pretty much all old people want to live longer. They are young at mind but their bodies are old and lets be honest 80 years is nothing for a sentient being, some freaking animals can live longer!

    The population decline in the west will finally have been stopped since then even a TFR of 0.07 would result in a stable population. The only question left is the third world and their access to this technology. Their populations are exploding as it is especially Africa but at least it should take much longer for it for filter down to them and stave off overpopulation to some extent.


  9. #9

    Default Re: Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

    Nothing against you but since the question appeared, allow me to explain it!

    Quote Originally Posted by Aquila Praefortis View Post
    To try to directly prevent the process of aging is unrealistic because it would require trillions of procedures to replace the telomeres of every chromosome in every cell of our bodies.
    That sounds incredibly difficult...

    Do you know what teleomerease does?



    Frankly today it's relatively easy to lengthen or shorten telomeres in all of your cells, the problem is that it doesn't show any results. i.e. Unfortunately telomeres aren't the end all of aging.

    http://www4.utsouthwestern.edu/cellb...20w%20supp.pdf

    In fact in mammals, shorter telomeres are correlated with longer lifespans (GASP).

    Quote Originally Posted by Aquila Praefortis View Post
    But since chromosomes naturally shorten as cells divide, replacing telomeres would only work for a very limited time compared to actual non-aging - it would amount to living decades longer compared to living until accidental death, murder, or suicide.
    Telomeres do not shorten normally as cells divide full stop, that's the reason we have telomerase in every one of our cells. If we didn't we would be consuming coding DNA in our mismatched DNA duplication with every cellular division. Essentially speaking that's a silly thing to do. When functioning properly without additional environmental stressors telomeres will remain relatively long far past obvious signs of aging. If they worked like the simplistic explanations here then we would have cured aging 20 years ago, unfortunately we cannot predict someone's age based on their telomeres which begs the question, do shortened telomeres cause aging or does aging cause shortened telomeres?

    There's a crucial difference here, shortened telomeres could be the result of stressors associated with aging, namely failure of immune and maintenence systems, oxidant stressors and pollutants. That is to say in a healthy unstressed individual at any age we would expect to see telomeres near the 300bp average for humans.

    http://www.aoucospubs.org/doi/pdf/10...M%5D2.0.CO%3B2

    http://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/59457.pdf

    In actuallity telomeres do seem to be associated with at least part of the problem of aging, i.e. lengthening them does seem to increase the lifespan of at least mice and offset age related disorders but even at constant or consistent telomere repair the largest lifespan increase was only 24%. To put that in perspective, mice raised in an oxygen rich environment can live as much as twice as long as their normal air cousins. Simply reducing caloric intake in many studies shows that animals will often be healthier and live longer and often this effect is exceeding the effects we see with telomeres. So what's happening?

    The conventional theory is based on the idea of errors in processing. Think about your computer for a moment, most of the time every calculation it makes goes on without issue, these calculations are stored in the RAM which allows the computer to access recently used or necessary calculations quickly instead of recalculating them. The problem enters in when the computer makes an error, these errors called floating point errors or roundoff errors. Essentially speaking this is similar to what happens when you get your significant figures wrong on your science homework. The problem is that the computer has no way of working with these errors in typical fashion and often these errors lead to run away use of your RAM storage also known as a memory leak.

    The point I'm making here is that it doesn't seem to be any "One" thing that is causing aging but rather a lot of different errors in a lot of different systems building up until the machine itself breaks down. With a computer you can just reset it and refresh the ram, with a biological system that's not so easy. Let's look at just one of these biological systems since it's superior to all others, DNA duplication. The human genome is roughly 3.2 billion base pairs in length and is diploid so that means about 6.4. The overall accuraccy for RNA polymerase is about 10^-8, meaning there's a .0000001% chance of creating an error. The DNA repair mechanisms fix about 99% of those remaining errors. for a rate of .000000001% chance or 1 error in 10 billion. Which means each time you copy your genome you have about a one in three chance of creating a copy with 1 point mutation (one base pair) of each side of the DNA. A large portion of our DNA is noncoding, and our DNA is redundant which means for all intents and purposes we very very very rarely produce mutations that have any real effect on our health. This means that each sperm we produce has somewhere around 260 new mutations to single base pairs while each egg has around 20 or so. To put that in perspective, after duplicating hundreds of times we still have about 280 base pair mutations in our initial zygote that were not present in either parent. We will exclude gene duplications and reordering because they rely upon different mechanisms but they introduce other much more useful mutations.

    This 280 base pair mutation is enough to cause genetic instability in about 1 in 5 fertilized resulting in spontaneous abortion before birth at some point. That's honestly pretty good for 6.4 billion calculations and considering they do it at about 50 BP a second. I wish I could duplicate something that fast with that much accuraccy.



    This is a physical representation of about 10 billion dollars. Your cells sort account for more than this with fewer errors than any bank does every day.

    Now what happens when we start to consider someone's lifespan and the numbers of cells involved? Well on average we have about 37,200,000,000,000 cells. That means we have 37 trillion multiplied by 6.4 billion base pairs if we want to undergo one round of mitosis. How many will we go through in a lifetime? Well considering red blood cells alone (eurythrocytes) are replaced on average once every 100 or so days. At an average rate of production of 2.4 million cells a second, or 207 billion cells a day, in an 80 year lifetime we would produce around 6,054,912,000,000,000 or about 6 quadrillion red blood cells alone. My mind is having difficulty comprehending these numbers so I won't bother with more calculations here.

    The point being, from day one until we die we are accumulated DNA duplication errors. Yes we have stem cells which we replace our old senesced lines with to help protect cells which much duplicate fast from acquiring too many mutations but it's simply a matter of time before mutations conspire to push the machine that is our body out of homeostasis. When we lose homeostasis we typically die and do so very quickly. It's a testament to the awesome power of our maintenece systems that we last 80 years in the first place but because there's no 'perfect' solution to the problem of errors appearing in our body (even computers have difficulty keeping that number of calculations straight).

    Now that's only considering the inherent DNA mechanisms. DNA can also be damaged by oxidative stress, pollution, emotional turmoil, starvation, asphyxiation, dehydration, infection, radiation, and etc. These things also pile up in your old age. We could also consider the role of rogue proteins and enzymes produced from mutated DNA as well as the build up of toxic substances we can't metabolize (such as lead, tar or mercury) very well.

    The total result of all of this is that we Age.

    The solution to aging will not be a silver bullet perse but a massive advancement of regeneration technologies. As we build better molecular machines which can accomplish the jobs of our endogenous ones more effectively we will enter into an era where immortality, biologically speaking, is a given. Currently at the rate of medical advancement and the rate of life expectancy increases I would posit that within the next 50 years we will see life expectancy increases begin to outpace the rate at which we age. At that point pracitcal immortality will be achieved. Meaning those born today may never see a natural death.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aquila Praefortis View Post
    Preventing chromosomes from shortening in the first place is a different story, one that I don't know about.
    Chromosome shortening is telomeres. Telomeres are at the end of your DNA which is wrapped up in a chromosome.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aquila Praefortis View Post
    Trying to prevent biological aging essentially has the same problems with curing any genetic disease (At this point doctors and other specialists treat the symptoms of genetic disorders to improve patients' quality of living instead of treating the actual cause.)
    No, it's much, much more difficult. Practically speaking gene therapies already exist. I can do it in my kitchen with plants and give me 10,000$ and I can do it with an animal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aquila Praefortis View Post
    The other methods described by OP do not prevent aging; but they do extend patients' lives up to several decades. Cryonics is currently the closest anyone can get to not getting the symptoms of being older, but that's a far cry from living like how everyone else does.
    I think the key will simply be regenerative medicine. The stuff we're doing with stem cells today is the start of that, from there nanotechnology will have major effects.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aquila Praefortis View Post
    One of the amazing things about science is how is makes people have to think about ethics. There have been a lot of books and movies exploring the subject of societies or its people with the inability to age. Not being able to age itself is a morally ambiguous attribute.
    It's difficult.



    If death is the enemy of tyranny then morality by necessity must advance dramatically to keep tyranny from destroying us all.
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    @ Elfdude, I don't give a for your condescending appraisal of my strategy. You haven't addresses a single point because I think you're unable to. I'm embarrassed for you honestly. Never has somebody so pathetically claimed the moral high ground. Piss poor debating, piss poor. I accept your surrender. Absolutely pathetic. Phalera my ass.
    When all else fails insult your opponents.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

    Tyrannical states are almost never stopped by the leader dying. His son or close confidant will be there to take it over i.e. North Korea, Syria, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Iran amongst others.


  11. #11

    Default Re: Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

    True enough but I don't think that was the point.
    "Pride is not the antidote of Shame but its source, humility is its only true antidote." - Iroh

    "
    Quote Originally Posted by Pontifex Maximus View Post
    @ Elfdude, I don't give a for your condescending appraisal of my strategy. You haven't addresses a single point because I think you're unable to. I'm embarrassed for you honestly. Never has somebody so pathetically claimed the moral high ground. Piss poor debating, piss poor. I accept your surrender. Absolutely pathetic. Phalera my ass.
    When all else fails insult your opponents.

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    Default Re: Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

    Quote Originally Posted by elfdude View Post
    True enough but I don't think that was the point.
    What other point could there be? Society will still change. People will still have children and eventually the descendants will outnumber their parents and grand parents etc and bring about social change.


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    Default Re: Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

    Quote Originally Posted by elfdude View Post
    Nothing against you but since the question appeared, allow me to explain it!



    That sounds incredibly difficult...

    Do you know what teleomerease does?
    No problem at all. But come to think of it, I'm starting to realize I didn't really have a very good grasp of what telomerease does. Most of the articles I was trying to read on it either lacked important information or were too technical. Biology at the cellular level and smaller isn't really my specialty (if I have one.). Good information, +rep, and I didn't consider that aging could cause shortened telomeres instead of the other way around like I had posted before.

    Quote Originally Posted by elfdude View Post
    No, it's much, much more difficult. Practically speaking gene therapies already exist. I can do it in my kitchen with plants and give me 10,000$ and I can do it with an animal.
    And this is what happens to me when the cutting edge of science moves forward much faster than our education is updated on it.

    Quote Originally Posted by elfdude View Post
    I think the key will simply be regenerative medicine. The stuff we're doing with stem cells today is the start of that, from there nanotechnology will have major effects.
    Well, I was talking about what we can do today about preventing the process of aging so that someone lives longer than the average lifespan. Given the OP's options between "curing disease, prosthetics, regrowing whole body parts, cloning animals, and transplanting organs" I would agree with you.

    At some point - maybe in the not-so-distant future - regenerative medicine, both microbiologically and in terms of growing organs in a laboratory, will have a good chance at being how we can prolong an organism's life much further than what we can even do today. Mankind has already reached some important milestones in this field.

    Quote Originally Posted by elfdude View Post
    It's difficult.



    If death is the enemy of tyranny then morality by necessity must advance dramatically to keep tyranny from destroying us all.
    Nice speech. Charlie Chaplin was a great actor who was famous for bringing humor and hope in some of the most somber, dismal decades of humanity. Anyway, avoiding death implies living forever, which is ultimately impossible. From our perspective it can seem like forever, but it isn't really forever. And now I'm starting to remind myself of Asimov's "The Last Question".
    Stupid truth: always resisting simplicity.
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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Default Re: Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

    I really have to hand it to you, elfdude, that was a marvellous post. I learned so much!

    Quote Originally Posted by Aquila Praefortis View Post
    Nice speech. Charlie Chaplin was a great actor who was famous for bringing humor and hope in some of the most somber, dismal decades of humanity. Anyway, avoiding death implies living forever, which is ultimately impossible. From our perspective it can seem like forever, but it isn't really forever. And now I'm starting to remind myself of Asimov's "The Last Question".
    Not necessarily forever, but a good long time until our sun expands and destroys the Earth, eventually swallowing it whole with the pull of gravity. Hopefully by then we would have moved and colonized a different planet somewhere far away.

    And I agree, that is Charlie Chaplin's finest moment, truly.

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    Default Re: Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

    Any thoughts on the legal implications yet?
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    Default Re: Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix View Post
    I really have to hand it to you, elfdude, that was a marvellous post. I learned so much!
    I have to agree. That's some very good knowledge on the field!

    But back on the topic, I agree with the wonders biological immortality would do for our nations. Our older generations, however revered, do represent an enormous expense on the healthcare system, and they do not contribute much anymore.
    If they were to receive biological immortality, they would no longer be wasteful, but could be productive members of society and keepers of much knowledge and experience. We spend an exorbitant amount of time of our lives simply growing up & learning, and death is a big waste as far as skills are concerned. Diseases become more common with age as well, further reducing the productive time of a person's life. I would also dare to venture to say that maintaining biologically younger/primer bodies might also increase the quality of life of humans in general, and could thus be considered an inherently good thing.

    On the topic of population control and balance, I would actually go out on a limb and say that a biologically immortal population could make it *easier* to control the population.

    Why?
    One of the main issues with any policy that aims to reduce the population is that you inevitably end up with a lot of older people and very few young people to work and take care of them. If your entire population was biologically immortal, you could let it reduce itself through normal accidents and virulent diseases(biological immortality does not mean actual immortality). This way, reducing a population would have less repercussions, although it would also go a little bit slower when the world's biggest killer, old age, is removed.

    The two main issues with any introduction of universal human biological immortality lies within two main themes:
    1. Social turnover rates. Humans are vessels for thoughts, ideas and notions; and as they grow older, the harder it is to change their minds. Baby booms(accompanied with age killing off the older generations) has been important in order to create greater social and cultural change in any society. In a society where the older generations were not destroyed, we could see something akin to a social stasis; with little to no social or cultural development. This could be both good and bad, seeing as not all change is good, but neither are all current traditions and institutions.
    2. Human propensity and self discipline. While biological immortality can be a wondrous gift and perhaps the biggest improvement on the quality of life for humans in our entire history, overpopulation remains an ever present threat to that quality. If we were to introduce an immortality treatment to everyone without curtailing our reproductive freedom, the consequences would be disastrous and to say the least; unsustainable. This is a medical wonder that would require us to sacrifice certain liberties if we were ever to truly enjoy it. Questions such as if we should exclude people and groups who were not willing to give up their right to reproduce from the immortality program would become relevant, meaning that anyone who did not not stop to breed would have to suffer old age. And then again, should their children also suffer for their parents' stubbornness?
    Last edited by SinerAthin; March 30, 2015 at 03:33 PM.
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    Default Re: Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix View Post
    Thanks for the link, sumskilz. Also, @ Gen. Chris, I'll look into that film.
    Surprisingly good. There is a Terry Pratchett book that briefly mentions it, its either Dark Side of the Sun or Strata. Boredom eventually drives the immortals to riskier and riskier feats to keep things interesting. I personally think that people become tired of life very quickly.

    Quote Originally Posted by elfdude View Post



    If death is the enemy of tyranny then morality by necessity must advance dramatically to keep tyranny from destroying us all.
    I think it already is, kind of.

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    Default Re: Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

    Ever read Larry Niven's Known universe? Basically overpopulation became such an issue that the lottery awarded you the right to reproduce, to manage the population. Could see something similar happen with the advent of virtual immortality.

    Another idea is the obvious division between immortal and non-immortal social castes, maybe something similar to GATTACA in which the people who weren't genetically modified at birth were basically treated like retarded people, and had few rights/privileges and were all janitors. Although considering immortality will probably be phenomenally expensive, I'd imagine it would be more akin to the plebian-patrician relationship in ancient Rome because the majority will not be immortal.

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    Denny Crane!'s Avatar Comes Rei Militaris
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    Default Re: Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militum Flavius Aetius View Post
    Ever read Larry Niven's Known universe? Basically overpopulation became such an issue that the lottery awarded you the right to reproduce, to manage the population. Could see something similar happen with the advent of virtual immortality.

    Another idea is the obvious division between immortal and non-immortal social castes, maybe something similar to GATTACA in which the people who weren't genetically modified at birth were basically treated like retarded people, and had few rights/privileges and were all janitors. Although considering immortality will probably be phenomenally expensive, I'd imagine it would be more akin to the plebian-patrician relationship in ancient Rome because the majority will not be immortal.
    With an ageing population the birth rate drops seemingly. That is the trend in every country.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Social implications of future technology that would stop ageing and the depredation of cell replication, i.e. live forever, avoiding death due to health reasons

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militum Flavius Aetius View Post
    Ever read Larry Niven's Known universe? Basically overpopulation became such an issue that the lottery awarded you the right to reproduce, to manage the population. Could see something similar happen with the advent of virtual immortality.

    Another idea is the obvious division between immortal and non-immortal social castes, maybe something similar to GATTACA in which the people who weren't genetically modified at birth were basically treated like retarded people, and had few rights/privileges and were all janitors. Although considering immortality will probably be phenomenally expensive, I'd imagine it would be more akin to the plebian-patrician relationship in ancient Rome because the majority will not be immortal.
    Demand would be absolutely vast for a product that can extend your life. Think about the automobile, at first it was a rich man's toy but it very soon filtered down because it had a practical nature that was simply better than what a horse could do. Products that are the reserve of the rich are unnecessary and extravagant.

    Companies would be racing to bring to market an affordable treatment or product that extend peoples lives, the anti-aging industry is already worth $250 billion and there isn't even a product that can really halt aging its still all cosmetic.


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