Since man occupied earth, he has wanted to live longer and longer. No one wants to die and why should one? It is a total waste of all the time one has put in learning so many skills and acquiring vast amount of knowledge and experience.
Don’t you think so? Perhaps you do, but then it has been like this since the beginning of time! Time is relative, by that I mean it is different for everyone. Insects like Mayfly and some species of flowers just live for a day, that sounds like so little time. But perhaps, they also feel like they lived a lifetime, who knows. Similarly, humans too live a much shorter life than many species on earth and perhaps elsewhere too.
The kind of research that should have gone into these technologies has not really happened. I attribute this to the social upbringing of mankind. Man is constantly on a denial mode; ask him and he will tell you that he does not want to live forever.
Tell him he is going to die, and he will do whatever in his power to live; be it hundred years down the line, he will still want to live. By default, humans have an inclination to believe in some form of creator or Supreme Being. It is within us, one cannot escape this. Even the atheist believes in God to some degree or the other. It is the fear of the unknown that keeps us on the spiritual path.
It is this same fear that keeps us from putting more money and time into this kind of research that could help increase the lifespan of humans considerably. Talk about replacing your aging organs with new ones and of nanobots running into your bloodstream keeping a tab on your vital statistics, most people would start talking about ethics and how it could be immoral or going against the wishes of the Supreme Creator.
There will be many who will condemn you for trying to be God. As you must have noticed by now, I am not too fond of religion; I don’t see much point in it. So many wars have been fought over religion; I wonder what motive they would have had in fighting if there was no religion to divide them in the first place. Just a thought! By the way, I respect all religion and all people, religious and otherwise.
Let’s get back to technology, after all, this article is on whether humans are going to be immortal or not. If I look at it logically, and by considering what many scientists are doing and have already achieved, we may be a lot closer to living considerably longer lives.
According to Ray Kurzweil, a renowned author, inventor and futurist, it is not long before man achieves immortality. It could be as little as 20 years before man becomes immortal. Ray Kurzweil describes our body and it functions as primitive software which needs to be upgraded; this will allow us to halt, and then reverse aging allowing humans to live forever. He says with our increased understanding of genes and better understanding of the human body and advancing technology, it would be possible to do so much sooner than we realize. Theoretically, he says, the rate at which our understanding is increasing, nanotechnology capable of replacing most of our vital organs could be available in the next 20 years time. Nanobots will replace blood cells and will do their work thousand times more efficiently.
Ray Kurzweil says that he is aware that his claims do seem far-fetched to many, but have you considered that artificial pancreas and neural implants are already available? His theories are based on The Law of Accelerating Returns; perhaps I can write a little more on this law in my next article which would make for an interesting reading. By the way, for those who are not aware of who Ray Kurzweil is, you can find more information about him here.
So where do humans go from here and what is man’s future?
I have been reading up quite a few articles and some suggest that by the mid of this century most humans would be using some sort of brain implant to be able to keep up with the machines. Those who choose not to, will be considerably lacking in their understanding with their fellow human beings and machines, and will not be able to take part in any intelligent conversation with them. In plain words, they will be left behind.
A few years down the line machines will also want their individual identities just like we humans do and they will get it, as there will not be much difference between the two entities in terms of intelligence. The two entities, man and machine, will eventually merge and there will be no difference at all between the two. They will be one. Towards the end of this century, man will no longer require a body and will be formless. Why do you need your brain to be in your head? It could be in the cloud somewhere. By cloud I mean, cloud computing, not those clouds floating in the sky. With increased processing power and increased storage space, your brains could be regularly backed up. No problem if your body gets destroyed in an accident, you can always get a new one, whenever required. The possibilities are endless.
Sounds like science fiction?
Towards the beginning of last century, if you told someone a piece of metal would fly them from one place to another, they would have said the same thing too. Today, aeroplanes are so very common. Man has been to the moon and back and has flown vehicles to far off planets like Mars. That does not surprise us any more, does it? It is quite common to be sceptical of technologies that have not yet arrived.
I will elaborate the above points I briefly mentioned in my upcoming articles. Hope you enjoyed reading.
Image Credit : aleksCg