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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Who wants to live forever?

The Times of London recently published an article suggesting that people living today may benefit from a future discovery that ensures effective immortality.

Such a discovery could destroy society as we know it.

Shameless plug: My submission for the Actuarial Speculative Fiction contest (Life and Death in Paradise) addressed this very topic. Download this year's submissions here.

An actuarial fiction contest is like a journalism math contest.


At 12:32 PM, Blogger Dave Justus said...

I enjoyed your story.

While I think Immortality would change everything, I think the changes would be, on balance, good. A lot of technological advancement has changed everything.

At 12:14 AM, Blogger Greg said...

Thanks for reading and for the kind words!

I actually do believe immortality would be good, but we need either the fundamental change in society like in the story, or the Star Trek world with limitless energy, the ability to convert energy to matter, interstellar travel, and terraforming.

Many have predicted we will starve due to overpopulation, and while every prediction has been wrong so far, there is a limit to Earth's ability to support us. We may be able to support 11 billion people, but certainly not 1.1 trillion.

At 12:50 PM, Blogger Dave Justus said...

Currently World Demographics are trending down in many areas and those that are not are likely to peak much quicker than the western world did.

I haven't seen the numbers recently, but absent immortality, I think a 7-8 billiion population is as high as it will get before it stabalized and possibly declines.

Immortality would certainly change that trend, but I think it wouldn't be quite as dramatic as we might think. I doubt (and your story kind of showed this) that most people would want to start their families in their 20s or 30s and have tons of children. If we can get through the first 50 years of old people not dying, which may get a bit malthusian, I think we would be fine. Society would adapt and it is hard to predict what technology would do, given such an extended period of productivity for our best minds.


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