How long do you think you’ll live?
In 1974 (as I completed undergrad biochemistry) I realised that from a cellular perspective, all life alive today is part of an unbroken chain some 4 billion years old. In a very real sense, every cell alive today is 4 billion years old. Sure some have changed a lot more than others in that time. Some have haplo-diploid cycles, and live in large collections periodically, and from the point of view of the life history of each cell now alive, that is what evolution looks like.
Having seen that, it was clear that indefinite life extension was possible, it was “simply” a matter of understanding the cellular chemistry sufficiently and modifying those aspects that currently limit the life of most cells in large collections. Every cell must (as seen from this perspective) carry within it the possibility of indefinite life.
Since 1974 I have been aware that there is a finite, if small, probability that I might survive for the rest of eternity, and of course I would change and evolve in ways that I cannot as yet imagine – that seems to be a part of the process.
42 years later, I am still here, and I have survived a terminal cancer diagnosis.
I am now clear that the very concept of money, and the very idea of measuring value in markets, is the single greatest risk to my living a very long time (perhaps the rest of eternity).
I am now clear, that games theory, and the more abstract levels of evolutionary theory derived therefrom, point clearly to the greatest benefit for all coming from advanced levels of cooperation between sapient entities. And Axelrod clearly established that for cooperation to succeed, it requires associated strategies (at potentially infinite levels) to prevent being invaded and destroyed by “cheating” strategies at some level.
We now have many well curated sets of strategies at the base levels, and these point to recursive abstract sets that are infinitely dimensional (as per Wolfram), so it appears that there is fertile intellectual territory for indefinite exploration for higher level stabilising strategy sets – in the ongoing journey of “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance”.
So yes – I still think there is a small, and finite, probability that I will live for the rest of eternity, and the greatest risk seems likely to occur over the next 40 years.
Exactly how we choose to transition from scarcity based market thinking, to abundance based cooperative thinking, is the great question of our age.
If we fail to do so, then the probability of my (or anyone else’s) indefinite life would appear to asymptotically approach zero.
If we do manage the transition, then it seems likely to me that anyone reading this could have the option of continuing to live, in a world where they experience real choice and real security and real freedom, for as long as they wish.
The limiting factor appears to be the strategic modalities of thought we adopt.
If we stay in a competitive, scarcity based modality, then the instabilities are too great for any to have a significant survival probability.
If we transition to universal cooperation (and it must be universal – not any sort of subset – which would eventually force us back into competition), then we all have a good chance of living as long as we want.
Advanced automation, communication and digital storage enable a set of strategies that allow us to extend Dunbar’s number (the limit of stable social groupings) from the current 150 to well beyond any population our sun is capable of sustaining.
Our limits, our risks, are not in the space of the possible, but in the habits of thought we inherit from our past.