MILE (Movement for Indefinite Life Extension) – Death

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Why must we die?
Why can’t we die young or live forever?
What’s the purpose of life?
Is death a mystery?

Why must we die?
No must there, just a very high probability.
At present, largest contributor to the probability is ignorance.
As we learn how to indefinitely extend cellular life, then the next highest risk factor will take over.
At present that is probably a combination of our reliance on markets to measure value and the common mis characterization of evolution as being all about competition, whereas for complex organisms like ourselves it is a much closer approximation to say that evolution is all about cooperation.

Why can’t we die young or live forever?
Dying young is easy.
Living forever is hard, as it means coming up with risk mitigation strategies for risk we aren’t even aware of as yet, as we are aware that there is a potentially infinite class of possible risks, and we cannot explore any infinity.
There is the added problem of already being aware of many classes of systems that are not predictable even in theory, and some of them may be relevant to survival in some contexts.
So living forever would seem to be a low probability outcome, but living a very long time in good health seems quite achievable.
And once we achieve that, then limiting family size to one becomes necessary quite quickly for most people.

What’s the purpose of life?
Whatever you reasonably want to choose.
Evolution isn’t about purpose, it is just about what works at surviving in specific sets of contexts.
Every organism alive – from bacteria to plants to animal to us seems very probably be part of an unbroken lineage of evolution spanning over 3 billion years. Only a very tiny fraction of those organisms has a lineage that supported the development of brains capable of language and expressive self awareness – most of them are bacteria. So evolution doesn’t prefer our sort of consciousness, our ancestors just happened to live in contexts where their sorts of variations worked better than the others. But that wasn’t true for most of the contexts of life.
That is actually worth thinking about for a bit.

Is death a mystery?
Not particularly.
From a systems perspective it is a break in the systems of life beyond the point where re-coherence of higher level function can be re-established. It tends to happen in a series of cascade failures that in complex homoeothermic organisms like ourselves usually lead to metabolic failure of all cells within a day, and usually within 20 minutes of oxygen transport failure brain cells become damaged beyond the ability to restart, and thus cell death and decay is initiated.
Consciousness usually ceases to function long before that happens, and the decoherence of our internal model of reality (our experiential reality) from the entraining inputs from our senses, can result in model drift delivering uncommon experiences to those who (for whatever reason) do manage to re=establish brain function after a near death experience.

[followed by]

Once we have automation to the point that we can do molecular level recycling with reasonable efficiency, then a person can live a reasonably high standard of living on the energy harvested from about 300m2 of land. That lets us have quite a few people, living well.
And yes, there are real limits, and we are approaching them.

We can expect the sun to keep going for at least another 4 billion years – that is a reasonable time.

By using mass efficiently and building Oneil cylinder type habitats, we could support a billion times the current human population around the sun until then (though the earth can only support about 4 times our current population and retain reasonable representative examples of natural ecosystems).

What technology we might have developed in 100 years I can’t be confident of, let alone what we might develop in a couple of billion years. I suspect the problem will be solved, if we manage to live that long.
Getting past our current threats embodied in the ideas that “markets deliver a useful planning metric of value” and “evolution is all about competition” (both essentially wrong and instantiating existential level risk as a result)) is our current #1 issue.

At our level of complexity, it is far more accurate to say the evolution is all about cooperation.
If we can manage to instantiate a stabilise the next level of cooperation, then indefinite survival seems a realistic probability.
And given the dominance of market based thinking currently present, that is a substantial change.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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