From uploading people’s brains to freezing their bodies, there’s a lot of chatter about how to live forever. But the actuality of living forever – and who can afford to do it – could also be risky for the diverse, nuanced society many hope to live in, not to mention a draw on its rather finite resources.
Mark O'Connell, the author of "To be a Machine," explains it to the UK’s New Statesman, a political and cultural magazine, like this: "The first enhanced humans will not be ordinary people; they'll be the people who have already made those ordinary people economically obsolete through automation. They'll be tech billionaires."
It’s a tricky topic for a number of reasons, the argument goes, not the least of which is that not everyone would have access to the technology that would let them modify their lifespans in this way. Today’s entrepreneurs and the scientists tackling the topics are often far from the corners of the universe where even the basics of clean water, food and sanitation are hard to come by. They’re also prioritizing a conversation about how to preserve a certain flavor of existence while a number of other causes also vie for financial support and attention, begging the question of if this is really society’s biggest concern.
Maybe it’s not, and maybe that doesn’t matter. If people are willing to invest in the idea and pursue the concept, then it’s financially sound and as worthwhile as any other business endeavor.
On the other hand, as Daniel Callahan, a biomedical ethics philosopher, suggested in the New York Times in 2013, in reference to the efforts by Google’s Calico and others to “tackle” aging, “We may properly hope that scientific advances help ensure, with ever greater reliability, that young people manage to become old people. We are not, however, obliged to help the old become indefinitely older. Indeed, our duty may be just the reverse: to let death have its day.”