[extropy-chat] near-immortality for the wealthy ? (commentary by J. Shirley)

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at ceruleansystems.com
Tue Jul 13 17:52:20 UTC 2004

> People who, mostly, do not deserve immortality will have it
> because the treatment will cost tens of millions and will be kept
> expensive in our overpopulated world. Yes, Michael Jackson will be
> alive in three hundred years. Paris Hilton, God help us, alive in four
> hundred years, looking young. Can you imagine? Donald Trump alive in
> two hundred years but Jimmy Carter dead? Rupert Murdock will be alive
> in three hundred years but those heroic fellows working for Doctors
> Without Borders--they'll be dead. The people who deserve some measure
> of immortality usually won't get it. Social parasites will be forever.
> And since people are getting MORE AND MORE IGNORANT and illiterate,
> they will come to regard such people as GODS. Worshipping Paris
> Hilton!"

This is a very weak argument on a great many levels.

1.)  The vast majority of the wealthy are nothing like the carefully
selected caricatures he uses as examples.  Most are exceptionally
disciplined and hardworking but otherwise normal people. Roughly 3 out
of 4 wealthy people in the US alive at any point in time bootstrapped
from nothing.

2.)  His notion of who does and doesn't "deserve" immortality is
dubious, arbitrary, and isn't worthy of consideration in any case.

3.)  You won't have to stay alive very long for immortality treatments
to become dirt cheap.  If you don't drop dead shortly after they come
out, virtually everyone will be able to reap the same benefits.  Wealthy
people pay the cost of making medical technology ubiquitous.  Even in
our crappy machine shop manufacturing world today it takes only a few
years for state-of-the-art medicine to become widely available.

4.)  It should be quite easy to get a loan for immortality treatments. 
Think about it.

5.)  Longevity will be the great equalizer.  Stupid people will
eventually go broke.  It happens with great frequency within our normal
lifespans as it is.

6.)  I'm guessing that as people live longer they'll become wiser and
make better decisions on average.  Experience has that affect.  Do you
think the Paris Hilton of now will be the Paris Hilton of 70 years in
the future?  I think not.  She may still be insufferable, but there
would be a measurable improvement in character, which might be further
improved in another 70 years.

In short, I reject the argument as shallow and absurd on many levels.

j. andrew rogers

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