[ExI] "Death gives meaning to life?"

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Wed Jun 11 12:56:46 UTC 2008

Stefano writes

> Thomas  wrote:
>> A clean, predator free environment might permit one to forego reproduction
>> (the need for an "after life") and focus effort on auto evolution and life
>> extension.

Why would one wish to forego reproduction? Besides, this is an
obviously very non-ESS  (that is, non Evolutionarily Stable Strategy)

As we are uploaded (probably), or replaced by mind children,
or expand into space to escape the on-going Singularity in the
solar system, I could not in good conscience recommend to
any group of which I was a part a non-ESS.

> Actually, what I am mostly interested in is a progressively
> growing, and tendentially undefined, *lifespan*.

Absolutely. Ignoring the ultimately silly "death gives meaning to life"
crowd, you've stated the most important desirable characteristic
of our future lives.

> Then, "probability of death" may depend on factors that remain
> entirely within the scope of human self-determination, and I sincerely
> doubt that its reduction to zero would be an absolute, unconditional
> individual and societal goal.

Not at all. Huge numbers of science fiction writers, e.g. Egan, Broderick,
Brin, and so on all the way back to Algis Budry's "Rogue Moon" in 1960,
it's been understood that one will of course have "backups" throughout 
any region of space in exact analogy to off-site storage of important
computer data. This is taken entirely for granted, for example, in Greg
Egan's recent short story "Glory".

> I would be reluctant, say, to forbid sport, including its extreme version,

You mean, you would be reluctant to get together with your neighbors
and elect a powerful government that would interfere with individual's
decisions concerning things like suicide.  Well, I'm glad to hear that.

> just because the price for the
> challenge and the adrenalyne rush might involve a diminished life
> expectancy for its practitioners. And what about exploration,
> experiments, expansion in different and possibly hostile environments,
> etc. etc.? Nicely, the words for all those activities start with an
> "ex", the same of "extropy"... :-)

Further, if one eventually somehow incorporates the idea that one
may live around Sol and at the "same time" live around Betelgeuse,
then nothing stops one from contemplating having some versions
of oneself decide to take great risks, though probably with nearby

I do not want to enter into another identity debate, but it would be
comforting if the readers of this list at least acknowledged the
intellectual possibility that accidental death can be made arbitrarily


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