[ExI] Very long lifespans and accompanying mental milieus

ablainey at aol.com ablainey at aol.com
Thu Feb 11 23:33:53 UTC 2010

 Odd I was mulling this very issue over this afternoon while thinking about going to the dentist. I was wondering how I would cope with being imortal if the rigours of age still catch up with you. 
Not the grey hair, wrinkled skin and other signs of a long life. More the niggles like tooth ache from a dogy crown. Back ache from that slipped disc. Arthritis, migraines, bad eye sight and all 
the other things that detract from lifes quality.
Alzhiemers and other degenerative diseases would have been unheard of a couple fo hundred years ago. No one ever lived long enough to develope them.
It makes me wonder what new ailments we will discover? Perhaps the equivelent of a mid life crisis every 50 years due to bicentenial cell regeneration? who knows.




-----Original Message-----
From: Will Steinberg <steinberg.will at gmail.com>
To: ExI chat list <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
Sent: Thu, 11 Feb 2010 19:05
Subject: [ExI] Very long lifespans and accompanying mental milieus

When human lifespans lengthen, new mental paradigms are born.  This tends to occur when sufficiently large amounts of the population reach a certain age as to be common.  For example, humans of the past would have a hard time understanding both the jaded, crotchety old man and the freaking-out fifty year old, simply by virtue that anyone who lived to be this old was usually revered for their luck.  Very old people, when there were not a lot of very old people, were Methuselahs.  But as medicine advanced, being these ages has become increasingly more common, and as the uniqueness associated with these ages has disappeared, a slew of mental crises have developed.  Now, some, as in the case of the elderly, are physiological--an old man is cranky because he is arthritic or forgetful.  Yet there are aspects of aging that cannot be associated in this manner, and instead lie completely in the mental realm.  The mid-life crisis is and example of a phenomenon that is distinctly new.

In the next fifty or so years (and I hope this is overestimating,) there is a good chance that human lifespans will lengthen significantly, perhaps going so far as to double.  Now, many of us simply think to ourselves: "More time to think!  More time to work!"  But who knows what happens when the metaprograms of the brain reshuffle connections for far longer than nature "intended"?  Though it is fine, for now, to treat ourselves as having overcome nature and evolution, we must remember that consciousness and intelligence were successful for producing offspring, which are produced relatively early in life, and have far less of a connection to the later years.  

Is this problem one of value?  What if, at one hundred and fifty years of age, man is suddenly compelled to end his life?  What if longer life will dictate to us the most obvious example of human pathos--that, for all we love about ourselves, the buck stops for the brain sooner than we might have hoped?  It seems in this case that the recent discussions on mental being that have overwhelmed the list are indeed incredibly important, if only for the fact that knowledge of the mental processes of humans must be understood in order to design even better processes that don't hit a wall after extended periods of time.

This is Transhumanism, not in the often-held idea of letting "humanness" transcend our current physical limitations, but in scrapping many aspects of that humanness entirely in favor of something unfathomable and better.  There is a good chance that we will, at some point, be faced with the problem that the confusing tangle of yarn in our heads produced by evolution is simply not good enough to deal with whatever comes next.  And then what?

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