Tuesday, 1 February 2011

At what price?

I was listening, as is my wont, to one of the podcasts from The UFO Paranormal Radio Network Website – a mixed bag of speculation, wild conjecture and the downright weird if ever there was one; however, there is the occasional interesting discussion (which usually requires the suspension of disbelief). This particular podcast was a compilation of interviews with so-called “alien abductees”; in which one contributor offered an insight – if not into some intergalactic conspiracy – how certain socio-technological developments might change the human race. The “abductee” in question iterated some of the aliens' concerns about certain cyclically destructive habits that manifest due, they claimed, to our limited life span. In slightly more prosaic terms: by the time we've got our “shit together”, no sooner is it time to unwind the mortal coil; hence much of that hard-won sagacity is squandered, save for the occasional nugget passed on to the next generation. There's some mileage in that contention; I'm not going to offer any conclusions, rather some observations regarding the possible consequences of extending human life. (NB. I have parallel comments on this blog elsewhere with respect to the idea of an eternal afterlife).

In no particular order and certainly overlapping:
  • Even if one could maintain the structural integrity and function of the body, does it follow that, over vastly extended periods of life, one would keep one's sanity?
  • Just as mathematicians are said to “burn out” in their thirties or their best work is produced while they are still relatively young, would we suffer a similar intellectual fatigue from sustained longevity?
  • Would apathy set in - seen it; done it all before (over and over again) – can't be bothered?
  • Isn't part of what makes life valuable its fragility? And that fragility informs our moral outlook?
  • Would we be in danger of an emotional flattening – from repeat exposure to the tide of experience; for example, “till death do us part” might take on a whole realm of commitment hitherto unimaginable?
  • Like the drug addict, would we build up a tolerance of life to the point were more actually becomes less?
  • Can one get tired of learning and adapting to the new: can we get tired of the new?
  • Instead of broadening our horizons, could it not lead to an entrenchment of ideals and views – a continuous of supplication to “old guard” at the expense of innovation?
The answers to these questions, and others, may depend on just how far it is technically possible to extended life, together with our ability to live – cope – with it over any given length. May be the dream of living “forever” - at least over vastly extended periods, could turn out to be a nightmare.

One further conjecture that is implicit in the abductee's story is that an extended lifespan would lead to rapid and sustained technological advancement and the mastering of space-time, i.e. not just the power to affect the the future, but the past as well. At what price would these God-like powers come? May be the aliens are not just nicknamed "the greys" for their appearance alone (of course other brands of ET are available). Hypothetically speaking.

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