Science fiction is a genre centered around speculation. It takes facts and opinions from the real world and makes ideas out of them. What interests me the most about these ideas is the nearly non-existent factor of probability, as even the most impossible things have a chance of happening in this genre. In real life, we know that death, a part of life that many people would like to avoid, is an unchangeable fate. Science fiction would challenge the certainty that the fate of death can’t be altered in any way, and find a way for all beings to continue living beyond their maximum lifespan through processes such as rejuvenation or enhancement.
Rejuvenation is the idea that the youth of the body can be restored within elderly people. As people grow older, their bodily functions become more frail, most noticeably on a physical level. Around 6,000 Americans suffer from illnesses caused by age and the idea of returning the few years they spent fighting the disease sounds ideal (Life Extension). But if we’re unable to reverse the abilities of our body to its strongest point than the idea of moving forward hasn’t been ruled out either. Enhancement is the process of surpassing the limits of the human body through technological means. Although enhancement already exists in the form of dealing with missing limbs through the use of prosthesis, which are artificial body parts, visionaries would like to take it a step further to the point of overcoming death through ideas such as replacing the entire human body with an artificial one (Reedy).
Life exists in all beings; whether they’re human, animal, or even the environment around us. Although it’s precious and can offer a lot to enjoy, I can’t agree that life extension is a good idea, on an ethical or practical scale. When humans find a problem they can’t overcome, their first idea is to use technology to solve it but their mistake is viewing “death” as a problem. Life and death define each other like light and darkness, in which one term is rendered meaningless without the other (Rovi Corporation). If our lifespan is a cycle and the end result, death, is taken out of the equation, then what is life headed towards?
If humans continue progressing towards the goal of life extension, it will create a lot of problems for us in the long run. Life is full of temptations which makes it hard to part with. If too many people choose longevity to the point of immortality, the ability to live eternally, then our already filled world will suffer even more from overpopulation. Overpopulation also leads to an increase in resource consumption as seen in Isaac Asimov’s story, “The Last Question”, which in turn, will lead to mass suffering and death instead of just a single death. It’s not just limited to that as longer life will impact us socially and psychologically too (Institute for Ethics). Socially, it’s clear that extending a life can be incredibly valuable which means that it would be even more expensive. This is only depriving the poor from the opportunities of having extra life and even if they took a loan for it, they would be spending it their remaining years in debt. On a psychological scale, longer life means people will simply become bored with the repetitiveness that life has to offer.
“Human Age-Reversal Research.” LifeExtension.com, www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2015/8/human-age-reversal-research/page-01.
This website is absolutely dedicated to the idea of longevity. It recommends products pertaining to being healthy and any process that involves reversing age or rejuvenating people are supported in this website. It also contains research on how young blood donors have reversed the aging of older animals, which shows their optimism at preventing death by aging.
“Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.” Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, ieet.org/index.php/IEET2/print/2320.
This website states multiple arguments for and against the idea of life extension. Arguments against life extension include how it aligns with the natural law, the effects it has on the mind of people, the negative social repercussions, and the motivations of people who request life extensions. Arguments supporting life extension consist of the value of life compared to death, the positive social consequences, and legal and ethical rights. It also lists how a person dying at a young age is more tragic than a person dying at an old age so the idea that we have the ability to enable those the opportunity to fully live out their lives isn’t too bizarre.
“Killing Immortality.” Razor Tie Artery Foundation Announce New Joint Venture Recordings | Razor & Tie, Rovi Corporation, web.archive.org/web/20040607195722/http://www.betterhumans.com/Features/Columns/Forward_Thinking/column.aspx?articleID=2002-12-03-4.
This website is about how a bioethicist researcher is completely against the idea of life extension and how it creates social issues, renders life pointless, and challenges religion. The researcher believes that creating artificial organs or changing our genes are challenging us as humans. The social issues he believes in will result in environmental damage and how only rich people will have the luxury of choosing whether they can live longer or not. Even now the world’s population is alarmingly large and extending people’s lives will only make it more crowded. He also provides reasons as to why death gives life meaning by saying “life is beautiful because it has an ending.”
Maxmen, Amy. “This Startup Takes Cash from Aging Adults in Exchange for Young People’s Blood.” MIT Technology Review, MIT Technology Review, 13 Jan. 2017, www.technologyreview.com/s/603242/questionable-young-blood-transfusions-offered-in-us-as-anti-aging-remedy/.
This website lists an ethical issue in which it discusses a clinic where adults against aging spend thousand of dollars injecting young people’s blood into their body, as it’s believed younger people’s blood can reverse aging since it worked on mice. Taking in blood from other people’s bodies are incredibly dangerous just to reduce aging, not to mention this process is incredibly expensive and would be better used on someone who’s actually dying from a disease rather than a person interested in retaining their youth. There’s too many illnesses to watch out for such as hives, lung injury, and infections.
Reedy, Christianna. “An End to Aging: Can Science Allow Humans to To Become Immortal?” Futurism, Futurism, 3 Mar. 2017, futurism.com/1-evergreen-an-end-to-aging-heres-how-were-fighting-death.
This website details the terms rejuvenation and enhancement, as well as sharing ideas about them. Some of forms of enhancement include creating an artificial body or creating a chamber for people to store their minds in. The goal of how far visionaries intend to live for ranges from an extra hundred years to the point of being immortal.