Defying the Inevitable

When I think about science fiction, I imagine the boundaries of possibilities being stretched beyond their standard limits. There’s a lot of things we haven’t even been capable of for as long as we can remember and one of those things is the secret behind death, an unchangeable fate that every living being experiences at the end of their lifespan.  However with science fiction releasing numerous ideas that could be used to avoid or delay this encounter like uploaded consciousness as shown in novel “Altered Carbon” or cryonics as seen in the film Passengers, bio technologists are willing to invest time into making these concepts a reality.

Imagine what could be possible if the ability to change a person’s lifespan actually existed. Those who face a disease that threatens to take them away from their families earlier than expected could be saved giving them more precious time. People who haven’t lived out life to the fullest will have more time to reconsider the decisions they made in life.  Death can be frightening to many because it’s a one time experience. It can’t be thoroughly explained what happens after death which is what makes it scary, because it’s the unknown. However, that doesn’t mean longevity isn’t without flaws either. If too many people are tempted by the joys that life has to offer, then we face overpopulation. Overpopulation also leads to an increase in resource consumption as seen in Isaac Asimov’s story “The Last Question” which in turn, will leave to mass suffering and death instead of just a single death.  Not only that but extending life beyond its normal duration this has psychological and social consequences too, such as possibly changing a person to the point where they are bored with a longer lifespan or only allowing the rich to be able to afford longer lives while the poor don’t even get the choice.  Although we commonly turn to technology to solve our questions, we have to consider the consequences our developments might bring.

In my research, I would like to explain the general information like what is life extension is and why we should care about it.  I’ll discuss the history of life extension and how it’s changed since then, as well as listing the techniques currently in development and if there has been any breakthroughs.  Finally, I’ll focus on the reasons for and against life extension keeping the ethical and practical repercussions in mind . Some questions that interest me about this topic are related to the consequences of longevity:

A lot of the things in the world are defined by opposites.  Take light and dark into consideration. Both ideas define each other, as one term would be meaningless without the other.  Applying this to the concept of life and death, what is life without death?

As life and death are integral parts of human existence, to avoid death is unnatural for a human being. If we were to extend our lifespan, would we be sacrificing a part of what makes us human?

Bibliography

“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.

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