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Thread: Will humans or its technology reach immortality?

  1. #1

    Will humans or its technology reach immortality?

    Will humans or its technology reach immortality?

    I don't think so. There's too many external factors that suggest it'll never be reached, but this person I'm having an argument with keeps suggesting that humans will become smarter and smarter (I don't deny this part) and wil built AI that will built smarter AI and so on. He thinks we can live forever or at least our technology can. I seriously doubt this. Humans will be more intelligent with much better technology in the distant futre, but our species will have its limits. We'll never reach a level where we'll live forever (and outlast the death of the universe at that) or to a stage where we'll colonized distant galaxies.

    Any comments / thoughts?

  2. #2
    Well, the second law of thermodynamics would seem to be a major hurdle!

  3. #3
    Forever is a long time, if the universe is continually expanding (current theories suggest) and getting colder then the eventual AI will have to live in an absolute zero vucuum (or as near as). And there would be no energy to enable (the AI) to do anything and there would be nothing it could do... very depressing. But a very long long time in the future. Eons mean nothing to this time period...

  4. #4
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    Oh boy... Thats forever! -Q(The death of the universe)
    Humanity might survive the death of planet Earth. We need to learn some way of getting on with each other a little better. Cosmic disasters aside we are our own worst enemy. Our track record is dreadful. History might sagest we have no chance.
    The technology we might develop may well out live us. I would like to be more optimistic about this and, conclude that we could live until ...... a very long time. BUT, there are issues. It would seem that religious fanaticism and political pigheadedness might well be our nemasis....

  5. #5
    In these progressive times I seem to be always half way though life.

  6. #6
    He thinks we can live forever or at least our technology can.
    If he means until the universe carks it, then yeah, why not? But living when the universe is gone runs into definitional problems. If the universe is defined as everything then if something survives the end of the universe then the universe isn't really gone, n'est pas?

    Humans will be more intelligent with much better technology in the distant futre, but our species will have its limits. We'll never reach a level where we'll live forever (and outlast the death of the universe at that) or to a stage where we'll colonized distant galaxies.
    No special reason why you can't colonize a distant galaxy if you don't mind spending billions of years getting there. If humans/transhumans will bother is another question. I remember a hundred years ago there were people who thought it would be really great if the entire earth was covered in cities with all natural environment destroyed. Not many people think that's a cool idea nowadays. Perhaps galactic colonization will seem similarly quaint in 10,000 years time.

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    ...suggesting that humans will become smarter and smarter (I don't deny this part)
    I do! There is no evidence that the intelligence of Homo Sapiens has increased since the arrival of Cromagnons. We are, in the words of Isaac Newton, standing on the shoulders of giants.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptain K View Post
    I do! There is no evidence that the intelligence of Homo Sapiens has increased since the arrival of Cromagnons. We are, in the words of Isaac Newton, standing on the shoulders of giants.
    I disagree. We are much more intelligent, what you mean to say is that we don't have any more capability for intelligence then we did since Cromagons.

  9. #9
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    Well, I guess it's a matter of belief. In the end, I may choose to believe in God - and thus immortality. Some other person could choose to believe that some unknown law of the universe obfuscates time-continuity and all time is “always there”, and you "never" die because "ever" is oh so impossible to define.
    An interesting follow-up question is if we can unnaturally extend our lives indefinitely. It has the benefit of not violating the second law of thermodynamics. I think we, in the sense that we are human, can. But we, in the sense of people on this board, will ultimately meet our maker.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragon Star View Post
    I disagree. We are much more intelligent, what you mean to say is that we don't have any more capability for intelligence then we did since Cromagons.
    I am not sure exactly what you are saying here. Since we can't directly test the intelligence of Cro-Magnon man we can't really state anything about how intelligent they were. However their brain structure and size was within the range of normal variation of modern man, so they were probably no different from us on an intelligence scale. (Intelligence testing is a philosophical minefield, which it might be best to steer clear of in a discussion of immortality).

    What we do have today is a lot more information, and a lot more knowledge of the physical universe. We have many more tools, and so our capabilities are greatly increased.
    We are likely to continue to develop improved tools, and according to the transhumanists eventually those tools will allow us to increase our intelligence in real terms, whether by augmentation, genetic engineering, or by use of artificially intelligent devices of various kinds.

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    The problem with immortality is that it only extends your life; it doesn't make you invulnerable. You could have biological health for an indefinite period perhaps (and I don't see why this should not be possible- after all most prokaryotes are immortal in that respect) but you would still be vulnerable to accident and other forms of violent death.

    If all natural causes of death were eliminated then the incidence of accidental death, murder and manslaughter, and death in war would not necessarily change; I read somewhere that (if current rates of accidental death and murder were unchanged) you would probably live no more than a thousand years on average before falling victim to some violent demise.

    However in an immortal society perhaps a less violent, more safety-conscious culture would develop. The death rate would go right down, and all the fun would go out of life as immortals refuse to drive fast cars or enjoy dangerous sports, start acting sensibly, put safety first and become devout pacifists.
    Oh dear.
    Last edited by eburacum45; 2006-Dec-10 at 02:25 PM.

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    Computer chips in our heads might eliminate war and crime but I see no way to completely eliminate accidents.

  13. #13
    Computer chips in our heads might eliminate war and crime but I see no way to completely eliminate accidents.
    Perhaps the chip in your head can download your knowledge and personality into safe storage and then into a new body if your current one is destroyed? (We could argue for hours whether or not that would really be "you" but it might be best to start a new thread if we want to do that.)

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by eburacum45 View Post
    I am not sure exactly what you are saying here. Since we can't directly test the intelligence of Cro-Magnon man we can't really state anything about how intelligent they were.
    I didn't state that, KK did. I was just fixing what I believed he meant to say.

    I define inteligence as knowledge and cabability. If you took a Cro-Magnon baby from the past and brought it to present day and raised it...it would mentally be no different from a child today because it had the capabilbity...just not the knowledge. In order to have knowledge you have to have experience and education, both of which were quite lacking back in the day of Cro-Magnon.

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    I see. That makes sense; thank you. Some palaeontologists have speculated that there have been minor changed to our species since the last glacial period ended, but I am not convinced.

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    Any advancements in the species 'intelligence' might have been attributed to the survival of the fittest and smartest.. In choosing a breeding partner this sort of choice would normally lift the bar. In the case of the human race, we seem to have lost this vital tool and replaced it with the coolest car or income level. Both have little to do with lifting the species intellect.
    The geek wants the dumb blond.... we are doomed.

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    In the case of the human race, we seem to have lost this vital tool and replaced it with the coolest car or income level. Both have little to do with lifting the species intellect.
    The geek wants the dumb blond.... we are doomed.
    Evolution, though perhaps relevant in the past during hundred-thousand-year long stretches of hunter-gatherer prehistory, isn't any longer. I'd say that cultural differences between humans, what we value, how we raise our kids, whether we think it's okay to kill the guy who isn't going along with the tribal chief have far more bearing on our relative success than minor differences in ability.

    That, and most of what people today seem to assume is due to our own generation's shining brilliance, is really inherited knowledge and experience from many generations that have gone before. People today are not any more intelligent than people were 100, 300, 500 years ago. They just live in a culture that values knowledge and education (that learned to do so, and fought for the freedom to do so), and is fantastically wealthy and capable of giving them the time to pursue it.

    We aren't going to be breeding ourselves into supermen (and that's assuming people even have the wisdom or restraint to know where to begin on such a project. In the past, such eugenics movements were hijacked, assuming they weren't supported to begin with, in short order by every dark emotional atavism human nature could conjure!), because in relatively short order on those timescales, we will have probably mastered genetic engineering anyways.

    When we do begin to alter our DNA, I wonder if we will have learned our lesson yet, or if we'll have to have another round of eugenic wars. (IMO the lessons were: That there is no "master plan", "master race" or "direction" to evolution, that ability should speak for itself, rather than being mandated from on high, that everyone should compete on his own merits, not his pedigree, and that you do not set about assaulting, marginalizing, or exterminating some pre-judged "inferior" race. You do not and cannot and should not pre-judge someones life or "worth" or ability from anything other than his life as it happens)

    If we can't deal rationally today with alleged small differences in group-average intelligence, what will we do when we have genetically engineered people with demonstratable differences in intelligence and ability?

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    There's a great book I've got about the far, far future where a jovian body was turned into a spaceship at the beginnings of time, by some unknown builders. It was discovered by a deep-space probe sent outside the galactic plane, and when it got close enough, it was discovered to be an ancient derelict.

    The book is called Marrow, and forgive me here, but I cannot recall the author. It is a really good book... the author did a lot of physics work to make everything sound plausible. Human immortality is a major component of the book... they plan on taking the ship on the first circumgalactic voyage.

    #EDIT#

    Author's name is Robert Reed. Wikipedia, is there nothing it can't do?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marrow_%28novel%29
    Last edited by Mister Earl; 2006-Dec-11 at 03:15 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronald Brak View Post
    Perhaps the chip in your head can download your knowledge and personality into safe storage and then into a new body if your current one is destroyed? (We could argue for hours whether or not that would really be "you" but it might be best to start a new thread if we want to do that.)
    I'd consider it to still be me. Such a system would increase my life expectancy enormously but I could still die. The mind data storage facilities and the mechanism to recreate me would also be subject to accident and attack.

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    What if we succeed in dimensional manipulation, and create a series of side dimensions where we can minipulate time externally? Put a copy of you in there, freeze the time in it, and seal it up. Fish it out later if need be. The ultimate data storage facility.

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    Someone has to stay here to fish out my copy. What if that person dies?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptain K View Post
    There is no evidence that the intelligence of Homo Sapiens has increased since the arrival of Cromagnons.
    I have a painful feeling that you are right. What I would like to know is: What´s the difference between intelligence and knowledge. But this might be the wrong thread for that question

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    There's a big difference between immortal humans, the indefinite continuation of the human race, and the continuation of human-created technologies. I would put them in the order I've given as the most to least difficult, and I guess I'd say that if we can survive (one way or another) for 2 billion years then we are for all practical purposes immortal.

    I'm not sure that immortal individuals is even desirable, unless there's enough tinkering with our genetics to allow us to retain motivation, energy and memory/skills storage capacity. I think I'd vote for a few hundred years life and then pass it on, keep the species turning over gently. Suspended animation time not included in the case of long-distance travellers.

  24. #24
    I'm not sure that immortal individuals is even desirable, unless there's enough tinkering with our genetics to allow us to retain motivation, energy and memory/skills storage capacity. I think I'd vote for a few hundred years life and then pass it on, keep the species turning over gently. Suspended animation time not included in the case of long-distance travellers.
    Assumeing your unageing body can be kept youthfull so you can continue to learn and change, is there any sense in which it can be said that the "you" you were 200 years ago still exists other than as a few old memories, even though the flesh container it once inhabited is still around? If you tried to preserve yourself as you are now for all eternity you will stagnate. If you remain adaptable then you that you are will be lost in the long corridors of time your body will inhabit.

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    If you remain adaptable then you that you are will be lost in the long corridors of time your body will inhabit.
    Which doesn't mean dying sucks any less. I'd take the "phased replacement/gradual personal change" approach, myself.

  26. #26
    Go not gentle into that good night,
    Rage, rage, against the fading of the light.

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    Evolution isn't something that can just be stopped, it may not be taking us in the direction we wish to go, but it is certainly taking us somewhere.

    It is not certain that intelligence has any reproductive advantage for the individual, and some indications that it may it may actually reduce reproductive success. If I may be so blunt, dumb people seem to have more kids than smart people. Cultural changes could change that, but will those cultural changes occur? Our biological evolution may be closely tied to our cultural evolution.

    If we ever do colonize distant stars and relativistic limits hold then divergent evolution may occur. Isolated populations and such. Under those conditions we may have more "chances" at producing a branch with greater overall intelligence.

    But back to the original question. I suspect there is an ultimate limit to how long a human being can continue to exist and still be viable. First off, you have to stop the biological aging at some point. Do you stop at biological 20, 50 or 100? You want the body to stabalize at a point where you are still physically capable. I'd hate to live forever as an aged invalid with poor eyesite and bad hearing. Teeth would be nice as well, I've already lost more than I would like.

    The second question is the brain. Is there a practical limit to how many memories it can hold and process and still remain sane? I suspect there is but that may still allow lifetimes of thousands of years. What would a 10 million year old have to think about? Could such a person even have a coherent chain of thought without it being disrupted by constant wandering caused by 10 million years of interconnected thought?

    You can supplant the brain with technology, but then the question is "are you still human?".

  28. #28
    To be blunt about immortality, the answer to the original question would be no. Eventually the protons would decay, and there wouldnt be enough energy to make any new matter. Entropy would eventually leave nothing but radiation. This would take a long,long time, but it would happen. However, if space-time really is full of quantum fluctuations, there may be a way of exploitng this feature, but it would probably violate the rules of thermodynamics. It could be worse however, as the universe may collapse into a singularity, and I doubt any form of intelligence could survive such an event.

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    Who knows? Maybe we'll build a matter generator that utilizes Hawking radiation. We could build new worlds from scratch.

    *EDIT*
    Look what we've done as a species in two hundred years. Who is to say what we would accomplish in two hundred million years? Two billion?

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    We may already have it

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