Via George Dvorsky, ethicist Alexandre Erler has a rejoinder for me, and for others who believe that immortality might become boring.
Here it should be stressed that even though some people might find the human lifespan that characterizes today’s developed countries optimal, and even though they might feel that any additional years they might gain would quickly become boring and would decrease their sense of the value of their life as a whole, this clearly isn’t everyone’s perception of things. Some people have creative powers, a range of projects, and a thirst for knowledge and pleasure that make their current life expectancy seem extremely limiting.
(Kinda where we were going while biting back at Paul Carr’s “deathhackers” diatribe the other day. The prospect of being able to get more things done certainly appeals, but right now I’d prefer an effective mechanism for suppressing the need to sleep eight hours in every twenty four.)
As for those who might share Walsh’s view and enjoy their life more due to the awareness of their own mortality, they might still preserve that benefit by committing themselves not to use life extension technologies when these become widely available. Of course, when the time to kick the bucket seemed near, they might find themselves unable to respect their previous commitment. But they might perhaps protect themselves from such a hazard by writing advance directives stipulating that life extension procedures should not be made available to them.
In other words, “if it bothers you so much, opt out publicly”. Seems fair enough to me.
But I wonder if immortality (or even a significant increase in longevity) still looks possible in a world without antibiotics? For those rich enough to quarantine themselves away from myriad virulent microbial nasties in the general populace, probably so… and they’re the folk who’ll get access to longevity treatments first.