Who Wants To Live Forever?

Image by Pixabay

Cue the music: the beautiful, bittersweet Queen song of the same title. Originally written for the first Highlander movie (one my favs), it was spot on for that movie. It’s an interesting question to ponder, as humanity sits on the edge of medical and technological advancements that could significantly alter how long humans can live.

Of course, immortality per se is an unlikely goal. Or is it? Will humans one day have access to replacement body parts with everlasting mechanisms? Will AI and computing power take us to where we finally understand exactly how the mind stores memory and personality, and we’re able to develop a download/transfer procedure? In theory, there could come a day when a human entity might live on forever by moving to a new form. Or at least in the original, modified model, centuries longer than now. Today, it’s hard to think such an entity would still be a person, as we now define one. In the future, that definition could radically change.

Ever since Bram Stoker published his novel, stoking imaginations ever since, there have been those who believe these literary-birthed creatures exist. I’ve always thought the upside of being a vampire is, well, living forever. Not a fan, of course, for the biting/sucking/killing part, nor never tasting good food and coffee again, instead doomed for eternity to only drink blood (or until the sudden appearance of a sharpened piece of wood). The real kicker, however, comes from the becoming a vampire rule: you’re locked into the state you and your body are at the time of The Bite.

Hollywood, ever untrustworthy for accuracy versus sex appeal, portrays these princes and princesses of the dark as beautiful people (until they get pissed off). Nice to always look good with perfect hair for eternity, but that depends when you’re bitten and in what state: Between 18 and 30 raises your odds for a Hollywood gig, but between 8 or 80? Excuse the pun, but it would suck to be stuck there forever. Have you also noticed Hollywood vampires are fit and svelte (but definitely not the rock group of the same name)? Imagine being a 40-something: overweight, not in great shape, bad teeth, badly needing a haircut, poor complexion… you get the image. Stuck in that form for the ages? Ewww and no thank you.

But back to reality, or fantasizing about the slightly less-mythical life longevity options.

Some years back, medical scientists claimed humans could theoretically live well into their 160s, with good genes, a healthy lifestyle, appropriately timed medical intervention, and of course luck.

Count me as a Danny doubter on that being a good thing. Seems like the current gig of working long enough to build a decent pile of retirement funds so one can make it into one’s 80s or 90s is a stretch for most (statistically more like “some”). 70 more years beyond that? We’re talking three full careers (or more), with amazing pensions to pile up for those extra 60+ years. Even with that, we’d need radical societal shifts: no ageism, generous pay rates, affordable healthcare for all, significant reductions in environmental damage to humans, and more. Don’t forget about religious objections to altering the "model," monumental R&D costs to get there, plus the reality of such life-extending interventions would only be affordable for the fortunate few.

Possible? Maybe. Feasible? Harder question. Morally sound? Probably not. Would seem like a golden opportunity to heed that wise adage: Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

An interesting thought, this living longer or forever fantasy, especially for those who’ve given up finding a real vampire to bite us. Probably would hurt a lot, and our luck it would be on a bad hair day when our last meal was doing bad disco dancing in our stomachs.

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