Massachusetts – As part of his daily routine, Ray Kurzweil ingests 250
supplements, eight to 10 glasses of alkaline water and 10 cups of green
The famed inventor and computer scientist is serious about his health
because if it fails him he might not live long enough to see humanity
achieve immortality, a seismic development he predicts in his new book
is no more than 20 years away.
It’s a blink of an eye in history, but long enough for the 56-year-old
Kurzweil to pay close attention to his fitness. He urges others to do
the same in Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever.
For my part, I am not so sure immortality is such a good thing for us in the greater scheme of things. Well, if you believe that we are here for this one life and that all we have is this physical existence then the prospect of immortality must be highly desirable. On the other hand, if you believe, like I do, that we have had and will have many lives on this earth then I would argue that we are not meant to live forever and that dying is little more than moving on to the next thing as we have done so many times before.
It is almost as if dying is an essential cleansing process for the soul. We come down here, we do what we are here to do (or literally die trying) and go back to the Source (or the Universe/God/whatever works for you). Is immortality really something we should aspire to?
I’ll qualify all of this by saying that it isn’t that the prospect of immortality isn’t appealing at all. One of my favourite authors, Iain M Banks, writes about a civilisation called the Culture where its inhabitants have the option of immortality in some form or another. As a civilisation, the Culture goes way beyond that but this is a civilisation that has achieved what Kurzweil hopes for and then much more. An important aspect of the Culture is that, as a civilisation, it has addressed many of the issues we must still deal with. Issues such as our limited natural resources and how we behave toward our fellow human beings. By way of an illustration of this concern, have a look at the last three paragraphs of the article:
Immortality would leave little standing in current society, in which
the inevitability of death is foundational to everything from religion
to retirement planning. The planet’s natural resources would be greatly
stressed, and the social order shaken.
But Kurzweil says he believes new technology will emerge to meet
increasing human needs. And he says society will be able to control the
advances he predicts as long as it makes decisions openly and
democratically, without excessive government interference.
But, he adds, there are no guarantees.
Isn’t this the problem? This may be another example of where our technological progress is not in line with our spiritual and moral evolution.