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banquo's_bumble_puppy
2005-Dec-19, 02:43 PM
Let's say that a "cure" for old age is found and that people are able to live youthfully for many millenia. What would the consequences of immorbidity be? Would people become bored?

HenrikOlsen
2005-Dec-19, 02:46 PM
Lots of people dying of starvation instead of old age. Not a lot of boredom.

Argos
2005-Dec-19, 02:46 PM
I wouldnt be bored. The universe is big enough o occupy my time for millenia. Im very looking forward to living a looong life.

Doodler
2005-Dec-19, 02:52 PM
Dangerous. Can you imagine how jaded some people could get after a few hundred years?

eugenek
2005-Dec-19, 02:57 PM
"The first ten million years were the worst. The second ten million? They were the worst too. The third ten million I didn't enjoy at all. After that I went into a bit of a decline" --Marvin

Argos
2005-Dec-19, 03:00 PM
Lol. Exactly when Im re-reading "The Restaurant..."

farmerjumperdon
2005-Dec-19, 03:03 PM
Check out The Physics of Immortality.

banquo's_bumble_puppy
2005-Dec-19, 03:13 PM
linky

http://www.fourmilab.ch/documents/tipler.html

Lianachan
2005-Dec-19, 03:15 PM
What would it be like?

One word - crowded.

Swift
2005-Dec-19, 04:00 PM
Let's say that a "cure" for old age is found and that people are able to live youthfully for many millenia. What would the consequences of immorbidity be? Would people become bored?
I would be more than happy to risk being bored. I suspect it would not be a problem for me. But there are people who are bored during 50 years of life.

TheBlackCat
2005-Dec-19, 04:09 PM
I read a short story about a world of immortals. There were 3 types of people. One, who, since they had all the time in the world to do what they wanted, did nothing. The second group used the time to do as much as they can. The third group eventually gets fed up with living forever and end their own lives.

mickal555
2005-Dec-19, 04:11 PM
Oh I'd love to live forever... I don't like the concept of death... It was a bad idea...

Sam5
2005-Dec-19, 05:08 PM
It won't work. Apartments and houses would cost too much. There would soon be 56 billion people in the world. 50 million in New York City.

Monique
2005-Dec-19, 05:31 PM
I have no wish to live forever. I believe essence de vie found in death. Death provide contrast for focus on beauty in life.

Dragon Star
2005-Dec-19, 05:38 PM
I just want to live until I find someone intelligent in the universe.:p

Monique
2005-Dec-19, 05:49 PM
I just want to live until I find someone intelligent in the universe.:p
living forever is what thread is about. :p

LurchGS
2005-Dec-19, 05:58 PM
I think the population doomsayers would prove themselves - population would stabilize, one way or the other, either by law (if you take the anti aging treatments, you are limited to X children) or via a series of famines.
Personally, I'd love to live forever. I have waaaaay too many things to do to finish off in my remaining 50 years or so.

I'd like to see it, also, because then politicians would stop this habbit of not looking beyond the next election and start thinking long term (which is what they're SUPPOSED to do).
I think there would also be a steady repeal of out-of-date laws

I *think* there would be a decrease - over time - in terrorism as the principals age and grow tired of the fight (or die off).

Manslaughter would become a much more serious crime, since the victim would be losing thousands of years of life, instead of 70 or so. (in my book, the perfect punishment for murder would be to have the perp's anti-aging treatment reversed before incarceration)

Space exploration would become much more important to the average Joe as he starts looking for more elbow room.

I also agree with the story BlackCat read - there WOULD be 3 basic types of people.. the welfare types, the doers, and those who transit between the two groups. (the suiciders I don't consider a 'group' so much as a self-eradicating energy sink)

Nicolas
2005-Dec-19, 06:14 PM
"What would it be like to live forever?"

http://upload.talk2.nl/files/595206screenie.GIF

Halcyon Dayz
2005-Dec-19, 06:27 PM
I want to live forever, if only out of curiosity.
What is going to happen next? :surprised

ASEI
2005-Dec-19, 06:56 PM
Ditto. Death can always wait. But I doubt "living forever" would really entail living forever. There would still be accidents, violence, and other ways to end up dead. But eliminating ageing would be a very nice start.

Lianachan
2005-Dec-19, 11:23 PM
Ditto. Death can always wait. But I doubt "living forever" would really entail living forever. There would still be accidents, violence, and other ways to end up dead. But eliminating ageing would be a very nice start.
Ah - immortality, Tolkien Elf Style! You won't die of old age, but you can be killed by violence or accident, or by what's vaguely described as "sadness".

LurchGS
2005-Dec-19, 11:28 PM
Death is a patient farmer, even if he can't play the violin

GDwarf
2005-Dec-20, 01:50 AM
Ah - immortality, Tolkien Elf Style! You won't die of old age, but you can be killed by violence or accident, or by what's vaguely described as "sadness".
Was it not stated somewhere that even then the Elf 'comes back', via re-incarnation or some such, so that they, in fact, never do die?

I'm probably just thinking of someone's hypothesis, but if it was true, I don't know if Immortality would be all that grand.

ASEI
2005-Dec-20, 02:02 AM
I wonder if it would turn us into a civilization of cowards - incapable of doing anything risky or dangerous like space travel and colonization, for fear of loss of life - our own and those we love?

Gullible Jones
2005-Dec-20, 02:10 AM
Was it not stated somewhere that even then the Elf 'comes back', via re-incarnation or some such, so that they, in fact, never do die?

I'm probably just thinking of someone's hypothesis, but if it was true, I don't know if Immortality would be all that grand.

That's only one - Glorfindel, who went face-to-face with a balrog to give the people of Gondolin time to get away. The balrog got the better of him before dying, but Mandos gave him a second chance, which is why he appeared later, in the Trilogy.

(In Tolkien's universe, everyone gets into the Halls of Mandos eventually. It's not the greatest afterlife, but it's not even close to a Hell.)

Chuck
2005-Dec-20, 02:25 AM
This is an excellent book of short stories on the subject:

http://chuckgaydos.homestead.com/files/immortals.jpg

http://chuckgaydos.homestead.com/files/immortalscontents.jpg

Ilya
2005-Dec-20, 02:51 AM
I have no wish to live forever. I believe essence de vie found in death. Death provide contrast for focus on beauty in life.
If you do not age, death will still find you eventually. And to me at least, knowledge that death can only come as violence of some kind would provide even more contrast.

SolusLupus
2005-Dec-20, 03:36 AM
I wouldn't mind living forever. I'd write out a lot of novels and invent a lot of games; I'd explore numerous universes. Not just physical ones, but ones of imagination; and not just ones of imagination, but virtual realities as well.

I will see all that I've wanted to see, experience all that I've wanted to experience, and I'd have all the time in the universe -- literally -- with which to make my dreams and fantasies come true.

Then I get into a tragic accident and die.

Bah. As the French say, c'est la vie.

Or, as the French have also said, "The more things change, the more they stay the same".

Dragon Star
2005-Dec-20, 03:42 AM
Hey Lonewulf, good to see you back man.

eburacum45
2005-Dec-20, 05:12 AM
You would only last about a thousand years, for two reasons.
First that is about how long you would last on average before meeting with a fatal accident;
this would probably lead to a risk-averse society.

Second you would gradaully forget your past life; after something like a thousand years you would have almost no true memories left of your experiences a thousand years ago, and any new memories you form will tend to crowd out and overwrite older recollections. There is not enough memory in an unaltered human brain to retain identity for a thousand years.

So it would be a risk averse society of people with no fixed identity and a very low birth-rate, so few children underfoot.

Not a familiar society by a long way.

Celestial Mechanic
2005-Dec-20, 05:20 AM
Douglas Adams may have said it best in Life, the Universe, and Everything:

To begin with it was fun; he had a ball, living dangerously, taking risks, cleaning up on high-yield long-term investments, and just generally outliving the hell out of everybody.

In the end, it was the Sunday afternoons he couldn't cope with, and the terrible listlessness that starts to set in at about 2:55, when you know you've taken all the baths you can usefully take that day, that however hard you stare at any given paragraph in the newspaper you will never actually read it, or use the revolutionary new pruning technique it describes, and that as you stare at the clock the hands will move relentlessly on to four o'clock, and you will enter the long dark teatime of the soul.
Now I think I could cope with 20,000 years . . . :)

TheBlackCat
2005-Dec-20, 06:09 AM
There was a brief discussion of immortality in Vampire Hunter D:

I've lived for almost ten thousand years. Believe me you have no idea what that means: boredom. Everlasting and hideous boredom. A never ending search for ways to pass the time...Perhaps now you'll understand my wanting to have some fun every thousand years or so?
(the bit in the middle was removed for decency)


What a wonderful night this has been! For the first time in one hundred years I haven't been bored once!

Van Rijn
2005-Dec-20, 06:43 AM
I want to live long enough to make it to a Mars colony. After that, everything is gravy. Eventual death isn't such a big deal to me, but I certainly see no reason I should by happy with or actually want to die because my body decided to fall apart.

When discussing immortality, there are different issues. If you "merely" stop aging, as eburacum45 said, you aren't likely to last more than a 1000 years (more like 600 years with current U.S. rates for accidental/caused death).

If you had the technology to back up your mind for replacement in case of accidents, and assuming you accept that "you" are a data pattern, not the current physical representation of that pattern, you could recover from almost any accident, but there are still the limits of the human brain to consider. So, given the technology, after a few centuries, you have just a few options:

(1) Become a living fossil, locking in your old memories, but not learning anything new.

(2) To regularly edit your memories, possibly keeping old or less desired memories off-line for possible retrieval.

(3) Become more than human, with additional on-line memory and processing capability.

I would never choose (1) and for either of the other two choices, sooner or later "you" would be radically changed. There might be some continuity, but I wouldn't call it immortality. Mind you, given the chance, I would like to try option 3. I just wouldn't call it immortality.

Incidentally, it is arguable whether the "you" of today is the same person you might have been twenty years ago. In my case, many things are the same, but there have also been significant changes in my personality and beliefs over my lifetime. So again, there is continuity, but it isn't static.

Lianachan
2005-Dec-20, 07:50 AM
That's only one - Glorfindel, who went face-to-face with a balrog to give the people of Gondolin time to get away. The balrog got the better of him before dying, but Mandos gave him a second chance, which is why he appeared later, in the Trilogy.

(In Tolkien's universe, everyone gets into the Halls of Mandos eventually. It's not the greatest afterlife, but it's not even close to a Hell.)


Yup, but I'll just add that if they wanted it, Elves were allowed to be re-embodied in Aman after a while. This is presumably where the notion of Elvish reincarnation comes from.

Jakenorrish
2005-Dec-20, 09:18 AM
Welcome back the Wolf man!

I have no desire to live forever, just a long and happy life. I think that the 'Carpe Diem' attitude to life would be completely lost if you realised that you had all the time in the world to achieve your goals....

Van Rijn
2005-Dec-20, 09:42 AM
I have no desire to live forever, just a long and happy life.

Same here. Two or three centuries should be plenty long enough.

Wolverine
2005-Dec-20, 09:45 AM
What would the consequences of immorbidity be?

I'd never want to find out.

mahesh
2005-Dec-20, 11:56 AM
i agree with Jakenorrish
just wanna be happy and make others happy..that's it.

eugenek
2005-Dec-20, 03:24 PM
I'm worried about losing individuality or self control. Afterall, by the year 3535 everything you think, do, and say will be in the pill you took that day. That's only 1500 years from now!

Jakenorrish
2005-Dec-20, 04:04 PM
i agree with Jakenorrish
just wanna be happy and make others happy..that's it.

Nice one, are you in Bishop's Stortford?

SolusLupus
2005-Dec-20, 06:56 PM
Y'know, I'm surprised at all the people who assume that you'd be bored if you were immortal. I know that I wouldn't be. I would always have something to occupy my time; hell, I've spent a good five years doing some of the same stuff over and over again. I could spend billions of years doing the same old stuff; and there's always something for me to explore or do, such as games and concepts and stories.

I guess I'm the only one that doesn't assume that immortality would be boring.

R.A.F.
2005-Dec-20, 07:50 PM
I have no wish to live forever. I believe essence de vie found in death. Death provide contrast for focus on beauty in life.

Agreed...without death, life would not be precious.

Monique
2005-Dec-20, 08:21 PM
Hey Lonewulf -- no more trouble from you!! :naughty:

;)

teddyv
2005-Dec-20, 08:38 PM
Arthur C. Clarke's "Against the Fall of Night" lays out a society of essentially immortal humans. Basically the birthrate is nil and society decays into stagnancy (although that was due to the perfection of the machines running the city).

eugenek
2005-Dec-20, 08:55 PM
Y'know, I'm surprised at all the people who assume that you'd be bored if you were immortal. I know that I wouldn't be. I would always have something to occupy my time; hell, I've spent a good five years doing some of the same stuff over and over again. I could spend billions of years doing the same old stuff; and there's always something for me to explore or do, such as games and concepts and stories.

I guess I'm the only one that doesn't assume that immortality would be boring.


I can easily think about not being bored for a thousand years. Heck, maybe even 10 thousand years. I've often wondered where the human race will be in the year 2200. When do we bump into our next door neighbors? In the year 4545 will we have discovered something about the universe that let's us travel to the stars relatively inconveniently? In the year 7510 will I view Earth as I currently view the town I was born in? Earth is just some place a grew up on way back when?

One hundred thousand years? That's older than our species has been around, I believe. That's a long time. An incredible number of 'lifetimes' to do stuff and learn stuff. I would think that things start to get monotonous. At some point Earth's Funniest Home Videos will start to become outright boring. Star Trek MMMCXVI will be a flop at the theaters as the plot will just be a rehash of Star Trek MMDI where they travel back into the past for some reason and besides, I lived back then anyways and they got it all wrong in the movie. I love history but after 100,000 years I would have lived during almost all of recorded history. Civilization MX will become more like revisiting my "youth" than a game about civilization.

I wouldn't even be special either. I wouldn't be the "Great Wiseone" or the "All knowing and ever living Eugenek". There would be all kinds of people just like me living forever right along side me. Unless, of course, I could figure out how to kill the other immortal ones... Hmm, that might be entertaining for a while...

That's just after 100,000 years. How about a million or a billion years? Wouldn't there be a point where I've seen all this before? I've done this before? I'm thinking I would have learned everything I wanted to learn about the universe after a few billion years. Look what humanity is learned in the past hundred years. What more can there be to learn after 10 million times that amount of time? I've watched Earth become lifeless. I've seen countless births of stars and planets. I've observed life evolve on them. Wouldn't even this get boring after so many times? At some point I could look at a planet and know "Yup, they destroy themselves in 200 years" just like I know what's going to happen in every "romantic comedy" my wife drags me to immediately after I've been introduced to the characters.

Even if during my immortality I cease to become human and instead become a god, through evolution/science/all that I've learned and experienced/whatever, how long could life be entertaining as I celebrate my trillionth birthday? I create entire universes with / inside my mind and interact and play with them like I did in the sand as a kid. A sort of sim-universe game. A quadrillion years pass as do the umpteen universes I'ved played out. Not even my lincoln logs I painted up as soldiers when I was 8 years old will be entertaining after a quintillion years.

Maybe it's a limitation of my imagination but I just can't imagine being alive for a sextillion years and being all that thrilled about it. Especially when I have the rest of forever to look forward to. Of course, this could be just one of those things I'll understand when I get older as my mother always told me. Maybe once I am immortal I'll look back after a gazillion years and think "Boy, that went quick".

Yikes! I typed more than I thought I would.

Gemini
2005-Dec-20, 09:57 PM
If you do not age, death will still find you eventually. And to me at least, knowledge that death can only come as violence of some kind would provide even more contrast.

Since I could not stop for death, he Kindly stopped for me.

eburacum45
2005-Dec-20, 10:02 PM
The trouble is, once you get to a few hundred billion years old, the Universe is not a very comfortable place any more, as most of the stars have died. Even the longest lived red dwarfs will be cooling down to room temperature by the trillion year mark.

If you factor in the acceleration of the expansion of the universe you will find yourself orbiting a supermassive black hole which is the only object in the entire observable universe, or you are torn apart in a Big Rip if the expansion continues to accelerate.
Some writers have attemped to devise strategies for living in the very distant future when all the stars are dead, starting with Olaf Stapledon, through Freeman Dyson to Stephen Baxter; these tend to rely heavily on black hole farming and reversible computing. But in general civilisation in trillions of years to come will be a very low energy and slow paced society.

Freeman Dyson's strategy for survival into an open-ended universe can be found here;
http://www.aleph.se/Trans/Global/Omega/dyson.txt

SolusLupus
2005-Dec-20, 10:09 PM
The trouble is, once you get to a few hundred billion years old, the Universe is not a very comfortable place any more, as most of the stars have died. Even the longest lived red dwarfs will be cooling down to room temperature by the trillion year mark.

If you factor in the acceleration of the expansion of the universe you will find yourself orbiting a supermassive black hole which is the only object in the entire observable universe, or you are torn apart in a Big Rip if the expansion continues to accelerate.
Some writers have attemped to devise strategies for living in the very distant future when all the stars are dead, starting with Olaf Stapledon, through Freeman Dyson to Stephen Baxter; these tend to rely heavily on black hole farming and reversible computing. But in general civilisation in trillions of years to come will be a very low energy and slow paced society.


An interesting outlook and all, but it is rather a limited outlook. Might we have a way to stop such things from happening a trillion years from now? How much will we have discovered? What technology will we have? Might we be able to stop the decay of the universe? Or might we be able to merely open a gateway to another dimension or alternate universe (if they exist)? What are the ultimate possibilities in that vast stretch of time?

I'm scared to hypothesize that far from now.

Monique
2005-Dec-20, 10:25 PM
Since I could not stop for death, he Kindly stopped for me.
Because I could not stop for Death --
He kindly stopped for me --
The Carriage held but just Ourselves --
And Immortality.

We slowly drove -- He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility --

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess -- in the Ring --
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain --
We passed the Setting Sun --

Or rather -- He passed Us --
The Dews drew quivering and chill --
For only Gossamer, my Gown --
My Tippet -- only Tulle --

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground --
The Roof was scarcely visible --
The Cornice -- in the Ground --

Since then -- 'tis Centuries -- and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity --

-- Emily Dickinson

Laminal Cockroach
2005-Dec-20, 11:41 PM
Why is everyone so happy to have lonewulf "back", Where did he go?
Well anyway if we lived for ever, that'ld be great, i might get invited to five birthday parties everyday... Hmmm.... Free Cake
But then when we say we live forever do you mean keep getting older physically for ever or just not change after we are old and ugly enough ;)

Candy
2005-Dec-21, 12:14 AM
Why is everyone so happy to have lonewulf "back", Where did he go?
Well anyway if we lived for ever, that'ld be great, i might get invited to five birthday parties everyday... Hmmm.... Free Cake
But then when we say we live forever do you mean keep getting older physically for ever or just not change after we are old and ugly enough ;)
Lonewulf has been banned a few times. He's passionate (see banned thread). :razz:

Monique
2005-Dec-21, 12:35 AM
Lonewulf has been banned a few times. He's passionate (see banned thread). :razz:
He is very bad young man!!! :naughty:

Perhaps if he get bear paw slippers for Holiday.... ;)

Candy
2005-Dec-21, 12:39 AM
He is very bad young man!!! :naughty:

Perhaps if he get bear paw slippers for Holiday.... ;)
:lol: That would be great!

Dragon Star
2005-Dec-21, 12:55 AM
Lonewulf has been banned a few times. He's passionate (see banned thread). :razz:


That he is, but he won't be anymore, I think he is already on his last warning.

SolusLupus
2005-Dec-21, 01:04 AM
That he is, but he won't be anymore, I think he is already on his last warning.

Gee, thanks, Dragon. I <3 you too.

As for the "last warning", I do not think there is any "three strikes you're out" rule anymore. I asked Wolverine about it.

Also, please don't derail this thread about a discussion about my banning. If you really wish to discuss it, then open a new thread about it in the Off Topic Forum. I don't really need (or rather, want) this stuff drug up, especially when it will derail a discussion that has nothing to do with it.

And Candy, yes, I have been banned a total of two times. The first time was 24 hours, the second 48 hours. I am very passionate, and I am not slow to express my opinion. I should have thought twice before I got involved in the things I did. And I now do think twice; it's why I decided not to get involved in the discussion on drugs. I've already talked the issues over with Wolverine and Josh. Well, I talked the last banning over with Josh.

I regret that I said the things I said in the way I said it; but I do not regret bringing up the issues that I have. That's all I have to say on the subject.

Dragon Star
2005-Dec-21, 01:09 AM
Gee, thanks, Dragon. I <3 you too.

As for the "last warning", I do not think there is any "three strikes you're out" rule anymore. I asked Wolverine about it.

Also, please don't derail this thread about a discussion about my banning. If you really wish to discuss it, then open a new thread about it in the Off Topic Forum. I don't really need (or rather, want) this stuff drug up, especially when it will derail a discussion that has nothing to do with it.

Oh, sorry, I didn't mean anything by it...:o


I wonder what effects of living forever would have on your memory. When you run out of capacity, your memory would start over-lapping it's self, erasing old memories, you wouldn't know what you already did, what you wanted to do, exc....And that would certainly not be cool.

joema
2005-Dec-21, 03:03 AM
....I wonder what effects of living forever would have on your memory. When you run out of capacity, your memory would start over-lapping it's self, erasing old memories, you wouldn't know what you already did, what you wanted to do, exc....And that would certainly not be cool.
Even large computers have limited memory capacity and we sometimes equate the human brain with a powerful computer, therefore we may assume the specific memory capacity of the human brain is known.

This is further reinforced by knowing the number of neurons in the brain -- about 100 billion. However neurons are not like memory bits or bytes.

In fact we have relatively little idea about the physical mechanism of memory, nor about the capacity.

However very recent research seems to indicate the brain's memory capacity is incredibly vast -- 10^8432 bits (yes, 10 to the power 8432). If true, you wouldn't run out of memory capacity for a very long time:

http://tinyurl.com/776sd

We also tend to believe a person would become bored after living thousands of years. However I've seen many bored 16-year-olds. Likewise I've seen 90-yr-olds excited about life and learning new things each day. It seems boredom is an attitude not an age-related infirmity.

There are scientists who spend their entire life researching one species of insect. They stay interested and motivated the entire time. There are one million insect species; some experts estimate ten million. And that's just one narrow area of one field. Consider physics, astronomy, art, literature, etc. You could spend a very long time delving into that.

However when discussing this point, you must be very specific about how literal you mean "forever". If you mean a very long time such as billions of years, that's one thing. However math can express values far beyond any physical reality.

For example if you state someone will live 9^9^9^9 years, while not infinity that number is so vast it would likely exceed the life span of even subatomic particles (at least according to some theories). The lifespan of a proton is thought to be only about 10^32 years.

So even if there is no big rip, no entropy problem, matter itself has a very long but finite lifespan. This would seem to place an absolute upper limit on how long a physical being could exist, no matter how long lived.

However I'd bet someone who studied physics for 10^30 years or so might learn a thing or two.

SolusLupus
2005-Dec-21, 04:18 AM
*Applauds* Joema, a VERY lovely post. I'm going to print it out and frame it on the wall someday.

However, I think that matter may someday in the future be more malleable and "upkeepable" than it appears today. I may seem like I'm talking about magic, not technology, but then, how much of today's technology would once have been considered magic at first glance? The future may hold many wonders for us, and many of which we probably have no clue about.

kleindoofy
2005-Dec-21, 04:30 AM
As some have already stated above, "forever" is a long time. When speaking of immortality, most people say "I can see my grandchildren." Well, yes.

But what about 50,000 years later?

Let's say you become immortal. You alone. After 50,000 years you'll be pretty sick and tired of the whole thing, but you can't die.

After humanity has died out, it's very lonely, but you can't die.

When the sun expands to a red giant and the surface of the earth is red hot, you can't die.

Etc. etc.

Damn, what a drag. I think I'll skip immortality.;)

Maksutov
2005-Dec-21, 04:58 AM
Let's say that a "cure" for old age is found and that people are able to live youthfully for many millenia. What would the consequences of immorbidity be?Well, since that (apparently) means the condition of not being morbid, then, there'd be a lot of happy, vivacious people around. Nothing wrong with that, unless they go by the group name Eloi.

Would people become bored?Tell you what, I'll get back to you as soon as I find out. In the meantime, I might also find out what a "bumble puppy" is, which I'm sure you'd be interested in. If you're still around.

Meanwhile various authors have considered this. A fellow named Swift devoted a section of his Gulliver's Travels to it, analyzing an immortal group called the Struldbrugs, which weren't viewed in a positive manner. Here's what they looked like:

http://img475.imageshack.us/img475/4230/struldbrugs8ye.th.jpg (http://img475.imageshack.us/my.php?image=struldbrugs8ye.jpg)

Of course these folks didn't have the "youth" benefit.

Heinlein had a thing or two to say here, with his character Lazarus Long. Ditto re Jack Vance in To Live Forever.

Then there are the religious promises of youthful immortality (always with a catch or 22), every one of which sounds more boring than the next.

So, just hang on and chill out for a while. I'll provide a reply after http://img480.imageshack.us/img480/872/infinity9ml.jpg years. Remember, patience is a virtue.

LurchGS
2005-Dec-21, 05:27 AM
I agree with Lonewulf. There are plenty of things I'm CURRENTLY interested in that I flatly don't have time to even think about (cosmology, physics, rare math, etymology, flight school....take over the world... solve a Rubix Cube...).

I don't hold the same VALUES I did 25 years ago, but that's not what makes me me - the continuity is the important thing. Even the container isn't important. If it becomes possible to transfer my consciousness into a machine, as long as there's a continuous stream of consciousness, I'm still me.

Gemini
2005-Dec-21, 06:24 AM
Now to find what being a Q is like. hmm

SolusLupus
2005-Dec-21, 06:27 AM
Actually, transferring consciousness into your machine is a bit of a long shot. You wouldn't really be able to send in most of your mental abilities such as emotions, unless you have a way of simulating them (which might be possible in electronic format; but there is a reason we have brain chemicals!)

LurchGS
2005-Dec-21, 06:55 AM
oh, I agree - but I think in the long run it will become possible. In this case, though, I was simply using it as an example.

---

the potential of the human mind is limitless

ASEI
2005-Dec-21, 12:45 PM
Basic emotions wouldn't be that difficult to simulate. Have a simulated array of neurons, keep track of their location in a simulated space, and set up a simulated chemical dispersion between various glands in that space which control the neuron communication.

Laminal Cockroach
2005-Dec-21, 03:07 PM
we might not get bored of doing stuff or run out of iseas to do stuff, but are we going to be phisically fit to do all the stuff if we keep aging and aging and aging and aging and aging, "whats my age again? thats something new i can find out "

mickal555
2005-Dec-21, 03:17 PM
Let's say that a "cure" for old age is found and that people are able to live youthfully for many millenia. What would the consequences of immorbidity be? Would people become bored?
I herby claim responsibiliy for the bold in the the above quote of banquo's_bumble_puppy's.

Swift
2005-Dec-21, 03:23 PM
I guess I'm the only one that doesn't assume that immortality would be boring.
Not the only one. Heck, I'd like to stick around long enough to watch protons decay. But I might not be around long enough to see a man on Mars, so arguments about whether 10,000 or 100,000 years are too long are kind of silly. :sad:

Chuck
2005-Dec-21, 03:43 PM
Transferring a brain to a computer probably wouldn't capture everything that makes you who you are and the lack of continuity between the two versions of you might make it uncertain that the computer version is actually you. Maybe a more gradual approach could be used.

As brain cells die they could be replaced by mechanical devices each of which is custom designed to simulate the cell that it replaces. I don't think most people would consider me to be a different person after one such cell was replaced, nor even a few. It would take billions of replacements over centuries before I became entirely mechanical. In the end I would not be the person I am today, but so what? I'm not exactly the same person that I was yesterday. I'm even more different from the person I was ten years ago and very different from my five year old self. I'm still considered to be me because I gradually changed from the person I was then to the person I am now. The same would be true of my future mechanical version. I would not be human but I'd still be me.

After that, or even during this procedure, other mechanical devices could be added and upgraded from time to time. My memory capacity could be increased as needed. Libraries of information could be added and I could be givin direct access to huge public databases. I could get telephone, radio, and television receivers attached directly to my brain. Then I and others like me could fly through space in giant cubes and invite other species to join in.

Swift
2005-Dec-21, 03:50 PM
Actually, transferring consciousness into your machine is a bit of a long shot. You wouldn't really be able to send in most of your mental abilities such as emotions, unless you have a way of simulating them (which might be possible in electronic format; but there is a reason we have brain chemicals!)
I know that is a popular concept in science fiction, that emotions are somehow "encoded" in the brain differently than other things, making them more difficult or impossible to put in a machine. But I wonder if that is true. Does the brain really store emotions very differently than it does any other memory? I don't know how easy or hard it will be to transfer information from the brain to a machine (obviously it is well beyond current technology), but it isn't obvious to me that if and when that is possible, that emotions will be harder to transfer than anything else.

SolusLupus
2005-Dec-21, 04:56 PM
Well, my point was that emotions were based a lot on fluids and chemical reactions. Hard to simulate chemical reactions with electronics.

However, the Neurons idea works. I have a whole thing about it in my sci-fi story idea.

joema
2005-Dec-21, 05:40 PM
I know that is a popular concept in science fiction, that emotions are somehow "encoded" in the brain differently than other things, making them more difficult or impossible to put in a machine...it isn't obvious to me that if and when that is possible, that emotions will be harder to transfer than anything else.
That's probably correct. While we tend to think of emotions as somehow ethereal, intangible entities, they are purely physical biochemical/electrical processes in a physical brain.

This is obvious from biochemical or physical actions which perturb emotions: alcohol, caffeine, antidepressants, brain surgery, etc. You're changing brain structural or chemical items which produces a change in emotions.

Emotional processing is centered in the brain's limbic region, physically inside the cerebral cortex that handles more analytic thought. That's obvious because brain surgery or tumors which affect that physical brain region affect emotions.

We don't know how emotions are encoded, but (recent research not withstanding) we also mostly don't know how memory is encoded, so it's hard to say how different or similar the encoding mechanisms are.

The brain is so complex (500 trillion synapses) that we might have star travel before we're able to extract thoughts and emotions from it. In fact that task seems much more challenging than creating a true artificially intelligent computer of the brain's complexity.

If you lived "forever" maybe in a few millennia you could figure that out.

Swift
2005-Dec-21, 06:49 PM
Well, my point was that emotions were based a lot on fluids and chemical reactions. Hard to simulate chemical reactions with electronics.
And the rest of our thoughts and memories are based a lot on fluids and chemical reactions. So what is different.

SolusLupus
2005-Dec-21, 07:10 PM
And the rest of our thoughts and memories are based a lot on fluids and chemical reactions. So what is different.

I dunno. Magic?




Okay, okay, so I'm not an expert. I just play one on TV.

Well, I could.

Really.

Gemini
2005-Dec-22, 05:23 AM
I dunno. Magic?




Okay, okay, so I'm not an expert. I just play one on TV.

Well, I could.

Really.

And you stayed at a Holiday Inn last night.

joema
2005-Dec-22, 07:02 PM
Here's a good article on machine intelligence. It estimates at current rates of progress, computer hardware will be capable of simulating human thought sometime in the 2020s. You wouldn't need an infinite lifespan to see that. Many of us might live that long.

However that might be optimistic if the estimate of the brain's memory capacity of 10^8432 bits is correct. Cognitive neuroscientists believe memory is the foundation of intelligence. If that's correct it will be a VERY long time before computers become human like.

http://www.transhumanist.com/volume1/moravec.htm

ASEI
2005-Dec-22, 07:04 PM
I don't think the problem was ever one of raw hardware performance, either in speed or in memory capacity (though the need to simulate a billion neurons is a bit taxing, admittedly). I think it's primarily in the structure of our programs - the software. Our programs are currently long lists of instructions - paint this, multiply this by six and store it here, send this to this device ect. If we want to simulate what the human brain does, we'd have to do it with adaptive neural networks.

Van Rijn
2005-Dec-22, 09:03 PM
Yes, we need to understand the "program" first. I have little doubt about the possibility - I don't think there are any "supernatural" processes involved, but the fact is we aren't conscious of 99.99% of what our brain does. That makes it much more difficult to duplicate. I won't discount the possibility that we might learn enough in 15-20 years, but I suspect it will be substantially later than that.

joema
2005-Dec-22, 10:47 PM
I don't think the problem was ever one of raw hardware performance, either in speed or in memory capacity...
There's definitely a huge hardware problem, at least according to the most recent research. It will be many, many years before hardware reaches that point.

You're right there's also the additional problem of software. No matter how capable, the hardware is useless without programming specific for this task. You need both -- hardware (both CPU speed and memory capacity) and software to harness that power specifically to simulate intelligence.

We're about as close to both of those those requirements as we are to putting a human on Pluto.

Moose
2005-Dec-22, 11:41 PM
There's definitely a huge hardware problem, at least according to the most recent research. It will be many, many years before hardware reaches that point.

Absolutely. The brain is a beautiful example of compact parallel processing.

Our neurons don't actually operate all that fast. Transistor-based logical structures can already handily outpace individual neurons in terms of raw speed.

But our brains (and spinal cords) are made up of several billion neurons operating simultaneously. Even the fastest Crays, the finest parallel processors ever built, can't begin to keep up with that.

What computers can do, however, is handle simple repetitive tasks much faster than we can ever hope to match.

If we are to recreate, say, a rat brain, we're going to need a machine with a million-plus CPUs and I/O support that can keep them all fed. We're nowhere near this point yet.

Van Rijn
2005-Dec-23, 12:33 AM
If we are to recreate, say, a rat brain, we're going to need a machine with a million-plus CPUs and I/O support that can keep them all fed. We're nowhere near this point yet.

If we understand the algorithm, perhaps not. It may be possible to create more efficient linear (or at least less parellel) algorithms for many processes, such as parts of vision recognition. Also, it may be possible to "time share" hardware so that a single specialized "cpu" could simulate hundreds of millions of neurons in real time. What is clear is that we need to know much more about the underlying process before we can reach firm conclusions.

Maksutov
2005-Dec-23, 08:49 AM
And the rest of our thoughts and memories are based a lot on fluids and chemical reactions. So what is different.See, there's the problem. As human beings, you and I need fresh, pure water to replenish our precious bodily fluids. A computer can't do that.

Van Rijn
2005-Dec-23, 09:06 AM
See, there's the problem. As human beings, you and I need fresh, pure water to replenish our precious bodily fluids. A computer can't do that.

Nah, all you need is fluoride. Lots and lots of fluoride.

Maksutov
2005-Dec-23, 09:37 AM
Originally Posted by Maksutov
See, there's the problem. As human beings, you and I need fresh, pure water to replenish our precious bodily fluids. A computer can't do that.
Nah, all you need is fluoride. Lots and lots of fluoride.That's nice shooting, soldier! (to Mandrake) There's another one of your hard core commies running loose. In the name of Her Majesty and the Continental Congress come here and feed me this belt, boy. Feed me, feed me!

http://www.clicksmilies.com/s0105/waffen/violent-smiley-041.gif

ASEI
2005-Dec-23, 04:46 PM
Come on. You guys have never heard of CFD? The diffusion of a fluid in space is easy to model. Once we have the parralel processing hardware/OS to simulate a billion neurons, (you could probably simulate at least 10000 on a halfway decent processor), theres nothing stopping us from also simulating a sort of limbic system overlay of "chemical" diffusion. The neuron behavior would be modified by the local "environment".

Example - you could model a "gland" which produces particles of "inhibitor" each of which start diffusing from that point. Every neuron who's "spatial position" is within some radius of a "particle" of inhibitor is partially inhibited. The "particles" could have a lifespan before they are erased, or perhaps a half-life to simulate diminishing effects wrt time.

-----------------

I wonder if some sort of gerontocracy would develop if people lived forever? Someone with 250 years of firsthand military experience would certainly be worth listening to in a conflict. Or perhaps someone with 250 years worth of experience running companies for economic advice?

Could cause problems for the young people in such a society though - they'd have to strike out on their own to get out from under the rule of their great^4 grandparents.

joema
2005-Dec-23, 06:08 PM
Come on. You guys have never heard of CFD? The diffusion of a fluid in space is easy to model. Once we have the parralel processing hardware/OS to simulate a billion neurons, (you could probably simulate at least 10000 on a halfway decent processor)...
The problem is the brain's synaptic network is vastly more complex than the neurons themselves, and involves much more than fluids (which is all CFD addresses).

Each neuron has on average 7,000 synapses. Each synapse is a complicated electrical/chemical entity with feedback loops, many different kinds of receptors, etc. The synapses are interconnected, constantly changing -- growing, shrinking, forming new connections, etc.

There are about 100 to 500 trillion synapses in the adult human brain, and the total number of interconnection possibilities between these is beyond astronomical.

Let's consider the simplified case of the smallest configuration you suggested: 10,000 neurons. Each neuron has about 7,000 synapses. Let's simply try to calculate the number of interconnection possibilities -- not model them, just calculate the number. According to a recent research paper, the formula is:

Connection possibilities = n! / m! * (n - m)!, where
n = number of neurons
m = average number of interconnections between neurons

Connection possibilities = 10000! / 7000! * (10000 - 7000)!

= 2.86E35659 / 8.84E23877 * 4.14E9130
Connection possibilities = 7.81E2650

That is a huge number. I doubt the largest supercomputer on earth, Blue Gene/L could model the dynamic behavior of even that super-simplified 10,000 neuron system.

ASEI
2005-Dec-23, 08:15 PM
I only intended to adress the chemical diffusion responsible for certain emotional and other cognitive tasks.

You're talking about connection possibilites, not actual connections. That's like talking about the total possible uses for a block of memory. A megabyte of memory has 256^1000000 possible uses, but you still only need a megabyte. To store every possible megabyte, you would need far more than the computing power of the entire earth. We're talking about simulating one brain, not every possible brain.

100 trillion synapses (10^14) would pose a processing challenge. If you could adress the activity of 1 synapse every microsecond on a processor, you would need only 100 million processors operating in parallel to adress every synapse in 1 second. However, if you had a billion or so mini-processors, each running slow and cheap, but running, you could address brains far more easily. Each synapse only needs to know what the neuron next to it is doing.

joema
2005-Dec-23, 11:20 PM
You're talking about connection possibilites, not actual connections....

Our computer orientation is misleading in this case. A one-byte computer memory can store 256 different possible values, but only one at a time. When the number changes, it doesn't remember the previous value.

By contrast, the brain DOES remember the previous value. The "value" in this case isn't a bit in a neuron or synapse, but a neuronal pathway. The pathway could be two neurons long, 10, or 1,000. Every neuron in the brain can communicate with every other neuron, along any of each neuron's 7,000 synapses. Each of these possibilities forms a discrete path. Once a path is in place, the brain "remembers" it.

Thus the brain's memory (and likely intelligence) is formed by ALL the combinations of ALL possible pathways between ALL the neurons. The mathematical formula for this is straightforward -- it's the one previously listed. For more info see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combination.

So in a sense the brain is more like a telephone network than a computer. But a phone network where each connection pathway through the network is remembered. Ironically the old metaphor about the brain being like a switchboard was closer to correct than the more modern metaphor of a computer.

There's actually another layer of complexity on top of that. Research indicates the dendritic spines underlying most synapses are constantly changing -- growing, shrinking, etc. This is called neuronal plasticity. So the already astronomical number of pathways is only one static network configuration. That configuration is constantly changing, so that over time many more pathway possibilities exist.

Regarding simulation, aside from the impossibility of simulating the pathway complexity, we can't even simulate ONE synapse. It's not like a digital logic gate, or a spark gap -- those are simplifications for the popular audience.

In reality each synapse is very complicated, with many receptors of various types, many different neurotransmitters, feedback loops, up/down regulation of receptor sensitivity, etc. The signal crossing the complex electrochemical gap is not like a simple binary switch.

So-called neural net simulations don't remotely consider all these items -- we don't yet fully understand synapses in all their complexity, so they certainly can't be modeled completely. Not even a single one, much less 500 trillion, along with the associated 10^8432 pathways.

ASEI
2005-Dec-24, 02:48 AM
Does each neuron have around 7000 active connections, or are they only formed, terminated, and otherwise conditioned as needed? I didn't think we would have to model the exact geometry of a dendrite, just which neurons it connects to and with what sensitivity.

It can't be that astronomical of a task - our brains do it. It may be better at parralel processing, but the leap from what we could hope to accomplish and what it can do couldn't possibly be that large. There's no magic barrier to imitating nature.

joema
2005-Dec-24, 03:46 AM
On average each of 100 billion neurons has about 7000 active synapses. Each of those is a very complex electrochemical entity with many different receptors, neurotransmitters, feedback loops, etc. It's so complex, even with all our technology we don't fully understand a single synapse. It's an active area of biomedical research.


It can't be that astronomical of a task - our brains do it. It may be better at parralel processing, but the leap from what we could hope to accomplish and what it can do couldn't possibly be that large. There's no magic barrier to imitating nature.

Just because our brains do it doesn't mean it's easy. It's the opposite. The human brain is the most complex entity in the universe. We are closer to putting humans on Pluto than simulating 1/10,000,000th of the brain.

While there's no MAGIC barrier to imitating nature in general, the hurdle of simulating the human brain is incredibly high. Every time we learn more about the brain, it's far more complex and sophisticated than we envisioned. Our increasing technological progress only gives clearer focus about the awesome magnitude of the task.

In terms of memory alone, even asuming Moore's law remains constant, it will be centuries before memory even approaches the human brain. You can easily run the calculation, which is the same as compounded interest. Optimistically assume memory capacity doubles every 12 months:

The compound interest formula calculates the value of a compound interest investment after 'n' interest periods.

A = P (1 + i)^n, where

A = Amount after 'n' interest periods.
P = Principal, the amount invested at the start.
i = the interest rate applying to each period, 1.0 = 100%
n = the number of interest periods

Plug in 1 terrabyte for P, 100% for i, and 500 years for n


A = 1E12 bytes (1 + 1)^500
A = 3.27E162 bytes

We need 10E8432 bits to simulate the human brain, so after 500 years we're still short by a factor of 10^8269.

ASEI
2005-Dec-24, 04:48 AM
You're using combination again. If there are 7000 connections per neuron, and 10^14 neurons, then there are 10^18 connections, not 10^8432.

We don't need to model a synapse "completely" to mimick it's function. We don't need to know what every atom in an asteroid belt is doing to simulate it's formation. I'm sure a simpler mathematical stand-in can serve. As far as the intelligence of the macroscopic brain is concerned, a neuron is just a complicated switch/routing device.

Van Rijn
2005-Dec-24, 05:17 AM
Yup. Speculation is great, but this is another subject where our information is limited. The fact that we don't understand the details means we certainly can't do it yet, but because of that we can't make sweeping statements about hardware requirements.

joema
2005-Dec-24, 06:07 AM
You're using combination again. If there are 7000 connections per neuron, and 10^14 neurons, then there are 10^18 connections, not 10^8432.

Combinations is correct, since each possible combination forms a unique neural pathway. Each pathway constitutes (conservatively) a memory bit. Once activated the brain "remembers" each pathway. We'll conservatively assume 100 billion neurons with 3,000 synapses each.

The formula is very simple:

connection possibilites (unique pathways) = n! / m! * (n - m)!, where
n = number of neurons
m = average # of connections between neurons

= 10^11! / 3000! * (10^11 - 3000)!

It takes a special program to calculate such large factorials, but the result is 10^8432. It's been published and checked:

Discovering the Capacity of Human Memory, Wang, et al, 2003, Brain and Mind, vol 4, no 2, p. 189-198.


We don't need to model a synapse "completely" to mimick it's function. We don't need to know what every atom in an asteroid belt is doing to simulate it's formation. I'm sure a simpler mathematical stand-in can serve. As far as the intelligence of the macroscopic brain is concerned, a neuron is just a complicated switch/routing device.
You don't need to know what every atom in the brain is doing, but without correctly modeling the synapse (which we can't do since we don't yet fully understand it), you can't model the brain or even a subset. The neuron is absolutely NOT just a switch. That's a popular-level simplification. Here's a quote from a neurological research paper:

"What does the [neuron] cell control? Fluid and precise movements, fine hand movements and balance as of a ballet dancer, illustrating how wrong it is, how far off one must be to consider this complex executive merely as an "on' or "off" state at a given moment in mathematical representations."

http://www.pneuro.com/publications/insidetheneuron/01_part3.html

ASEI
2005-Dec-27, 12:47 AM
There are 6.02*10^26 atoms/kg-mol. (6.02E23 atoms/mol) The brain weighs about 1.5 kg.

Considering that there must be fewer than 9E26 atoms in the brain, and that each atom probably has 6 degrees of freedom, building a model of the brain that is accurate to the atomic level would not take any more than 5.5E27 variables.
Our brains must have fewer than 10^27 connections in them, because they don't have the atoms to form them.

In fact, we don't need to simulate every atom. I'm sure to emulate intelligence, a model with more than a few orders of magnitude of simplicity over that one can be used.

(I doubt there are 10^8000 atoms in our galaxy! When you start getting numbers of that magnitude, you know you aren't talking about physical quantities, and rather about the number of ways to arrange it, which can have far larger degrees of scale over the quantity involved. :) )

If every possible path that a signal can take really does constitute a memory bit, we still only need to model the paths, not the bits directly.

joema
2005-Dec-27, 04:34 PM
...there must be fewer than 9E26 atoms in the brain, and that each atom probably has 6 degrees of freedom...
That's a good point about this vs memory capacity. Let me think about this a bit...

joema
2005-Dec-30, 04:12 PM
Just a follow up: now discussing this on http://www.scienceforums.net.

To summarize the issue:

The authors of the Wang paper reason that any synapse can connect to any other synapse via a unique neural pathway, often transiting through other intervening neurons and synapses.

IOW it's not just the neuron-to-neuron direct connections, but the unique PATH between any two synapses. It could be many thousands of neurons long. Each synapse could participate in many different memory "bits", as each is usually part of many different unique neural paths. The authors of the Wang paper posit that it's the RELATIONSHIP between any two synapses, anywhere in the brain, that stores a memory "bit", not a physical bit "container" in a specific brain location.

I think there's some basis for that, based on current limited understanding of neural electrical activity. However as you implied, it requires each unique path to be "remembered". IOW once activated SOME biological mechanism, SOMEWHERE in that path must be changed. Otherwise a subsequent trigger of that path would engender no different response than the first.

Even if only one atom changed, you only have so many atoms in the brain. Therefore although 10^8432 path possibilities mathematically exist, it seems impossible they could all simultaneously be available for storage. Ultimately something, somewhere must store each equivalent "bit", and even if that's on a discrete atomic level, as you said there's not enough atoms to exceed roughly 10^27 bits.

Therefore I agree with you -- upon reflection, I don't understand statements about the brain having "more storage bits than there are atoms in the universe" (often repeated, don't know original reference), or 10^8432 bits (above Wang paper).

Still thinking about this...

Gemini
2005-Dec-30, 10:05 PM
After watching Star Trek:First Contact the Borg collective started making appearrances. I wouldn't call them nightmares because I usually deffeated them.

banquo's_bumble_puppy
2006-Jan-05, 11:24 AM
linky

http://www.spacedaily.com/news/Living_Forever.html


"This moment that Kurzweil sees coming 20 years hence is when our intelligence becomes non-biological and trillions of times more powerful than unaided human intelligence. What this will mean f! or humanity is that aging can be reversed, pollution eradicated, hunger solved and our bodies and the environment transformed by nanotechnology that will also overcome the limitations of biology - and death."