Posted: Mon, November 12, 2012 | By: Special Guest
by Esther Rudolph
Longevity and immortality are core topics for Transhumanists. Ultimately beating the Grim Reaper has always been mankind’s big dream, the holy grail. And now science and technology are about to makethis goal tangible. Wether it’s cryonics, brainuploading or simply fixing our bodies and preventing them from aging - avoiding life’s end might be possible soon. Our mystified, complicated, partly celebrated, partly tabooed relationship with death will change, fundamentally, probably in unexpected ways.
So far, mankind’s imagination concerning immortality and it’s consequences is abundantly pictured in ancient mythology as well as in pop culture. Vampires and zombies give us a gentle hint, that living forever might be rather hell than heaven - a never ending damnation. Therefor the ideal scenario for no-longer-mortal transhumans would include an option to quit. But how? Are we going to simply pull a plug? Or will we take a joyride on Julijonas Urbonas’ Euthanasia Coaster, to “end our life with elegance and ecstasy”? Well, it depends on our concept of immortality.
Avoiding or surviving death?
First off: How will our victory over death change our experience of dying? Are we going to erase dying at all? Given our scientific curiosity plus the fact, that we call an orgasm “la petite mort”, I’m pretty sure we’re going to preserve it. Especially at a time, when we’re able to manage pain and suffering better than today. Who would reject the possibly biggest orgasm ever? At least near death experiences and neuroscientific research give us a vague idea of an extraordinary event - wether it’s fireworks or ultimate peace. So, perhaps “surviving death” would be more appealing than just “avoiding to die”.
But it might raise new problems. “True Skin”, the futuristic short, that went viral lately, gives us an interesting hint. Right in the end, when our hero’s countdown to death has started, he’ s offered the opportunity to “escape” via brainupload. G-CORP, the service provider, claims that “the first time is free”. Sounds a bit like getting hooked up, right? The idea, that dying (and surviving it) might be addictive, isn’t too far-fetched. Could it become the new drug of an immortally-decadent future society?
Many different deviations of the Euthanasia Coaster concept would come up, offering us a huge variety of delicate ways to die. Bungee jumping might be taken to another level. Murder would become a different biz. We might be able to try out various deaths. Slowly drowning, violently crashing cars, playing careless experimental sex games.
And what will be the cost, not just economically speaking? Given the chance that there is a soul - would dying multiple times damage it, split it up in many horcruxes and turn us into freaks like Lord Voldemort or Alaric Saltzman?
Oblivion, salvation, redemption, they all will become inflationary, and the price of (a drug called) death might equal the price of immortality. In a very strange way.
Images are from “True Skin”