I’m broken. That’s a fact! My eyesight is far from perfect, my back is a constant mess and one of my knees has seen better days. A good friend of mine once told me: “If you’re 30 and still able to get out of bed without any pain, you’ve done something wrong.” Fair enough. Looks like I did everything right then. Hooray for me? Probably not.To be honest, I could have done a lot to prevent some of these problems. Of course, the first and foremost is sports. The sad thing about this: just weeks before a disk in my spine decided to go AWOL, I actually found a sport I like – Ultimate Frisbee. Basically running, jumping and falling (a lot!).
So, one back injury later, the doctors tell me to never run, jump or fall ever again. What a disappointment.
The good news: The human body is a mere machine. Like a car, most of the physical disabilities we humans have can be fixed (or will be fixable in the future). The trick is to survive long enough to see them turn into reality.
Don’t believe me? Well, did you know, that, given the right technology, amputees can walk and dance again as if they would have never lost their legs in the first place?
If you’re not so happy with an artificial limb or organ, how about a biological replacement? Bioprinted organs could soon make organ donors obsolete. Someday people might actually be able to grow this proverbial spine for real! Humans could live an indefinite amount of time (given the proper care of course).
What about the mind? The essence of what makes us human. Something like that can never be replaced by a machine, right? Frankly, at this point, I don’t have an answer to the debate. Specific areas of the brain can already be repaired or stabilized using implants, but if in that process our being itself is affected in some way, I dare not to answer. For now, let’s assume it’s not.
Living forever is a very ambitious aim, and it also raises the question of what to do should you decide that existing all eternity is not so great after all (because it got boring, you’re the only living thing left in the universe, etc.). I don’t think, that this is any sort of problem, whatsoever. It’s not like you drink a magic potion and suddenly become immortal. By replacing your aging organs and limbs, you make a conscious choice of postponing your death. Should you decide that one day you don’t want to live longer, you can stop rejuvenating yourself and live out a normal life. There, problem solved.
Why would anybody want to live that long anyway? The more logical question (at least for me) is why not? Yes, humanity is a train wreck. Yes, we have ruined a lot of the environment already (which makes me want to slap global warming deniers in the face). However, as an optimist, I like to believe that there is always a positive twist to things. Electric cars are on the rise, science advances further and further, and fusion energy might be not so far away.
Of course, this is a very optimistic way of seeing the future and, let’s be honest, not everything might turn out the way I hope it will. The electric car might come too late, science might be used for evil, and only because humanity has the ability to harness fusion power, doesn’t automatically render crime, poverty, greed and cruelty a relic of the distant past. We still need to work on these issues and there are times when even hopeless optimists might abandon all hope. But, speaking out of personal experience, it always comes back to being optimistic.
Will everything turn out well? I don’t know. That’s what I want to find out, but how can I, if I meet an untimely demise, and don’t see the advances we make today come to fruition?
One can try to imagine the future, one can believe everything will turn out for the better and of course one can do something about it and start saving humanity (after all, every bit helps). However, all that’s left in the end is the hope to have made a difference. For me, this is not an option: I want to know!
And that’s why I want to live (forever) – and set foot on Mars at least once (but that’s a different story).