UPDATE: This article was re-published by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET).
My following article below was originally published by Transhumanity.net:
I was a bit perplexed, to say the least, when I read Big Think blogger John N. Gray’s article “Immortality is a Waste of Time.” His entire argument revolved around the notion that, because of unknown contingencies throughout life, the act of curtailing death’s inevitability and infinity is thus a waste of time, money, thought and anxiety.
This is absurd. An absurdity flooded with fear-mongering imagery of our future, claiming the acts of planning for our possible deaths as being equivalent to “a society that is one of cryonic suspension, a freezer-centered society, a society in which we spend our thoughts, our desires, our passions, our incomes on tending freezers.”
Tending freezers, he says? Like we tend to our graveyards, our crematoriums, and mausoleums? Examples, I might add, to which wastes precious land to accommodate the bodies and/or ashes of our long-since-deceased (or soon-to-be-deceased) loved ones.
This notion that “history will go on,” all while admitting that it “makes good sense to take care of your health, to try to remain healthy for as long as possible” and that “we should use the new technologies to enhance the mortal life we have,” is contradictory and ahistorical. Was it the simple whim of society to abandon agriculture for industrialization, or to abandon feudalism for capitalism? Did life simply go on, providing us with the technological marvels we take for granted today, without the actions and efforts of so many individuals who spent (wasted?) their time, money, and thoughts to achieve such a society?
John Gray would like you to believe so, yes. But then history doesn’t simply move along without a current of change enforced by its inhabitants. While Mr. Gray would like you to abandon your wishes and efforts in achieving immortality, deeming it as a waste of time, he neglects to even consider how life will go on via the actions and inactions of society’s members.
How is history and life to go on in a positive direction, and how are we to use new technologies to enhance our mortal lives, without putting time, money, and thought into these very actions? An answer Mr. Gray conveniently never appears to provide.
Death is a Waste of Time
The idea that time is to be spent without care of our future and how we and/or society will stand to the unknown contingencies, to which Mr. Gray adamantly speaks of, is completely bunk. History most certainly went on, but then the goings-on of history were determined – not by a lack of care for what our future holds for us, but – by a global society who no longer saw it fit to merely live by age 30, or to go days without food, or to suffer from terrible diseases due to complete lack of medical aid and knowledge.
Our society has spent centuries upon centuries fighting for a better world not just for themselves, but for those who’ll come after them. Maybe our efforts won’t lead to immortality in our lifetime. But then when is a good time to fight for it? Should we simply condemn our future relatives to a life – albeit one certainly going on – flooded with problems that could’ve been alleviated, if not addressed completely beforehand?
This metaphysical approach to life and history is a betrayal to every single person who lived and died on this planet, fighting for the world we have today. With so much time, money, and thought put into our modern society, death becomes the only wasteful aspect of life.
So for those who will be lucky enough to be born in a world in which the problems we face today no longer exist, our time, money, and thoughts will not be at waste – quite the contrary! – they’ll be used to address and destroy every single waste left on our planet and throughout the universe.
“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26