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IEET > Rights > Neuroethics > Life > Access > Enablement > Innovation > Health > Vision > Bioculture > Futurism > Staff > Hank Pellissier

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Wake Up, Deathists! - You DO Want to LIVE 10,000 Years!


Hank Pellissier
Hank Pellissier
Ethical Technology

Posted: Aug 26, 2012

The future won’t be boring. It will accelerate in excitement. Don’t fear radical life extension - embrace it.

A popular but misinformed POV, adhered to by perhaps 30-45% of the general public, is that living a radically long life would become excruciatingly tiresome due to unavoidable “boredom.” This pessimistic opinion was advanced by UK writer Stephen Cave in his recent book Immortality: the Quest to Live Forever and How it Drives Civilization; even 8.2% of transhumanists think Long Life = Ennui, according to stats in the recent Teresam Survey.

This death-enabling attitude is, IMO, a false and perhaps paranoid conclusion that stems, perhaps, from lack of imagination and foresight.

The future with it’s whirlwind of innovations, discoveries and opportunities for individual growth and expression will be so incredibly and wildly fascinating that the very word BOREDOM itself will become archaic, nonsensical, incomprehensible.

No one will understand what “boring” means in a century; “Boredom” will be defined as a mysterious, extinct mental condition that disappeared from human consciousness.  It will be a mere sound, a rough primitive noise that got flushed down the toilet of vocabulary history.

Why do I believe the future will infinitely intrigue us?

In the past (and present), activity options were limited due to requisite drudgery of multiple tasks - should I wash dishes first, or pay bills? - but… as automation annihilates our mind-numbing chores, we’ll be provided with Time, Wonderful Time, Long Hours of Happy Relaxed Time that we devote to endless intriguing challenges and interactions.

Plus, pharmacology will provide us with a wide menu of euphoric states of consciousness. (Read essays by David Pearce and Ben Goertzel)

Boredom Will End. Life Will Be Increasingly Interesting. So… Why Die?

I believe Death remains preferable to many people because the alternative - eternity, i.e., anything greater than 300 years - seems foreign, mysterious, and terrifyingly weird. Immortalism and/or Radically Long Life is beyond the grasp of our minds, and is therefore often rejected.

This frightened attitude must be vanquished.

Deathism needs to be eliminated like other “isms” before it: sexism, racism, classism. All promoted unhealthy systems that squelched human potential. Sexism, Racism, and Classism were all viewed as “the natural order.” Their overthrow, aided by science, secured a more enlightened paradigm.

Life is Magnificent, Aging is Degrading

Radical Life Extension / Immortalism is the next step for humanity in the The Enlightenment. Restraints on human spirit are overthrown when the misogyny is obliterated, when the bigotry is toppled, when feudalism and class repression are shattered.

The greatest challenge is now before us. Death. The Grim Reaper.. let’s slay him with the skills of our scientists.

Many researchers suggest that Death will soon be annihilated - let’s focus on the finish line, let’s sharpen our dedication, let’s sprint to victory with our nanotechnology / stem cells / bio-engineering / and other emerging technological advances.

We see the goal now - the bull’s eye is large and crisp. Let’s accelerate Radically Long Life - let’s move it closer and faster to ourselves and our loved ones.

Obliterating Death requires a two-pronged attack. Science has to conquer the scourge, but, unfortunately, science is impeded by a stubborn obstacle that’s historically stone-walls progress: the narrow, anxiety-ridden, change-adverse conservatism of most human minds.

Eliminating, or drastically delaying Death, needs to be regarded as the highest, most desirable priority by the majority of humans.

Wake up, fellow humans! Alert yourself to humanity’s glorious potential!  Let’s unite in a Promethean army, let’s parade like laughing angels to obtain our ambitious destiny.

We don’t want to go on living like moles shivering blindly in dark tunnels… we can emerge into light.
We don’t want to exist like insensible barnacles in murky depths of a heavy trough… we can lift ourselves into a free world, giddy with adventure.

As co-founder / co-director of the USA Longevity Party, I believe our primary challenge and responsibility is to educate, persuade, and mobilize America with Radical Life Extension memes. Defeatist, deathist, stagnant paradigms need to be eradicated and replaced with optimistic, affirmative visions.

Flimsy, stale arguments against Radical Life Extension need to be countered and revealed for the reactionary pessimism that they embody.

Wars must end. Humans need to realize - as Nicolai Fedorov did -  that the Common Enemy is Death and the Common Goal is Life.

Wasting resources on weapons of interspecies destruction is directly and indirectly suicidal. If the budget for Development of Defense, i.e., Destruction and Death, was diverted into Radical Life Extension, our lives would lengthen exponentially.

Peace = Immortality is an equation the USA Longevity Party should consider.

An additional strategy I propose for advancement of Radical Life Extension is to… slightly curtail our heavy lamentations about the horror of Death. Perpetually gnashing our teeth about old age and accompanying infirmities is an unwise strategy because many young people can’t grok the grotesque dismay of physical and mental decline. Plus, petitioning for immortality because Death is wasteful, disgusting, cruel, etc., is essentially a “negative” campaign.

A better strategy, I believe, is to promote the Value of Life. Exalting human existence as the extraordinary experience that it is, redefines the Longevity Party movement. Maxim Maximus indicates this on the Longevity Party website; we want to be known as the “Party for Life.” Conversely, all other groups can be castigated as a “Party for Death.”

Praising and promoting Life EverLasting gives transhumanists a powerful role, as ecstatic clairvoyants and scientific messiahs. This is far more fun than whimpering about the morbid sadism of death.

Let Us Extol and Champion Unending Excitement and Bliss!

Let Us Proselytize Our Optimistic Vision!

Let Us Party for Life!


additional information about the new Longevity Party is here, here, here, and here


Hank Pellissier was IEET’s Managing Director on January-October in 2012, and an IEET Affiliate Scholar. He’s the author of two e-books, Invent Utopia Now and Why is the IQ of Ashkenazi Jews so High? He is currently at BrighterBrains.org
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COMMENTS


“I believe Death remains preferable to many people because the alternative - eternity, i.e., anything greater than 300 years - seems foreign, mysterious, and terrifyingly weird. Immortalism and/or Radically Long Life is beyond the grasp of our minds, and is therefore often rejected.”


And also, related, many say they don’t want to live without the family and friends they know now (guilt is a factor as well: take Christianity too seriously and one is guilty for existing- one wants to crucify someone to transmute the guilt).
Anyway, longevity is of course relative, a being living trillions of years would—if it were aware of us—think of us as we would think of a psi particle; a particle existing for 10 billion trillions of a second.





Such calls to action are nice and all, but I feel they are largely superfluous. The ultimate endpoint of agelessness will only appeal to a relatively small proportion of the current population, and is very easily used to drum up fear as it, from our current perspective, seems so radically foreign and therefore scary, just like heart transplants, IVF, and most other high-tech advances in medicine. But as these technologies gradually become available and the goal of agelessness is incrementally realized, they are no longer beyond that distant horizon and no longer scary, just normal. It’s easy to pontificate upon the glory that is the natural order and death’s social utility and all the other Deathist nonsense when it’s an abstraction far removed from one’s own personal experience, but when one’s joints start aching, breath starts shortening and everything starts falling apart, you’d be surprised at how easily previously held convictions are overcome. Few people are willing to die for their beliefs.





Hank don’t awake the Death-ist !!! I want those people to remain steadfast dedicated to Death. Don’t go around teaching them otherwise.

Evolution in action right? More space for you and me in the long run.





So what do we do about the Stagnularity, a major roadblock to instantiating these transhumanist dreams? Progress in computing has run up against limits caused by stagnation in improving the world of stuff, the physical life support we all depend on, as Peter Thiel has argued recently.





@Khannea:  That’s funny,  More space?  You think that in any conceivable amount of time we could take up all the space?  As Douglas Adams said:  “Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”.  There will be plenty of room for everyone—we can hope they’ll get a clue, though.





I cannot say that I agree much with the preaching that “extending life” should be the top priority for humans, as I can imagine many good reasons myself why one can happily embrace, or at least risk, death.

Extending instead our *lifespan*, that is our *choice* with regard to the duration of our lives, should be.

And, by the way, such stance is philosophically, politically and tactically much easier to defend and carries much less pointless baggage with it.





I don’t have family. I have a constant flow of friends and loved ones float in and out of my existence. I will cope with my provisions, and trudge on.  If I get the possibility to extend my existence peacemeal, I will. If I then get the possibility to rejuvenate, I will do so joyfully. If I get the opportunity to regrow in to something more pleasurably, I will do so voraciously..

This is just a matter of freedom. Those who don’t want to will be the dust beneath my immortal toes aeons from now. Anyone who wants to come along, fee free.





We need a reason to get off this ball of filth.





I suspect “deathism”, at least to some extent, is a case of cognitive dissonance, as in “the Fox and the Grapes:
The fox,  leaping with all his strength, was unable to reach the grapes. As he went away, he said:
‘Oh, you aren’t even ripe yet! I don’t need any sour grapes.’ !





Ha Ha Joern - you are quite right!

many people impart nobleness upon the aging process and death itself, but aging is just DECAY that we psychologically and religiously accommodate ourselves to.

“cells cease to divide when telomeres become too short to protect the ends of chromosomes “

We need to re-engineer the human bio-system with the same determination that auto manufacturers applied in upgrading from the Model T to the present Mercedes Benz.





“Oh Lord, - won’t you buy me.. a Mercedes Benz.. “





I once was a fervent immortalist, but I have to admit that my enthusiasm has waned as I crossed the sixty-year barrier with its physical and cognitive decline.

I suspect that we humans have an evolutionary predisposition to wind down and deteriorate mentally and emotionally past grandparent age. There are notable exceptions like Pauling or Casals or Picasso, but for most of us, aging is a process of letting go of life. I can imagine a few years more, but am appalled by the prospect of living beyond then.





“I cannot say that I agree much with the preaching that “extending life” should be the top priority for humans”

I agree and its something I stressed before.  If you guys want immortality, make sure immortality is worth living first.  In other words, focus on the quality of life before the quantity of life.

@ Hankpellissier

“aging is just DECAY that we psychologically and religiously accommodate ourselves to.”

There are scientificly minded people that would argue otherwise like in this quote: “to construe death as a “symptom” to the disease of aging is far fetched, and biologically absurd. Aging and death are natural end results of the lives of multicellular organisms, and in a deep sense they are the inevitable outcome of the principles of thermodynamics (which means that we can tinker and delay them, but not avoid them).” (http://www.science20.com/rationally_speaking/problems_transhumanism).

Also, though the poll results you posted were very interesting, they were kinda biased sense they were taken at singularity summit where everyone shares transhumanist thinking.  Why not trying running those polls at more opinion diverse area like a university or some other public place to see what the common populace thinks?





Christian—the poll was not taken at Singularity Summit, as you suggest. The poll responders were acquired from a variety of sources that each article lists. The poll’s goal was to survey exclusively transhumanists, not the “common populace.”

But… this essay isn’t about the poll. It is my own opinion.

In regards to your first comment, I very much like the “quality” of my life. That is why I want it to continue. 





Hank- My bad, thanks for correcting me.  Like I said I found them very interesting.





@rmk948, the point of immortalism is not to force people to live in perpetuity with declining faculties and failing bodies; it is to use upcoming technologies to allow people to live as long as they desire with the enthusiasm and vitality that they had in their twenties—much more appetizing!





Does appear the public today is not much interested in radically extended lifespans. In the 5 yrs. I’ve been living in this city, I asked roughly 50 people if they were interested in transhumanism; only one said yes—a medical supplies salesman from Iowa. However considering how much bad advice and predictions the public has gotten in the last four decades it is remarkable they pay attention at all. The public hasn’t been much interested in space travel since 1970, yet when Neil Armstrong died on Saturday it was as if a president or prime minister died.
It can be turned around if we can think of ways (..perhaps a nude million man h+ protest). Anything is better than stagnularity, as Mark correctly termed it. If we want radical longevity, we’ve got to do radical outreach.





Hank earns a star for being flamed at amormundi:
http://amormundi.blogspot.hu/2012/08/are-techno-immortalist-robot-cultists.html

Perhaps we should make a contest of this, like the first one who earns wins something.





Giulio - yes, thanks for the note - Dale Carrico has become, I think, one of my most avid readers. He is quite predictable… I knew this essay would wind him up.

I hope he reads us carefully enough to distinguish us from each other. I don’t consider myself a “robot cultist.” Perhaps some day he can write a column that outlines each of us, individually, with our own separate horrible-to-him philosophies.





“Don’t go around teaching them otherwise… More space for you and me in the long run.”

Sounds dubious.





Kennita, I still am strongly immortalist (or emortalist) at an intellectual level.

At an emotional level, it is a different story. No doubt part of it is the decline in physical and mental abilities that set in after age 60, and that is potentially fixable.

I suspect, though, that an important factor is that psychologically, the Biblical “threescore and ten” is the standard that we use to measure where we are in life. Removing it is profoundly disorienting, and it is easy to see a technologically augmented self as something with which one has no real connection. Without a sense of continuity into a post-human existence, most people are inclined to think of transhumanism as “Gee, this will be interesting for future generations, but I cannot identify with it.”

How to overcome this? I don’t know, but I am certainly giving it some thought.





To be honest, the concept of an immortal (or even near-immortal) man smacks of the same sentiments that European colonists boasted while invading the Americas. ‘We are the ultimate evolution of this planet, and so we should become immortal because we are so great.’ This kind of power is like setting loose fission-powered cars on the world.

Immortality sounds like a fantastic concept on paper and in dreams, but there are enormous humanity-changing hurdles to overcome before immortality is even a good idea. The most obvious of which is what do we do about reproduction? Immortality may be coming soon, but we’re not any closer to meaningfully leaving this planet (and go where, anyways?). As it stands now the world is food insecure. In 40 years the world is going to be over a billion stronger while arable land isn’t going to increase more than a couple percent. We’re currently hoping for people to die so that we can maintain food security.

Furthermore, there are important concerns over the psychological effects of immortality. What would someone with chronic clinical depression do with immortality? I can tell you now that many people hope for a time when they no longer have to deal with that, whether that’s due to some sort of ‘fix’ or death.

There are also serious philosophical concerns over the effects of immortality. All of our fundamental humanity is based around the concept of cyclical existence. You’re created, you live, and you die. How does that change the meaning of the things that we experience? How do you adjust to suddenly no longer being a finite being. Does that necessitate a fundamental shift in psychology? We’ve all grown up with a finite existence, but what how will immortal children perceive the world? This is a fantastic example of a singularity, of that fundamental shift in what it means to be human. The question is: Is it a good shift for ourselves and the universe at large?





Hi Clint - thanks for your comments. I agree with you that the world is food and (water) insecure. Certainly we need to solve those issues. I’ve written about water conflict here:

http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/pellissier201207262.

Regarding food and water scarcity, here’s an interesting solution:

Vegetarian diet may be solution to impending water crisis, say scientists

http://www.smh.com.au/world/vegetarian-diet-may-be-solution-to-impending-water-crisis-say-scientists-20120827-24wgs.html#ixzz24wCP7wGQ

For people who have to eat meat, I’ve written about this possibility:

Nine Ways In-Vitro Meat Will Change Our Lives
ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/pellissier20120301

You have concerns about the psychological impact of “immortality.” I agree with you that we need to solve unhappy states of consciousness, like depression.

But I am quite certain that many people, most people, are more psychologically disturbed about “Dying” than “Not Dying” and it is, of course, precisely this dismay about Death that creates the desire to end it.





“If you guys want immortality, make sure immortality is worth living first.  In other words, focus on the quality of life before the quantity of life.”

Difficulty today is consensus on quality.. to some, the quality of God is love; to others the quality of God is that of a little white spider. There’s no consensus on quality now, what will quality mean a hundred years from now?





@ Intomorrow

“There’s no consensus on quality now”

From the articles I’ve read on this site, most people here seem to have a general consensus of the quality of life they hope to achieve for all.





“From the articles I’ve read on this site, most people here seem to have a general consensus of the quality of life they hope to achieve for all.”


Possibly; yet what meaning will ‘quality’ will have say a century from now? What will quality mean to advanced beings? If we have no clue as to what quality will be in the distant future we merely have a notion of what quality will be in the near future—doesn’t do us much good.





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