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Who Wants to Live Forever?
Mike Treder   Apr 29, 2009   Ethical Technology  

Do you want to live forever?

That’s the question Reader’s Digest has asked of online survey respondents.

(Reader’s Digest? Since when does the favorite bathroom magazine of senior citizens start asking transhumanist questions? This must be an indicator of something, although I’m not sure what.)

In any case, here’s what they reported:

So much for eternal youth! Most respondents to our latest global survey are just fine with their limited shelf life here on earth. Not even the younger crowd consistently chooses immortality. In fact, more than 50 percent of those 45 and under in seven countries (including the United States) report that they don’t want to live forever. Brazilian youth buck the trend, with 74 percent preferring no expiration date. Two surprises: In the Philippines, everyone over 45 wants life everlasting; in China, not a single older survey-taker does.

And here is a graph showing percentages of people from 17 countries who answered, Yes, they would like to “live forever.”

Follow this link to see how the responses broke down along male and female lines.

Obviously, this is not a scientific survey, and it’s also not clear if we can learn anything valuable by asking such an unadorned, unqualified question. It does seem to show, however, that the possibility—and desirability—of a radically prolonged healthy lifespan is taken more seriously by more people than some of us might have thought.

Mike Treder is a former Managing Director of the IEET.


Most people I’ve encountered easily respond that they don’t want to live forever (generally because they envision mind and body performance decreasing over time).  I prefer to then ask them “If your mental or physical health was not an issue, at what age would you like to die?”  That tends to be a much more difficult question for people to answer.


Exactly the point Mike made Shane.  The question was asked without qualification, which causes the questioned person to think of the state of aging as it is today, requiring diminished health and capabilities.  I’m thinking of writing RD and asking them if they’ve heard of extended health span.  I’d be very interested in the results of this survey if the question was posed as “Given scientists could restore your mind and body to whatever age you desired, would you opt for this and if so, for how long do you think you’d want to remain in this state?”  The possible choices being:
1. Would not opt, just want to live to my “natural” longevity
2. Would opt for this, stay for 100-500 years
3. Would opt for this, stay indefinitely

Really are so many people sick of real life? Living forever means that after twohundred trillion years you haven’t even lived for 1% of what still has to come.
While I do like the Idea of coming back without the knowledge of a previous life and have another 100 years growing old. Living forever makes the idea of hell a fun time. we all know that fire is final.

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