Imagine a loved one on the brink of death. Sitting next to them in the hospital, hand clenched in hand, the doctor comes in and tells you that they’ve come up with an antidote that can reverse the process of aging and allow your beloved to live for another fifty to one hundred years. Would you agree to using this treatment? Many technologies and studies have come out attempting to do something of this magnitude – while they may have different paths – all lead to the same destination: escaping death. I’ll get to some of these methods in a couple paragraphs, but before that, let’s try and gain some context.
A century and a half ago, doctors and scientists alike would never have thought of the new medical technologies we see today as a reality. Some of the stuff we even do today would be considered by many famous scientists as powers that are Godlike, and some religious scholars may even say that they are powers that are satanic. Leaving religion out of this discussion, let’s ask the questions: if we somehow we do find out how to cheat death, should we or should we not implement this into all facets of society? First, let’s look at some of the ways researchers, scientists, and doctors alike are trying to accomplish this feat.
First, many technology experts and neuroscientists believe that we will eventually gain the opportunity to upload our minds to machines. Many of these people believe that the next phase of human evolution is to meld our bodies with machines. This research also goes hand in hand with advanced AI technology, which is taking the world – or will very shortly take the world – by storm. The idea that we would have the ability to upload our conscious into a computer system would have been absurd back in the day. However, many prominent people, like Google’s high level executive and others, are backing research into finding out how to do this. While we are nowhere near finding out a way how to do this, when the time comes, we will have to ask whether or not we should.
Another method is finding a chemical process in order to reverse our telomeres from aging, a short name for this would be the reverse aging process. Scientists recently were successful in reversing the aging process in mice, and many of people believe that we can stop aging if we try and push forward with this ambitious drug prototype (Weintraub 1). Let’s be clear, this wouldn’t exactly make you “immortal,” as you can be hit by a car, but it would rule aging out of the reasons of death category.
The last method we’ll talk about is the cloning process, which many know from the case of Dolly the sheep, the first successfully cloned animal. While Dolly died due to some health complications, it was a huge step into the cloning process that many scientists believe they can replicate with humans. For example, if someone dies, scientists may be able to take part of their hair and remake this same person. While the person wouldn’t be quite the same person as before, it would still resemble them enough to be counted as the same person in terms of character traits and such.
Anyways, there are many pros and cons to cheating death, and it’s something that will need to be asked when these processes become more advanced. However, let’s look at the pros first. For one, elongating the life cycle may take more stress off of humans. If you were told that you’d have fifty to one-hundred more years to live, you may not feel as stressed about finding a career. Who knows, maybe people would take more time in finding their passion and dream career. Additionally, we’d be able to preserve our intellectual geniuses and replicate their knowledge. Think of how far humans would go and advance in terms of solving some of the world’s biggest and more troubling problems. Perhaps by elongating death, we’d be able to bring back loved ones for people to enjoy more time with their families. However, with the pros there are always cons, and the next section will look at these.
Thomas Malthus came up with a theory of population growth that said the world’s food resources would not be able to keep up with the huge population growth of humans. While his theory – assumed true for quite a while – was proven wrong, the point is that we would be tampering with the human population like never before in terms of growth. We need to ask ourselves: how many humans can the earth sustain and is there a breaking point? These questions doesn’t really pertain to food but space. Would we have enough space to sustain that many humans and would enacting these “cheating death” methods cause us to put restrictions on giving birth? Additionally, we’d need to ask ourselves whether this is morally right or repugnant.
In my opinion, these methods aren’t morally wrong. The idea that death is a vehicle to help us appreciate life more is simply, in my opinion, wrong. Would a mother want her child to slowly die of aging – malfunctioning organs, broken bones, etc – in order to appreciate life more? As more and more people become aware of these methods, this question will be asked so much more, and we’ll need to be able to properly answer this question when the time comes.