We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Witness for the future

Shannon Vyff of the Immortality Institute gave a talk yesterday in London on the advocacy work that she undertakes, promoting unlimited lifespans. At a basement room in Birkbeck, to an assorted crowd of extropians, greens and interested parties belonging to Extrobritannia, we heard from a person who actually leads the CR life.

Calorific restriction is controversial but the contrast for Shannon lay between her and, perhaps, her audience. As Brits, we are not particularly active in giving time or money to deserving or undeserving causes, and it was quite breathtaking to see an upstanding example of American voluntarism. From my perspective, it was gratifying that Ms. Vyff decided to devote her energy to causes closer to my heart: life extension and anti-aging.

Her other focus is on the introduction of these ideas to a wider audience of primary school children, proving an inkling of the wonders that technology can provide. This is coupled with the joy of thinking positively about the future and working for it and, to my mind, counts as an important antidote to the killjoyous scaremongering of the luddite greens whose tool of social control is to make children ashamed of life itself. Perhaps there are better written books, but not in this field. Vyff wishes to harness the motivational power of science fiction for a new generation.

Like the Libertarian Alliance, the Immortality Institute remains an outlier. Despite debates over entering the mainstream, the group decided to retain its name, a wise decision. As these concepts become more accepted, other groups will spring up to advocate more moderate agendas, but the promotion of pure life extension remains a valuable project in and of itself.

8 comments to Witness for the future

  • jake

    Struldbruggs. Gulliver (Book III, Ch X)

    They were the most mortifying Sight I ever beheld, and the Women more horrible than the Men. Besides the usual Deformities in extreme old age, they acquired an additional Ghastliness in Proportion to their Number of Years, which is not to be described, and among half a Dozen I soon distinguished which was the eldest, although there were not above a Century or two between them.

  • Umm, who’s going to pay for their upkeep? Lord Keynes, we imagine.

  • Yeah, let’s kill them before they get too ugly.

  • David

    Infatuous boy – who wants to live for ever!

  • Alice

    Beware of unintended consequences!

    If most people can look forward to centuries of healthy life, and the only real risk is accidental or violent death, society might become extremely risk averse.

    Then, when a group of people appears who are prepared to die for their cause, there may be no-one willing to stand against them.

    This could lead to long life — in servitude.

  • So I suppose you posters above are all in favor or returning to the ago, not so many centuries, ago when life expectancies were half of what they were today? Since you all seem to feel that more life is a terrible thing, fraught with risk. After all, from the perspective of those halycon days of suffering, parasitism, and disease, who could have known the horrors that would come from a doubling of life expectancy?

    Why the mind boggles. Old people of 50 or 60 actually living an active life rather than being bedridden with the consequences of their disease burden. The horror of it!

  • shanartisan

    For a sci-fi novel discussing this very thing, I’d recommend “The Ceres Solution”, whose author I regrettably don’t remember since losing my physical copy of the book. Excellent discussion of that very tendency of society to become risk-averse. There should still be some copies floating around.

  • Listen, if you assume that people are people all over the world all throughout time, then the sort of people who are willing to risk their lives NOW will be willing to risk their lives LATER as well. And they will be found EVERYWHERE. So stop worrying about risk averseness. At the very least there will be Christians who do not count life on Earth something to be hoarded like a miser hoards his gold.

    Besides, if someone’s willing to KILL me, and I have the prospect of living up to 950+ if I stop him, won’t you think that would make me far more amenable to the ‘parking lot’ Nuke’N’Pave solution?

    Personally, of course, I’m all for extending life… but immortality? That’s nonsense, because we live in a closed system and entropy generally guarantees we will not have usable energy forever.

    But yeah, a coupla million years doesn’t sound so bad… except you’d have to work for almost all that time. That’s not so good.