Unlearning Death

June 27 2008 / by juldrich
Category: Business & Work   Year: 2020   Rating: 4

By Jack Uldrich

Cross-posted from www.unlearning101.com

Degrey In 1899, just a few years before the Wright brothers achieved their historic accomplishment, Lord Kelvin – then one of the world’s brightest men and most accomplished scientists – declared heavier than air machines to be "impossible."

He was wrong. To add insult to injury, Lord Kelvin was proved wrong by a pair of bicycle repairmen from Dayton, Ohio.

A few years ago, a relatively unknown computer scientist, Aubrey de Grey, declared that aging should not be viewed as something which will necessarily ultimately result in death. Rather, he theorized that aging is a  disease and should be treated as such.

The outcry from the scientific community was similar to Lord Kelvin’s reaction to human flight. One group of scientists even declared that de Grey’s idea was "so far from plausible that it commands no respect at all within the informed scientific community."

Well, according to this article in Wired, the idea is now beginning to gain some acceptance within scientific circles. (cont.)

To be sure, society is still a long way from de Grey’s goal of ending again but, as I have written before, I’d encourage people to not dismiss the idea entirely. For if he is right, it will require society to unlearn a great many ideas which it now holds as dear.

In fact, the scale of unlearning our current paradigm of "death as an inevitability" could make other past historic paradigm shifts – such as the idea that the earth is not at the center of the universe (an idea for which Aristarchus was run out of Alexandria and Galileo was forced to recant under edict of the Catholic Church) or Darwin’s theory of evolution – look like child’s play.

Comment Thread (1 Response)

  1. When we try to figure if certain technological feat is possible to archive, there is one pretty reliable way. One has to ask if we already know about something similar existing in the world around us.

    It was absolutely stupid for Lord Kelvin to say that heavier than air machines are impossible because he in fact knew that such things do exist – they are called birds.

    Contrary to popular belief that everything has to die of old age, there are many examples of living things that pretty much do not age. And it is not just primitive organisms like hydra. Lobsters, for example, do not seem to go through senescence either.

    So, if we know that biological immortality is possible, what will prevent us from eventually figuring it out? I personally believe it’s only a matter of time.

    Posted by: johnfrink   June 27, 2008
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