The dawn of death is finally declining, and the desire for an external elixir is diffusing.
Since the tenacious technological revolution originated in the twentieth century, the future of humankind has increasingly been in the hands of sophisticated software CEOs and complex computer concoctions. The transcendence of technology into trivial human tasks has modernized minutia. All while a Roomba roams on my rug, Alexa answers queries, and AI alleviates boredom.
Silicon Valley, the land of wealthy nerds, investors, and entrepreneurs, is presently where inventions that affect our daily lives spawn. These luxuries are things of the past for tech luminaries, and, as each advancement ascends into accessibility, the ongoing invention evolution takes them to their knees. These San Franciscan data disciples, who dedicate themselves to aristocratic artificial intelligence, are persistently on the hunt for new radical innovations to further streamline all areas of their lives. Technology experimentation has foreseen endless advancements, subsequently making some dream of revolutionizing basic laws of nature that would put any person from a century ago in a coma.
The development of more sophisticated technology is now a dogma that insinuates ideas of infinite capabilities. Universal principles such as aging are increasingly seen as challenges needing to be conquered. Anti-aging research over the last two decades has been ignited by copious amounts of funding, passion, and projects. The dawn of death is finally declining, and the desire for an eternal elixir is diffusing. The belief every earthly imperfection is a glitch that can be overcome with the scientific method encapsulates newly emerging intellectuals.
One of the best-financed start-ups in history is Altos Labs, a potential coming of the mainframe Messiah for those in the 1%, as it raised three billion dollars from notable investors like Jeff Bezos to delay death. The company strives to prolong life by creating biological reprogramming technology to rejuvenate cells some scientists believe could revitalize animal bodies. This idea of reversing decay may seem outlandish to most, but many prominent figures in Silicon Valley feed into the powerful proposition. The Grim Reaper guillotine is personified in software entrepreneur Bryan Johnson. A man who injects himsezlf with his son’s blood and spends two million dollars a year to enhance different parts of his body in an attempt to resemble an eighteen-year-old.
Google has even launched a sub-company called Calico whose stated mission is “to solve death.” Google Ventures has invested 36 percent of its two billion dollar portfolio into various biotechnological start-ups that have their eyes on the life-extending prize. Ray Kurzweil, a former Google engineer who was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2002, made a prediction that in 2050 anyone possessing a healthy body and bank account can potentially access the life expiration eraser. Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, says he aims to live forever. As a person who donated over 7 million dollars to anti-aging foundations, signed a contract for cryonic preservation, and acquired a net worth of over 9.7 billion, Thiel is the poster child of a Silicon Valley soldier fighting the war on death.
“...I believe more strongly than anything that death is evil, that it’s wrong and we should not accept it and fight it any way we can,” said Thiel.
With all the momentum behind immortality, it calls into question the lifestyle changes people would undergo as a consequence. If this prospect truly falls into fruition and becomes widely available to the population, the current common culture weaving through every generation would be abandoned as quickly as wrinkles, dentures, and hearing aids.
Many aspects of societal traditions stem from an age timeline. For example, many are pressured to study into their early twenties to specialize in a career that accordingly rides the road to retirement. This new promise of life paves the way for longevity; however, it would not be exclusive. As the world rapidly evolves, and one grows into an expert running the field as an all-knowing symbol of wisdom, time carries the consequence of increasing irrelevancy. Old mindsets hold sovereignty as the world continually spins on its axis, stifling innovation. The automatic removal of retirement also traps us to the confines of our work until our newly renovated organs go null. Turnover may substantially subside as part of the anti-death dream, and consequently employees must ongoingly master modern tricks of trade in order to maintain profit margins due to the lack of new perspectives in the workplace.
Imagine marriage trifles within this newly founded immortal society. The median age for women getting married is currently twenty-seven and for men twenty-nine. However, now that life acquires immense length, it would not make sense to stay with someone ‘til death does them part. Relationships would likely further transition into abundant, passionate affairs omitting commitment, as divorce rates are already sky-high without life extension. Furthermore, children’s relationships with their parents once they are older could carry less importance since their youth would only be a small chapter of their infinite biographies. Friendships would also bear the brunt of never-ending maturity, and the tale of two immortal best friends since childhood could be a myth. Overall, all forms of relationships require an immense amount of dedication to counter time’s friction, and communities could react in a myriad of ways.
The initial prospects of immortality also reveal raging ripples within history’s butterfly effect. The navigation of political spheres and diplomacy collectively compile contemporary complications as removal of dictatorships require celestial exile and monarchies transform into authoritarian autocracies waiting to be dethroned by revolution. Sinister dynasties sustaining their chokehold over groups of people demand supernatural solutions as age-old methods of various coupes stand stagnant in the wake of everlasting life. Envision if immortality came a century prior, and Stalin is going strong at 144, still supervising the strict Soviet Union agenda. Furthermore, what happens to war when every population is unbeatable, or if earth’s resources only commit to a certain carrying capacity? Maybe by then we can make a planet as infinite as the newly self-bestowed gods of the universe.
Quickly generate a sigh of relief as these plans of immortality are extremely questionable. Though we have come extremely far within biological research, conclusions are still absent about the multiple whimsical wonders of the body such as the brain. Reversing death still requires lots of turbulent, invasive biological engineering research that will likely not trickle down into the non-billionaire bracket for a very long time anyway.
Many optimists believe we can at least double our life expectancy with technological innovation mirroring the strides made from early 1800s to mid 1900s when the Grim Reaper felt like tapping shoulders at seventy-five rather than thirty-five. However, this notion is overly optimistic due to the fact that a Homo sapien’s natural lifespan only extends from seventy to eighty. Elderly people were previously scarce due to perpetual plagues, fierce famines, and boisterous battles which have been overcome by widely circulated medicine, food, and treaties. Therefore, we did not technically allow humans to artificially extend their due date–we simply reduced factors detracting from it.
Besides, social traditions are already losing their popularity among newer generations. More people avoid college to seek their own opportunities, stay single to embark on self love journeys, skip Sunday Mass to sleep in, and happily eat with elbows on the table. It does not take immortality to change general normalities, rather the incorporative unveiling of diverse perspectives and imaginative introspections. Although death brings about the end, it pioneers revisions to the current state of the world. Silicon Valley stakeholders are mostly concerned with their own legacy; yet, the ripples of change still run through the concords of the masses.
Penny is an online and print writer for Rowdy. In her free time she likes to fantasize about situations that have a zero probability of happening and rewatch the same show for the fifth time.