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Pessimism + Optimism + Suicide

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RiKD    United States. Jul 23 2017 03:32. Posts 4100
I don't really have much going on right now and figured I would reflect a bit. What comes to mind is I want to talk about quality of life, suicide, death, optimism delusion, pessimism. A lot of it will likely be rehashed ideas of David Benatar. He recently came out with a book "The Human Predicament." I started working and have been on short sleep and forgot what that was like but I really enjoyed the book and want to get some of these ideas and discussion out in the open.

I want to bring up pessimism first. I was having a chat with the corporate trainer today and for whatever reason he decided it was time to give my performance a review. One of the things he said was that I was "enthusiastic" and the first thing that came to my mind which I told him was "well, that is good I suppose. I can be quite pessimistic at times..." and he interrupted me and was like "Oh no no" as if pessimistic was some banned word. With some of these corporate guys you just mention the word pessimism and they get all uncomfortable. Everything is about passion and smiles (and improving the share price). I think a lot of these people's heads would explode if I explained that life was bad and extinction was the desirable option. Which given that viewpoint I was still enthusiastic about creating food over the last week so his review is not inaccurate. Maybe that is strange to some but I do have an attitude that my parents fucked up having me but fuck, man, I am here so we might as well make the best of it. That could be pragmatic optimism in the face of pragmatic pessimism. My life is not that bad that suicide makes sense. There was a point in time today that my back hurt, I was hungry, and I was thirsty. I wake up early and I am tired. I am in traffic and I have to run errands. This is every day type of stuff. Life is mostly striving. We are striving for pleasure, avoiding pain, and fulfilling desires. Most of our desires don't get fulfilled and much pain is worse than any fleeting pleasure. The optimism delusion is to look at all of this and I mean this is all pretty tame stuff. I am not even talking about cancer, paralysis, old age, dying and death. Life is tough and it is tragic.

Suicide is deprivation of future experience and annihilation of the body. I think at 33 my life has to be pretty bad with no hope for improvement. My life is pretty bad but it is not bad enough. I am glad that I did not actually kill myself on more than a handful amount of times that I was pretty close in the past. I don't know how long I can go with out friends down here. There is social exposure at work which is a plus. I will probably be fine getting home late dicking around on the internet or reading a book or watching a movie. We will see. I was actually fantasizing today that if the job is not going well and life continues to suck I can steal one of the chef's knives and slit my wrists in a solitary place. Then I thought of making a bath and locking the door so I bleed out quicker and then I would be found in a bathtub of blood. Wow, that is pretty dark writing it out. If things get too bad it is always an option! After enjoying plentiful mussels in a red curry sauce with family that is not the way to do it. I obviously would not want my parents to find me dead in a bathtub full of blood. I don't really want to hang myself with a belt or go the gun route. I don't even think I can go the gun route as I am not sure if I was 302'd in either of my trips to the psych ward. Oh well, it is just nice to know that it is possible to kill myself if things get bad enough.

Maybe I will touch on quality of life at a later time.

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RiKD    United States. Jul 23 2017 04:23. Posts 4100

In the tragedy that is life one needs more Carl Cox. I think that is maybe how I do it. Phenomenal local bagels, vegan cream cheese, coffee, Monster energy drinks, and music. Get into the zone. Preparing food and covering expenses is better than staring at my computer wondering what to do and needing parent's assistance. I don't subscribe to the club life at all but some of the music sticks with me. I want my DJs to dance! That is not necessary as long as it gets the people to dance! Hands over the head, losing ones' self, authentic free expression. Oooh, some MDMA goes well with those sorts of endeavors. Fine wines and food. Sometimes my thoughts flutter about with desires of a deep dish pizza and a nice chianti. Past life. Was it that good? A meat lovers deep dish pizza mixed with a drowning of myself in cabernet sauvignon. Maybe about a box worth. Pleasure and pain. Waking up with the shakes. That is really when my life was bad. Do I go into work feeling like shit or do I calm the nerves? What about the day that it was suggested I need God to overcome my drinking problem? See that is the thing, relative to some of these experiences my current life is dare I say a blessing. A "blessing" from an indifferent universe. I have been able to find some meaning(s) in my small corner of the earth. Something as simple as listening to some music or reading literature has a way of transcending limits. Finding oneself hypnotized at the hands of the musical artist. The refreshing tingle of the spine thanks to the loved author. There is more to quality of life than meaning. However, meaning is not a bad foundation. Some sense of realistic expectation in regards to desire fulfillment. I don't know man it is different for everyone. I have to find what I love, do my best to fulfill desires, reasonable desires, and maybe some ones seemingly maybe a little out of reach, or maybe I am fine just having enough fleeting pleasures to do a decent job of producing some joy and some contentment. Thank the fates any pain I have for the most part is pretty manageable.

I don't know if I am excited for vegan cream cheese. The texture is pretty good. It definitely adds to the bagel and cream cheese experience but like every vegan alternative food that I have had it just isn't quite like the original and that is ok. I ate a not so great vegan pizza today for lunch and maybe I didn't have as much of an enjoyable experience it was ok. I am not really getting quality of life through food as long as it is satiating.

I don't know exactly if this is what I wanted to say regarding quality of life but I think I touched on a lot of it. If not I can just come back and write some more.


Loco   Canada. Jul 23 2017 04:34. Posts 18711

I would not recommend the bathtub method. A family member recently tried it and failed. It was gruesome and made her life significantly worse than it already was. The only positive to come out of it is that she finally received help for things which she couldn't receive help for, as she was unable to get out of the house due to severe agoraphobia. If life has become unbearable, or is foreseen to become so soon, this is currently the number one thing to read on the subject (I believe) : https://www.amazon.com/Final-Exit-Thi...lities-Self-Deliverance/dp/0385336535

re. processed vegan foods, some transitional items are pretty hit and miss. Try different brands. Most people strongly dislike Daiya cheese at first for instance (any form of it really) but they find other brands they love. I like Chao the most. You probably know this already but these items should also only be used for transitioning and the occasional indulgence. Most of them are almost just as bad for you as the thing they are emulating. Pizza used to be my #1 food and I'd eat it pretty much every day but I got used to cheeseless pizzas. It would have appeared blasphemous to me a few years ago but they're really not horrible. I make my own and they're delicious and pretty healthy.

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. (Mencken)Last edit: 23/07/2017 05:03

PuertoRican   United States. Jul 23 2017 10:29. Posts 10571

Suicide is for pussies.

Compared to people who live in third world countries, your life probably isn't that bad.

Do you still live in USA? If so, you're only 33-years-old, which means you have plenty of time to get your shit together and still have fun with your life.

Rekrul is a newb 

RiKD    United States. Jul 23 2017 13:21. Posts 4100


  On July 23 2017 03:34 Loco wrote:
I would not recommend the bathtub method. A family member recently tried it and failed. It was gruesome and made her life significantly worse than it already was. The only positive to come out of it is that she finally received help for things which she couldn't receive help for, as she was unable to get out of the house due to severe agoraphobia. If life has become unbearable, or is foreseen to become so soon, this is currently the number one thing to read on the subject (I believe) : https://www.amazon.com/Final-Exit-Thi...lities-Self-Deliverance/dp/0385336535

re. processed vegan foods, some transitional items are pretty hit and miss. Try different brands. Most people strongly dislike Daiya cheese at first for instance (any form of it really) but they find other brands they love. I like Chao the most. You probably know this already but these items should also only be used for transitioning and the occasional indulgence. Most of them are almost just as bad for you as the thing they are emulating. Pizza used to be my #1 food and I'd eat it pretty much every day but I got used to cheeseless pizzas. It would have appeared blasphemous to me a few years ago but they're really not horrible. I make my own and they're delicious and pretty healthy.



At work they have been providing lunch this week. They keep making this Daiya cheese and vegan sausage pizza. I don't particularly like it but it is that or nothing. I much preferred the "La Marinara" which is just the marinara sauce and some vegetables.

I am not there yet or I don't think I am even really all that close to suicide but that book is comforting. As Cioran said it is nice to know that there are ways out of this existence.


RiKD    United States. Jul 23 2017 13:34. Posts 4100


  On July 23 2017 09:29 PuertoRican wrote:
Suicide is for pussies.

Compared to people who live in third world countries, your life probably isn't that bad.

Do you still live in USA? If so, you're only 33-years-old, which means you have plenty of time to get your shit together and still have fun with your life.



I would argue that in some cases suicide is the courageous path. We are programmed to not die. It takes a lot of courage to overcome that programming even if the situation warrants it.

My life is not that bad but it is still pretty bad. I doubt I will kill myself in a non heavily depressed state. In a heavily depressed state everything gets a bit distorted so you just don't know what might happen. As I mentioned earlier as long as I have caffeine, music, people, books to read, movies to watch, internetz to forage this existence is passable. Sometimes I just have to get in an almost trance like state when cutting large amounts of sun dried tomatoes. Also, it would be nice to find some people to hang out with in diners at 1am but I have to go so arreviderci.


RiKD    United States. Jul 23 2017 21:27. Posts 4100

Meaning(s) of life are a part of quality of life. I said they can be a foundation as meaning(s) are arguably the deepest and most fruitful endeavors. Raising a child, educating youths, treating the sick, reducing suffering, helping somewhere, but also creating works of art. Even though raising a child is one of the most meaningful acts on this earth does not mean one should procreate. It is a horribly selfish and vain way to go. There are already countless cases of children who are already conscious here in this existence that could use some much needed care and rearing. Even just rescuing a cat from a nightmare situation adds pieces of meaning that start to take hold in some form of quality of life. All the meaning we could ever hope to get is here on earth. We are cosmically insignificant. There is no god.

Other avenues to quality of life may be a little bit unclear. I know if I have a nice meal it is nice but how much does that matter. I was somewhat pleased with my mussels and red curry sauce. It is great to end hunger but does the meal really make me that much happier? For lunch I put down some calories and went on with my day. Really not too much of a difference. There is no lasting pleasure. There is lasting pain. However, jet setting around to vacation destinations with friends and taking it all in one would think there is some quality of life there. Maybe one gets jaded or develops a cocaine problem but I would envy that lifestyle. It is certainly better than slaving away in a kitchen for 40 hours a week. See how it went from creating food to slaving away in a kitchen in less than a week? It is because employment sucks. Life sucks. Some people can figure out ways to get some better pleasure margins and situations where they are fulfilling a higher percentage of their desires. That is great. Life still sucks. If I were in love or lost in a passion my distortions on reality may have me (literally) singing a different tune. I would love to be singing. Singing, dancing, laughing but I am too sober on existence at the moment. After some caffeine and music driving into work this morning I came to the conclusion that life is a tragedy. What we humans have to do is make it a comedy, a ballet, an opera. There are no happy endings but we can treat each other with dignity and respect. We should be treating each other with dignity and respect because life is tragic with no happy endings. There are not even any breathers at times in life. Very little relief.

I am curious what quality of life means to you all?

I can think of a recipe of what comes to me. Breaking the fast. Coffee. Music. Writing, discussion. Reading. A walk on the beach. Meeting friends at a coffee shop or a patio. Pets. Family. Dinner with friends and/or family and socializing. Film. Quality sleep.

I think it is a little different for everyone but I bet a lot of ingredients overlap or are interchangeable. There is also stuff like food, housing, car, entertainment, healthcare, bed, employment, dating, significant other, really the list is quite long that effect quality of life. Thankfully we humans can not only be optimistically delusional we adapt quite well to our predicament. We also have an enormous drive to survive. It's why I haven't killed myself but the goal is to improve quality of life through like I said the pleasure margins and desire fulfillment bucks. Every desire has odds attached to it. Whoever is making the most desire fulfillment bucks is doing quite well. I had a desire today that I wanted to have a threesome with 2 of the sexy corporate educators. Those odds are likely 1 in xfinity. I shouldn't get too hung up over the fact that that wish will not be fulfilled and I would hope my lizard brain realizes that. I think what that desire may do though is it may say well what about just having a sordid affair with just 1 of them? Not likely and I should proceed very cautiously. It is best to be friendly and get to know each other a little bit anyway so that is the optimal play. The point is that desire brings it all the way back to the fact that I am currently not dating, I don't have a significant other, and I am not having sex. I think that is an aspect of quality of life that can not be overlooked. Another desire: I want a sports car to race around the lake district in the North of England. How much is this desire really having an effect on my quality of life? I have a perfectly reasonable car that works well. We all have desires. There are alll sorts of mini resentments that develop when our desires are not fulfilled. Resentments are one of the biggest contributors to emotional pain. It can be a spiral downwards. A distorted reality of bitterness. Life should be sweet like a raspberry. It is here where the benefits of pragmatic pessimism can be seen. We want to avoid distortions and delusions. We don't want to be blindsided. We don't want to spiral out with resentments. I want the facts of life. Facts are the only way to proceed reasonably. The facts are that life is a brutal tragedy. Levity is a great word and much needed in this existence. I have only danced down the streets when I was drunk but let's take that vigor into everyday life. This virility won't last. Was it ever there? I will adapt or I will kill myself or I will die. However you want to say it. Adaption through quality of life, adaption through some form of acceptance or detachment, but there must be adaption. I may complain about back pain and lack of energy now imagine if I am 50? 60? 70? Give me all the pain pills, opiates, heroin you can give me but I have been there with alcohol and it is worse than bad. There is no way around it. Life is bad and I am just surviving. We all are. So let's make the best of it. I wish I could cook for a 100 person LP party and everyone could nerd out and we could just be ourselves and laugh and tell stories and maybe some stimulating discussion would occur.

I just thought of the Tyrion Lannister quote:

"Death is so terribly final. Life is full of possibilities"

I think this is true for many. Whatever gets the people by. Life is tragic. Life is complicated. I think I am just writing at this point because it gets me in a state of reverie that is quite desirable. I don't want to get away from the keyboard and in a state of let's try this, let's try this, let's try this, I am bored, let's try this, oh, now I am tired and should probably sleep and rinse repeat. That is not a desirable mode of living. I want to forget. I want to forget that I am just a speck of dust in a blink of time. I don't want pain but it is coming. Embarrassment and loss of dignity is coming. It is coming for us all. I can watch a Kurosawa film and be like "Yes. Thank you." I can't thank god. I can't thank nature. They don't care. Kurosawa doesn't care either now that he is annihilated. He understood this earth, this existence. He dealt with suicide all his life even as a "big shot" movie director. So, I am curious to hear what others think about quality of life, death, and suicide.


hiems   United States. Jul 24 2017 01:32. Posts 1312

 Last edit: 24/07/2017 01:47

bigredhoss   Cook Islands. Jul 24 2017 02:52. Posts 8561

At least give science a couple decades to solve aging before tapping out: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/201...silicon-valleys-quest-to-live-forever

Truck-Crash Life 

iop   Sweden. Jul 24 2017 14:24. Posts 4924

Hey Rik, keep your chin up. Up's and down's, hard to see that the up's will come, but they do. They eventually do. Just hang in there. Do you parents have any animals? Have you thought about getting a dog? How's tinder been for you?

Milkman lol i didnt spend half a thousand on a phone so i could play it cool and be all stealth 

RiKD    United States. Jul 24 2017 19:46. Posts 4100


  On July 24 2017 01:52 bigredhoss wrote:
At least give science a couple decades to solve aging before tapping out: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/201...silicon-valleys-quest-to-live-forever



I'll have to read that article later. I don't feel like it now. Humans are of course obsessed with immortality. I am more familiar with the SENS project. It could increase our lives by 150 years or more someday. However, it only defends against death by natural causes. It also does not take into consideration lives that become unbearable. I do agree though that given a not so bad life living 100, 200, 1,000, 2,000 years is desirable. I am unsure if the planet will last that long though. Best investments these days are in Estonia real estate and water. Don't get me started on Trump and coal.


RiKD    United States. Jul 24 2017 19:51. Posts 4100


  On July 24 2017 13:24 iop wrote:
Hey Rik, keep your chin up. Up's and down's, hard to see that the up's will come, but they do. They eventually do. Just hang in there. Do you parents have any animals? Have you thought about getting a dog? How's tinder been for you?



Yeah, we have a dog and 2 cats. Taking care of them gives me something to do and they brighten up my day. I take the dog to the beach many days and the one cat Sebastian sits in my lap if I am watching tv or cinema at night. The other cat Pico is a piece of work and cracks me up and makes me smile.

I have not been on Tinder yet.


bigredhoss   Cook Islands. Jul 24 2017 20:55. Posts 8561


  On July 24 2017 18:46 RiKD wrote:
Show nested quote +



I'll have to read that article later. I don't feel like it now. Humans are of course obsessed with immortality. I am more familiar with the SENS project. It could increase our lives by 150 years or more someday. However, it only defends against death by natural causes. It also does not take into consideration lives that become unbearable. I do agree though that given a not so bad life living 100, 200, 1,000, 2,000 years is desirable. I am unsure if the planet will last that long though. Best investments these days are in Estonia real estate and water. Don't get me started on Trump and coal.


The point is if science goes well in the next few decades there's some chance we could live until the end of time. Miniscule possibility but I wouldn't want to fold with those implied odds. It seems like AGI is very likely to happen within the next ~30 years, so maybe they will save us, or maybe they will see us ravaging the earth and exterminate us.

Why is Estonia real estate good?

Truck-Crash Life 

Loco   Canada. Jul 25 2017 00:55. Posts 18711


  On July 23 2017 09:29 PuertoRican wrote:
Suicide is for pussies.

Compared to people who live in third world countries, your life probably isn't that bad.




A walking cliché. This is your brain on too much MMA and not enough books, folks. What about your life compared to those in third world countries? What's your excuse for not being better educated and (still, at age what, 30-something?) walking around spreading this illogical, regressive traditionalist tripe? You have access to resources they can't even dream of having and you can't even be bothered using them to learn how to think. That's shameful. Choosing to end your life because the suffering is overwhelming is not.

I'll have to requote from a few blog posts ago:

“The best consolation in misfortune or affliction of any kind will be the thought of other people who are in a still worse plight than yourself; and this is a form of consolation open to every one. But what an awful fate this means for mankind as a whole! We are like lambs in a field, disporting themselves under the eye of the butcher, who chooses out first one and then another for his prey.”

Also: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Not_as_bad_as & http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/First_world_problems

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. (Mencken)Last edit: 25/07/2017 01:18

RiKD    United States. Jul 25 2017 02:44. Posts 4100


  On July 24 2017 19:55 bigredhoss wrote:
Show nested quote +



The point is if science goes well in the next few decades there's some chance we could live until the end of time. Miniscule possibility but I wouldn't want to fold with those implied odds. It seems like AGI is very likely to happen within the next ~30 years, so maybe they will save us, or maybe they will see us ravaging the earth and exterminate us.

Why is Estonia real estate good?



My point is if life is unbearable with no foreseeable improvement then it is correct to kill oneself. Improved health span has no bearing on this. It is not a reason to grin and bear it. Immortality in an unbearable situation is hell.

Estonia real estate is good because in x amount of years it will be the new French riviera or even tropical if it is not underwater. I have not paid close enough attention to most likely scenarios regarding temperature increases or water level increases. I use Estonia because I heard that Rupert Murdoch bought up a bunch of real estate there. Hypocritical son of a bitch spouts off anti climate change rhetoric all the time on his news network yet is buying up the desirable destinations of the future.


bigredhoss   Cook Islands. Jul 25 2017 03:38. Posts 8561

I'm not really disagreeing with you, I basically agree with Loco's philosophy wrt suicide. But when you're depressed it's easy to be irrational about what's "foreseeable". I wasn't suggesting that longer lifespan or even immortality solves depression (although it would probably help in many cases). But I think it's naive to think that if we're somehow able to live a super long time, that science won't also be able to solve the genetic and brain chemistry issues related to depression.

Truck-Crash Life 

Loco   Canada. Jul 25 2017 08:09. Posts 18711

I don't really have a "philosophy" on suicide, I just have a view that's easy to agree with if you are rational, i.e. not hanging onto a view that was born from religious prejudice. It's perfectly clear that no one has such indisputable right over anything in the world as over his own person and life. It's also clear that misfortune can strike anyone at any time and even the most resilient person can desire the end of their useless suffering.


  On July 25 2017 02:38 bigredhoss wrote:
But I think it's naive to think that if we're somehow able to live a super long time, that science won't also be able to solve the genetic and brain chemistry issues related to depression.



It's naive to think that any of that is going to happen, not just soon but at all, so your use of the word naive is ironic here. And even if it did, it's even more naive to think that you or I would end up being benefited by it. And I mean that in two senses: that we would be in the circumstances that allow us to make use of such immortality technology and also that the technology itself bestows a benefit on the one using it.

There's a chapter on this in the book RiKD mentioned in his OP with up to date arguments. I'll copy paste a part of it and format it later (I have to go right now):

+ Show Spoiler +

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. (Mencken)Last edit: 25/07/2017 11:12

bigredhoss   Cook Islands. Jul 25 2017 15:59. Posts 8561


  On July 25 2017 07:09 Loco wrote:
I don't really have a "philosophy" on suicide, I just have a view that's easy to agree with if you are rational, i.e. not hanging onto a view that was born from religious prejudice. It's perfectly clear that no one has such indisputable right over anything in the world as over his own person and life. It's also clear that misfortune can strike anyone at any time and even the most resilient person can desire the end of their useless suffering.



I consider 'view' synonymous with 'philosophy'. If it's not, whatever, you're quibbling over semantics.


  It's naive to think that any of that is going to happen, not just soon but at all, so your use of the word naive is ironic here. And even if it did, it's even more naive to think that you or I would end up being benefited by it. And I mean that in two senses: that we would be in the circumstances that allow us to make use of such immortality technology and also that the technology itself bestows a benefit on the one using it.



I don't think it's naive to think it will happen, I think the odds are in favor of it happening at some point if AI doesn't destroy humanity (I'm not sure what the odds of AI not destroying humanity are). Why do you think it's naive? Extremely unlikely in our lifetimes sure, but that was acknowledged in my post.


  There's a chapter on this in the book RiKD mentioned in his OP with up to date arguments. I'll copy paste a part of it and format it later (I have to go right now):



Reading through it, I agree with most of it. The problem (regarding the portion addressing the potential for science to extend life) is the author seems to lump people into "immortalists clinging with all their hopes and dreams to the chance that this will happen", vs. people taking the realistic view that it won't happen, when the actual stances people can take aren't nearly that binary. You can acknowledge it's a long shot and still take the possibility into account.

Yes, there are lunatics like Kurzweil and de Gray who evangelize and probably give people too much false hope, but that's not my problem. In a poker forum of all places, people should know that it can be rational for a very low-probability future event to affect their decisions today.

Truck-Crash LifeLast edit: 25/07/2017 16:01

Loco   Canada. Jul 26 2017 03:11. Posts 18711

Didn't mean to quibble over semantics, just wanted to clarify how easy I believe it is to come to this view if you're secular, whereas the word philosophy connotates a certain complexity.

I think it's naive for many reasons, and I take an Occam's razor approach. We're much more likely to wipe ourselves out with WW3 than we are to do this. We're also not even close to witnessing the beginning of all these fantasies, and yet the planet is in dire straits. The cost of our so-called progress has taken an enormous toll on the environment and without this enormous problem taken care of, we will not survive as a species. Let alone have enough time to engineer some immortality technology (and make it available for the average Joe Blow, because, let's face it, who would desire its existence if it meant only the world's richest can afford it?). I don't want to start throwing out a bunch of statistics or else I'll be here all night. Suffices to say, things are not looking good for the future of the human species in the next 100-200 years. We've already overshot and can't sustain the current rate at which technology progresses for very long.

I also think just entertaining the thought of immortality and feeling warm and fuzzy inside is a form of death denial, which I want no part in. Immortality to do what, exactly? Witness the first McDonald's built on Mars? Obviously, this is not an argument. I just don't get it. I understand not wanting to die, because we associate death with pain and we also don't want to die until we've experienced the things we want to experience, but there is certainly something to say about the length of an ideal life and I'm sure it's not being immortal. At least for me. Under certain circumstances, I can imagine being immortal by default and being able to opt-out at any time would be good, better than the alternative of a painful death, but I can't even begin to imagine the specifics of that.

Benatar gets into other arguments, and considers both the pessimistic and optimistic responses to immortality arguments. I only quoted a fairly small part that I agree with. His conclusion is the following:



  Being mortal causes many humans considerable anxiety. The shadow of death looms over our lives. No matter who we are, where and when we live, and what we do, each of us knows that he or she is doomed to die. We first gain this terrifying awareness as quite young children. Insofar as we can, we put this fact out of our consciousness, but it lurks beneath the surface, breaking through at times when we cannot but confront our mortality. This awareness is one of the chief triggers of existential angst, and it spurs attempts to find meaning. Our mortality is an unbearable limit that we seek to transcend. Yet it is an ultimate limit that we simply cannot transcend in any literal way. We are not the only mortals, but as far as we know, we are the mortals with the most acute sense of their own mortality. Mortality is thus a brute and ugly feature of the human predicament.

However, if an immortal version of our current lives were possible, it would not be a good thing. For example, we would age progressively and suffer increasingly. Moreover, if immortality were widespread, the earth would rapidly become even more overpopulated than it already is.
That should not lead us to think that immortality per se would be bad. Under specific conditions, eternal life would be better than the mortal life we lead. In other words, mortality is only one feature of the human predicament.

Substituting mortality with immortality, while holding other features of the human predicament constant, would extend the predicament temporally and would also introduce novel features unless we imposed the kinds of conditions I have discussed. However, if we imagine immortal lives under these stipulated conditions, it would be much better than our current mortal condition, or so I have argued.

Those who disagree with this conclusion and persist in maintaining that immortality would be a bad, should not seek solace in their view. Even if immortality would be bad, it does not follow that it would not be good to live longer. It is possible that while immortality would be bad, it would be better to live much longer than we actually do. Nor does it follow that mortality is good. It is possible that we are damned if we die and damned if we don’t. Some predicaments are that intractable. Perhaps it would have been best, as I believe, never to have been at all. After all, those who never exist are in no condition, let alone any predicament. They are not doomed to die. And if one thinks that an eternal life under the best conditions constitutes a kind of doom, they are also not doomed to live for eternity.

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. (Mencken) 

bigredhoss   Cook Islands. Jul 27 2017 02:43. Posts 8561

Saying we’re more likely to do X than Y isn’t a valid argument for eliminating the possibility of Y from consideration.

I think there are a couple good reasons to think that humans have a decent shot at extreme longevity or “immortality” in the future if AI doesn’t destroy us:

-Most agree that we are likely to achieve AGI in the next ~30 years. Nobody knows exactly where that’s going to lead, but it will be a time of major change and technological advancement, with or without humans. There are already AI algorithms that can detect skin cancer with greater accuracy than the best dermatologists, and the future of medicine is going to move towards preventative care rather than the mostly reactionary approach we currently take.

-There’s a shit-ton of money going into biotech in Silicon Valley right now, despite being relatively disappointing sector in the past (see Theranos). Macro trends are usually not hard to identify, but often very difficult to time. Following this, I wouldn’t attempt to predict that science will figure out aging in the next 10, 20, 40, 80, etc. years; I would only say that it’s coming, provided some other disaster doesn’t wipe us out, which is a possibility as you point out.

I think the first point on its own makes it a mistake to discount the possibility of significant life extension.

To elaborate on the second point, there is a long history of people chasing the right idea at the wrong time in Silicon Valley. AI is one example of this, AI research began in the 50’s but many of the problems they hoped to solve turned out to be a lot harder than they thought, and weren’t able to make a lot of progress on until recently, and now it’s clear that it’s going to be a game-changer. There were also failed companies during the dot-com bubble in the late 90’s that wanted to do create online social networks, they were just too early.

I don’t know how much this makes people feel warm and fuzzy as you say, but if it does, that seems like a strange reason to avoid considering it. You are denying a potential outcome because it doesn’t jive with your ethos of fatalism. Maybe it’s rational for you in the sense that there’s some peace of mind in accepting death as a 100% certainty, as opposed to taking the position that it’s only 99% (or whatever). But it’s not a rational way of thinking about the future.

It doesn’t violate the laws of physics, we’re throwing a ton of money and brainpower at it, and we’re entering a period where AI is going to revolutionize a lot of things, including the health care industry. There’s way too much uncertainty in our future to dismiss life extension/potential immortality as a possible outcome.

Regarding the separate issue of whether immortality is desirable, my tl;dr answer is that if we get the technology to achieve that, it doesn’t seem like such a stretch to think that we would also be able to eliminate things like depression. Actually in the case of true immortality it seems like a lock as we would have eternity to work on it.

Truck-Crash LifeLast edit: 27/07/2017 17:11

 
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