X-Message-Number: 19139
From: "Lee Corbin" <>
Subject: Re: Can we become immortal?
Date: Wed, 22 May 2002 04:52:10 -0700

Thomas Donaldson writes

> As I explained, the argument depends on a constant rate of decrease 
> in the probability of death. ANYTHING which produces that, or 
> ANY SET OF METHODS (with time a larger and larger set) which produces
> that decrease will produce immortality in a subset of the population.

This is literally correct, but might give someone the impression
that vanishingly few persons actually live forever.  I enjoy the
mathematical fact that

    (1 - 1/2) * (1 - 1/4) * (1 - 1/8) * (1 - 1/16) ...

is approximately .288288, and that this product converges despite
what one might think at first.

In Forever For All, Mike Perry wrote

"Let us say that by the year 2100 aging and diseases are cured...
[and] the chance that you will die in the following century is
only 1 percent, meaning you have a 99 percent chance of still
being alive in 2100.  Then more advances occur...and progress
continues, halving your chance of dying in each successive
century.  Wheat, we then ask, is your chance, starting in 2100,
of never dying at all?

"This can be estimated [calculated]... Thus the chance of
surviving...if we continue in this manner after fourteen
centuries the chance of survival falls to .98013, but with
little further change no matter how far we go."

Mike is doing

       .99 * .995 * .9975 * ...

and observes that this also converges (like he says, to about
point nine-eight).

In Message #19127, Tim Freeman arrives at the same conclusion
by explicitly considering the probability that a given backup
will survive.

Thomas continues

> The main thing to concentrate on is that of whether or
> not future technology can bring that probability down 
> constantly or more than constantly.  As for the happy
> point, we have no evidence we cannot. The sad point is
> that our probability of death will still remain nonzero...

> 		Best wishes and long long life for all,

Yes, that is the point!

Lee Corbin

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