X-Message-Number: 24841
Subject: Re: physical immortality possible?
From: Aubrey de Grey <>
Date: Sun, 17 Oct 2004 13:08:20 +0100

Readers may not all be aware that a parallel discussion, initiated in
part by Ben's essay and in part by a related one by Reason posted at
Longevity Meme on September 20th, is occurring at ImmInst.  Bruce has
been cross-posting some of the Cryonet posts to that debate, but there
is too much to cross-post it all in the other direction, so please go
and have a look:


One thing that has come up is related to what David writes.  The basic
thesis of his post, i.e. that we can live genuinely *forever*, seems
contrary to basic principles: even if we totally eliminate aging, we
still have a "half-life" and thus a very small chance of living a very
long time, and indeed an exactly zero chance of never dying at all.
But if (as David alludes to) we continue to increase our "half-life"
as time goes on, that turns out not to be so: the asymptote of our
survival probability graph is not zero.  (I did a worked example at
ImmInst.)  This does, as David notes, rely on the Universe not having
the last laugh by udergoing heat death or whatever, but discussion of
that in the context of current physics is too speculative to detain us
when we recall that (again, as David says) the only real point of this
line of thought is to invigorate our short-term efforts.

Where David goes wrong is to suggest that involuntary death will ever
be conquered, in the true sense of the achievement of a *zero* chance
of ever dying involuntarily (or even a zero chance in the coming year).
The discussion at ImmInst is largely about this terminological issue.

Aubrey de Grey

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