Forever and ever?

The question of eternal life is as old as life itself.

Humankind has made great strides in life expectancy, from an average of 30 years over most of our existence, to over 70 years today. In a short span of less than a century, this has gone up twice over.

A lot of us do not understand how life expectancy is calculated. When I say 30 years, it doesn’t mean that most people who lived in the 18th century died around the age of 30. Its calculated by taking the number of dead, adding the ages at which they died and dividing it by the number of dead people to arrive at an average life expectancy.

So, if a 90 year old man and two infants died, the life expectancy would be 30 years. As you can see, the number was skewed because of high infant mortality rates until the early 20th century, when improved ways of delivery and better medicine reduced the number of children who died before their 5th birthday.

And so assuming that life expectancy will continue to improve at the same rate as before would be foolish, given that the biggest contributing factor has already been mitigated.

Unless of course, rapid changes in medicine and technology can result in breakthroughs that dramatically reduce aging and stretch life expectancy to say 150 years.

But that is still very far away from eternal life.

Some futurists speak of a time when you would be able to reduce yourself to a waveform, and exist for ever floating through space, encoded on a wave. Would that still be you, and would you still be able to experience life as you currently do? Possible, given that we currently experience our lives through sense organs, and these can be replicated. Would you feel the same though? Possible again, given that feelings are at their base – chemical reactions. Would this all come together as a holistic life experience? Maybe, maybe not.

But would it be the same all the time? Would you wish to experience and keep doing this till the end of time? Somethings are better because they have an end date – however long we think we want to live, I don’t think forever would be a consideration.

What do you think?