What wonders are there in simplicity? The human structure, compared to the vastness of the universe, is a simple system, relatively easy to master. Any reasonably technological civilization will soon learn to alter genes and prolong their natural spans. It’s very simple. It’s amazing that the sci-fi writers of the 20th century almost all envisioned star travel coming along soon; none of them spend much time with humans achieving near immortality.
The genome will be charted by 2003. With the internet, the dynamics of the proteins will annotate the records for the genes at a rate that will astonish all. Barring catastrophic reductions in research and development worldwide, the technology for significant life extension therapies is one generation away, at most.
Our simple machines will live longer and longer. In altered bodies we will begin to tinker with mortality, with natural life expectancies. Aging will be slowed, then arrested, eventually reversed. Biocomputers will begin as brain-interface implants, possibly someday becoming receptacles of consciousness.
Ours will be the last generation that doesn’t expect to live at least one-hundred years, or even much longer, but ours is also the generation of the planetary population boom, the technology boom, and the alteration of the ecosystems of the earth at a fundamental, epochal level. This last generation of mortals like none before on this world, must find something of value in the planetary wilderness, or see it lost forever. This last generation of mortals is charged with the task of husbanding what is left of biodiversity, and passing it forward in time in thriving shape. Preserved and available for sustainable shared exploitation.
Our generation is fated to preside over the end of the population boom, and the establishment of a sustainable world population. Our generation will define how this transition is made. When we are gone, how many people and peoples will remain and continue onward in this new world of longer lives and clean, thriving planetary ecosystems? Wouldn’t more be better?
The rich may well be the first to sample the medicines of immortality, but they will also be the guinea pigs, they should be left to their devices. For vitality and longevity, during the 1920′s many wealthy patients indulged in mineral water spiked with radium, with painful consequences. Eventually everyone, rich or poor will be able to receive already tested life-extension therapies, if they so desire.
Our last generation of mortals has an inspiring, epic choice that must be made amidst and in spite of the disruption and doom that is part of this overnight metamorphosis of our species. We can save biodiversity and we can clean up our planetary ecosystems. If we fail our planet will yield greater and greater realms of wasteland, if we succeed our planet will run with rivers you can drink from and salmon will run healthy and happy even in the year-round culverts and canals of megapoli. Trees hold water and soils. Carbon sequestration carbon schmiequestration! Where trees are the lands don’t slide, and the springs run strong and clear. Save the earth! We can save the earth, along with ourselves.
We have the unique opportunity to save biodiversity, cultural diversity, ecosystems – the earth. This can unite us, and give us a common purpose. Save the earth can be incorporated into the ideology of peoples, and provide a new framework for prosperous negotiations between governments enjoying good relations. Save the earth can be incorporated in religions, furthering ecumenical accord. Mullahs and liberal christians who promote contraception, Mahants who want to save the Ganges; religious forces can work together. Save the earth can be incorporated into capitalist ideology, where sustainable is synonomous with perpetual profit, and compassion is in fashion. Save the earth can give the peoples of the world a peaceful war to fight together. Saving the earth can make the lives of the last mortal generation also be the lives of those who participated in humankind’s finest hour. How lucky we are.
We are creatures with a simple life, a short life, a simple system, we humans, when measured against the vastness of the immortal intergalactic infinite web of universes. But we are on the verge of exploring way beyond this world, when we begin to use our new life extension and consciousness augmentation technologies and our new space bending physics. How much will we bring with us? How much of our rich cultures and how much of our biodiversity can we bring to that newly opened universe? Wouldn’t God and Gaia agree that more would be better?