Michael Battalio

Friday, January 20, 2012

Serious conversations (part 33):

        This series is a continuation of my conversations with an atheist friend of mine. These are my edited responses from that conversation. The thirtieth through thirty-third entries deal with death.

So stating that we will be able to cheat death at some point and assuming we live long enough to see that happen, would I want to live forever?

        For me, I think I will eventually get bored, and we all know that forever isn’t really forever.  In a very large number of years, the universe will no longer have any useable energy, and we won’t be able to exist (thanks to the second law of thermodynamics).  So we will die; even with technology, we cannot cheat death.  (I say that with certainty based off of current knowledge, perhaps there is a way around all of this, whether through multiverses or whatever.)  But the fact remains, with /nearly/ unlimited time, I’m going to run out of stuff to do, probably.

        However, the sum of human knowledge doubles every few years (that rate surely is not sustainable), so I could live forever and not run out of things to do (learn).  [Speaking of inventing things to do, my friend theorized that perhaps our “reality” is just a program inside a computer and our actual selves are computerized and our consciousness is living out this existence as an experiment for our true selves.]  However, the “Big Chill” is what, 1 with 100 zeros behind it years away.  I occasionally get bored now, and I’m only 26.  Imagine being 10^100 years old though.  I suppose the question is, is forever longer enough to get bored with infinity?

To end the discussion on death, we are all hard wired to be scared of death.  We certainly wouldn’t get very far if no living creature feared death.  Evolution and natural selection wouldn’t work; creatures would die before expressing and passing along superior traits.  Interestingly, I often consider the various ways I could die in a given situation.  I suppose that’s a bit morbid, but I think being aware of possible hazards prevents me from being injured.

        I definitely want to leave a legacy of sorts (a good one), but being obsessed with leaving an imprint can definitely cloud your judgment (a la G.W. Bush).  I want to have accomplished something so that one of the branches of sciences is positively impacted.  That is probably a bit grandiose, but I’m not demanding that I get an equation named after me or I receive a Nobel Prize.  I just want to have done something very useful.  Perhaps I don’t want to leave a legacy as much as I want to be merely remembered. (More on legacy and becoming mechanized in the next few S.C. entries.)

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