Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Will Some of Us Live Forever?

Will some people alive today never die? 

I came across this question while going through this article "Ten Good Reasons to Get Out of Bed in the Morning," by Robert Anton Wilson in book Illuminati Papers. ( I think I am reading 1996 edition.) I am surprised by the inaccuracy of estimates in the fields of Space-Migration and Life-Extension. I have written about 2001: A Space Odyssey of Stanley Kubrick and why Kubrick  and Clarke predictions were way too inaccurate about state of space affairs by 2001 is yet not clear to me. It's not just Robert Anton Wilson, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, but a substantial group of scientists, writers and visionaries alive and dead who have predicted about Space-Migration and Life-Extension in a manner which seems Pollyanna in the light of present Life-Expectancy across the globe. 

The article by Robert Anton Wilson is most optimistic one I have ever come across on the subject of Life-Extension. There are many thinkers who suggest that part of life's beauty lies in its imperfection; in the fact that we wrap it all up and go away; that we all succumb to the death. And yes, it's reasonable to mention here that my personal opinion ( which would remain personal no matter how often I make it public, because that which is private might become public because of publication, but it remains personal if it is personal till the end of the times! It's possible that many people start agreeing with you, in which case, your personal opinion becomes opinion of many but that also does not alienate your opinion from you. The verdict is: your personal opinion remains personal no matter how public you make it!) is that "There is no death for me." Which means that I try to mean something else by word 'Death' than the ordinary sense and that 'Death' is not possible as an experience. However, as far as physical decay and aging is considered; I am in alignment with most others that I am aging like everyone else and there would be end of this body as there was a beginning. I am critical of die-hard critics of Life-Extension, because even when they assert that it's the quality of the years and not the number that matters; I feel that for those who feel that they're engaged in something worthy and want to continue doing it forever it should matter alright. Looking at the facts however suggests that even if end is inevitable, extending it and giving a stretch of say 20, 30 or 100 more years is not impossible. It's reasonable to suggest that those who are most resourceful will be the first to get life-extension. But I find that all predictions about the life-extension applications becoming reality of the day have been as flagrantly inaccurate and even grossly unscientific hitherto as estimates about Space-Migration. This makes me slightly skeptic about such predictions. It's not that I am given unto the belief that my skepticism can change society; neither do I believe that I am doing anything very significant for decreasing the count of wrong predictions. But only if it entertains you in the slightest :

Let us look at excerpts from the article:

Robert Anton Wilson wrote:Four. None of these future possibilities is reserved for die unborn. There are excellent reasons to believe that all the life-expectancy tables used by insurance companies are already obsolete. You will probably live a lot longer tiian you expect.In the very first article that I wrote on life extension (San Francisco Phoenix, 1973), I quoted the latest estimate of Dr. Johan Bjorksten, who spoke at the time of extending human lifespan to 140 years. This year, Dr. Bjorksten predicts diat humans will soon be able to live 800 years. Paul Segall, of the University of California at Berkeley, who has experimentally stopped the aging process in laboratory animals, hopes that his work will extend the human lifespan to 400 or 500 years before 1990. Dr. Robert Phedra puts the number even higher; he says that we can begin aiming to extend human lifespan to 1,000 years.

I don't know what Dr. Bjorksten meant by the word 'soon', but I see no evidence of his predictions getting materialized. If I am wrong then there are people who are very old and very powerful ( as they were the first one to get Life-Extension!) and they're hidden for some reasons! 

Robert Anton Wilson wrote:
Look at it this way: 

life expectancy in Shakespeare's day was about 30 years. (That's why Shakespeare wrote of himself so often as aging and declining in sonnets written when he was only in his early 30s.) In England, 100 years ago, life expectancy was still less than 40 years among members of the working class. It was 60 around the turn of the century in this country. It is now 72. Even if Bjorksten, Segall, Phedra, and the hundreds of other longevity researchers are overly optimistic, even if we can raise lifespan only 50 per cent in this generation, that still means that you will probably live at least 30 years past the projected 72.In the meantime, the research continues. Within even a 30-year bonus of extra years, the leap into the hundreds of years is likely to occur. For instance, if you are in your 20s now, you expect to die around 2030. Add 30 years to that, and you will live to 2060. How many more years will science be able to give you by then? Even assuming that those re-searchers currendy speaking of life exten-sions of hundreds of years are doing so too soon, in 2060 an increase of 100 years will be a conservative projection. So you can live on to 2160. And where will the life-extension sciences be by then?

It seems quite logical but are things really taking shape? That's to be seen in my opinion. I think, it's not necessary to wait till 2030 to see if it's working at all. If it's working then the old and powerful should live longer than the old and powerful of earlier ages used to live. Is that happening already? It's up to you to decide. 

By the gradual increment of life-extension breakthroughs we have been discussing, it is thinkable that some people alive today will never die. We are the first generation in history to have immortality as a scientific, not metaphysical, possibility. Every decade you survive increases the chances that you will live until the crossover point where longevity blends into immortality.In Osborn Segerberg, Jr.'s The Immortality Factor, some recent estimates of that crossover point are quoted. Arthur Clarke, in 1961, set the point late in the 21st century. A poll of 82 life-extension researchers in 1964 showed growing optimism and a prediction that chemical control of aging would be achieved by early in the 21st century. Another poll in 1969 found a spectrum of predictions ranging from 2017 (the highest estimate) to 1993 (the lowest). As Dr. Timothy Leary points out in Terra II, the largest amount of research with the most encouraging results has taken place since that poll.

As said earlier, my opinion does not matter much; but as I am opening my mouth anyway, I should suggest that I don't see any evidence around me about Life-Extension becoming public by 2017. This makes most of the predictions in the passage above wrong. Clarke estimated it to be late in 21st century and that might be true but that is also to be seen and I don't know if any of us will be alive to see that or if that matters at all!

Robert Anton Wilson wrote:In 1976, F. M. Esfandiary predicted the crossover to longevity would happen by 2000. In 1980, Dr. Alvin Silverstein pre-dicted it by 1990. Many interested citizens, following the lead of physicist R. C. W. Ettinger, who wrote The Prospect of Immortality back in 1964, have formed cryonics societies to freeze their bodies at clinical death, in the belief that future science will be able to revive them and give them a second chance. Although this method of preserving the body is available now only to the affluent, many believe that cryonic preservation of the brain, which costs as little as a few hundred dollars per year, gives an equally good chance of a person's revival—through cloning.

Do you see the pattern? Later the date of prediction of this crossover to longevity, more the chances that it's inaccurate. And what about Cryonics? I read about Walt Disney case and it might be very reasonable but are these two not very different things? Extending life and bringing it back? May be I am not making sense. So be it!

I am not very familiar with the most advanced theories about Life-Extension and I am eager to hear from you about those. I would also love to ask you if you really want to live longer. And if you want to live longer what you would do with your life ( Especially things which you're not doing already!). 

True immortality is in realizing that there is no death and birth because you're not body!

image sources: here

A Separation

A Separation is a great drama film. This movie has an intriguing story. The movie is enough fast paced to keep you mesmerized all the time. The aspects of human relationships raised are not new but the way they have been addressed is just masterly. The issues addressed in the story mostly include, divorce and its impact on children, poverty and unemployment and how they affect families, perjury and perhaps most important of all, children and their relationships with parents (This has been portrayed beautifully in a single family with three generations in it.)

  Recently some of the most comely movies of Asia have been created by Ashgar Farhadi. The flawless, tight packed direction and profound story filled with moral values; both are the creative outputs of Ashgar Farhadi.  Each and every performance in this movie looks so natural that you are left in awe. Movie reminds me of some of the great movies like Spoorloos and About Elly. This movie deserves the academy award it has won. I would straight away give ten out of ten stars to it.

An excerpt from IMDB where Ashgar expresses about preparing the actress for the character of his devout maid in this movie:

It was in the theater that I learned how it is that you can work with actors. To give an example, I have a character in the film [A Separation (2011)] who's supposed to be a religious woman. Once the script is finished, I didn't find her and say 'You're going to be a religious character. This is what you should do'. In the few months remaining before shooting she would actually turn into a religious person. I asked her to pray promptly every day, meaning five times. I asked her to wear a chador which is the traditional long veil. I asked her not to use her personal car... to restrict her rapport with any men who were not known to her. And after a while of rehearsing this way she actually started to behave like a religious person. Don't worry; as soon as the film is over, she turned back into her former self.

He is first Iranian filmmaker to ever win an Oscar.

The best performance in this movie comes from the actor who played the maid's husband (Hodjat) in my opinion. Even the old man suffering from Parkinson's has been done so perfectly. It would be great to watch some more movies made by this director methinks.