Dawn Of The A-Mortals: Mortality Vs Morality

in science •  last year 


We are moving towards A-Mortality, a time whereby we will live for centuries, a stepping stone to the ultimate prize of immortality. Ultimately we are moving towards a time whereby all death-causing diseases will be preventable. Allowing us to live on and on, so long as we avoid accidental or violent death.

However this isn't going to happen within a societal finger snap, it will be a slow process and it will not be available to all.

It was once said that you can judge how advanced a society is, by how it treats its old and infirmed members. How does it look after the ones that are too weak to look after themselves?

As a global community that question will only grow in relevance as we move towards A-mortality.

A-Mortal Or A-Moral? Let The Cleansing Begin

As a species we often sit back and look at our achievements with admiration. We have cured previously incurable diseases, we have created technologies that allow us to communicate in the blink of an eye.

We have made the blind see, the lame walk, we have cheated death in numerous ways. We can create robot limbs for amputees that they can control with their minds. We have raised infant mortality and rid ourselves of ailments that were robbing us of our progeny.

Only, that is, if you are lucky enough to live in certain regions of the world. For instance the other day I was watching a fascinating video about how bioscientists had created a robot arm that not only could be controlled by the mind. The limb also connected to the body via real nerves, therefore the amputee who used this arm, could actually feel it, just as if it were her real arm.

The only catch, the arm cost almost $400,000.

Clearly this cost will go down as the technology ripens and matures. For the foreseeable future however, it will remain at least tens of thousands of dollars. That price clearly makes it prohibitive to most people on the planet.

Will an amputee begging on the streets of Delhi have access to that amazing robot arm?

The answer is obviously no. We can already see this happening today.

The Price Of Life

For instance, even though HIV is currently incurable, your prognosis is very different in the West than if you are in a developing country. However the divide is not as black and white as that, the disparity even between developing countries is growing.

Take three different people, they all have contracted HIV. One lives in Nigeria, one in the UK, the other in the United States.

All three people are considered low income in their respective countries. What happens to them?

The first person probably has a life expectancy of ten years or less. In Nigeria the drugs that will keep you alive are hard to come by and expensive. This means that you don't get enough and unfortunately you will die a premature death.

In the UK you are lucky, as a resident you are entitled to free healthcare. As long as you take your medication everyday, you will live almost as long as you would have, had you not contracted HIV. Life will still be tough, but you'll be alive.

In America it will totally depend on your health plan. The chances are you will not be entirely covered for contracting a condition that will affect you for the rest of your life.

At some point your insurance company may even refuse to pay for certain drugs, because they don't believe you'll be able to afford the follow up treatments.

A-Mortality For Sale

So we can already see that if you want to live a longer healthier life, you must pay for it. In a world whereby the maximum life expectancy is around 120 years this isn't really noticed as much as it could be.

However let's jump forward to a time whereby you are able to get various genetic upgrades and treatments that allow you to live two or even three hundred years.

In that future world, if Tom is richer than Sarah, then he will live longer. Simply because Tom will be able to afford A-mortality treatments. Sarah may still live a long life by today's standards, but not by tomorrow's.

A Light In The Gloom

We can only really look to history to guide us as to what may happen in the future in these matters. By doing so we realise that things aren't perhaps as doom and gloom as they at first seem.

If we look at the bubonic plague which was easily the greatest threats to human mortality in the last millennia. The plague first spread in Europe at a time before scientific knowledge and modern medicine were born. Hence it was estimated to have killed roughly 60% of Europe.

However once the cause and subsequent vaccine were discovered and synthesised in 1894, cases of the plague have dropped to near zero. Whilst there are still very rare cases today, the cure was not withheld from people based on whether they could afford it or not.

Self Sabotaging Society

Today we have the luxury of cooking up bizarre conspiracy theories around the very medicines that have enabled the human race to grow to over seven billion in number. Today a person is more likely to refuse life extending treatment than not to be able to afford it.

We saw this in 2003 when scientists were agonisingly close to wiping the polio virus from the face of the earth. An imam in Northern Nigeria spread a rumour that the vaccine was part of a nefarious plot to sterilise young Muslim men, or infect them with HIV and/or cancer.

Unfortunately all it takes is one child with polio and the disease can start to spread again . . .

Idiot Conspiracy Theory: 1

Life Saving Technology: 0

Maybe A-mortality technology will be treated differently, but somehow I doubt it. The only difference is, after a few hundred years of using the tech, the only people left alive will be the ones who fully believe in it.



Further reading:

Plague Information And Facts - National Geographic

What Led to the Nigerian Boycott of The Polio Vaccine? - PLOS Medicine, plos.org

Title image: Andrei Lazarev on Unsplash


Authors get paid when people like you upvote their post.
If you enjoyed what you read here, create your account today and start earning FREE STEEM!
Sort Order:  

I upvoted your post.

Best regards,

Posted using https://Steeming.com condenser site.

I'd prefer a well thought out comment that related to my post, rather than a $0.001 vote.


I don't think we can become A-Mortal anytime soon as have shown with the failure in trying to create anything ranging from antibiotics or vitamin that can moderate or slow than pacing, but if we eventually do, the story will certainly have a happy ending. If all the medical innovations to slow down aging results in extra years of sensible fitness, life extension might happen in a confident and hopeful manner, with most men and women living longer in good shape, and also working for longer years, this helps to keep pensions and health-care subsidies under control. Truly, the most-exciting work being done in life extension conspiracy science is making making the later years vibrant, as opposed to simply adding extra time at the end.

And yes, I would love an extra pain free 100 years.

Good post👍👍

Your writing is correct. When science comes with profit, low-income people find it hard to get them. Even though it is costly to create such technologies, But the people who need them are the poor.

Estimado amigo @cryptogee Particularmente yo pienso que la tecnología avanza conforme lo requiere la sociedad, si la sociedad tiene una carencia, una necesidad la tecnología saldrá corriendo a suplirla, sea en cuestión de salud, de alimentación o de refugio, así como de herramientas y medios de comunicación... Sin embargo la tecnología no puede de ninguna manera abastecer a la velocidad que se requiere la conciencia del ser humano, cada vez somos menos seres humanos, menos conscientes, menos amables, cada día nos convertimos en maquinas, y no solo por fuera, sino también por dentro.
Estimate friend @cryptogee I particularly think that technology advances as society requires, if society has a lack, a need technology will run out to replace it, whether in terms of health, food or shelter, as well as tools and media ... However, technology can in no way supply the speed required by human consciousness, we are less and less human beings, less and less conscious, less and less kind, every day we become machines, and not only on the outside, but also on the inside.

Interesting topic :)

Well, in the first place it seems to me that we are not likely to achieve what you call A-mortality (that is, life expectancy of several centuries) anytime soon, short of some unexpected miracle in medical science. I mean, we've raised life expectancy by what 20 years since the middle ages? (which don't get me wrong, is amazing enough) There is no indication I am aware of that this raise will be exponential.

As for the other questions you raised though, imo you basically outlined some of the key battlegrounds of our time :) For me whether medical technology will be withheld from poor people is not a question of speculation but a practical contemporary concern - we today will be part of what determines the answer. So we need try to fight the forces that even now seek to reserve healthcare for the privileged - as you say, we have succeeded before in history. Likewise, conspiracy theories as you noted is a relatively recent problem (as in it scaled to problematic proportions recently). Honestly, I personally find it unthinkable that we can suffer such thinking to continue to exist in the current scale until such time as A-mortality is possible - we need to fix it and fix it soon.

As for whether I would like to live an extra 100 years (over the current average life expenctancy, I assume), I can only confess "yes". Though I'm not sure if that would necessarily remain the answer if I became wiser :P