Nov 13, 2012

The importance of using the correct terms

Posted by in categories: life extension, transparency

Humans have questioned death, and have searched for immortality since they first became conscious of the finiteness of life. Many modern humans are now confident (or at least hopeful) that it may be possible to achieve immortality, perhaps by using technological advances. This is a myth. It is against the laws of physics (think of entropy) for anyone to become immortal, so it will not happen.

Let me clarify what I mean. The term ‘immortal’ literally means someone who never dies, i.e. lives forever. But ‘forever’ means really forever, more than 50 trillion years, until the end of time. In the foreseeable future (the future which is relevant to us alive today) this is just plain nonsense. If the term is nonsense, then it should not be used. Better terms may be ‘longevity’, or ‘extreme lifespan’ which means to live for many years, without stipulating a number. Extreme longevity, or extreme life extension is not immortality. One may be able to live for 1000 years, and then still die. Another suitable term could be ‘indefinite lifespan’ which is the absence of a sustained increase of mortality as a function of age (i.e. it is the absence of death due to aging). These terms denote something feasible, something that can be achieved with the use of near-term future technology.

Another legitimate term to use is ‘Human Biological Immortality’. This is a strict term used in biology to refer to the decrease of the rate of cellular mortality as a function of age. It is, in other words, similar to the term ‘indefinite lifespan’. Here the emphasis is on indefinite, and not on infinite.

I believe that certain humans will be able to live indefinitely (50 years, 500 years, no a priori limit) and that this will happen after a combination of natural evolutionary events ( enhanced and accelerated by science and technology (…l-brain/). Death by aging will be abolished, and people will only die from accidents, illnesses etc. We will still be mortal.

Is it really necessary to stick to the exact meaning of the words? Yes, it is if we are to be taken seriously. To use terms like ‘eternal life’, ‘immortality, or ‘living forever’ decreases the scientific credibility of the anti-aging movement, has undertones of religious beliefs that have no basis in science, and disconnects both the general public and the funding bodies from the subject.

The point here is that any emerging technologies will only emerge if the public supports them, and if the researchers get funding. If supporters of these technologies appear too irrational, illogical or unreasonable, then they will damage the cause, and make it more difficult for others who, still visionary, have more achievable aims.


Comments — comments are now closed.

  1. Izzy says:

    Okay, you wise one, do you believe that humans soon (about 60 years) Will be able to achieve human biological immortality?
    If you do, why? What breakthrough have science made?
    If not, why don’t you believe in the capability of science and research we have basically created many tvinga we never thought we could and we’re doing it at a

  2. Izzy says:

    I’ sorry for the comment above, to My defense the iPad is correcting My langue to swedish of some reason so somethings may be incorrect, even my email. What i was trying to say was: we have created many things we never thought we could and we’re doing it at a more rapid pass for each decade, we have already pinpointed many factors of why we age, should we not be able to stop it? To stop the destroction of organs and cells? Many scientists have alreadycome up Witherspoon some medicine and others are trying to improve it.
    Althought i am courious about the nanotechnique they are galning about and the cyborg thing, i mean were have they got proof or somethings that can strengthen their theories, or have they just taken those nummers out of nowhere?
    If you could ansedde me as soon as plaskvåt I would be really greatfull
    Best regards izabelle BN
    P.s. You have to Edfors My spelling and oth mistande I just can’t win aagainst my iPad!

  3. Marios Kyriazis says:

    Indeed, we know many facts about ageing cells and the mechanisms involved. I believe that we will soon see an extension of human lifespan to a substantial level. Nanotechnology etc will play some part but the main benefits will come through a process based on evolution and natural biological mechanisms. However, this will not enable us to live for ever (immortality). It will help us avoid ageing.