I wonder what our lives will be like when we routinely live to be 200 or 300 years old? Since the late 80s sci-fi authors have routinely addressed this possibility in a variety of ways. Some (eg - John Varley) seem to think it won't make much of a difference in the way we view the world. Others (eg - Bruce Sterling) believe that it will lead to a whole host of previously unknown psychological problems, as everything becomes boring and routine. Still others (eg - Kim Stanley Robinson) feel that the worst problems will be the ones that already plague us: de ja vu and nostalgia.
Here I am, just 22 years old, and I already look back with yearning for times that I intellectually know were pretty crappy. But viewed through the sheer and somewhat shimmery lingerie of time, suddenly things seem like they were wonderful. But what's going to happen when I'm 40? When I'm 50? Will I be paralyzed by nostalgia for the past when I have 100 years of memories behind me?
How about 200?
And nostalgia isn't the worst of it. Everyone wishes they had done some things differently. We obviously don't stop caring about those things after the biblical three score and ten. But what will happen when we've got four times as many regrets and four times as many memories?
And speaking of memories, is there a physical limit to how much one person can remember about their life? I'm already missing everything but snapshots and snippets from life before 6....When I'm 300 will the same be true for life before 40?
On one hand I'm tempted to say that I'll take a pass on any radical life-extension treatments that ever become available. But I know myself too well. There's always more to do, and I'll never feel finished. I'll just keep wanting one more year, then ten more years, then twenty more years, until finally I'm as old as the sun. Maybe then I'll collapse under the weight of my own age and become a black old-hole.
Posted on July 07, 2002 03:36 PM