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Effects of indefinite lifespans on cultural stagnation


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#1
Kedar Kashyap

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My idea is that with medical advances leading to longer and longer lifespans among the general population, there would be a cultural stagnation meaning that we would no longer see dramatic changes in the outlook and values of people over the decades. Instead the norms held by older generations would continue to influence the increasingly diminishing youth (because longer lifespans lead to lower birth rates). Since the same people are the ones setting the rules for many years to come, even if their ideas change a bit over time, it would be nowhere near as much as between generations.

 

It doesn't just apply to culture. Even architecture, societal standards on behavior, systems of education and work ethics could perpetuate longer than they otherwise would due to older generations not wanting to loosen their grip on society regarding their beliefs. I think this is being seen even today in the world where younger generations (like Millennials) have on average vastly different ideas regarding education, healthcare, government, military, science, religion, morality, immigration etc. compared to older folks who tend to be much more conservative and resistant to change. But they are unable to influence the policies being made due to power still being concentrated in the hands of older generations. If these generations (especially with the most people in power) had the access to indefinite lifespans, then they'd definitely not wish to to give up any of that power or change the policies which were set by them



#2
SeedNotYetSprouted

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If this were to only be a human-centric game, then that would be an issue. However, with the emergence of sufficiently advanced AIs and non-biological intelligences, the problems of cultural stagnation and sociopolitical inequality are alleviated greatly.  If a society were considerate and conscientious enough, they could breed Super-Intelligences whose sole motivating goal is to act as adjudicators over humanity. If Grandpa or any gerontocrat is overstaying his welcome, hoarding up too much power, and slowing down progress, the SI would warn him to either step down from leadership positions and the political sphere or leave Earth and go off-world, OR to risk f'ing annihilation.                                                                                                                                                                                              And Grandpa would be forced to comply because no matter how wealthy or influential he's become, a fleshie is no match for a machine god.



#3
Maximus

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Yes, all of this is true. It's for these exact reasons that I'm no longer interested in "immortality", or life extension. We simply cannot afford the older generations piling up and suppressing change. Imagine if the boomers remained in charge forever while the climate catastrophe unfolded around us around the middle of this century. They would probably still deny climate change is real. I would like to have good health in my old age, that's it. There are far too many sick and powerful people in this world, and death is the only equalizer; to take that away would leave us with no reprieve.



#4
Outlook

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Yes, all of this is true. It's for these exact reasons that I'm no longer interested in "immortality", or life extension. We simply cannot afford the older generations piling up and suppressing change. Imagine if the boomers remained in charge forever while the climate catastrophe unfolded around us around the middle of this century. They would probably still deny climate change is real. I would like to have good health in my old age, that's it. There are far too many sick and powerful people in this world, and death is the only equalizer; to take that away would leave us with no reprieve.

 

Yes, a fellow appreciator of death! Just like cells in a growing body, we must expire before we become a cancer. If not, it'll be like feudal aristocracies but one where the nobility doesn't even die.

 

Although, if anti-aging were to happen in our generation, we'd be the one's at the top. And if capitalism persists, do you guys know how rich we'll be and the reliance our children will have on our estate. Our families will be centered around the elders. We can live off our children forever.

 

tenor.gif


Outlook's secret song of the ~week: https://youtu.be/GMYezR1cwFA


#5
Raklian

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Yes, all of this is true. It's for these exact reasons that I'm no longer interested in "immortality", or life extension. We simply cannot afford the older generations piling up and suppressing change. Imagine if the boomers remained in charge forever while the climate catastrophe unfolded around us around the middle of this century. They would probably still deny climate change is real. I would like to have good health in my old age, that's it. There are far too many sick and powerful people in this world, and death is the only equalizer; to take that away would leave us with no reprieve.

 

Yes, a fellow appreciator of death! Just like cells in a growing body, we must expire before we become a cancer. If not, it'll be like feudal aristocracies but one where the nobility doesn't even die.

 

Although, if anti-aging were to happen in our generation, we'd be the one's at the top. And if capitalism persists, do you guys know how rich we'll be and the reliance our children will have on our estate. Our families will be centered around the elders. We can live off our children forever.

 

tenor.gif

 

 

Yes, I've been dreaming one day all of humanity will call me "The First One".

 

HdKsHoQ.png

 

 

Then, all of the elders will revolve around me!

 

 

cackles-18524721.png


What are you without the sum of your parts?

#6
TranscendingGod

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I reject the premise. If anything I think that our very short lives lead to a very parochial and egotistical form of existence. This includes and is perhaps the root cause of our relatively impoverished culture of today. Increasing our lifespans will probably result in a renaissance of the human condition by and large. 


The growth of computation is doubly exponential growth.

#7
Erowind

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/\ I agree with TG 100% here. Even with biological immortality there is still death. And there is still change. There's no way a culture will stagnate for millennium or people will remain the same that long. Heck, even the long despised baby boomers have changed by becoming more irrationally fundamental by in large. But that's not the condition of them all and people can still change very late in their lives! Nevermind one's personal feelings on either of these things I know a former patriotic CIA agent who became a Christian Socialist preacher in his 60s.

#8
funkervogt

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Keep in mind, it would also be culturally enriching to have very old people around, so long as they were sound of mind. Imagine what it would be like today if we could talk to people who fought in the Napoleonic Wars, or who remembered life as hunter-gatherers before white settlers moved into their lands. 



#9
SeedNotYetSprouted

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Keep in mind, it would also be culturally enriching to have very old people around, so long as they were sound of mind. Imagine what it would be like today if we could talk to people who fought in the Napoleonic Wars, or who remembered life as hunter-gatherers before white settlers moved into their lands. 

 

So long as they were sound of mind *and* sound of conscience.  If they are lacking in either of those departments, then it is time for the measure that I listed at the very beginning of this thread to be deployed. 

 

And this measure can deploy itself.



#10
funkervogt

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"You Aboriginals are impeding progress. Step aside, or be annihilated." 



#11
Raklian

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Question for you guys - 

 

If you have lived 1,000 years, what wisdom do you speculate you will impart on mere centenarians?

 

 

If I were to give an answer, I would say this, "You will get tired of living at some point, but take it to your immortal heart that it doesn't mean it will always be that way. When I was approximately 900 years old - just 100 years ago, I experienced a terrible bout of immortality fatigue. I was about to end my existence when I encountered an extraterrestrial being far older than me... the number is just incomprehensible, and it showed me a facet of the universe I haven't experienced. At that moment, I was reinvigorated to the deepest well of my being, and saw that I am but a mere cooing infant still clothed in a birth blanket." 


What are you without the sum of your parts?

#12
TheAughat

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Question for you guys - 

 

If you have lived 1,000 years, what wisdom do you speculate you will impart on mere centenarians?

 

 

If I were to give an answer, I would say this, "You will get tired of living at some point, but take it to your immortal heart that it doesn't mean it will always be that way. When I was approximately 900 years old - just 100 years ago, I experienced a terrible bout of immortality fatigue. I was about to end my existence when I encountered an extraterrestrial being far older than me... the number is just incomprehensible, and it showed me a facet of the universe I haven't experienced. At that moment, I was reinvigorated to the deepest well of my being, and saw that I am but a mere cooing infant still clothed in a birth blanket." 

Will boredom and mental fatigue even be a thing post-advanced BCIs and mind uploading? Beyond a certain point, we should be able to completely regulate our feelings, always making sure our mental state is at it's most optimal shape.



#13
Erowind

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/\ boredom yes, mental fatige probably not. There's a scene in Diaspora by Greg Egan where two immortals travel through to much of the universe meeting so many different extraterrestrials in pursuit of another group of great explorers. Eventually when they think they're about to catch the explorers they find the last exploration beacon derelict with a message saying they were done. In other words they committed suicide. The immortals eventually do the same. The book poses this though, if you've been alive for billions upon billions of years and have seen and done everything you can conceivably do, is it really suicide? Or is it an act of completion and acceptance?

#14
Raklian

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Maybe Universes are created by extremely bored god-like entities. They needed to do something with their hands. lol


What are you without the sum of your parts?

#15
funkervogt

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https://www.bbc.com/...and-turning-101



#16
SeedNotYetSprouted

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"You Aboriginals are impeding progress. Step aside, or be annihilated." 

 

You misunderstand me. It wouldn't be the existence of an old individual that would impede progress; it would be their actions and their control over other people's actions..

 

The Aboriginals wouldn't be the ones that would have to be dealt with: if they continued to live sustainable, low-influence lifestyles where they kept to themselves and left everyone alone to make their own decisions, they would be fine.

 

It's the Leopolds, the Maos, the Fettuccines, and the Mugabes that would have to check themselves or face devastation: 

          Like I've said before, if Grandpa held too much sway, and forcibly manipulating the lives of people around in negative ways, an SI would send him a message: step down from positions of power or leave Earth and Sol behind.

   

If Grandpa ignored the warning and continued to be a tyrant, then the SI will show Grandpa the true meaning of power, and Pops, who's existed for so long, would exist no longer.



#17
Outlook

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My contention with the idea of cultural stagnation with immortal populations is birth. Idealistically, an immortal population would always grow should the death rate fall that much, meaning there will always be a considered youth. I'd imagine generational identity will be big as it is now. There is also the matter that much of modern culture is cyclical and is considered under more factors than simply new generations. There's geography, group identity, events and trends that define cultures.

 

If anything, I'd be more interested to see the sociological implications of an immortal society. I was going to write a book about it so long ago about a polynesian island that discovers the fountain of youth and so explore the sociology of such a society.

 

We have institutions and structures today, and as long as there's a constant feedback loop of what works and what doesn't within that system, then it'll be constantly self-improving. But the problem with immortality is that of pervasive personalities. People imagine that personalities change, but one example where personalities can't change is politics. Political personalities and their existence relies solely on their representation of constant ideals. Should they change their personalities, their opinions, and their beliefs, they can be called untrustworthy or a flip-flopper. This nature of a constant, unchanging political personality invades all aspects of institutional structures. Imagine the CEO that rallies under one certain program, a university bureaucrat whose identity is tied with a theory, and of course a political figure of a particular ideology.

 

But this issue can thankfully be easily resolved with limited tenures like term limits. Except that's in an ideal world. Russia and China had short term limits. The US used to not have term limits. And what of modern issues with regards to generational stagnancy? What if the trend of a falling birth rate continues, and what we're left with are younger generations who not being able to feel represented by older generations in the upper levels of government, and so cease to participate in democracies, leaving older generations far more over-represented? That's what's happening now in many western democracies.

 

I think the fault that people take when they think of immortality is the fact that since we're immortal, we have an infinite time to change when that's not the case. Psychologically, we are limited with our biases and our constraints. When we take to a certain way of thinking either due to genetic, developmental, and social influences, people are very very good at sticking with it to the point that I'd imagine people could remain the same for centuries until their accidental deaths. More-so when environments people enjoy are likely to remain within their lives for a longer time as they keep comfort towards them.

 

This is interesting to explore and it'd be interesting to apply motivation research to immortality. I need to fucking study what am I doing.

 

EDIT: I forgot the force of competition, which is very dynamic and may very well reduce this. But again ideal world.


Outlook's secret song of the ~week: https://youtu.be/GMYezR1cwFA


#18
kjaggard

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some of you clearly don't understand self directed personal growth. Why the hell would anybody stagnate? My mother picked up Kayaking and basket making in her seventies after several years retirment from being a school teacher.

 

There are examples of some people who started bussinesses that grew into empires after the age of 40.

 

The decline of ability, physical and/or mental is more to do with stagnation. It's not a fundamental aspect of getting older.


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Await occasions, never make haste. Find wonder and awe, by experiencing the everyday.

#19
caltrek

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@Kjagaard,

 

Regarding your previous post and on behalf of the older generation to which I belong, thank you.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#20
Erowind

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@Outlook. That political critique is just another contradiction within capitalism and the plague of social social capital. I don't think anything about it is inherent to the human condition and it's not idealistic to claim that biological immortality changes the material condition. If anything, under capitalism at least, it just amplifies systemic contradiction that much more, which may appear bad but can only be a good thing in the long run.




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