Immortality | Top 6 ways to be immortal in real life

Immortality is the continuation of a person's existence even after death in the flesh or in the form of memories which we create in this world with our works.

According to religions, it means the continuation of the soul. Their belief is that after the death of the human body, our soul or the astral body leaves our physical body and wanders in space until it is judged by the court of the afterlife. Based on our deeds in the present world (karma) we will have the next life. But there is no proof for these beliefs.

Soul or Asteral body
Soul (Image courtesy by IStockphotos)

Apart from these religious superstitions, there is a popular belief that in someplace around the world there is a pond called the fountain of youth. From which when you drink water you’ll be immortal. If it was that easy then humans would have already discovered it and would have branded it with a name like ”immortal waters” and would be selling them for riches. But this is not possible since the fountain of youth may or may not exist or it might just be a belief.

As we are science lovers, let us understand the word immortality in the view of science. Immortality means being exempt from death, i.e., living whether in a physical body, or a mechanical body, or in a virtual world it doesn’t matter but our mind should be accessible in this world.

Fountain of Youth
Fountain of Youth (Image courtesy by PotC Wiki)

Before diving deep into Immortality, let us see some basic concepts to understand the concept of immortality.


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Life expectancy

It is the average estimate of the age of the particular group at the time of their death. According to the census of 2017, the average human life expectancy is around 72 years. But this was not the same the whole time. It changed drastically over the period. Before the beginning of the 20th century, the life expectancy was only 50 years due to the lack of medical care and medical facilities.

Life expectancy pattern
Life Expectancy (Image courtesy by Wikimedia Commons)

But in the 21st century due to the vast advancement in the area of medical research, we are now able to cure many diseases in turn increasing life expectancy. But we are not stopping there, we are still thinking of ways in which we can increase our life expectancy to its known limits, which are 100 years. To achieve this limit and beyond that limit to be immortal. Let's see the causes of death.

Causes of Death

Aging

The most common way to die is due to aging. Aging is the process after which our cells lose the ability to divide. After the stoppage of cell division, the cell’s functionality decreases constantly over time deteriorating organs. At a time due to the decreased functionality, the body ceases to work causing death.

Aging
Aging (Image courtesy by IStock photos)

Disease

The disease is an abnormal condition affecting the work of the natural processes of the human body. Due to this the natural working order of the human body may be disrupted causing various problems in the human body. Chickenpox, Common cold, Diphtheria are some examples. Disease occasionally causes death. All the Viruses, Cancers all come under this title because all of them commonly oppose the working of the human body.

Accidents

This is another most common cause of death. Accidents, suicides are common examples of the self cause of death. Accidents can cause damage to the body parts or interrupt their mechanism, leading to death.

So far we learned about the three main causes of death. Let's see how we can conquer death with science.

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Top 6 ways to be immortal

Immortality can be achieved through many branches of science. Increasing life expectancy has been one of the most researched ideas in the medical field around the world. There are many theories proposed by scientists for attaining immortality. Let us see them in detail.

Immortal gene modification.

Many animals can live more than 100 years but they eventually die. But there is only one immortal animal. Yes! you heard it right, there is a jellyfish named Turritopsis dohrnii (Immortal jellyfish). It is found in moderate tropical waters all around the world. It is immortal due to its natural ability to regenerate the aging of its cells.

Turitopsis dohrnii (Immortal jellyfish)
Turitopsis dohrnii - Immortal jellyfish (Image courtesy by Pinterest)

Whales are living organisms having the same genetic structure as humans. We can use their genes and genetically modify our genes. Or we can find some medicines or devices which can decrease the process of cell aging called senescence. It is still not known what drives senescence exactly. But scientists are trying to reverse engineer senescence at a molecular level. So that we can regenerate our cell tissues.

Living with nanobots.

Nanobots are microscopic robots that have a specific program programmed into them. We can create nanobots in such a way that they can detect the abnormalities and destroy them. When these harmful cells are removed we can increase our life span by eradicating these diseases. We won’t achieve immortality, but we can live longer than we can live now.

Nanobots
Nanobots (image courtesy by IStockphotos)

Futurists like Ray Kurzweil (Google director of engineering) are proposing that nanobots will be one of the main constituents of human blood within 10 years.

Converting into transhuman. (Cybernetics)

Transhuman is a living being that looks like a human but has more enhanced abilities. This is created by replacing parts of the human body with technology. The human body and its parts age but not technology, so we indirectly stopped the aging of our body by replacing our human body with artificial parts.

Talking about these artificial parts they are grown in laboratories with special techniques. Recently Tel Aviv University and Wake University proposed that they can 3D print human parts which are acceptable by the body without being rejected. With this technology, we can decrease the necessity of organic body parts replacement over time increasing the life span.

Artificial heart
Artificial Heart (Image courtesy by IStockphotos)

Futurists like Ian Pearson have argued that by using the power of technology, humanity might be able to merge our minds with machines making our bodies obsolete. He also said that this technology can be seen as early as 2050.

The best example of the transhuman is Nebula, the fictional character of the marvel cinematic universe. She is the adopted daughter of an intergalactic warlord, Thanos. She was taken from his parents while Thanos was on his quest to rule the universe. She was raised and trained alongside Gamora, another orphan. In the training, Gamora always wins. So Thanos used to replace the body parts of Nebula with an artificial implant every time she lost. To make her equal with Gamora making her a transhuman. alert-success

Nebula
Nebula (Image courtesy by hdqwalls)

This method of transplanting body parts is possible till the brain functions. What if the brain shuts down or the body parts get damaged beyond repair then comes the knowledge of extracting the mind.


Mind Uploading.

Mind uploading means uploading our human consciousness, feelings, memories, intelligence into a server where the information is stored.

The possibility of mind upload is based on three assumptions.

  • Assumption 1: Mind is in your brain structure, arrangement, and biochemistry this is called physicalism.
  • Assumption 2: Scanning the brain well enough to stimulate all of its components to make a digital copy of the brain is called scannability.
  • Assumption 3: Computer software can host your mind making it computable this is called computability.

Scientists are working hard to make these assumptions true. But the mind is a complex part. It has 100 billion neurons, 100 million billion connections, which can send signals at the rate of upto 1000 signals per second. So it is very hard to understand and study it.

So some researchers in 2019 had conducted an experiment to map the brain of mice. They took a cubic millimeter of the mouse brain and divided it into 25,000 slices and with 5 high-efficiency electronic microscopes they took pictures for 5 months day and night collecting 100 million images. Then it took 3 months more to assemble these images into a 3D model. The completed data was of size 2 million gigabytes.

Digital Brain
Digital mind (Image courtesy by IStockphotos)

This model only mapped the surface elements of the brain like synapses and neurons. Without going deep into molecules and enzymes which store and trigger body movements. So if we ever map a whole human brain with slicing techniques it would take years and the product will be more than the whole data on the internet now.

Now we got an idea of how complicated the brain is. But we are just in the beginning stage. We are not able to scan the whole brain failing to prove our second assumption, it is better not to think about proving the third assumption because we are very far from developing a system that can store and process such huge data. But many are trying to get this Brain uploading into reality, one such project is Elon-musk’s Neuralink.

Elon musk's Neuralink is a project of Neuralink cooperation founded by Elon Musk and some others. It was started in 2016 by aiming to cure brain disorders. Later it changed its goal towards achieving transhumanism. They developed a device that is like a sewing machine. Having a very thin width i.e., 4 to 6 micrometers and it spreads its threads into the brain. This system first experimented on lab rats. But it is not yet complete. They are trying to perfect it.alert-info

Mind drive
Mind drive (Image courtesy by sketchfab)

Ok! let us consider that we perfected the art of uploading minds into a server then what?. It will not give us immortality because we just saved a copy of the brain. To get immortality we need to use our copy of the brain into either a clone of our body, 3D printed bodies, etc which will soon be possible in the future. Best TV shows depicting the usage of Mind uploading devices to get immortality are.

The 100 and Altered Carbon both depict the human capability of changing bodies with the same mind. But especially in Altered Carbon, we can see humans living in 3D printed bodies with modifications according to their needs. They were replacing human bodies like replacing a car i.e., selling old ones and buying new ones. All these predictions shown on mind uploading will soon come into reality. If we perfect our vision on mind uploading.alert-success

Ok! We uploaded our thoughts onto a server. What happens there?

Living in the virtual world.

In servers, it would be like living in the real world but it is a programmed version of the real world. In the virtual world, we can travel far across space, feel nature, or we can be in a war because it is based on the server you are in. Each server resembles a separate virtual world programmed into it. In the virtual world, our minds can live forever getting us immortality just like the information in storage devices like hard drives which can stay for a long time.

Virtual World
Virtual World (Image courtesy by IStockphotos)

Leaving apart the fictional ideas of the virtual world. There are a million ways in which your copy of your brain in the server may be interrupted. Our brain copy may get some virus or it may be mixed with others leaving us in an ever-lasting pain or happiness. So we should be careful while uploading our brains.

After developing mind uploading and living in clones we will still face the problem of replacing these bodies constantly over time. To solve this problem we can use android bodies.

Living in android bodies.

The perfect combination of human-machine interfaces could help us to be immortal. We could take our mind and replace it with an android robot as the Control unit. So we can live in an android robot eternally. There is a major advantage of living in android robots: we can go anywhere around the world just by downloading over our minds into the hiring robots present in the location from our servers.

AI robot
AI Robot (Image courtesy by IStockphotos)

In the real world, the best technology for android bodies are the AI-powered humanoid robots which can feel the sense of touch, can speak, and even have the looks of a human. Many robots are being developed in this world but only some are provided with artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is the ability of robots to mimic human actions and think like humans. Only a few robots in the world achieved this artificial intelligence out of which Sophia the robot is one. But to develop a robot that is not like a man but to be a man we have to give it artificial general intelligence or the ability to feel emotions, like in the movie Robot by Shankar.

These robots can be hosts of our minds giving us control. This will get us to everlasting immortality.


Is immortality only for the rich?

As of now, it is true because of the technology available now. We won’t be able to become immortal with any of those six methods proposed above. It will take several more decades or centuries to make the above-specified theories work. Until that point we won’t live so practically we can't get immortality. But there is a method possible only for the rich to live. Wondering what that method is?. It is the method of preserving our body until the point of time at which we can achieve immortality. This method is called cryonics or cryopreservation.

crypopreservation
Crypoprservation (Image courtesy by the goodreads)

Cryonics

Cryonics is the process of preserving the human body as a whole or only the brain with the hope that in the future they may be revived with futuristic technology. This is achieved by cooling the human body to cryogenic temperatures at which metabolism and body decaying almost stops. Modern methods of cryonics use the vitrification technique in which the body is stored in a liquid avoiding the damage done to the body due to ice crystals.

Cryonics Institute is one such company that is involved in preserving the human body. It was the first of its kind founded in 1977 by Robert Ettinger. Now it holds 150 patients in its cryonic chambers located in Michigan USA.

But the process to preserve these bodies is of high cost which is why as of now immortality is only for the rich.

How much does immortality cost?

(Immortality here means cryopreservation)

Immortality would cost you around $35,000 without membership in Cryonics institute and $28,000 with a membership that costs $35 monthly starting at middle age.

Another such company providing immortality is Alcor - a life extension foundation located in Scottsdale, Arizona. It would cost you $200,000 for whole body cryopreservation and $80,000 for only neuro preservation.

Neuro Preservationj
Neuro Preservation (Image courtesy by IStockphotos)

These amounts could also be paid with life insurance. If you can afford it then talk with these cryonics institutes as soon as possible because a long future of immortality awaits you.

Immortality as of now is a leading research topic for scientists. let's hope in the future humans unlock the limit of life making us immortal. If all human beings ever were to be immortal there will be serious issues which is another broad topic. let's discuss it in our future tech article.

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