This is not a piece I was dying to write. It’s about death. The great equalizer. The reason I bring up the subject today is that I read a piece recently that scientists are looking seriously at ways to keep us alive forever. No more wakes. No more inflated obituaries. No more people saying nice things to the family about us they really didn’t mean. No more squabbling over who gets what in the estate.
Some deep-pocketed moguls seem to think there might be some big bucks in the effort. Big bucks, as in an estimated $610 billion by 2025. According to my abacus, that’s two-and-a-half years from now. This tells me that we must be worth more alive than dead. Sorry about that, estate planners.
Heavy hitters like Paul Thiel, co-founder of Pay Pal and Jess Bezos, Amazon’s chairman plus whoever is running Google these days are all funding initiatives to figure out a way to keep us – and them, I would assume – from kicking the bucket. The ideas range from “rejuvenating cells” to “hacking” the little boogers in order to “recode” them. If some nerdy kid locked away in his bedroom can hack my computer, how hard can hacking a cell be?
At a recent conference at the London Institute for Mathematical Sciences which I was unable to attend because it occurred the same week I had scheduled to rearrange my sock drawer, director Thomas Fink told a Washington Post reporter that life could be engineered to live longer if we could figure out why we age in the first place. Scientists agree that all organisms degrade over time and eventually break down. That is probably why my knees hurt.
Forrest Sheldon, an associate at the institute thinks that “if the aging process is a mechanism inside the cell controlled by a transcription program, we might be able to influence it.” I’ll take his word for it because I have no idea what he is talking about.
This isn’t the only effort at trying to figure out a way to help us achieve immortality which I will say modestly that I think I have already managed to do, thanks to my witty and thought-provoking columns. (Pause for applause.)
There is cryonics where they freeze your body, hoping to figure out how to thaw you out which seems still to be a bit of a problem. And then there is something called “mind-loading,” which involves scanning the brain accurately enough to copy it to a computer in digital form. The computer would then supposedly be able to experience feelings and have a conscience. What it would not be able to do is write witty and thought-provoking columns which, by the way, doesn’t require a conscience.
Searching for eternal life on this earth is nothing new. It has been going on for eons and to no avail. Remember Ponce de Leon who came to Florida supposedly looking for the Fountain of Youth? All he found was water that smells like rotten eggs and a tourism industry.
The big question that must be asked is do you really want to live forever? That means if you can, so can a nutcase like Vladimir Putin. And that little fat guy with the bad haircut who runs North Korea. And the Supreme Whoever in Iran that hates Israel and won’t let women ride bicycles. Not to mention the Woke crowd, Cancel culturists and robocallers.
On the other hand, I would have humor-impaired wingnuts on both ends of the political spectrum to gig into all eternity as well as more tut-tut special interest groups than a yard dog has fleas, assuring me of an endless supply of witty and thought-provoking columns and further immortality. Not to mention a bunch of cranky emails.
I could paint forever and eat banana pudding forever and avoid broccoli forever, hoping the stuff couldn’t get its cells hacked and might disappear forever. I could bleed Red-and-Black and never run dry and watch You-Know-Where Institute of Technology win three games a year into perpetuity.
Alas, scientists admit all of this is a long way off and might not even happen — not the three wins a year for YKWIT, that’s a given — I’m talking about staying alive forever. Evidently, hacking rejuvenated cells isn’t as easy as it sounds. Rats.
I guess I will just forget all the science talk and get back to churning out witty and thought-provoking columns. After all, there is more than one way to be immortal.
Dick Yarbrough is an award-winning columnist from Georgia. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at facebook.com/dickyarb.