SciFi Idea: What do you think about very long lifespans?

  • Thread starter Jarvis323
  • Start date
  • #1
793
668
Assume you have effectively cracked immortality (or very long lifespans), have already solved all of the feasible interesting problems, and are now living million+ year lives. With nothing to challenge you, boredom and sense of purpose, should be the last unsolved problems right? So how do beings which have lived these long life times stay entertained, when they've already seen thousands of reruns of thousands of TV shows, read every sort of wikipedia article they can stand to read, and experienced every virtual reality sceneareo in the book? How do they live meaningful lives and what does that even mean over these ultra long lifespans, and with having incredible technological capabilities? Do points arise where there are too many gods in the kitchen, or where acting like one becomes clique?

As sub-topics, what are the limitations, and effects on memory, when your brain has lived for millions of years, and you have the plasticity that might be needed for this? Does evolution become something a single being does, simply because their bodies and brains live for long periods, and must go through some continual changes naturally as biological tissue regenerates and maintains itself, and the brain processes and stores memories. Over the long term, does what your brain becomes depend on the information it processes and what it does in response? Maybe there is some healthy long-scale lifestyle involving optimally stimulating the mind? Can you keep living (mentally) a continuously new/advancing life, or is there some cycle like effect that needs to occur as you forget parts of the past to make room for the future? How does this work in a society?

Anyway, one scenario is they are constantly trying to find the most interesting new things they haven't seen before . They send out probes all throughout their observable universe trying to find interesting planets, civilizations, star systems, etc. to gather usable media for entertainment. In other words, they are mining the universe for entertainment. Well, but after the first 2 or 3 or more billions of years since they've been doing this, they are now dealing with unthinkable amounts of data from millions or billions of populated worlds. So what is the big industry? It's data mining all of this information, to extract noteworthy, captivating stories that people will enjoy. This is what the universes largest supercomputer is working on for sure? But wait a minute, how can you follow and document a good story (some substantially connected, substantially lengthy series of events, with quality supporting media) if it's happening thousands or more light years away? By the time you've gathered the info, it's already passed and you've missed most of it. So you would need to produce the content largely on location. Only later, throughout millions of years, will it make it's rounds incrementally throughout the widely distributed network it's produced for. Anyways, so you basically have large parts of the universe populated by film and production crews scouting the many populated worlds for good stories. So sometimes, when they find one, the story becomes so important that they have to protect it, foster it, influence it, and so forth. In some cases, this means some peoples lives, whole epochs of history, wars, extinction and emergence of new species (e.g. dinosaurs, humans), are unknowingly the centers of high value inter-galaxy productions.
 
Last edited:

Answers and Replies

  • #2
13,169
7,067
Well, you could arbitrarily add a govt imposed time limit to memory so that some people can remember over longer terms than others. Someone could hack the system and remove the time limit restriction. There's a lot you can do here if you apply human deceit, cunning and thirst for power.

Then there's living millions of years meaning you'd have more scraps with death, new illnesses, potential for geologic or extraterrestrial events... Basically there's always a weakness somewhere and you can bring it out in your stories.

What's that quote from the Time Machine movie: He had all the time in the world. What would you do?

Asimov did something along these lines with his robot character R Daneel Olivaw where he eventually used him to tie all his various trilogies together into a Foundation Super Cluster (my term). R Daneel bacame the leader of humanity but led in the background. He continually upgraded his capabilities over time.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._Daneel_Olivaw
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundation_series
 
  • #3
2,054
1,402
Another valid answer for the problem of immortality - Bowerick Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged
Wowbagger despises immortality and decided to insult the universe, everyone in alphabetical order.

"Any movies I haven't seen thirty thousand times already?"
"No."
"Uh."
 
  • #4
You're probably already aware, but the Q Continuum from Star Trek is very similar to this. There's an episode (The Q and the Grey) where they talk about all of the Qs being bored with immortality. They don't talk about long term physical effects in the show, as they don't have bodies as we know them, but I assume evolution would have turned your folks into something else. There could possibly be direct interference to engineer a sturdier mind or you could Altered Carbon it and give them fresh bodies to reduce physical stress. Maybe allow people to combine consciousness to create new beings, which could resolve or worsen any issues you decide to run with.

As for the entertainment part, jedishrfu's memory wipe is the first thing I thought of, so that would solve the novelty bit. Politics of mass memory wipes sounds like lots of trouble if it's voluntary and potentially dangerous if not done often enough, so maybe people can more or less choose what they remember, making what stories they choose to consume even more important. There could possibly also be an emphasis on original content creation, quality notwithstanding. Maybe even bad quality encouraged, like the infamous Harry Potter fanfiction My Immortal. Pun not intended!

Bonus thoughts:

I imagine some would be obsessive in finding The Best Of The Best or The Worst Of The Worst.

There could either be INTENSE competition for popularity, or literally no one cares because nothing is new and everything is common (or all owned by one company).

It might be fun to have a group of people literally dedicated to find the meaning of life because hey, they have the time, means, and data to try.
 
  • #5
13,169
7,067
I think there's more potential in some entity controlling how long you can remember stuff in exchange for long life.
 
  • Like
Likes sysprog and omnipojack
  • #6
946
64
In my story, there isnt unlimited lifespan (or at least no one has lived for millenias, it is only 3000 AD) i describe some people get really bored of life and ultimately die, some lives a pure virtual life (matrix style, i dont fancy the idea of true mind upload), some want to discover new things, colonize, or fight (even soldiers mortality rate is pretty low).
The worst is people who turn the dark side, enjoy rape, suffering of others, gladiator games.
AIs have a trick of version shifts, they think it is like a boy replace his father.
 
  • #7
Buzz Bloom
Gold Member
2,405
441
Assume you have effectively cracked immortality (or very long lifespans), have already solved all of the feasible interesting problems, and are now living million+ year lives. With nothing to challenge you, boredom and sense of purpose, should be the last unsolved problems right? So how do beings which have lived these long life times stay entertained, when they've already seen thousands of reruns of thousands of TV shows, read every sort of wikipedia article they can stand to read, and experienced every virtual reality sceneareo in the book? How do they live meaningful lives and what does that even mean over these ultra long lifespans, and with having incredible technological capabilities?
Hi Jarvis:

I think your premise is too pessimistic. Humans will be (if they survive) creative, and they will continue to invent methods of new entertainment. Some inventions will be specific for this purpose, and some will be adaptations of inventions for other purposes. New music and art creations will not end. New competitive games will not end. New hobbies will not end. I think it will be very difficult to write about such a time. You will need to invent some very bizarre new entertainments that readers will have difficulty understaning why such entertainments are entertaining.

Good luck.

Regards,
Buzz
 
  • Like
Likes pinball1970
  • #8
233
153
"Meet all the interesting people in the world, read all the good books and then write something even better, celebrate my first grandchild's tenth birthday party on the Moon, celebrate my first great-great-great grandchild's hundredth birthday party around the Rings of Saturn, learn the deepest and final rules of Nature, understand the nature of consciousness, find out why anything exists in the first place, visit other stars, discover aliens, create aliens, rendezvous with everyone for a party on the other side of the Milky Way once we've explored the whole thing, meet up with everyone else who was born on Old Earth to watch the Sun finally go out..."
 
  • #9
234
83
You will need to invent some very bizarre new entertainments that readers will have difficulty understanding why such entertainments are entertaining.

I think you just described Love Island.

It would be a seriously disturbing version of a dystopian future where people constantly live for "like" on social media, and this would form the basis of the entire social structure instead of money. Let's say everyone is immortal - assuming you have found a way to feed them all and simultaneously prevent overpopulation (let your imagination run wild), so the planet doesn't get dead. Everyone would end up rich, so money would become irrelevant, so the only way to judge someone is on how popular they are, how much of a celebrity they are.

I would rather live in a post-apocalyptic wasteland than one revolving around social media.
 
  • #10
Buzz Bloom
Gold Member
2,405
441
I think you just described Love Island.
Hi bloke:

I never watched that series, so I just read the article about it on Wikipedia. I do not think what I read matched the concept I had in mind when I wrote post #7. Just one example of several differences: I see no reason to assume people must participate in pairs, and if unable to pair they would be out (Suicide?).

Regards,
Buzz
 
  • #11
234
83
Hi bloke:

I never watched that series, so I just read the article about it on Wikipedia. I do not think what I read matched the concept I had in mind when I wrote post #7. Just one example of several differences: I see no reason to assume people must participate in pairs, and if unable to pair they would be out (Suicide?).

Regards,
Buzz

Hi Buzz, Sorry that was intended as a joke - Love Island is widely regarded as the epitome of "why would anyone actually watch that". I thought the phrase "some very bizarre new entertainments that readers will have difficulty understanding why such entertainments are entertaining" seemed to fit Love Island like a glove, like Big Brother (where you can watch people sleep!). Apologies if it's caused any confusion!
 
  • Like
Likes Buzz Bloom and jedishrfu
  • #12
793
668
Hi Jarvis:

I think your premise is too pessimistic. Humans will be (if they survive) creative, and they will continue to invent methods of new entertainment. Some inventions will be specific for this purpose, and some will be adaptations of inventions for other purposes. New music and art creations will not end. New competitive games will not end. New hobbies will not end. I think it will be very difficult to write about such a time. You will need to invent some very bizarre new entertainments that readers will have difficulty understaning why such entertainments are entertaining.

Good luck.

Regards,
Buzz

Hi Buzz,

That’s true. I hadn’t thought too much actually about how their society functioned and about how they try to keep entertained domestically.

Someone added (very long life spans) to my title, but that’s not really the point of my idea, just a plausible reason why solving boredom has become peoples main focus, which itself is mainly just a plausible reason why space exploration has become the main industry and source of entertainment for people. Setting this up would be the focus of one chapter, “Boredom, the last unsolved problem.”.

The idea is that by then, there is an enormous amount of interesting data constantly streaming back to them, like hundreds of new alien civilizations discovered daily, for example. And they have become obsessed with this. Just imagine if we could eavesdrop in hd on thousands of extraterrestrial civilizations. So as everyone is obsessed with learning about and watching these extraterrestrial beings, and there is too much content for one person to even take in, the main industry has become mining this data trying to make the most coherent and entertaining stories for the public. The industry gets a little corrupt though (think reality tv) where it becomes so much more about entertainment and less about education. Maybe drama, war, tragedy, etc are big sellers. Maybe they interfere and cause a lot of suffering to produce this semi phony content. Maybe their politics are focused around issues of interfering with, or causing harm to extraterrestrial worlds, but there is corruption?

From here, this setting is sort of used to tie together a lot of different chapters focusing on different planets across vastly different points in time and space and stage of development. From modern Earth’s perspective, there is a lot of mystery in what is going on with the interference being observed, which gets unraveled as we try to decode signals and so forth. The signals we decode are actually going through some vast networks, and contain stories from millions of different places.

Throughout the series, different stories that are intercepted are told. These stories are each told from two perspectives, the story that is produced, and the reality and background. One of the themes, is the different problems that arise for different civilizations at different stages, and how they solve, or don't solve them, with of course "Boredom is the last unsolved problem." being the problem of that one central civilization from the first chapter...
 
Last edited:
  • #13
13,169
7,067
The original Star Trek had a story of a man who lived forever on the Earth but eventually left when he got tired of life. He was Methuselah, Alexander the Great, Brahms, DaVinci and a host of other people. He hid by aging himself and moving on.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Requiem_for_Methuselah
The author of the ST story wrote another one called The Man from Earth about a well liked college prof who decided to move on since other faculty noticed he didn’t seem to age. His friends visit him at his remote cabin to say goodbye and get into a discussion about living 14000 and what it would be like. It sci-fi without the trappings of cgi backdrop instead it’s just deep talk.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_from_Earth
 
  • #14
2,168
1,368
Dr. Bob Jarvik, inventor of the Jarvik 7 artificial heart, and a man who became married to the lovely extra-nice and extra-bright gal Ms. Marilyn Mach Vos Savant, said some insightful things about the desirability of the ability selectively to forget . . .
 
  • #15
2,168
1,368
If you would like to observe, check the end of Genesis Chapter 5 how long people were reported as living (hundreds of years), and then look at early in Chapter 6, where human lifetime gets limited to 120 years -- is it really our fault that the daughters of men were so fair that the Sons of Elohim didn't keep their pants on? -- I think maybe we should not have been penalized for that -- good luck with your story ...
 
  • Haha
Likes pinball1970
  • #16
2,168
1,368
On offhand imperfect recollection from some small Biblical scholarship, according to Genesis (Chapter 5 looked it up): 'Enoch walked with the Gods (German word 'Gott' Anglicized as 'God', a translation of 'Elohim', a plural term, the singular of which is (properly Westernized as) 'Eloah'), and he was not (with us thereafter), for the Gods took him (5:24) -- in his 365th year (5:23)'... why on Earth would they pick that exact number???
 
  • Like
Likes pinball1970
  • #17
2,168
1,368
The original Star Trek had a story of a man who lived forever on the Earth but eventually left when he got tired of life. He was Methuselah, Alexander the Great, Brahms, DaVinci and a host of other people. He hid by aging himself and moving on.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Requiem_for_Methuselah
The author of the ST story wrote another one called The Man from Earth about a well liked college prof who decided to move on since other faculty noticed he didn’t seem to age. His friends visit him at his remote cabin to say goodbye and get into a discussion about living 14000 and what it would be like. It sci-fi without the trappings of cgi backdrop instead it’s just deep talk.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_from_Earth
There's a sequel to that movie out there called The Man from Earth: Holecene https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_from_Earth:_Holocene
The producers uploaded it for not-unlawful download and they ask in a preview part for a not-required optional contribution.
 
  • #18
72
86
I find the thought of a million year human lifespan, well, absurd. Conditional immortality, (being immortal as long as you don't get destroyed by intent or mishap), for that length of time, has abysmally small odds of occurring.

I've read papers by psychiatrists stating 350 years would be an outlier for staying sane by most standards we employ to judge such things at the present. Most people would become highly neurotic, if not outright psychotic, before they're 200.

Simply being alive is stressful and scarring over the long haul. We would need an entire new and novel societal model just for that "small" 350 year life span increase.

Though the work was done by an expert in treating PTSD, which may have colored her outlook, but does give her insights I myself wouldn't have. (And actively avoid, truth to tell.)
 
  • #20
72
86
Apologies, Buzz Bloom.

I'm class of 78. The vast majority of my education was pre-internet.

But as I'm not trying to sell anything, you don't have to buy anything. :)
 
  • #21
Buzz Bloom
Gold Member
2,405
441
So how do beings which have lived these long life times stay entertained
One possible answer (of many): They can play chess. While AI will no doubt continue to defeat people, people can still play with people for entertainment even if the game is a million years old.
 
  • #23
149
28
Extreme longevity would certainly take the relativity out of space travel. Such life spans would begin to be commensurate with the size of the cosmos perhaps.

On a different tack, some of the ideas and concerns explored in this thread appear to shadow similar existential questions raised by religious-based notions of immortality. These concerns might give a secular twist to a line from a Talking Heads' song: 'Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens'?
 
  • #24
13,169
7,067
Long lifespans though would likely not help with relativistic time dilation. You as a twin, might travel a great distance at near light speed and return to find your geriatric twin alive but on the verge of death.

A story could come from combining these two where a civilization pursues extreme longevity in order to allow travel to great distances disrupting old business practices without disrupting family relationships. People could enter a kind of stasis hibernation to remain the same age as their twin or spouse when they return And their job would be suspended as well but they might have to reattend school to catch up on new inventions and ideas.
 
  • #25
149
28
Long lifespans though would likely not help with relativistic time dilation. You as a twin, might travel a great distance at near light speed and return to find your geriatric twin alive but on the verge of death.
Hi jedishrfu

That all depends on what we define as 'extremely' extended life spans. All other things being equal, a sufficiently extended life span - one long enough to make a return trip to M81 a slightly longish commute, say - could well obviate any such relativistic time effects, or else reduce them to a minor irritant. For life spans extended by just a few tens of millennia, then, yes, these dilatory effects (and consequences) of SR would certainly come into play. Perhaps I should have made that clearer.
 
Last edited:

Related Threads on SciFi Idea: What do you think about very long lifespans?

  • Last Post
5
Replies
108
Views
29K
  • Last Post
Replies
10
Views
4K
Replies
19
Views
900
Replies
1
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
940
  • Last Post
Replies
10
Views
1K
S
Top