Have you ever played Rise of the Tomb Raider? If not, no worries, there are plenty of examples of what I’m about to talk about in other media. Anyway, in this specific game the main character of Lara Croft talks about a MacGuffin that can unlock the secrets of immortality for humankind, talking about how it would change everything, stop sickness and disease, and all the usual nonsense people think up in these situations.
So let’s think for a moment about why this line of thinking is naïve and catastrophically flawed. First, yes, the basic premise Lara is discussing here is correct; a fountain of youth or other immortality device would have the potential to change the world and, more appropriately, humankind. But for the better?
Hardly. It’s true that a variety of human maladies could feasibly be either eradicated or heavily improved by something like this, but given humanity’s bloody and unpleasant history, do you honestly believe this is the outcome we could expect?
The very second people got wind of a panacea of this nature, there’d be instant riots and civil unrest as people claw and beat and kill their way to the top of the pile, hoping to be the one to capitalise on such a wonder treatment for the human condition. Those with power would suppress those without, and they’d fight anyone else with power in order to fully restrict who had access to this miracle medicine (i.e. no one but them).
But let’s say for sake of argument that the governments of the world came together in a spirit of cooperation and refined a new drug to grant immortality and immunity to all disease. How would that go? (more…)