What do cyborgs, vampires, and bowhead whales have in common?
History tells us that when victorious generals in ancient Rome returned home, they would hold triumphal processions through the streets. Singers, dancers, and adoring citizens would shower the general with effusive praises. But to guard him against getting a big head, a slave stood behind him to whisper in his ear, “Remember, thou art mortal.”
It’s a reminder each of us could use every day. But some entrepreneurs on the cutting edge of the tech world see their mortality and humanity not as realities to accept, but as hurdles to overcome.
Take billionaire SpaceX and Tesla founder, Elon Musk. As I told you back in October, Musk puts the odds that we’re not living in a Matrix-like computer simulation at one in a billion.
Now he says it’s time for humans to merge with machines, or risk becoming irrelevant in the age of artificial intelligence.
“Over time I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological and digital intelligence,” he told the World Government Summit in Dubai. Musk thinks we’ll have to add a new layer to our brains—an implant, perhaps—that will allow us to tap into artificial intelligence and think at the speed of computers.
He admits that so-called “deep A.I.,” “smarter than the smartest humans on earth,” strikes him as dangerous. But he seems to believe that combining our wetware with hardware is the answer to human limitations.
CNBC uses the word “cyborg” to describe the concept, but Musk’s musings sound tame in comparison with fellow Silicon Valley billionaire and PayPal co-founder, Peter Thiel.
A self-proclaimed “transhumanist,” Thiel already takes human growth hormone to prolong his life, and says he hopes to achieve immortality by “uploading” his consciousness into a computer. And last year, Jeff Bercovici of Inc. magazine published an interview in which Thiel described a new plan to extend his life: injecting himself with the blood of young people to reverse the aging process.
The procedure is called “parabiosis.” And yes, of course many have already made the obvious comparison to vampires.
Referring to death, Thiel remarked that “You can accept it, you can deny it, or you can fight it. I think our society is dominated by people who are in denial or acceptance, and I prefer to fight it.”
He’s not alone. In 2015, BBC Future reported on research to identify the slowest-aging animals to discover the secret to their longevity. So far bowhead whales, which may live over 200 years, along with naked mole rats and certain bats, show the most promise.
Of course, much of the work being done to delay aging and overcome our human limitations is good. Lifespans in the developed world have drastically increased in the last 200 years mostly because of improved medicine and nutrition. But the transhumanist impulse—the urge to not only delay death but beat it and become like gods—is lurking in the background, not to mention in Silicon Valley.
“Aging,” declares the BBC article, “is not an inevitable fact of life.”
But folks, it is.
“Dust you are, and to dust you will return,” God told humanity when sin entered the world. If Jesus tarries, you and I will die. All of us. Accepting that is crucial to living a meaningful life.
Even so, as the Apostle Paul wrote, death is “the last enemy to be defeated.” Our longing for immortality is good! It was put there on purpose. We were meant—from the moment of our creation—to live forever.
And the secret to eternal life is in Someone else’s blood. But it won’t happen the way some people think. That means Christians can accept death, knowing that He Who is the “resurrection and the life” has already defeated it.
— by Eric Metaxas
Metaxas is the voice of Breakpoint, a radio commentary (www.breakpoint.org). Copyright© 2017 Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with permission. BreakPoint is a ministry of Prison Fellowship Ministries.