In this 2014 article for The Atlantic, oncologist and bioethicist Ezequiel Emanuel offers to us a new idea: a long life does not mean a better life. In a world afraid of death and illnesses, Emanuel is one of the few who thinks that life extension is misguided and potentially destructive. Our societies are investing money in regenerative medicine and organ replacement, but there is no evidence that these actually improve health. Physical bodies continue to age, mental capacities continue to degrade. Emanuel says that the length of one’s life does not matter when they have lived a happy, meaningful existence.
Implications for AI
This article is a direct answer to the concerns surrounding life extension technologies. Even if new technologies will enable us to live long lives without the degradation of our physical and mental capacities, we need to ask ourselves, why do we have a need to live long lives? Contemplating on this question will lead us towards a re-evaluation of our values and our life decisions – an activity that only a few people today actually take the time to do.
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