The results of the 2015 poll are in, if you missed voting in it, don’t worry, it’s not going to close and I may report on it again if it changes drastically.
This year, I started rallying people to vote while I was at the World Con, The World Science Fiction Conference. I don’t know if it did anything to the results but the attitudes toward immortality seem favorable in this poll. The results are:
Would you want to be immortal if you would be eternally young and healthy?
In the next poll, I might change this question to “Would you want to be immortal if you would stay eternally young and healthy, but you would be only one of a few?” (That is the case in the first novel in the series) I think the answer would change drastically since I always have readers who say they would only want to be immortal if their loved ones were too.
The human bond must be strong since people choose it over immortality.
Is lengthening the human lifespan ethical?
People are used to hearing about problems associated with overpopulation. I spoke with a few of the people who voted no and that was their primary concern. Keeping those problems and other in mind, I asked the final question.
Problems brought about by human immortality would PRIMARILY be solved by
Human Culture- 48%
This surprised me. I thought more people would choose technology. Futurists are optimistic that the rate at which technology advances will keep up with, if not surpass any problems we experience. I question that. Even though we have cell phones that can translate documents, We currently don’t find treatments for disease as quickly as we develop apps for smart phones. If we did, there wouldn’t be any disease right now.
The fact that 30% of respondents voted that problems would be unsolvable shows others are just as pessimistic as I am. Yet as a novelist, it is my job to be pessimistic, no one reads stories or watches movies where everything is okay all the time. Yet sometimes these stories have happy endings, or at least sort-of-happy endings, so I’m willing to consider showing a solution to the problems of immortality in my novels, you’ll just have to read them once they are published.
I was most surprised however, that human culture came in first. I feel the various human cultures take too long to change.
For example, during the energy crisis in the 70s US President Jimmy Carter told everyone to turn down their home thermostats and wear sweaters. It didn’t go over well. It’s part of American culture do whatever you damn well please, even if it means an energy shortage for all. It doesn’t surprise me that governments got 0 votes, given that example, but maybe it’s because I imagine most people who took the poll are from the US.
But maybe things are changing. Most of the Millennials and Gen Xers I meet recycle, regardless of their political affiliation, even though it is inconvenient. Some of the older people I know won’t even consider it. Yet theres something I’ve noticed that transcends generations, compassion. When there is a well-publicized disaster, huge campaigns can raise a lot of money like they did in Haiti.
Maybe human culture would become less self-centered if immortality slowly made its way from the haves to the have-nots (because that is the way it will unfold if technology causes people to live longer). But the suffering of the mortals would have to be well-documented to the immortals, the immortals would need to care, and they would have to have the means to help.
30% are betting that wouldn’t happen. People are living longer, technology does advance, so we’ll just have to see.