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TSS独家报道:永生值得追求吗?

Is Eternal Life Worth Chasing?

Bill Wilson

Of all the specters that haunt the human heart, none are more feared than the Grim Reaper. The knowledge that each of us will someday become a lifeless, rotting corpse is not only sobering, it’s downright terrifying.

在所有萦绕人心的幽灵中,没有一个比死神更可怕。有一天,我们每个人都会变成一具没有生命、腐烂的尸体,这不仅让人清醒地面对现实,而且让人感到彻头彻尾的恐惧。

Bringing comfort to people terrified of their own mortality is traditionally the job of the clergy. However, now a well-funded group of researchers has thrown its own hat into the ring. These scientists have already shown that they can slow down the aging process. If their efforts continue to bear fruit, then some of us alive today may still be alive centuries from now. 

传统上,神职人员的工作是安慰那些害怕自己死亡的人。然而,现在一个资金充裕的研究小组已经加入了这个圈子。这些科学家已经证明他们可以减缓衰老过程。如果他们的努力继续取得成果,那么我们今天活着的一些人可能在几个世纪后仍然活着。

That’s all well and good for individual humans. But what will extended lifespans mean for humanity as a whole? Will antiaging technology usher in the Millennium? Or, will it destroy everything that makes life worth living? Our future may very well hinge on the answer to these questions.

这对每个人来说都很好。但是延长寿命对整个人类意味着什么?抗衰老技术将迎来千禧年吗?或者,它会摧毁一切让生活有价值的东西吗?我们的未来很可能取决于这些问题的答案。

Science Tackles Old Age

科学技术解决衰老问题

Medical experts have long assumed that age-related decline is unstoppable. But recent data says otherwise. 

医学专家长期以来一直认为,与年龄相关的身体机能下降是不可阻挡的。但最近的数据表明情况并非如此。

Take the anti-diabetes drug metformin, for example. A solid body of evidence suggests that it not only controls blood sugar levels, it also slows down the metabolic clock that plays a key role in the aging process. Ongoing research is underway to track its effects over the long term.

以抗糖尿病药物二甲双胍为例。大量证据表明,它不仅可以控制血糖水平,还可以减缓在衰老过程中起关键作用的代谢时钟。正在进行的研究正在追踪其长期影响。

Metformin is just one of hundreds of existing medications and supplements being studied for their life-prolonging benefits. Other leading candidates include:

二甲双胍只是目前正在研究的数百种延长寿命的药物和补充剂之一。其他主要“候选人”包括:

  • Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) – which performs key metabolic functions in every cell of the human body. It’s believed that NAD supplements may help to treat age-related conditions like arthritis.
  • 烟酰胺腺嘌呤二核苷酸(NAD)-在人体每个细胞中执行关键代谢功能。据信,NAD补充剂可能有助于治疗与年龄相关的疾病,如关节炎。
  • Pterostilbene – an antioxidant that seems to prevent long-term cell damage. Pterostilbene is chemically similar to resveratrol, a compound commonly found in red wine.
  • 紫檀烯–一种抗氧化剂,似乎可以防止长期细胞损伤。紫檀烯的化学成分与白藜芦醇相似,白藜芦醇是一种常见于红葡萄酒中的化合物。
  • Alpha lipoic acid – which is already used in Europe to treat diabetic neuropathy. Studies strongly suggest that it can help protect the body against dementia, stroke, and other conditions that prey on the elderly. 
  • α-硫辛酸-已在欧洲用于治疗糖尿病神经病变。研究强烈表明,它可以帮助保护身体免受老年痴呆症、中风和其他折磨老年人的疾病的侵害。
  • Dasatinib – a prescription medication originally developed to treat leukemia. Research indicates that it may rid the body of so-called “zombie” cells that exacerbate the aging process.
  • 达沙替尼-最初开发用于治疗白血病的处方药。研究表明,它可能会清除体内加剧衰老过程的所谓“僵尸”细胞。

Options for life extension go well beyond nutritional supplements and conventional medicines. For example, researchers at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, have rejuvenated the internal organs of elderly mice through genetic engineering. Advanced technologies like CRISPR may give science the power to exorcize the aging demon from our DNA forever.

延长寿命的选择远不止营养补充剂和传统药物。例如,加利福尼亚州拉荷亚的索尔克研究所的研究人员已经通过基因工程使老年小鼠的内脏恢复活力。像CRISPR这样的先进技术可能会给科学带来力量,将衰老的恶魔从我们的DNA中永远驱除。

This brings us back to our original question: Is living a greatly expanded lifespan worth the potential cost to ourselves and to society? To explore this concern, let’s look at how death has shaped our attitude towards life since humanity first evolved.

这让我们回到了我们最初的问题:一个大大延长的寿命值得为我们自己和社会付出潜在的代价吗?为了探究这种担忧,让我们看看自人类首次进化以来,死亡是如何塑造我们对生活的态度的。

The Beauty of Life Is in Its Brevity – or so They Say

生命的美丽在于它的简洁——就像他们说的那样

The knowledge that our days on Earth are limited has inspired countless acts of nobility and altruism over the centuries. Soldiers sacrifice their lives for nationalist ideals. Ordinary people give their lives to rescue complete strangers, knowing that the world will remember them as heroes. Artists plumb their souls for fresh sources of inspiration, racing against their own mortality to leave a lasting legacy.

我们在地球上的日子是有限的,这一认识激发了几个世纪以来无数的高尚和利他主义行为。士兵们为民族主义理想牺牲了生命。普通人献出自己的生命来拯救陌生人,因为他们知道全世界都会记住他们是英雄。艺术家们在灵魂深处寻找新的灵感来源,与自己的死亡抗争,以留下永恒的遗产。

Built into all of these actions is the assumption that death is both inevitable and universal. But what if this was no longer the case? Would we still make the most of our lives if we could ward off death ad infinitum? Or would we endure eons of miserable monotony, too afraid to live yet too afraid to die? The prospect is disturbing enough to make good old-fashioned mortality seem pleasant in comparison.

在所有这些行动中都有这样一个假设,即死亡是不可避免的,也是普遍存在的。但如果情况不再如此呢?如果我们能无限期地避开死亡,我们还会充分利用我们的生命吗?或者,我们会忍受千百年的悲惨单调,害怕活着,却又害怕死亡吗?这种前景令人不安,相比之下,好的老式死亡率似乎令人愉快。

Eternal Life – for Those Who Can Afford It

永生——为那些有能力承受的人

Another dark implication of life extension technology is the impact it could have on human society. That’s because granting immortality to everyone who asks is simply not feasible. The Earth, or the galaxy for that matter, may not have the resources to support billions or trillions of death-averse homo sapiens forever. 

延长寿命技术的另一个黑暗含义是它可能对人类社会产生的影响。这是因为让每个提出要求的人都不朽是不可行的。地球或银河系可能没有足够的资源永远支持数十亿或万亿厌恶死亡的智人。

This points out two dystopian options for the future. On one hand, civilization may collapse as human beings battle each other for access to antiaging treatments. On the other hand, we might find ourselves living in a two-tiered oligarchy, where a handful of elites enjoy virtual immortality while the rest of us struggle, suffer, and die over a brief span of years. 

这为未来指出了两种反乌托邦的选择。一方面,随着人类相互争夺抗衰老治疗的机会,文明可能会崩溃。另一方面,我们可能会发现自己生活在一个双层寡头政治中,少数精英享受着虚拟的不朽,而我们其他人在短短几年内挣扎、受苦和死亡。

How do we prevent these dark scenarios from becoming reality? The answer may lie with Star Trek and its vision of a world in which individuals accept their mortality as the price of a better life for humanity in general.

我们如何防止这些黑暗场景成为现实?答案可能在于《星际迷航》及其对世界的愿景,在这个世界中,个人接受自己的死亡是整个人类更好生活的代价。

What Would Gene Roddenberry Do?

吉恩·罗登贝里会怎么做?

Those familiar with the Star Trek universe know that the Earth of the future is governed by the Federation, an interstellar authority that bans certain types of technology due to the danger they pose to society. 

熟悉《星际迷航》宇宙的人都知道,未来的地球是由联邦管理的,联邦是一个星际权威机构,禁止某些类型的技术,因为它们对社会构成危险。

These prohibitions include laws against radical life extension treatments. The world of the 24th Century is filled with people who age gracefully and live well over the age of 100. However, only advanced aliens, like the Q Continuum, survive for eons, and even they eventually regret their inability to die.

这些禁令包括反对激进延长寿命治疗的法律。24世纪的世界充满了年龄优雅的人,他们在100岁以上生活得很好。然而,只有像Q连续体这样的高级外星人才能存活千古,甚至他们最终也会后悔自己无法死亡

This ties into a recurring theme of the Star Trek franchise: that our technical progress must never outpace our moral and spiritual progress. There may come a day when humanity is ready for immortality; but that day is far, far in the future. 

这与《星际迷航》系列中一个反复出现的主题有关:我们的技术进步永远不能超过我们的道德和精神进步。也许有一天人类已经准备好永生;但那一天是遥远的未来。

This doesn’t mean that medicine should abandon its mission of curing disease and extending life. But it does mean that we should weigh every advancement against its impact on society. 

这并不意味着医学应该放弃治疗疾病和延长寿命的使命。但这确实意味着我们应该权衡每一项进步及其对社会的影响。

We’ve already seen what modern, technology-based industry can do to our environment. Extreme life extension may pose a similar threat to our souls, unless we proceed with absolute caution. In the end, we may realize that our mortality is one of life’s greatest, and most misunderstood, blessings.

我们已经看到了以技术为基础的现代工业可以对我们的环境做些什么。极端的生命延长可能对我们的灵魂构成类似的威胁,除非我们绝对谨慎。最后,我们可能会意识到,我们的死亡是生命中最伟大、最被误解的祝福之一。

图片出处

STARSET_Mirror

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