Immortality in a conworld

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Re: Immortality in a conworld

Post by sangi39 » 27 Mar 2015 01:33

Tmt97 wrote:I just had another idea, you could make the words of the conlang much longer than normal. The people would have nearly all the time in the world to say what they have to say so there's no problem with a conversion taking twice as long as usual. Depending on how the immortality effects their behavior they may also not have a word for impatience.
So, I've been having a think about this, and I'm not overly sure the idea of immortal beings having a language which is "slower" or "longer" really holds out all that well.

Let's assume we're just talking about non-invincible immortals to start with. Since they can still be physically harmed and actually killed by, say, fire, damage to or removal of vital organs or body parts, natural disasters and the like, having a language that prevents short-response times wouldn't be advantageous. While they might be patient enough in the long run to deal with things like how they interact with the environment and each other on a long-term basis, there are things in the world that require direct and fast action to deal with. That was always my main problem with the Ents and their taking forever to say anything. That's all well and good sometimes, when an army's heading towards you and their just two days away, taking a week to devise any sort of defensive action is suicidal.

So what about invincible immortals? Well, are their houses immune to fire damage or their cities immune to destruction by earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and asteroid strikes? While nothing can damage them physically, depending on how they like to live, protection of their way of life seems like it might be somewhat important to them, so they'd still have to deal with events that require action sooner rather than later, which "slow" languages might prevent.

Fair enough, in the case of invincible immortals who feel no pain, hunger or thirst, they might not actually have any real attachment to their environment or their stuff, but would you rather move out of the way, or be stuck under lava for millennia?
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Re: Immortality in a conworld

Post by thaen » 27 Mar 2015 02:15

sangi39 wrote:
Tmt97 wrote:I just had another idea, you could make the words of the conlang much longer than normal. The people would have nearly all the time in the world to say what they have to say so there's no problem with a conversion taking twice as long as usual. Depending on how the immortality effects their behavior they may also not have a word for impatience.
So, I've been having a think about this, and I'm not overly sure the idea of immortal beings having a language which is "slower" or "longer" really holds out all that well.

Let's assume we're just talking about non-invincible immortals to start with. Since they can still be physically harmed and actually killed by, say, fire, damage to or removal of vital organs or body parts, natural disasters and the like, having a language that prevents short-response times wouldn't be advantageous. While they might be patient enough in the long run to deal with things like how they interact with the environment and each other on a long-term basis, there are things in the world that require direct and fast action to deal with. That was always my main problem with the Ents and their taking forever to say anything. That's all well and good sometimes, when an army's heading towards you and their just two days away, taking a week to devise any sort of defensive action is suicidal.

So what about invincible immortals? Well, are their houses immune to fire damage or their cities immune to destruction by earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and asteroid strikes? While nothing can damage them physically, depending on how they like to live, protection of their way of life seems like it might be somewhat important to them, so they'd still have to deal with events that require action sooner rather than later, which "slow" languages might prevent.

Fair enough, in the case of invincible immortals who feel no pain, hunger or thirst, they might not actually have any real attachment to their environment or their stuff, but would you rather move out of the way, or be stuck under lava for millennia?
Maybe the words wouldn't be extravagantly longer. Perhaps something like Hawaiian, with few phonemes, but longer words with repeating sounds (not necesarily reduplication).

But if said immortals were more like "elementals," so to speak, more of indestructible, undying, not needing to eat or drink, things like thag. They have literally all the time in te world to speak, so they could have humorously long words (non-polysynthetic, of course [:P] ) and super long, Entish conversations.
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Re: Immortality in a conworld

Post by Keenir » 27 Mar 2015 02:59

sangi39 wrote:Fair enough, in the case of invincible immortals who feel no pain, hunger or thirst, they might not actually have any real attachment to their environment or their stuff, but would you rather move out of the way, or be stuck under lava for millennia?
can I be like Dr. Henry Morgan, and just vanish from the lava when I "die", only to reappear in the ocean?

actually, whether I'm like him or not, I'd avoid anywhere that has lava, earthquakes, killer bees, and all other natural disasters.
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Re: Immortality in a conworld

Post by Canis » 27 Mar 2015 08:46

greatbuddha wrote:I've made nearly all of the humans in my conworld genetically immortal (at some long forgotten point in the past their genome was altered to prevent senescence as make cancer less likely). The majority of the concultures have a culture encouraging life and devotion to a study, to prevent suicide or mental disorders that might come of people who have lived to long and given up, as opposed to widespread suicide at old age like in the culture. The consocieties are also thriving, and have children, rather than being stable and stagnant like some interpretations of elves. Do any conworlders think this is a good idea? I almost never see conworlds that portray immortality as a normal and widespread thing and when there is immortality it usually comes with some price, like a difficult to perpetuate procedure or sacrificing your soul or something like that. Is there a reason, or is it just tradition?
None of my conworlds at the moment have that concept. Though I must admit I've been under heavy influence of PlanetSide 2 game (sci-fi MMOFPS) and one of many aspects that make the game unique is that they have respawning - necessary in all FPS games - incorporated within the lore. Let me present how that idea is made, I hope it will be interested. (or at least how one funny YouTuber presented it about PlanetSide 1, but the general lore is a lot like it)
Their lore is based on the most durable government Earth has ever had, which united all (or maybe almost all) of Earth, which was called the Terran republic. Based around loyalty and safety from terrorism, they seem like a fancy combination of USA, USSR and IIIrd Reich to me. They didn't genocide anyone, just tormented people who wanted to do too much knowledge. They ruled Earth and its colonies with iron fist. Fear of death was its pillar.

When the Terran Republic used a wormhole to get to the planet Auraxis, full of alien artefacts, the wormhole suddenly collapsed. One of the most distinguished artefacts, three pillars surrounded by a force field of some kind, had some interest, but the TR was afraid what will happen if someone accidentally triggers the alien technology, superior to all people had there. The Republic sent a drone through, which reappeared on another continent, in a similar structure. These were called warpgates, and were soon sealed out of fear of what might happen if a human is sent through.

One Terran pilot disobeyed orders and entered the warpgate. He exited on another continent. The Republic arrested him, made some tests and - what a surprise - ordered him to be shot for treason. The man was executed by a firing squad.
And then they found him on a desert.
Arrested again,
shot again,
and again,
and again,
and then they took him to a research lab. After sime time, the lad finally died. More and more people started going through the warpgates to deceive death, and the pillar of oppression against the Terran Republic fell. War didn't start right away, because dictatorships tend to have some strong advantages to the people, but eventually people from New Conglomerate business company decided it all goes against free business and war broke out. After another hundred years, scientists armed with local alien technology also entered the war as a faction.

--------
I wonder how can I use a similar idea or how to develop it in my conworld. The problem is that my conworld has intercontinental xenophobia and isolationism incorporated deep inside its very principles and the space reasearch is far behind what Earth ever had (they only sent a satellite to the orbit a few years ago). That will not do, maybe I have to start another conworld. I have one conworld on an intergallactic scale, but with trillions of languages it is very difficult to analyse individual societies, when one person in this conworld is but a simple proton compared to a star.
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Re: Immortality in a conworld

Post by cntrational » 31 Mar 2015 13:04

My personal view is that immortality is something everybody should aim for -- unless immortality is invented before I die, I plan to get myself cryonically frozen and revived in the far future.

But in any case, here are a few of my thoughts on immortality, things to consider:

"Death": In real life, many people believe that death is something irreversable that alters your body -- it's more likely that human life is the gestalt realization of all your neurons firing together, and if those neurons turn off, turning them on again won't change a thing, since they'll have remained in the same physical state. It's like how computers remain what they are even if they lose all power.

Of course, this assumes that there's no soul that is lost upon death. I don't believe they exist in real life, but they can exist in your conworld. Some interesting ideas can be derived from this -- for example, a machine that you use to collect the soul of a person when they die, so you can put it back in after their body is fixed.

Nanotechnology: Immortality through nanotech would be done through repairing cellular (particularly neurological) damage. This is the most likely way that immortality will be done in real life.

But having nanotechnology that is strong enough to repair bodies implies many things -- for example, if they can repair bodies, they almost certainly can change them too. Transhumanism, in other words. Most diseases and injuries could be readily cured, as well.

The true capability of nanotechnology as a whole is much debated, so be careful how powerful you make it -- you could end up making your conworld unimaginably powerful and unfamiliar.

AI: AI is almost certainly required for technological immortality, since it would be very difficult to do with solely human minds. Again, the true capability of AI is controversial, so be careful.

Ego and Morph: A concept commonly used in transhumanist fiction, the basic idea is that if your body dies, your mind can be reuploaded back into another body from a regular backup or a rolling backup located in your body.

This requires several technologies: advanced neurology, genetic engineering, detailed psychology, and uploadable intelligence and memory.

The most interesting implication of this is that your mind is a separate thing from your body -- your "ego" and "morph", respectively. Expect this to have shittons of social effects.

Getting a good quality morph would be important, as well, so if your conworld has social stratification, expect lots of discrimination in this regard. There will likely be morphs designed for various situations and with different capabilites. (A morph for zero-gravity life, a morph to survive on the partially terraformed Martian surface, a morph for being attractive and good at sex...)

There's no reason to restrict yourself to human forms, either. Animal morphs are going to be common, and completely original forms will be popular among eccentrics.

Other implications include that if your memories are recordable, they should be replayable. Bam, you've eliminated the concept of forgetting, and sharing memories and experiences would suddenly become a new form of media. You might even be able to edit memories, which would be pretty interesting -- especially if you're original and don't make it into yet another dystopia.

Finally, this would make psychological damage that much more terrifying -- if your body is damaged, you can get a new one. But if your mind is damaged...

Synthmorphs: There's no reason your body has to be purely biological -- if it's possible to digitize minds, then having a robot body -- or, a "synthmorph" - would become plausible.

This would make you immortal by the virtue of the fact that your body is insanely tough, and would let you survive a lot of things that would be fatal for a biomorph. If synthmorphs are cheap and biomorphs expensive, there will be a prejudice against synthmorphs, being associated with poorer classes who have to work.

Again, an even greater freedom for non-human forms.

Infomorphs: Why even need a body? An infomorph is an intelligent mind that exists purely in virtual space, having no body. Cool, innit?

If infomorphs are invented early, expect them to dominate vast areas of technology and work, since they could control machines and use data without having bulky physical interfaces.

Some AIs could be considered effective infomorphs.

Magic: I can't really give concrete advice, here, since magic systems vary so broadly, but remember to consider the implications and side-effects your immortality magic has. Of course, the same applies to all magic.

Language: The idea that language will stagnate if everybody's immortal strikes me as unlikely. The main reason old people don't learn youngster slang is because of mental degradation in innovation and learning ability, which would be fixable with nanotech, so the perpetually young immortals are going to be continuously inventing new words and phrases as culture and technology moves on. Consider the internet that exists now, where slang and memes from the 00s are seen as quaint and boring by 10s interneters, even though most of them are the same people who used those memes.

Immortals might also deliberately change language. Tolkien envisioned the Elves as perpetual language tinkerers, who perpetually changed the language to be more interesting and aesthetic. More science fictionally, the ability to edit thoughts and memories would lead to being able to learn a language very rapidly, if not being able to simply upload it into your brain. This would lead to exended language diversity -- why learn a standard language if it's so easy to learn the other language you're dealing with now?

Language editing will lead to subcultures inventing their own local cultural language, a sorta hybrid of cant and jargon. Conlanging would become a profession, since a lot of groups, from clique-y punks to army units, would want their own personal language.

Boredom: I don'þ know if immortals would really be bored with life, but I lean towards "no" -- the universe is so vast, and human culture is so diverse, that I don't think I'd be bored with it, ever.

If that doesn't convince you, consider that the "bored immortal" is one of the most common cliches used. Wouldn't it be a fresh twist to have it different?

Birth rate: It's well-attested that the more prosperous your country gets, the less children they have. Germany and Japan are having serious problems with this in real life.

So, an immortal society would be very slow growing -- people would have children once or twice every few hundred years. This would also make children a very small minority, in contrast to our world.

So, yeah. That's what I could think of that's relevant to immortality.

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Re: Immortality in a conworld

Post by Lao Kou » 31 Mar 2015 13:36

cntrational wrote:Boredom: I don't know if immortals would really be bored with life, but I lean towards "no" -- the universe is so vast, and human culture is so diverse, that I don't think I'd be bored with it, ever.

If that doesn't convince you, consider that the "bored immortal" is one of the most common cliches used. Wouldn't it be a fresh twist to have it different?
I don't know about boredom, but without a deadline, would anything ever get done? Would the kitchen shelves ever get contact-papered? Would you ever take that trip to Bali Hai? In a world of infinite tomorrows, would the immortal worker at the DMV (or the AI proxy) and the immortal person (or AI proxy) who has the stamp you need and -- I'm afraid -- isn't in today really get crackin' to get immortal you your license today. No driving to the Grand Canyon this summer, but hey, there's always next, next, next, next, next, next summer... And that novel you've been meaning to write? Oh, you're just waiting to get a round tuit. And besides, there's an episode of Big Brother MMMMCMLVII on right now. What's the rush?
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Re: Immortality in a conworld

Post by cntrational » 31 Mar 2015 23:44

Humans don't really think that far ahead, and I don't think that'd change if we were immortal. I'd look for studies on whether countries with longer lifespans have more patience.

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Re: Immortality in a conworld

Post by Lao Kou » 01 Apr 2015 02:46

cntrational wrote:Humans don't really think that far ahead, and I don't think that'd change if we were immortal. I'd look for studies on whether countries with longer lifespans have more patience.
Patience or planning needn't have anything to do with it. "Gosh, where did the time go? I just spent the entire afternoon playing Pac Man. <pang of guilt> Oh, well. There'll be other gloriously sunny days. Tommorrow's another day..." If there's a surfeit of a commodity -- in this case, time -- the value goes down and the chances of wastage go up. One may not necessarily feel nice about throwing out the terrarium of fur allowed to grow in the back of the third shelf in the fridge, but it happens anyway.
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Re: Immortality in a conworld

Post by Ànradh » 01 Apr 2015 04:27

I dare say immortals would get bored of life; mortals already do.
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Re: Immortality in a conworld

Post by valiums » 24 Apr 2015 11:29

There is a small race of long-lived humanoids in my conworld. They age the last few hundred years of their millennial cycles, before going through a couple of decades of a rejuvenation process: their bodies heal up and grow smaller again, and their minds also reset to a degree. Their memories "consolidate", in that some things are moved closer to unconscious instinct, and others are dropped; their personalities may change; and so on.
As for injury &c, while their bodies can be utterly destroyed, their 'cores' can not, same as the core of every other humanoid. However, rather than just becoming a useless small rock upon death, these cores will basically build up an egg around it, hatching a new body after a few years. This is not quite like dying, as most of the person's memories, and a good likeness to their previous body, are preserved, It may take them a cycle to overcome the shock such a destruction, though.

Immortality in this world is considered one form of life/death; rather than having a soul which goes between the mundane and divine planes, these people are considered to be "entirely mundane", the same way gods are "entirely divine", and the way humans are half each. Immortality is not something mortal people strive for, like say, living and dying comfortably.

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Re: Immortality in a conworld

Post by greatbuddha » 11 May 2015 23:24

After a few years of pondering I have been considering the consequences of an interesting twist on the conpeople being ageless

What if the advanced consociety that created these immortal people collapses and the people regress into the neolithic age? They'd inherit their eternal youth through reproduction but the conpeople would have forgotten all of their scientific knowledge. Just imagine how bizarre the climb back to civilization would be.
-Hunter gatherer chieftains that exert cultlike control over their tribesmen in a desperate attempt to prolong their lives for centuries
-Tribes with absurdly detailed and accurate oral histories, as the eldest members of the tribe might remember everything back to the fall of civilization
-Literate hunter gatherers? The people who can remember back to the fall of civilization probably wouldn't forget how to read and write.
-Kingdoms that have the same ruler for centuries or millenia. I'd imagine this would make your typical kingdom much more powerful than in IRL, if a talented ruler like Ashoka or Caesar augustus comes along they'd have incredible amounts of time to perfect their governments.
-"families" where a particularly fertile couple lords over their thousands or millions of their accumulated offspring over countless generations in a very bizarre sort of "nation".
-extreme social inequality, the wealthiest families will have had thousands of years to build up their power and positions while the poor are stuck in an eternal cycle of debt
-Gerontocracy. All of the oldest citizens of a nation live lives of luxury on the backs of their enslaved children. People only have children when they are in need of a servant or another labourer. Children are castrated at birth and executed a decade into their adulthood to prevent them from organizing rebellion. Only the most talented and exceptional children are permitted to live out their potentially eternal lives in the society of the elders.
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Re: Immortality in a conworld

Post by gestaltist » 12 May 2015 00:13

greatbuddha wrote:After a few years of pondering I have been considering the consequences of an interesting twist on the conpeople being ageless

What if the advanced consociety that created these immortal people collapses and the people regress into the neolithic age? They'd inherit their eternal youth through reproduction but the conpeople would have forgotten all of their scientific knowledge. Just imagine how bizarre the climb back to civilization would be.
This is an extremely fascinating concept.
-Hunter gatherer chieftains that exert cultlike control over their tribesmen in a desperate attempt to prolong their lives for centuries
-Tribes with absurdly detailed and accurate oral histories, as the eldest members of the tribe might remember everything back to the fall of civilization
-Literate hunter gatherers? The people who can remember back to the fall of civilization probably wouldn't forget how to read and write.
I don’t believe such a society would remain hunter-gatherers for long. The people who remember the fall of civilization also remember the agriculture. Even if no farmers survived, the concept would remain known. So my guess is, such a civilization would quickly jump back to at least the iron-age agriculturalist level.
-Kingdoms that have the same ruler for centuries or millenia. I'd imagine this would make your typical kingdom much more powerful than in IRL, if a talented ruler like Ashoka or Caesar augustus comes along they'd have incredible amounts of time to perfect their governments.
That’s certainly possible, although I suspect that coups and assassination would be the prevalent cause of death here... And if history is any indicator, few of them would rule for even a century.
-extreme social inequality, the wealthiest families will have had thousands of years to build up their power and positions while the poor are stuck in an eternal cycle of debt
This is the most intriguing part for me. Aristocracy would take on a whole different meaning.
-Gerontocracy. All of the oldest citizens of a nation live lives of luxury on the backs of their enslaved children. People only have children when they are in need of a servant or another labourer. Children are castrated at birth and executed a decade into their adulthood to prevent them from organizing rebellion. Only the most talented and exceptional children are permitted to live out their potentially eternal lives in the society of the elders.
This is also very interesting. I suspect this might in fact happen after a few generations of coups and bloody revolts. It would be a very cynical society. An additional twist: only people known for producing good offspring would be allowed to reproduce, and they would sell children as a commodity. I wonder though, what it would do to the bodies of females working as reproductive factories...

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Re: Immortality in a conworld

Post by loglorn » 12 May 2015 15:30

Being immortal doesn't seem all that happy now.
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Re: Immortality in a conworld

Post by Egerius » 12 May 2015 16:41

Have we discussed immortality and the ability to adapt to quickly-evolving technology?

I mean something like this: The older you are, the more difficult it becomes to gasp the use and concept of new technology (digital natives vs. digital migrants).
When someone lives forever, or even "only" for 200 years, adapting to technology would become increasingly difficult and confusing - immortals might eventually quit adapting to the changing world entirely.
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Re: Immortality in a conworld

Post by gestaltist » 12 May 2015 16:48

Egerius wrote:Have we discussed immortality and the ability to adapt to quickly-evolving technology?

I mean something like this: The older you are, the more difficult it becomes to gasp the use and concept of new technology (digital natives vs. digital migrants).
When someone lives forever, or even "only" for 200 years, adapting to technology would become increasingly difficult and confusing - immortals might eventually quit adapting to the changing world entirely.
An interesting point. And in a „gerontocracy“ proposed above that might mean very slow technological progress, if any at all.

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Re: Immortality in a conworld

Post by alynnidalar » 12 May 2015 22:51

Egerius wrote:Have we discussed immortality and the ability to adapt to quickly-evolving technology?

I mean something like this: The older you are, the more difficult it becomes to gasp the use and concept of new technology (digital natives vs. digital migrants).
When someone lives forever, or even "only" for 200 years, adapting to technology would become increasingly difficult and confusing - immortals might eventually quit adapting to the changing world entirely.
I handwaved this with my dalar (who can live to be upwards of 500 years old) by saying that they adapt easily to new technology, but not quickly enough to start developing new things on top of it--they're adaptable, but not creative (or at least not creative quickly enough to make anything new before humans move on again).

Basically, while they can adapt to new human technology, they aren't very good at adapting the technology to themselves--so their pace of technological development is set entirely by humans. If it wasn't for humans dragging them along, the dalar would develop new technologies at a much slower rate.

(This easy adaptability applies to their memories and the way they interact with the world, too--they don't entirely forget things that happened in the past, in fact they can summon up quite clear memories if they focus, but their memories sort of function on an "out of sight, out of mind" principle. Anything that happened more than, say, ten years ago isn't going to come readily to mind for them. They very much live in the now, which is why they can stay current in an ever-changing world.)

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Re: Immortality in a conworld

Post by cntrational » 12 May 2015 23:43

Egerius wrote:Have we discussed immortality and the ability to adapt to quickly-evolving technology?

I mean something like this: The older you are, the more difficult it becomes to gasp the use and concept of new technology (digital natives vs. digital migrants).
When someone lives forever, or even "only" for 200 years, adapting to technology would become increasingly difficult and confusing - immortals might eventually quit adapting to the changing world entirely.
Older people find it harder to grasp new technology because their brains have degraded. Not gonna happen if you have eternal youth, which applies to brains, as well.

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Re: Immortality in a conworld

Post by gestaltist » 12 May 2015 23:48

cntrational wrote:
Egerius wrote:Have we discussed immortality and the ability to adapt to quickly-evolving technology?

I mean something like this: The older you are, the more difficult it becomes to gasp the use and concept of new technology (digital natives vs. digital migrants).
When someone lives forever, or even "only" for 200 years, adapting to technology would become increasingly difficult and confusing - immortals might eventually quit adapting to the changing world entirely.
Older people find it harder to grasp new technology because their brains have degraded. Not gonna happen if you have eternal youth, which applies to brains, as well.
I don’t think that’s the only reason. A brain can only hold so much information. Plus you have the famous cognitive dissonance: we try to reject notions that don’t agree with our experience so far. So yeah, it is very likely that immortal humans would have trouble adapting to new technologies.

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Re: Immortality in a conworld

Post by kaleissin » 16 May 2015 23:11

Ànradh wrote:I suspect that your people would, despite their great longevity, still mature as rapidly as they are biologically able, and would probably learn all they needed to know of their languages within the first decade or so.
We don't learn language that quickly even. IIRC the last finicky details aren't mastered before ones mid twenties or so.

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Re: Immortality in a conworld

Post by kaleissin » 16 May 2015 23:46

In my conmultiverse, there are multiple species of varying lifespans: short-lived, long-lived, ageless (immorbid) and immortal. You're long-lived if you can expect to experience your thousandth birthday.

The immortals are of the respawn-variety, and most of them do consider it a bit of a curse. There's no way to exit the game voluntarily. They can, however, fade, that is: be bored to death, if their brains (neural nets) aren't constantly challenged to change and adapt. One of the noblest callings is to be on a harvesting team, which brings back (harvests) genes, fads, foods, music, cultural idiosyncracies from wherever and whenever in order to prevent cultural stasis at home. There's also convent/monastery-like places where immortals go in order to attempt to fade.

There's AI, lasting as long as whatever they need to run on, unless they are rewritten as immortals, a one-way, risky and not very popular option.

Immortality is statistically something that happens or is done to one of the other three types of life spans. Since they come from a background that expects to get to permanently exit some day, it can take a lot of time to accept the new situation. Those born immortal don't have as much trouble but aren't spared completely.

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