专家:长生不老不是梦 / Expert Advice: “You Can Live Forever”

专家:长生不老不是梦

2011年底,香港举办了据说是亚洲第一个“超人类主义”(transhumanism)活动。

(注:别费心查英汉字典了,里面根本没有这个词。和它拼写最相近的字是transhumance,意思是牲畜的季节性迁徙,比如羊。)

这个为期两天的活动以“Humanity + @ Hong Kong”为主题,是在香港举办的三个专场会议的第一场,旨在以另类思维探索人类状况。第二场的主题是TEDx香港(TED是英文technology-技术、entertainment-环境、design-设计三个单词首字母的缩写——译注),最后一场则是亚洲意识节(The Asia Consciousness Festival)。

当地一家报纸援引组委会副主席的话说:“归根结底,人类的根本问题之一就是要超越人类代代相传的资质,超越自然的赋予。”

如果你需要再读一遍这句话才能看懂,没关系,因为我第一次读的时候也没有看懂。这不是翻译的问题,要么是因为他的发言被媒体错误引述,要么是由于他太擅长模棱两可的表述。也许这种话还是对羊说比较合适吧。

活动的主旨演讲嘉宾包括老年医学专家奥布里•德•格雷(Aubrey De Grey,这名字对研究衰老真是再合适不过,因为Grey本身就有头发花白之意)。格雷认为人类不出25年就有50%的机会可以把寿命延长30年。不仅如此,他还认为衰老只是一种慢性病,可以找到治愈的办法,第一个有望长生不老的人也许就活在我们中间。他说:“绝对不存在任何理由可以限制人类的寿命。”

假如格雷是正确的,那香港的口号就该改成“500年不变”了。

试想一下新寿命对个人所得税的影响!税务机关肯定会高兴坏了,更不用说那些寿险承保人。

TEDx活动的另一位演讲嘉宾是著名的自由市场经济学家米尔顿•弗里德曼的孙子、现年35岁的帕特里•弗里德曼。和爷爷一样,帕特里也情迷香港。他对与会者说,过去十年他一直在思考如何才能打造更多像香港一样的地方。

这种想法促使他于2008年成立了非政府组织——“海上家园研究院”(the Seasteading Institute),构思创立新的海上社区“海上家园”。这个家园最初是以小艇为基础,未来会逐渐扩大规模,形成漂浮的海上社区。每个社区自成一体,由小型的政府实行自治管理。

我对不落俗套的思维举双手赞成。但在这个问题上,帕特里似乎也太过天马行空了。

我们的确需要远见卓识去拓宽普通人的思考极限,去挑战想当然的观点和短视的行为。但难就难在既要开发出全新的理念,又要扎根于现实基础,使其具备一定的可操作性。

延年益寿已成事实,无疑还会继续延长,至少对富裕人群将是如此。这对我们业已十分拥挤的星球来说真是好坏参半,但是……

说起漂浮的海上社区,我虽然超爱水上运动,但也和大多数人一样,宁愿大部分时间都呆在干燥的陆地上。

尽管如此,看到香港能继续成为各种思潮、甚至是奇谈怪论的交汇之地,我还是颇感欣慰。 

Expert Advice: “You Can Live Forever”

Hong Kong was the staging point for a conference described as Asia’s first “transhumanism” event, in late 2011.

(Note: don’t bother to check the English-Chinese dictionary. This word is not there. The closest is “transhumance” which is the seasonal moving of livestock — e.g. sheep — from one place to another.)

The two-day event, “Humanity + @ Hong Kong”, was the first in a series of three conferences convened in Hong Kong which were designed to explore the human condition, with “out-of-the-box” thinking. The second in the series was TEDx Hong Kong, and the final one, The Asia Consciousness Festival.

The vice-chairman of the organizing committee was quoted in one local newspaper as saying: “Ultimately one of the things humanity is about is going beyond the legacy condition of humanity and becoming more than what nature has given us.”

It’s OK for you to re-read that statement, in case, like me, you didn’t understand it the first time. This is not a translation issue. Either he was misquoted, or is a master of making obtuse statements. Statements like that are perhaps better suited to sheep in flocks.

Among the keynote speakers at the events was gerontologist Aubrey De Grey. (What an apt name for an expert on aging: “Grey”) In his view, there is a 50-50 chance that within 25 years we’ll be able to extend people’s lifespans by 30 years. Furthermore, aging is just an ailment, for which a cure will be found; and the first person to live forever may already be among us. “There is absolutely no reason why there should be any limit on how long people live” he said.

If De Grey is right, then Hong Kong’s motto could be extended: “No change for 500 years.”

Think of the personal income tax implications of this coming new lifespan situation! The tax authorities will be delighted, not to mention issuers of life insurance policies.

Another speaker, at the TEDx event in the series, was Patri Freeman, the 35-year old grandson of famous free-market economist, Milton Friedman. Like his grandpa, Patri is a great fan of Hong Kong. He told attendees he’d spent the last 10 years thinking about how we can have more places like it.

This lead him to establish, in 2008, an NGO called the Seasteading Institute, which envisions new sea-borne communities called “seasteads”. At first these will be based on small boats, and gradually be increased in size to whole floating communities, each one an independent, self-ruled state with minimal government.

I am a big fan of thinking out of the box. In this case, however, Patri seems to be thinking out of the boat.

It is true that we need visionaries to stretch the limits of us ordinary folks’ thought processes, to challenge our assumptions and narrow-minded approaches. The challenge is to find bold new ideas which can be still be rooted in practical reality.

Longer lifespans are already here. No doubt they will continue to get longer, at least among relatively affluent people. That may be a mixed blessing for our already overcrowded planet, but…

As for new floating communities, I am a big water sports fan; but, like most people, I prefer to be based on dry land most of the time.

Still, it’s good to see that Hong Kong remains a vibrant staging point for the exchange of a wide spectrum of ideas, even some which may seem a bit wacky.


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