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  • I'm curious what the human lifespan is when it's unfettered by natural aging. I mean, I personally have done a few things stupid enough to get me killed; how many times can I be that lucky?

    In general, Larry Niven's treatment of it seems best. For a few specifics...

    Social Classes: I think the dividing line between 'adult' and 'child' would be a little more fuzzy (since there are 15 year old people who look twentysomething already, now there will also be 700 year old people who look twentysomething), but I think adult would just become adult. Since nobody gets older than that, the rest would just be dropped as unnecessary descriptors.

    Marriage: Already going through growing pains due to the currently long lifespan. I predict two reactions: One, fewer shorter marriages, and two, suicide pact marriages("We'll be married the rest of our lives!" "'Til death do us part!")

    Incest: The odds of incest by accident (that is, the child you had fifty years ago being the hot-looking specimen of humanity you pick up in a bar) are going to be really high after a while. This may lead to incest becoming less of a taboo (since you can do it by accident now) or people having less sex (highly unlikely). If incest becomes less of a taboo, you can guarantee it will become a tolerated thing in places.

    Population Control: Wouldn't it have to be, one way or the other? Either a large portion of humanity would destroy itself (risk-taking, stupid wars, etc.) or else governmental controls would be instituted. See Larry Niven again on this one; good examples are the Gil Hamilton stories, but there's references to population control all through the Known Space series. (Notably the venerable Beowulf Shaeffer, whose mate had to go to someone with an unlimited breeding pass. The more able you are, the more breeding rights you get (in Larry's system).)

    Boredom: Personally, I don't think it could happen. Stupidity's another thing, though. (Or is that what you meant? That eventually you'd take greater and greater risks out of boredom and accidentally kill yourself?)

    Larry Niven wrote female characters that feigned youth -- that is, because age would produce a practiced, graceful motion in every action you take, his female characters would do things more clumsily every once in a while. I'm curious as to whether that would happen. (Also, while I realize that there are plenty of women who scoff at faking youth, I realize there are also plenty of women who lie about their age so long they have to lie about their daughter's ages too. Stereotypes happen sometimes.)

    One thing is for sure, though. The death penalty will become extremely common, both because dead inmates could be used for transplant organs and also because nobody wants to house people forever. Assuming draconian drug laws continue to be made and enforced, possession of marijuana could very well sentence you to death.

    Sorry about the long post. I think about this a lot. (I am optimistically estimating my lifespan to be around 500 years. :) )


    You are what you think.
    • Niven had the interesting idea of the Struldbrug Club (I probably spelled that wrong). Every second year the minimum age to join the club was increased by one year.

      Niven also shows that humans in general become much more conservative when they are longer-lived, but there can still be a great deal of variation in individuals, incluing some who start taking ever greater risks out of boredom.

      The Anne Rice vampire reference reminded me of Steven Brust's series about Vlad Taltos. (It starts with "Jhereg".)