I had fun talking with KMO, creator of the geeky and wide-ranging C-Realm Podcast, and I think he did too. Posted on Wednesday, May 8, the podcast covers a lot of interesting territory, from ageism in society to mortality, the U-shaped happiness curve, Ted Kaczynski’s ruminations on “primitive man,” and how KMO used to scare baby boomers into buying health insurance.
Like me, KMO has gone through several lives and wouldn’t swap any of them to be 25 again. He describes himself as “a recovering libertarian and Singularitarian,” and warned me that he was going to bring up Aubrey de Gray, a leading proponent of the Singularity. (The Singularity is that hypothetical point in future when man and machines become one and intelligent machines take over. Many reputable scientists believe in it, including the brilliant mathematician—and Unabomber—Ted Kaczynski, who thought it a likely and horrific outcome of technological progress.)
De Gray is a gerontologist who studies biotechnologies to rejuvenate the human body and arrest the aging process. As I say on the podcast, even if these treatments become feasible (which to me seems unlikely or very far off; biologists are only now beginning to grasp the fundamental workings of the cell), they will benefit only a very wealthy minority. KMO countered this with an example from Ray Kurzweil, another high-profile Singulatarian, that cell phones were once only available to the wealthy. Yes, costs would drop, but I’d far rather see resources devoted to health initiatives and social programs that benefit those without means at both ends of the age spectrum. One factor behind the U-shaped happiness curve, after all, is that those in the middle are stressed by caring for the very old and very young with very little external support.
Delusory or not, all anti-aging research and marketing is based on fear. Afraid of aging and dying, people flock to the fountain of eternal youth in whatever guise it assumes, in a futile effort to stop the clock. Happiness in late life resides in precisely the opposite reckoning: coming to terms with the fact that time is short, which is what enables us to live in the moment and find peace. Which KMO’s grandmother has done, setting him and the rest of us another fine example. The “C” in C-realm stands for consciousness, and that’s what it’s all about.