Let me start my own speculations [about life-prolongation] with what might seem a frivolous topic: pet dogs. For those who love their dogs, the disproportion between the human and canine lifespan is already painful. I know of dog-lovers who just can’t bring themselves to get a new puppy after they’ve lost one too many. How would one feel at, say, 370 years of age, contemplating pet number 30-something? The physical energy required for a new puppy is nothing compared to the psychic energy. So, I don’t think it’s absurd to worry about the effects of extremely long life on our commitments, aspirations, and receptivity to new life and love.
Perhaps we won’t find it disturbing to be so out of sync with the rest of creation (particularly not if we take a chosen few, like our dogs, with us into hyper-longevity). Our human companions, in any case, would be equally long-lived. But how would human relations be affected? How would monogamy fare? It’s not doing great as it is, but could one even imagine the vow “till death do us part” when death might be nine centuries away? If monogamy simply disappears as a promise and an expectation, we might be confronted with the human version of the puppy problem: would there be enough psychic energy for ever-renewed love? Life takes its toll on the spirit as well as the body. What would the tally of disappointments, betrayals, and losses be over a millennium? Would we love other people more or less than at present? Would we be better partners, parents, friends, and neighbors? What would it be like to experience the continued vitality of the body in conjunction with the aging of the spirit? Would it mean the best of both worlds: the vitality of youth with the wisdom of maturity? Or the worst of both worlds: the characteristic vices of age with the strength of will to impose them on others?