mharr wrote:If indefinite lifespan is possible for humans, the first 'immortals' are probably already here, from a combination of good luck, genetics, wealth, and medical tech progressing just fast enough to cure them of various traditional bluescreen crashes at the last minute. Those of us already on the downhill slope and still renting our homes will just have to compete for wiki entries as 'Last recorded death to <X>'.
No need for mad medical science. There is at least one documented case of a woman whose cells were genuinely, truly immortal
due to a spontaneous mutation. These cells continue to fascinate scientists and, as the article explains, are a heavily used and currently irreplaceable resource for medical research and, notably, the first human cells ever cloned.
The problem of course was that having immortal cells actually caused massive cancer throughout her body. I have little scientific basis for this assumption, but my suspicion is that there are way too many potential and severe side effects of attempting to engineer a truly immortal human from birth. At least not anytime soon.
As for immortal by treatment, there's really only so much we can do. At some point, if not killed by other causes, people simply just die of old age for reasons unknown.
Finally, I could only imagine immortality as nothing short of the worst social catastrophe to ever befall the species. I'm sure many sci-fi authors have already explored potential for immortal humans to cause human society to slow to a permanent stasis from which me might never recover.
However as I mentioned, I'd still be pretty happy with any moderate extensions, and - much more importantly - quality of life improvements in old age.