Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Microstory 1643: Fighting Fire With Accelerant

Like a lot of human cultures that manage to evolve, and survive past their early Great Filters, the people on one version of Earth figured out how to defeat death. They did it both biologically, and technologically, which is standard. The outcome wasn’t as favorable as it is for others. While inventing immortality is in no way inevitable, it’s pretty hard to miss unless you’re deliberately trying to avoid it. If you do, there is every chance that you will run up against your next Great Filter, and die out as a species, so be careful. Still, some people don’t think that death is something that should be overcome, and this side of the argument wins about as often as it loses. This is about an Earth where that didn’t happen initially, but it became that way after they already started to walk up the path of immortality, and actually go pretty far along it. Right around the time that scientists and engineers were coming up with the right solutions, the world was suffering sociopolitically. Leaders were being elected in multiple countries who did not have the best interests of the public at heart. Fascists, is what they were, but unlike their predecessors, they were a lot less obvious about it, and a lot more insidious. They started manipulating laws slowly and quietly, so as not to sound any alarms. While they were doing that, they instigated social unrest, which led voters to believe that the secret fascists were their only hope. Eventually, they just did away with voting altogether, first by postponing it due to extenuating circumstances, and then simply refusing to let go of their power. Meanwhile, longevity researchers were allowed to keep working, but when their work was sufficiently complete, there were significant downsides to releasing it.

Once the rich took notice of the new technology, they took control. The wealth disparity increased drastically, raising the richest of people to almost godlike status, and dropping everyone else to ants. It was bad before, where tyrants could pass their unearned power on to the next generation of tyrants, but now the threat was insurmountable, for the original tyrants could conceivably be able to maintain their power literally forever. A great war began, and nearly resulted in the destruction of the human race. They survived, but everything changed. Instead of finally making longevity treatments and upgrades free for public use, the victors simply made all such enhancements illegal. The standard lifespan was eighty years, and it was against the law to live past it, even if one managed to be healthy enough to surpass it. All seventy-nine-year-olds were executed, and many people were executed before that if the new government felt threatened by them in some other way. They weren’t about to let a fascist plutocracy rule the lands again, and their anger clouded them to the fact that the only way to enforce their will was to become the fascists. Anyone who attempted to show them this reality was—you guessed it—executed. Of course, once a given technology exists, you can’t put that toothpaste back in the tube. Another resistance rose up in response to the consequences of the first one. They lost, and were wiped out, but this only served to galvanize a third resistance to try again. They won this time, and were able to make immortality free for all. Unfortunately, when they looked around, they realized that almost everyone was dead, and it didn’t really matter anymore. Most of the few immortals left standing would later find ways to let themselves die, and leave the uninhabitable world behind.

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