Our Coming Immortality

I find myself obsessed with a lot of the concepts that Wait But Why has been covering recently, but one that got me really thinking about is our immortality. To quote a section in a piece about AI:

Kurzweil talks about intelligent wifi-connected nanobots in the bloodstream who could perform countless tasks for human health, including routinely repairing or replacing worn down cells in any part of the body. If perfected, this process (or a far smarter one ASI would come up with) wouldn’t just keep the body healthy, it could reverse aging. The difference between a 60-year-old’s body and a 30-year-old’s body is just a bunch of physical things that could be altered if we had the technology.

It's a pretty compelling vision! But wait, you may ask, this could never happen - the engineering is way too hard. Is it? As a thought experiment, I tried to think about something that we've already built that achieves the kind of engineering that would be required here. My first thought? The car.

Come on, you might say, my car breaks down all the time! Yes, yes it does. But think about what we've done. Let's say:
  • Your car lasts 100k miles, with fairly minor updates (oil changes, hose replacements, break repairs, but no significant damage to the engine)
  • Your car has to go through highly varied environments (cold, hot, rocky, smooth, etc)
  • Your car travels, on average, 30 mph (this is an average, so all your high way driving is evened out with your street driving)
  • Your engine goes at an average of 4k RPMs
  • You drive 30 minutes per day, and 10k miles per year

I don't think anything is too far off about this. By that logic, your wheels have rotated 69,000,000 times by the time you're done, and your engine has gone through 438,000,000 rotations. That's some pretty amazing engineering for something that is effectively unchanged tech in the past 50 years!

Given that our hearts beat about 1 billon times in our lifetime, it seems practically impossible that we wouldn't be able to out engineer that with the technology we have at our finger tips today, let alone in 10-20 years.