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Would you want to know when you were going to die?

see317see317 Registered User regular
edited January 2012 in Debate and/or Discourse
Partially inspired by the would you want to know that you were a robot? thread, and partially by staying awake too long after taking some NyQuil I thought I'd ask.

Suppose a new technology came into existence that could, with 100% accuracy, predict the exact time and date of death for any person. The test is nearly painless, a small skin scraping or blood sample or mouth swab or something, and in 24 hours the results are mailed to you.
Would you take the test?

Some notes/addendums/caveats etc...:
The test is 100% accurate. If you try to avoid dying on that day(maybe by staying in your basement all day instead of going out) you still die. The results are still accurate regardless of the means of death.
The test results are based on brain death, so if you're in a coma with brain activity, you're still considered alive.
Taking the test is entirely voluntary, no person can be coerced or forced into it. No, I don't know how you'd enforce that, but it's just the way things are.
The results of the test are available, but not as general knowledge. Similar to a credit score, a company can be authorized to review for your information once you've taken the test and make decisions regarding you based on the information.

So, with that information, would you choose to take the test?
Alternatively, discuss how the world would be different in this case. I'd imagine Life Insurance as an industry would be pretty well dead inside a week, but health insurance? The credit industry?
On the other hand, can you imagine the party you'd throw if you knew you where going to be dead tomorrow and this is your last chance to say goodbye?

Ringo wrote: »
Well except what see317 said. That guy's always wrong.

Posts

  • AiouaAioua Novus Ordo Seclorum Lord of the ForumRegistered User regular
    edited January 2012
    see317 wrote:
    The results of the test are available, but not as general knowledge. Similar to a credit score, a company can be authorized to review for your information once you've taken the test and make decisions regarding you based on the information.

    This right here put me in the NOPE camp.

    You might want to specify who authorizes viewing your DoD and for what reasons, for the purpose of our hypothetical. I'm not sure the credit reporting model is a good one, since basically anyone with enough money can look up anyone else's credit info.

    However, you bet your ass that if it was treated like a credit report, you wouldn't be able to do anything until you got the test. Everyone's credit score drops to 400 until they get a DoD after their DoB.

    Aioua on
    life's a game that you're bound to lose / like using a hammer to pound in screws
    fuck up once and you break your thumb / if you're happy at all then you're god damn dumb
    that's right we're on a fucked up cruise / God is dead but at least we got booze
    bad things happen, no one knows why / the sun burns out and everyone dies
  • edited January 2012
    No:

    starlime on
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited January 2012
    Aioua wrote:
    see317 wrote:
    The results of the test are available, but not as general knowledge. Similar to a credit score, a company can be authorized to review for your information once you've taken the test and make decisions regarding you based on the information.
    This right here put me in the NOPE camp.

    You might want to specify who authorizes viewing your DoD and for what reasons, for the purpose of our hypothetical. I'm not sure the credit reporting model is a good one, since basically anyone with enough money can look up anyone else's credit info.

    However, you bet your ass that if it was treated like a credit report, you wouldn't be able to do anything until you got the test. Everyone's credit score drops to 400 until they get a DoD after their DoB.
    At first, I was right there with you. And then I thought about it some more: whether or not anyone else gets to look at it, just the knowledge of whether or not you've taken the test would give them a pretty good idea of what it said. Have a lot of credit cards? Probably said you're going to die soon. Have a ton of money put away for retirement? The opposite.

    And I think there would still be a credit industry and a life insurance industry and everything, it would just be for the people who declined the test.

    And I would totally take the test. Knowing that would allow you to live your life to the fullest. As it is, I have to put away a ton of money for retirement, when there's only a two out of three chance I'll ever actually see retirement, and far less of a chance I'll be able to enjoy it.

    Thanatos on
  • HacksawHacksaw J Duggan Wrestler at LawRegistered User regular
    edited January 2012
    I know exactly where I'm going when I die. The when doesn't matter to me.

    Hacksaw on
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    edited January 2012
    I would take it, simply because it would making planning easier. I spent about 2 years in the midst of a really bad existential crisis. Now that I am more or less at peace with the idea that I will die. The thought of death is a bummer, but knowing would allow for planning and such, however on the flip side if you knew that no matter what you did you wouldn't die till 30 years later, you would be doing all sorts of crazy shit, because "fuck it I aint going to die."

    zepherin on
  • Witch_Hunter_84Witch_Hunter_84 Registered User regular
    If such a test existed I'd take it then kill myself the day before I was scheduled to die, just to be contrary.

    If you can't beat them, arrange to have them beaten in your presence.
  • Phoenix-DPhoenix-D Registered User regular
    What happens if someone tries to cheat it in the other direction? "Hi, you're not scheduled to die for another 50 years. Off to the warzone for you!"

  • CantidoCantido Registered User regular
    edited January 2012
    Hacksaw wrote:
    I know exactly where I'm going when I die. The when doesn't matter to me.



    The movie Big Fish puts a spin on this big time. A little kid finds out how he is going to die, and learn the trick that if it's the one and only way he will die, he can do anything else he wants knowing he wont die, and spends the rest of his life performing great feats and helping others. If this held true, I would consider it a benefit.

    That movie deserved awards, all it got was nominations :(

    Cantido on
    steam_sig.png
  • Witch_Hunter_84Witch_Hunter_84 Registered User regular
    Phoenix-D wrote:
    What happens if someone tries to cheat it in the other direction? "Hi, you're not scheduled to die for another 50 years. Off to the warzone for you!"

    Well, the test just determines brain death, not the quality of life up to brain death, so there's every possibility you could be injured in said warzone and become paralyzed.

    If you can't beat them, arrange to have them beaten in your presence.
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited January 2012
    If all the test does is determine maximum possible brain "lifespan," that seems fairly useless really.

    I mean, do you really need a test to tell you you'll live to be a hundred or so barring illness, catastrophic accident or other disaster?

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
    gkcmatch_zps97480250.jpg
    if the rapture don't come cousin, then pass the guns
    I'll burn'em for the return of my investment funds
  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    If all the test does is determine maximum possible brain "lifespan," that seems fairly useless really.

    I mean, do you really need a test to tell you you'll live to be a hundred or so barring illness, catastrophic accident or other disaster?

    that's not what he's talking about. he's saying it's a magic test that can tell you when you will die no matter what the cause.

    Inquisitor wrote: »
    I fucking hate you Canadians.
  • Anarchy Rules!Anarchy Rules! Registered User regular
    I think this is more a thought experiment than picking holes with all the obvious holes.

    It's similar I think to the idea of telling people with genetic diseases such as Huntingdon chorea whether they have the disease or. If it turns out you do you spend the rest of your life acting with that end in mind. I think this thought experiment would work better if the date of death was highly accurate, but not precise, and doesn't acknowledge accidental deaths.

  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    If all the test does is determine maximum possible brain "lifespan," that seems fairly useless really.

    I mean, do you really need a test to tell you you'll live to be a hundred or so barring illness, catastrophic accident or other disaster?

    that's not what he's talking about. he's saying it's a magic test that can tell you when you will die no matter what the cause.

    well, then the whole going off to war thing works out. if I know I'm not dying for 50 years it's much easier to (say) go off and play audie murphy.

    gkcmatch_zps97480250.jpg
    if the rapture don't come cousin, then pass the guns
    I'll burn'em for the return of my investment funds
  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    A more realistic case concerns testing for genetic diseases which fix your lifespan at some relatively low number. And there, as well as in the more fanciful case, it seems obvious to me that it's better to know. If you know, then you can plan the rest of your life without worry. That seems like a huge benefit that most people miss out on entirely.

  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    MrMister wrote:
    A more realistic case concerns testing for genetic diseases which fix your lifespan at some relatively low number. And there, as well as in the more fanciful case, it seems obvious to me that it's better to know. If you know, then you can plan the rest of your life without worry. That seems like a huge benefit that most people miss out on entirely.

    I mean, people would be horrified it if turned out knowledge of some life-shortening disease was withheld from people suffering from it. Likewise, asking your doctor to just not tell you if you have cystic fibrosis or something seems profoundly dumb.

    gkcmatch_zps97480250.jpg
    if the rapture don't come cousin, then pass the guns
    I'll burn'em for the return of my investment funds
  • KlashKlash Registered User regular
    edited January 2012
    I'd take the test, then make a TV show of dodging death. Maybe around the time of my death, so I don't have to worry about that whole "getting paralyzed or coma" thing, knowing that one of them will either lead directly or indirectly to death. Just an endless slurry of suicide attempts on Pay-Per-View. I'd tell people to tweet their suggestions. The lucky winner gets the leftovers mailed to them.

    Without knowing the cause, I kinda feel that knowing the time is pointless. If I can find out I'll live 200 years, but 150 of that might be in a coma, then it just somehow feels like it defeats itself. I just don't care, because there's no context to that moment. Knowing the cause could change my view on life, on everything. Knowing I'll die muddling away at a desk job, of some heart attack at 60, with no one caring, could be devastating. Then again, that could be reversed. Knowing I'll die pointlessly might spur me to live greatly until whatever inevitable crash comes to seat me at the desk. Either way, without the context, I'd probably just live as I do.

    Of course, now I feel silly. Of course I'd take the test. How could I resist? That's a piece of knowledge sitting there. That's something to know. I can know that. I should know that. It wouldn't be because I have any feelings regarding death, just because I could.

    Klash on
    We don't even care... whether we care or not...
  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    MrMister wrote:
    A more realistic case concerns testing for genetic diseases which fix your lifespan at some relatively low number. And there, as well as in the more fanciful case, it seems obvious to me that it's better to know. If you know, then you can plan the rest of your life without worry. That seems like a huge benefit that most people miss out on entirely.

    I mean, people would be horrified it if turned out knowledge of some life-shortening disease was withheld from people suffering from it. Likewise, asking your doctor to just not tell you if you have cystic fibrosis or something seems profoundly dumb.

    I know of someone who refused to get tested for cystic fibrosis because they didn't want to know--that's what I was thinking of in particular. You're right, though, that a doctor withholding her diagnosis from a patient, without consulting with them beforehand, would be a gross violation of medical ethics. I also agree that the behavior described is profoundly dumb.

  • GotrM15GotrM15 Registered User
    I think this is more a thought experiment than picking holes with all the obvious holes.

    It's similar I think to the idea of telling people with genetic diseases such as Huntingdon chorea whether they have the disease or. If it turns out you do you spend the rest of your life acting with that end in mind. I think this thought experiment would work better if the date of death was highly accurate, but not precise, and doesn't acknowledge accidental deaths.

    Thought experiments only work, however, if the scenario you described is self-consistent and plausible. Much like a real physical science experiment, if your test environment doesn't limit variables to a point where you can actually learn something from the data, it's useless. The "kill yourself early" loophole is just like experimenting the percentage of body heat radiated from your head. . . while wearing military-grade insulators everywhere else. And even if you say, "The test is magical and forces you to live til the date," then you've got two problems: A) Would you still die on the date that the test would predict if you took the test, even if you never did take it? And (more importantly) B) The ability to abuse the test makes people much more likely to take it (if I could do stunts and stuff and know I'd be okay) or much less likely (imagine being drafted into a war until I died), and either way your "data" is skewed.

    --
    Gotr of Vatik
    Scholar by day, rogue by night.
    "If all I ever got was one shot, I'd still never blame fate."
  • HappylilElfHappylilElf Registered User regular
    Of course. I mean, just think of the potential for hooking up.

    "No, I'm serious, I only have a day to live. Look at the paperwork"

    On a totally unrelated topic it'd be great excuse to pick up professional counterfeiting.

    sigtk.jpg
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    +1 on Big Fish. I suppose it's a little less informative as the BF vision included a vision of how it was going to go down, but still. Personal financial planning would get a big boost and it would be one less thing to worry about.

    2ezikn6.jpg
  • UnknownSaintUnknownSaint Registered User
    edited January 2012
    Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics set up a user-created book of collective stories about precisely this topic, it's really great. Some well-known folks in the webcomic business have stories or artwork in it, like Kate Beaton and Kris Straub.

    Here's the free PDF (don't worry, it's official!) but I recommend buying it too because it's fuckawesome.

    http://machineofdeath.net/ebook

    As for my own answer, I would try to avoid it but I'd really just have to break down and find out at some point. The problem is depending on the answer you could develop some life-crippling irrational fears, and I wouldn't want to compromise my life just to try to avoid something that will happen anyway.

    Edit for oh, I just realized the topic was WHEN and not HOW. Well, I suppose if it's 100% accurate then there's no harm in learning. Lack of fear of death for all days leading up to that one would be pretty interesting.

    UnknownSaint on
  • PonyPony Registered User regular
    I think we all know I can't actually die.

    I can only become more decrepit and crippled with age, but functionally I am immortal without any associated eternal youth, vitality, or special regenerative properties,

  • UnknownSaintUnknownSaint Registered User
    edited January 2012
    Pony wrote:
    I think we all know I can't actually die.

    I can only become more decrepit and crippled with age, but functionally I am immortal without any associated eternal youth, vitality, or special regenerative properties,

    UnknownSaint on
  • TheOrangeTheOrange Registered User regular
    While I might say no if I was single, having a wife and kid makes it iresponsible not to take it.

  • Cultural Geek GirlCultural Geek Girl Registered User regular
    edited January 2012
    I'm not sure whether I'd take it... but what I'd find fascinating is watching people try to beat the system. Not in the "living longer" direction, but in the "dying earlier" direction. How would they survive? Would it be a series of incredible fluke accidents, sort of a reverse "Final Destination?"

    I know that it only counts brain death, but does that mean it'd be illegal/impossible to have a DNR clause? What if you went out into international water and tried to kill yourself (say, with a huge overdose of pills), with a friend and instructions that if you should somehow end up a vegetable, he was do do something completely crazy and unerringly fatal to you? Would the gun always jam? The match always fail to light? The Shark always be full?

    I'd imagine a cult would pop up around the "earlies," people determined to leave this earth at some point prior to when they were predicted, cataloging all the insane ways they failed to die.

    There'd also be a marked acceleration in superheroism, I think, because hey... if you know you're not going to die today...

    Cultural Geek Girl on
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  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    I think this is one of those paradoxical things, right? If you have knowledge of the future, that changes the future? If I knew that I was going to die in 10 years, and then jumped out of a plane, or incinerated myself, or drowned in the ocean, I would affect "fate" by killing myself early. If I was the reason that someone else was to die in [x] years, then if they'd taken the test before or after me, it would change its outcome. And if the outcome changes, then it's no longer predicting the future.

    I do think the probability of mortality thing from Gattaca is at least based in some sense of reality, even if we don't know all of our genetically-based diseases and such. Many women who are genetically prone to breast cancer take that test to determine whether they have the "breast cancer gene," and then make decisions accordingly.

    || Flickr — || PSN: EggyToast
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    My grandmother's dementia was more or less done-in by her second hip-replacement surgery quite recently, which did get me thinking about this idea - at least from the Huntington's perspective.

    The question to me is less "knowing exactly when you'll die" to "determining at what point I'm functionally dead" - i.e. my cognition has degraded so far as to no longer meaningfully represent me. That's when things really get murky - since were there a clear answer to that question (and hell, does "degraded me" deserve the same right to life he seems to believe he has?) then the whole euthanasia debate might be simpler (though it's not complex because of that: it's complex because fuck the church).

  • YarYar Registered User regular
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited January 2012
    MrMister wrote:
    MrMister wrote:
    A more realistic case concerns testing for genetic diseases which fix your lifespan at some relatively low number. And there, as well as in the more fanciful case, it seems obvious to me that it's better to know. If you know, then you can plan the rest of your life without worry. That seems like a huge benefit that most people miss out on entirely.

    I mean, people would be horrified it if turned out knowledge of some life-shortening disease was withheld from people suffering from it. Likewise, asking your doctor to just not tell you if you have cystic fibrosis or something seems profoundly dumb.

    I know of someone who refused to get tested for cystic fibrosis because they didn't want to know--that's what I was thinking of in particular. You're right, though, that a doctor withholding her diagnosis from a patient, without consulting with them beforehand, would be a gross violation of medical ethics. I also agree that the behavior described is profoundly dumb.

    Per usual, I find that MrMister says what I'm thinking.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
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  • acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Registered User regular
    edited January 2012
    If all the test does is determine maximum possible brain "lifespan," that seems fairly useless really.

    I mean, do you really need a test to tell you you'll live to be a hundred or so barring illness, catastrophic accident or other disaster?

    that's not what he's talking about. he's saying it's a magic test that can tell you when you will die no matter what the cause.

    well, then the whole going off to war thing works out. if I know I'm not dying for 50 years it's much easier to (say) go off and play audie murphy.

    It's funny you said that, Audie took the test.

    I dunno what I'd do (especially given that other people could look at my test results), I do know that if I did take it and got a high score I would make a killing off of selling my own urine, just like the drug tests we administer now!

    acidlacedpenguin on
    GT: Acidboogie PSNid: AcidLacedPenguiN
  • SoralinSoralin Registered User regular
    see317 wrote:
    Suppose a new technology came into existence that could, with 100% accuracy, predict the exact time and date of death for any person. The test is nearly painless, a small skin scraping or blood sample or mouth swab or something, and in 24 hours the results are mailed to you.
    20061015.gif

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