Friday 22 September 2017

Notebook: Inevitability of our death doesn't mean you can ignore clubcard deal

Irish Independent columnist Bill Linnane
Irish Independent columnist Bill Linnane

Bill Linnane

When the science fiction writer Philip K Dick died in 1982, his ashes were buried under a headstone that had carried his name for 52 years. When his twin sister passed away five decades earlier, both their names were inscribed on the stone at the same time, presumably by family members who were more worried about cost-effective measures than their son's mental state.

Dick lived his life in constant paranoia, hardly surprising for a man who had a grave awaiting with his name on it. It sounds like a plot point from one of his brilliant, paradoxical works, which posed big questions about reality; questions like, if you knew when you were going to die, would you live differently? It's a question that we may need to start asking ourselves, as researchers have created an program that can estimate our life expectancy. The team of researchers - from the third-level thunderdome that is the University of Adelaide - simply feed scans of your organs into the application and it comes back with a 69pc accuracy of when you are going to expire.

The crushing inevitability of our own demise is something we tend not to think about a whole lot, but probably should. Hopefully this technology will trickle down to the point where you will be able to scan yourself at the supermarket self-service checkout and get your own expiration date. Perhaps then we might think less about collecting clubcard points and more about buying time on earth through positive choices. Unless it's double points on family packs of crisps, that just makes financial sense.

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