What if a technological innovation came along so all-transforming that it reversed the advance of civilisation?
It has happened before.
In recent centuries we’ve got used to the idea that constant technical innovations – the steam engine, electricity, air travel, antibiotics, contraception, the Internet – mean that, to quote the song, “Things can only get better”.
Tell that to the collapsing dregs of the Roman Empire. Or the Aztecs.
The image of simple people living in squalor amongst the ruins of a magnificent yet forgotten civilisation was a staple of romantic travellers in the 19th century.
But what causes the collapse of a civilisation?
Suppose it was not an outside shock – the Mongols, say – but a technological change?
Such a change might look like Biotime.
Biotime, at a stroke, removed the need for anyone to work by enabling them to sell their life expectancy to the highest bidder.
Poverty was eradicated overnight.
At first it seemed that, by transferring life expectancy from the least able to the most talented individuals, society would become more productive.
Not exactly. Biotime involved no force. Less able members of society queued up to take hard cash for their surplus years – especially if a “termination contract” enabled them to enjoy said cash up front, in the prime of life.
Who would say no to that?
The problem came when the richest and most brilliant members of society, now able to live forever, found that without the spur of mortality to drive them on, their creative juices simply stopped flowing.
Civilisation started gradually to decline, over a period of hundreds of years, with some shocking results.
Until one day, a humble Biotime enforcement agent noticed that something was wrong with the system.
Welcome to Biotime.
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