Garreau's last scenario, Prevail, extols the human knack for muddling through--"the ability of ordinary people facing overwhelming odds to rise to the occasion because it is the right thing." The defining characteristic of the Prevail Scenario is that human beings are picking and choosing their futures in an effective manner. The main representative selected for this scenario is Jaron Lanier (the guy with the large collection of musical instruments). Lanier dreams of creating more ways for people to share their thoughts and experiences, and he is fond of pointing out that faster computer hardware does not necessarily lead to equivalent improvements in the usefulness of the software that runs on the computers.
In the final chapter, Garreau asks: "Will we forever keep mum about our obviously intense desire to break the bonds of mortality? Or should we lift the taboo and start dealing with it?" His implied answer is yes. He then asks, "Shall we be bashful about these lines we are crossing because we do not have a way to make them meaningful?" At this point, Garreau has a constructive proposal: let's create some new rituals. Perhaps, he suggests, we should have "a liturgy of life everlasting as a person receives her first cellular age-reversal workup." Why not indeed?
In the meantime, there is still some work left to do in the laboratories. If we develop the cure for aging in a timely fashion, while steering clear of the disasters that Joy and others have foretold, we may one day get to enjoy indefinite life spans with much improved physical and mental capacities--and some cracking new ceremonies, too.
This article was originally published with the title The Future of Humankind.