In a world where you can die twice, well more like you can resurrect once in your life. Imagine a world where your best-friend that got killed in that tragic car accident or a loved one was killed in war or by another; don't fret they will be coming back soon. Put that bat costume away young Bruce your parents that were killed in that robbery, they will be home before supper.

Sounds cool and all but how would society itself operate? Would there be death cults? How would you be judged on a crime if the person isn't dead? Fighting in a war where most of the people you kill will be back in no time. A doctor trying to save a patient that would just come back (most of the time). Being a risk taker or sportsmen.

Resurrection Trait detail:

  • When you die, you will resurrect within three days.

  • When you die, your body stays where it died but a new body gets resurrected at the nearest Ark site so if you got trapped under rocks or drowned you don't just die again.

  • The Ark sites (which are massive catacombs) are protected by some sort of divine power. They can’t be moved or destroyed and you can’t get killed inside (so no spawn killing) but you will be compelled to leave when you resurrect (so do people that just walk in).

  • Any injury you had will stay with you, unless you die within one hour of first receiving the injury.

  • If you died from an Disease/illness and chemicals, you resurrect without it. Does not include an injury that will kill you, but if you were killed all diseases would be cured, but any injury done by the disease (like damaged organs) will remain.

  • You still age and everyone has "their time" so some people can go their whole life without using their second chance.

  • Humans are the only ones that get this trait (so that pet dog that died won’t come back—it sucks, I know):

    • Everyone gets ONLY TWO LIVES, no more no less (unless you die of old age then only one).

    • The person that dies will have all their memories intact, including how they died, which is fun if you died horribly.

    • The trait hasn't been with humans for long. The trait with the Arks came about two hundred your ago (called the Event). The cause of the Event is still unknown till this day. The people that died before the Event did not come back to life.

So the question is this: How would society operate if everyone had two lives?

This question is for a friend of mine who is doing a new book and would like some different points of view on how a society would cope with the resurrection trait (he’s not computer savvy) so he asked me to ask for him. I’ve got plenty of his notes and I'm just saying this if the feedback becomes a bit slow (have to ask him and all that) should be fine however. So if you need more details just ask (may take some time to get more notes).

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    $\begingroup$ "society" is a pretty broad concept, spanning from economy to sociology to whatsoever... $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    May 1, 2018 at 3:38
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    $\begingroup$ "One hour rule" means that everything that takes more than an hour to kill, will kill permanently? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    May 1, 2018 at 4:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Alexander yes and no say if you fall and get your back broken if you don't kill yourself past that time, when you resurrect you will still have a broken back. if you leave a wound that will kill and resurrect you die later from the wound anyway $\endgroup$ May 1, 2018 at 4:45
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    $\begingroup$ I think there are a few questions about resurrection. Do you get clothes or anything else you were carrying on death? Do tattoos or similar carry over? Based on the answers, how do people identify themselves? How do they get from the Ark to home/wherever they died to pick up where they left off $\endgroup$
    – Alchymist
    May 1, 2018 at 8:54
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    $\begingroup$ The reason we don't want to have a brainstorming tag is that this leads to answers that are not comparable with each other. You can't say which opinion is more valid than any other one, which goes directly against the idea of StackExchange. That's one of the "problems" with this strict Q&A format that we have to adhere to if we want this site. I opened a meta discussion about your tag here. Tags are supposed to categorize the content, not to have special abilities to ignore the sites rules. $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    May 1, 2018 at 9:18

10 Answers 10


Pretty much as it does now, but with a couple of exceptions.

Realistically, you're dealing with a 'one bite of the cherry' scenario. Sure, you get a single, get out of jail free card, but once that's spent, your life is at the same risk as it's always been in today's world.

Murder would still be murder. Even if a person can resurrect, it doesn't mean that you haven't harmed the person insofar as their one chance to survive an accident or disease isn't gone forever. Plus, you have a body! Because a new one is created for the individual, the original body still counts as evidence that you've taken life. Unless you know for sure that the person hasn't already been resurrected, the chances that you're killing the person permanently is 50/50 and still counts as intent. I suspect the law wouldn't even change, except to explicitly state that murder / manslaughter / negligent homicide / whatever counts whether the person comes back or not. It seems to be the logical approach.

The primary difference here is that resurrectees could actually give evidence against their killer. This may sound like a simple change, but it has massive consequences on how murder would be viewed by potential perpetrators. Certainly, premeditated murder is now much more problematic and you'd find that most killings would fall into manslaughter or lower crimes of passion or negligence. Poisons and diseases would be less in fashion for obvious reasons, but murder would probably entail wounding someone grievously, then keeping them alive for that golden hour so when they return, they're close to death anyway.

For those places in the world with capital punishment, there's an added complication to a state execution of course; hopefully a big enough complication to come up with other corrective approaches.

I seriously doubt there'd be an increase in death cults or the like; taking your one shot at a 'reboot' away seems like a silly thing to do in the same way that it's silly to risk one's life now. That said, I suspect that there may be some thrill-seekers who take much bigger risks before their first 'reboot'. You might find (for instance) that skydivers try out pulling their chutes at lower and lower altitudes for the rush of it, knowing that they still have a chance at living again if they get it wrong.

It's actually far more likely though that this resurrection process could create an underclass in society. Right now, many employers prefer younger recruits, for example. Why? Because they cost the same amount of time and energy to train, but can provide more benefit to the business over time simply by working longer. If that young person still has a resurrection pass though, the chances of that benefit being realised is actually better than if they don't. So, people who've used their shot may be overlooked in preference to those who haven't in employment situations.

If you think military for instance, it may even become a requirement. Those who've still got their resurrection shot can be trained and that training isn't necessarily lost because of a lucky shot by the enemy on a battlefield. They could come back, learning from the experience, becoming better fighters as a consequence. Sure, it's still only a single reboot, but it's one more than soldiers get now.

According to your established rules though, combat tactics would probably change to more 'soft-kill' options. Design weapons that incapacitate, but don't kill, at least for the first couple of hours. That way, your wounded carry their wounds into their next 'life'. Keeps them combat ineffective, even through the resurrection.

In short, you'll get a few more risk takers, but the discrimination that's now possible through people being on their 'last life' may well dissuade people from that course. Murder and war will change (less reliance on biological or chemical warfare) more towards 'soft-kill' options but generally speaking, not much else would change. Given that you've already stated that a person's life expectancy hasn't been increased through this process, there'd be no material effect on global economics except that statistically, average lifespans would rise for a while as (final) deaths by accidents and diseases reduce.

Realistically though, we'd take this in the same way we've taken most medical advances over the last century, like anti-biotics; a welcome relief from conditions that would have proven fatal in the past.

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    $\begingroup$ The comparison with anti-biotics and other medicinal improvements is especially on-target, I would say. $\endgroup$ May 1, 2018 at 8:11
  • $\begingroup$ Wouldnt the military have to let people who used their chance go? Loss of life is a pretty major factor especially in todays warfare. Are you willing to send in "experienced" soldiers who already died once and risk the political repercussions for your war? Wouldnt you just send them home or get them to work much much safer assignments? Wouldnt geneva conventions deny access to "soft kill" weapons that kill the enemy in more than an hour? $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    May 1, 2018 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Demigan These are only concerns for a military that is consistently and dominantly winning. Also, I would think that for many positions such as fighter pilots, the military would only accept applicants that have their remaining spare life and would keep them in service after they resurrect because they are so expensive to train. This is also why you must have naturally 20/20 vision before any vision correction to become a pilot. After you're already in the program, if your eyes later go bad, you can get laser vision correction because they want to keep their investment. $\endgroup$ May 1, 2018 at 14:37


Murder would become less frequent. Why? Because it has less impact. Half the time, the person would survive and would be able to testify against the murderer. Which takes away one of the major reasons for committing murder. The remaining murders would be more likely to be crimes of passion. Or murders of people known to be on their second life.

There would be a police station immediately outside the Ark. The police would ask everyone how they died with details like location. So they can recover the body and if necessary, arrest a perpetrator before the victim returns to the world. They may also have therapeutic resources there to counsel the deceased. The more horrible the death, the longer they might keep the person.

In terms of punishment, remember that attempted murder is also a crime and often shares the same punishment as success. I don't see any reason why that would change.

There may be some things that would have been prosecuted as murder that would now be prosecuted as reckless endangerment or similar. If the victim survives, then often the victim will have the opportunity to determine whether to prosecute or not. But I wouldn't expect the law to change much.

Paired crimes

Other crimes might become less frequent as well. This is because murdering to avoid witnesses no longer works reliably. The criminals would need to know that that particular person was a second-timer.

Studies have shown that likelihood of punishment has a greater deterrent effect than increased punishment. So we should expect the greater chance of a surviving witness would make crimes less likely.

Capital punishment

Capital punishment would be harder to apply. For people who haven't already used their second chance, it would require two executions. Another reason to keep people from leaving the Ark without police review.

Suicide as an escape mechanism

It would be possible for someone with a second chance to escape prison by committing suicide. Another reason for police review at the Ark exits.

If it is easy to predict where and when someone might resurrect, this might lead to centralization of prisons. That way the entire Ark might be inside prison grounds. If prisoners are the only ones who live within that Ark's range, that might be the simplest option.

Another option would be to execute every prisoner who has a second chance remaining. Of course, that may be considered inhumane.


One thing nobody has mentioned yet: you've finally got a cure for cancer. (Also most other deadly diseases, but cancer is probably the only one we have no definitive treatment for). The question is what exactly "dying of a disease" means. If you're mostly dead, can the doctor push an overdose of morphine, so that you wake up healthy and cured, or have you died from a drug overdose?

  • $\begingroup$ from what i have read from the notes, getting an overdose of morphine will count as being killed so the disease doesn't go away when you come back. but i will tell him that and maybe have all diseases cured when you come back regardless of how you died (this is one of the reasons i pushed for putting this question up here two people cant think of everything) $\endgroup$ May 1, 2018 at 6:08
  • $\begingroup$ Great catch! I like this as a 'catch-all' for incurable disease. As for the question about poisons & drugs, I've run with the interpretation that all disease involves a foreign agent of some kind, whether it be chemical or biological. If your 'disease' is Tetanus for example, you'd have an 'infection' that would be removed. If your disease is lung cancer brought on by tar in the lungs, then the 'infection' (in this case a chemical, not a virus or bacterium) would also be removed. Happy to see this clarified however. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B II
    May 1, 2018 at 6:11
  • $\begingroup$ i have just got back with more notes and have updated: so its like this any disease/illness and chemicals would be cured. so if you were a smoker your lungs would be healed and if you overdosed the drug would be gone from your system. however if their is damage to anything it is still there so if you got a bacteria that lets say eats flesh that damage would still be there when you come back (best bet would be to take your life if something like that infected you) $\endgroup$ May 1, 2018 at 6:22
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    $\begingroup$ @CreedArcon: Update the question, perhaps? Not everyone reads the comments to answers, and they could get deleted in any case $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    May 1, 2018 at 6:45

One thing no-one has mentioned yet is the economic possibilities of having a second body for free.

The businessman inside me says you could do alot with that.

Organ donors

In the film Never Let Me Go the plot goes something like this; People are artificially grown and subsequently harvested for their organs. It's implied later in the film that the clones are turned into a battery farm process, made "less aware" and that the protagonists are from one of the last places that considered the ethical implications of raising humans purely to harvest their organs.

One of the major issues plaguing modern medicine is organ failure and spare organs (you can probably see where I'm going with this).

One area of the black market is organ trade. The reason this is done on the black market is obvious - people need to die (permanently) for some of these to become spare. Not as much of a problem in your world.

Once you resurrect and leave your old body behind, you have one of two things;

  1. Spare organs for yourself, pop them on ice and wait a while
  2. Spare organs you can sell.

For the individual who has kept themselves healthy, this could potentially be quite lucrative. Selling organs could become a legitimate form of spare income. Want that new car? Donate a kidney. Want a new house? Donate everything.

As more people do this however, the return on organs is likely to drop. Supply and demand. Making things like kidneys commonplace, as you don't need to die to produce them. This would force an emphasis on quality and likely cause people to come up with health programs they sell to others specifically for the goal of growing the best organs ever. Similar to the Atkins diet but more grim.

This doesn't have to mean suicide, but if you keep your organs in good nick and suffer an accidental death it does create extra wealth by accident.

If suicide rates do increase due to this, I'd imagine kits or services making this painful and easy would crop up. Similar to webuyanycar.com but for organs, they kill you painlessly and do the harvesting. At the end you get a lump sum without much of the trouble.

For the black market gangs who gain access to an Ark (by securing a perimeter outside) this means they get double the bang for their kidnapped buck.

Body donation

Same as above, but entire bodies for medical or weapons research.

People don't necessarily have to be dead for this one, particularly in the case of weapons research it may be more preferable to keep people alive for testing.

Let alone what might happen to POW's in some countries that don't favor human rights.

This isn't even touching on the ideas brought up in the purge regarding paid murder. Some people may offer a large sum if you are willing to let them brutally murder you.

This is something that happens in the 2nd Purge movie


I'm not saying this would cause a sharp increase, but it's possible that some may pay others to commit suicide so they can have the old body to "try".

Over time the idea of cannibalism might become less taboo in this society, as one of the more disturbing parts of the act (for me) is that another human has to die for it. If this is removed, the act itself seems a little less horrifying (but not by much).

However this form of 'humane' cannibalism would rule out leaving the victim alive whilst cutting off limbs for eating, as seen in the Walking Dead (Hunters). As after an hour injuries carry over.

But this is unlikely, as people would never be quite sure that your lunch is from someone who has a life left or not.

This also ties into organ donors, waste not want not.

Snuff films

Similar to cannibalism, but for "the arts".

Body ownership

This concept doesn't really factor into law past rights of disposal, however in your world you leave behind a body you can look at first time round.

Rights to ownership over a body would have to be written into law explicitly. Where it may be the first body is owned by the second and the second goes to the relatives, followed by the state if none exist.

That scenario would probably be the most likely in western nations, where human rights are highly regarded and given. However in other countries where the state doesn't really care (such as best Korea), they may write into law that the state has ownership over bodies. Thus creating an exportable product for that state.

This may even go further in countries like North Korea, where it is every citizens duty to have a certain diet up until the age of 25 and then sacrifice themselves for the 'good of the people'. Making this country the largest exporter of quality organs. Would other countries turn a blind eye to this due to convenience? In the same way we do to sweatshop work so we can buy cheap clothes at Primark?


Other answers have addressed the effect on people's attitudes from knowing that they have a spare life and I have nothing to add to that. I'll address the effect of the resurrection itself.

On death, people will effectively be teleported an unspecified distance (depending on the density of the Arks) and come back with no non-biometric identification. The will then almost certainly be some distance away from their home and the site of their death. I think this would lead to a number of effects.

Everyone, in wealthy societies at least, would have to supply biometric identification such as fingerprints or retinal scans so they could be identified after death.

There would be a new class of death insurance, where companies would set up offices near Arks so that resurrectees could claim some basic clothing, money and transport. It would probably include body recovery and thorough cleaning and return of all items on the body at the time.

Bank accounts & cashpoints would use biometric data too so that people would be able to continue to access their funds.

Hopefully governments/charities would be on hand to supply at least basic clothing for everyone coming out of Arks.

If anyone was resurrected without identification then it would be difficult to prove identity and hence citizenship. Imagine a Hispanic resurrectee being resurrected in Texas in the current political climate, for example.

In extreme cases, people might be willing to commit suicide just so they could be resurrected in a different country and claim asylum. Hardline governments may then have to create no-go areas inside their borders to ensure that their citizens are always nearer to Arks inside their country than outside.

One final thought - Nathan Hale would have to say "I regret that I have but two lives to lose for my country"


I'd like to consider the logistics of the Arks and some of the special circumstances not covered in other answers.

-What about people who can't move themselves? From the description it seems that when you reappear in the Ark you are compelled to leave, but what if you are paralyzed and that wasn't cured by the Ark, or if you are a baby too young to crawl? Are you magically transported out or do others who have been reborn need to help you?

-There would need to be a system in place to manage those coming out of the Ark who can't get themselves back to where they came from or who have nowhere to go. (i.e. children, people with dementia or amnesia, the elderly, etc.) This could be a government refugee camp type of thing.

-I imagine there would be many who take the Arks as proof of God. This could have many implications including an uptick in religiousness, and fighting over the Arks. On the other hand if everyone regardless of faith could come from any Ark, it could cause people to realize we are all the same and no one faith should control them.

-It would probably be common for families to travel to the Ark you are expected to appear at to wait for you to come out. That could lead to a whole industry around housing those families while they wait. Trying to encourage tourism that way: "Oh you are already in this area, why not make it a vacation?" It would boost the economy in places where Arks appeared. There would also probably be rebirth celebrations and second birthday cards in drug stores.

-People may want to keep rebirth confidential because if everyone knows you only have one life left, someone might decide to murder you. If they do there could be privacy laws about the area around the Ark and the intake centers, no cameras and records fall under HIPPA.

-I know someone else said death cults wouldn't become a thing, but why not? There are certain religions that refer to baptism as a rebirth, maybe they take that literally and when someone converts they are killed and reborn into the new religion. This could become illegal.

-Because Arks appeared suddenly and without cause there could also be those who consider it unnatural. Maybe another religion forces their members to loose their first life when they are indoctrinated because "God only intended you to have one life."

-I could see celebrities using up a life as a publicity stunt.

-What about people who arrive at the Ark with nothing? Say a family gets in a car accident and only the children get reborn? Someone at the Ark is going to have to handle that.

-Also how old do you need to be to allow rebirth. I'm thinking along the lines of infants and premies. Do you have to have been fully born to allow a second chance? What if a child dies during birth or a C-section, will it come back? If this line is fuzzy that could lead to parents waiting at Arks not knowing if the baby will emerge. If a premie dies will it come out of the Ark healthy and bigger? If so you might find parents letting a premature baby die so that it will come back healthier.

-In video games everyone would start with at least two lives.

-You know how there are always people who says stuff like "You'll understand when you are older"? Well expect to start have your opinions invalidated with: "You don't understand because you're not on your second life."

This is getting long so I'll stop now. But the point is that there are dozens of cultural changes that don't have to do with murder and capital punishment.


I'm not going to try to address all of the societal impacts. That's way too broad.

What I will do is disagree with my predecessor answers.

People will become much less prone to death.

Life is Cheap

Taking away a life would become a much more frequent method of punishment because it doesn't matter nearly so much. Further, havind died the first time and having lost decades if not most of a lifetime, the threat of a second round of capital punishment becomes much more real.

In our world today there are a great many people who believe capital punishment as a deterent is a failure. They're right. Criminals have nothing to lose and the threat of death isn't actually that strong. It is a way of permanently removing from society someone who has proven themselves a constant and irredeemable threat to society.

Now we can take two lives. Capital punishment means something because, having lived through it once, you have a dang good reason not to risk it again. It's the ultimate fine for misbehavior.

Risk is for Suckers

People in general become much less risk averse. Climb that cliff? Why not? Ride that rickety roller coaster? Sure thing! Play Russian Roulette? How much is in the pot? Knowing that you'll live through it the first time means you can easily and willingly take all those risks, even if they're not your risks. Unprotected sex with Aids? Who cares? Inconvenient baby? Just dump it in a trash can... it'll resurrect.

As much as we aspire to nobility, the majority of humanity takes the path of least resistance: no responsibility, high selfishness. It's suddenly worth the risk to rob the 7-11 or mug the mayor. It has no more risk than losing the lottery. Life will truly become cheap... at least among the first lifers.

Except for the 2nd Lifers... They'll be Paranoid

The people who have resurrected once will become so risk averse it might actually change the economy. They'll do almost anything to protect the one life they have left, now that they know personally that it will end.

In other words, the world will become just a little itsy bit like The Purge, where the 2nd lifers are barricaded in safe houses and the 1st lifers are out in the streets shooting everything in sight. (Maybe not quite that bad, but you get the gist.) After all, who cares if there's no risk?


So I will take it that the only thing that can permanently kill anyone is aging (from your 6th point). Let us examine the other ways to die. I will try to be exhaustive.

  • Terminal illnesses
  • Accidents (fatal injuries)
  • Suicide
  • Murder
  • Capital punishment

1. Terminal illnesses:

I will name the real world and the fiction world as the YOLO world and the YOLT world respectively. Although your 5th point does not logically imply this, I infer that if you don't die from the illness per se, you would still have the illness -- please correct me if I am wrong. For this reason, euthanasia would no longer be an option. However, people would stop trying to sustain their lives through heavy medications or life-sustaining equipment, since that only increases the duration of their suffering.

2. Accidents (fatal injuries):

From your 4th point, I take it that everyone would try to die as soon as possible (most of the time) when they have serious or fatal. They will develop ways to efficiently kill themselves in case of these accidents. There might even be a timer that kills you 55 minutes (or however much time you want) after you press the button to ensure that you live as long as possible but also make sure that you don't die too late.

3. Suicide:

I briefly covered this in the previous paragraph. But there are other reasons that lead to committing suicide -- depression, etc. Depending on their specific circumstances, people may deem suicide as a viable mean to escape from the current life, or just a temporary solution. For example, a prisoner may escape his/her punishments via suicide. A victim of serious domestic abuse may escape the violence via suicide to find a new family. Again from your 5th point, I infer that if you commit suicide from depression, you technically died because of depression so you get cured from depression. Other mental illnesses likewise. Suicide may even be prescribed as an option to get rid of such conditions. Well, probably the consequence of misdiagnosis would be serious.

I think "death cults" you mentioned are certainly a possibility; mass suicide as a religious ritual to be "reborn" with a cleansed spirit or something.

4. Murder:

This is the most complicated and the most interesting one. Two hundred years is enough for all sorts of new crimes to emerge. There will be different methods for engaging the first lifers and the second lifers (I borrow these labels from another answer, which I like very much). Crimes against the latter would be the same as in the yolo world, so I will only go into those against the first lifers.

If you want to kill someone, you want that person to die permanently, which would lead you to explore options to induce spawn deaths. One way is to inflict an injury and try your best to sustain the victim's life for an hour. Do not let him/her die, from suicide or otherwise. Another option is, you can introduce a fatal illness (viral infection, etc.) before the victim's death, and then just kill the victim instantly afterwards. The victim would resurrect with the infection and die soon afterwards. If your victim is someone already with a terminal illness that makes the job even easier.

If you don't want to get caught, you'd better damage the part of the brain associated with memory retention at least an hour before you kill the victim.

These options are not always the easiest though. If you want the murder to be quick and easy, and you don't want to go through the troubles of injuring the victim an hour before his/her death, you can consider the more active option to cause the spawn death, i.e. kill them as soon as they come out of the Ark. More on this later.

5. Capital punishment:

Capital punishment would no longer be used as a means to end the person's criminal activities, but only as deterrence. Combinations of capital punishment and other punishments can be used as well. For example, one may be sentenced to "First Death" + "30 years in prison" or however you want to order it.

6. Misc:

Let me now get back to the active spawn death. The existence of this option would make the area around the Ark extremely important. The society would operate differently depending on who dominates the area around the local Ark. Are they run by criminals? Politicians and law enforcement? A religion? Private businesses? If the nearest Ark is managed by law enforcement for instance, you may want to murder the victim somewhere else. I think it would be interesting to see different countries having different "Ark-dominating groups". Arks in some countries are run by ruthless gangs contending over the number of Arks they control, while in some other countries big corporations dominate the areas near the Arks to monetize on them.

The bodies of the first lifers, dead or alive, are now much more accessible for scientific experiments (and other uses) which may rapidly advance the medical field; perhaps they would cure aging soon. The extent of implications is up to you.

Lastly, amnesia would be a far more serious disease since it cannot even be cured through the first death.

Let me know through comments if you need any additional explanation.


Less difference than you think.

The effect of every disease and mistake would be reduced to 50%. So, breaking one leg before would be like breaking both legs now. Loosing half your money before, would be like loosing all your money now.

So, people would tend to take more risks, but it would be an evolution of today's lifestyle, not a revolution.


I believe that no one mentioned any difference about suicide.

If you die and have the ability to be resurrected, could you deny this opportunity, and die just once?

An element of society regarding suicide victims and their families would change tremendously.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi jme, and welcome to Worldbuilding! This answer has been flagged as a low-quality post due to length (i.e. it's a bit short). Could you expand this? $\endgroup$
    – user7076
    May 1, 2018 at 15:19

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