Imagine a society where everyone is immortal, meaning they cannot die from old age. These people would be exactly like humans in every way, except that they are immortal, but could still be killed by normal circumstances. So how would they perceive a person showing signs of old age and cell decay? Once this has been discovered, scientists put research into the matter that soon bleeds out into the public. Because everyone has always been immortal, even the thought of death by old age has never been conceived. So imagine that a society, just like our own, (regardless of how it came to be or how it would function) view this mortality? Note that the earth, society, etc is all completely the same if that matters at all. But I'm not risking it because you guys normally go really deep into this stuff. Also, the humans are the exact anatomy of us, but just do not die or feel pain.

Leave and questions below.

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    $\begingroup$ Surely it would just be seen as a disability, as we do with anyone who can't have a similar life to the rest of us. $\endgroup$ – Lio Elbammalf Nov 5 '17 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Lio Elammalf Or would it open up to a new way of looking at life, making their lives feel like torture? Just saying... $\endgroup$ – Unhappymarshmellow Nov 5 '17 at 20:49
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    $\begingroup$ I think your question lacks context and aim. How are they human, but immortal? How do the mortals come to be? Are they "infected" with mortality or are they a different race coming to meet the immortals? Your question is not specific enough. $\endgroup$ – ArtificialSoul Nov 5 '17 at 20:49
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    $\begingroup$ Your question still lacks context. It's difficult to imagine a being that "cannot die under any circumstances" as you can plunge him into a volcano, send him to the bottom of Marianne trench with an anchor as necklace, put him in orbit or send him directly into the Sun. If you can explain how such a being can exist we could try to imagine how he could feel if confronted with death (but I still suspect it would be too much opinion-based). A much saner situation would be some race not aging and not dying of old age, but still killable. $\endgroup$ – ZioByte Nov 5 '17 at 21:02
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    $\begingroup$ If they are exactly like humans but do not feel pain I would expect them to have a very short life expectancy as the cumulative damage from undetected and unmanaged injury gradually destroys the body. $\endgroup$ – pojo-guy Nov 5 '17 at 21:05

Note that the Earth, society, etc is all completely the same if that matters at all.

I find it difficult to believe that a society of indestructible immortals could be remotely the same as any current human society. Do they at least feel discomfort? For if they don't, then a lot of things we take for granted - not simply hospitals and cemeteries - become pointless. If people can't die for any reason, included starvation, this means they don't need sustenance. Do they still enjoy food?

Having infinite time to do anything isn't really likely to go hand in hand with today's society's hectic pace. Also, people have time to do everything - learn a lot of different things, practice different crafts.

If people still get born, as it seems, then this one mortal might well find himself in a lethal environment from the beginning, because everyone else knows no better. All newborns are kept at a balmy -40 °C: it is so convenient to have certain... substances freeze solid almost at once, becoming easily disposable, and it inconveniences the little darlings not at all!

If the guy becomes mortal (or discovers his mortality) later on... this scenario is presented in Damon Knight's The Dying Man (1957) (available here).

"Something's the matter with it," is all she can find to say.

"Yes. It's dying. That means to cease living: to stop. Not to be any more. Understand?"

"No," she breathes. In the box, the small body has stopped moving. The mouth is stiffly open, the lip drawn back from the yellow teeth. The eye does not move, but glares up sightless.

"That's all," says her companion, taking the box back. "No more rat. Finished. After a while it begins to decompose and make a bad smell, and a while after that, there's nothing left but bones. And that has happened to every rat that was ever born."

"I don't believe you," she says. "It isn't like that; I never heard of such a thing."

How would people react. Incredulity, as above. Very possibly fear. More or less rational fear of contagion, and desire to destroy the monster. Pity. Scientifically minded immortals would want to examine the creature to determine the differences; what it is that makes it immortal.

It might even be the case that for some individuals he might become a prophet, a dream, a hope - the hope of finally freeing themselves of a life became unbearable because of boredom, ennui, guilt or whatever. Being immortal means that it never stops, even if you don't like it. A religion might spring up promising at last the blessed oblivion of Death.

How can they be so much immortal?

The above holds imagining that really they can't die in any way, which is implausible; a sufficiently high temperature will convert their very matter to dispersible plasma.

Which means that to be able to survive, they need to be not made of matter.

So, they might be simulated beings in a computerised Earth-analogue, and the mortal one could have caught a bug. (pun possibly intended)

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  • $\begingroup$ @AngelPray +1 For bringing up the bringing up of The Dying Man $\endgroup$ – Unhappymarshmellow Nov 6 '17 at 12:41

They would probably view normal people as vermin, unworthy of sharing a planet with them, and would end these people who remind them of how life on this earth really is not immortal.

They would also probably invent some sort of sport which would allow them to hunt and kill each other for fun, since disease and old-age can't do it.

They would grow bored with life and become destructive, self-destructive.

Maybe they would hunt the people who age normally, make them serve a purpose for their amusement.

Human beings are not the type of being who will live peacefully accepting what is different from what they find normal easily. Just think back to the Roman empire...

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