Longevity Science Research
More Extreme Longevity Objections
posted on May 5, 2008
Two weeks ago, we discussed the subject of common objections to extreme life extension. Let™s revisit a few in this issue with short simple responses. We™ll start with:
Why would anyone want to live forever?
"Forever" is a long time, and we're not suggesting that. Most people who enjoy life want more of it. Even most of those who claim they don't want to live longer than "natural" will go to the ends of the earth to cure themselves of cancer, heart disease and injuries when they get stricken. Modern drugs, surgical techniques and diagnostic tools are life extension technologies that few refuse.
Most who welcome death suffer from the ravages of aging that usually make life miserable toward the end of our lives. But we aim to avoid or reverse the negative side effects of aging. As long as your life is fulfilling, now or in the future, why would you want it to end?
Wouldn™t stopping aging simply extend my decrepit frail years?
Not at all. Our goals are keeping the young youthful and reversing the damage aging does to you if you are already affected by the ravages of aging. No one is interested in spending endless years in a nursing home. Age reversal will eventually mean transforming the elderly to a healthy youthful state. We aim to reset our or biological clocks while our chronological clocks keep ticking.
Shouldn't we spend our resources feeding the hungry, rather than keep people alive longer?
A knowledgeable productive human being is the ultimate resource. The elderly are the most knowledgeable people we have. By making them productive for extra years, many of those resources can be channeled to solving problems such as hunger. Besides, our planet can accommodate over 12 billion people before resources are taxed. This doesn't even account for future technologies such as seabed farming, mining asteroids, clean energy-saving technologies, mile high buildings (Frank Lloyd Wright designed one in 1956 that could have housed all of downtown Chicago. Imagine the views!), enhanced food production, nanotechnology and genetic engineering.
What's more, the exponential growth of information technology will affect our prosperity as well. The World Bank has reported, for example, that poverty in Asia has been cut in half over the past decade due to information technologies and that at current rates it will be cut by another 90 percent over the next decade. That phenomenon will spread around the globe.
How can you expect to solve something as complex as aging, when we can't even cure cancer?
For a couple of reasons. First, it may not be necessary to solve something as complex as aging in the near future. Fixing the damage aging causes may not be nearly as hard. That may be all we have to do to build a œbridge between today and the day we can enjoy the benefits of technologies that control the aging process.
Second, we already have some pretty compelling clues as to what causes aging. Enough in fact, to put our version of a biological "Manhattan Project" to work right now. We even know how to extend average life spans by up to 20 years in many people using current low tech lifestyle modifications. Unraveling the aging mystery was an unrealistic project just a few years ago, but recent giant technology and computational leaps give us the tools to make it a reality. For example, some biological problems used to take years to solve, now they take about 15 seconds. These tools will only get better faster with exponential growth of knowledge and technology.
I™ll have a few more to share with you in the next issue. Meanwhile, keep your eye on the positive side of the pie.
This issue, we™re wrapping up common objections to extreme life extension
I send these to you for two reasons. First, you may have some of these questions lurking in the back of your mind. Second, some of your friends probably do, and if you decide to discuss longevity with them, now you are armed with responses if some of these come up.
Also, before I forget, if you have an interest in fitness, and specifically (but not exclusively) weight training, Shawn Phillips just published a must read book, Strength for Life www.SharetheStrength.com. It was released May 1 and is available on Amazon.com. I read his manuscript and endorse his book 100%.
Won't longer life spans threaten the Social Security system, Medicare and pension plans?
Yes, as they're structured today. But remember, average life spans have increased steadily and dramatically most of this century. In fact, U.S. average life spans increased by 29 years since 1900. Governments and industry successfully adjusted to it. The greatest burden on healthcare comes from the elderly. If aging is not tackled, societies will consist of a large portion of frail, elderly people, which will result in a serious financial burden. Our mission is to avoid having elderly patients and to keep them youthful and productive. So curing aging would be economically sound. People would live longer but also work longer and be more productive. Without the declining years of old age, healthcare and the economy would benefit from a cure for aging.
Sure, change sometimes hurts, but aren't millions of pre-mature deaths a high price to pay to keep retirement and entitlement plans static? Besides, shouldn't each individual be offered that choice for his or her life? Wouldn't it be immoral to suppress or withhold life extending technology, because some people want to protect the status quo?
What will we do with all the "old people"?
"Old people" can be our most valuable resources. We generally acquire more experience, knowledge, wisdom and skills as we age. Rather than putting us "out to pasture" or in nursing homes, wouldn't society be better off if we kept ourselves youthful and productive? On average, people spend more on medical bills during the last year of their lives than all the rest of their years combined.
You don't need modern technology. Won't meditation, yoga, exercise, supplements, faith and pure food, air and water accomplish the same thing?
Only to a degree. These can all help us live longer, but no one has ever been proven to live beyond 122 years. We hope to someday extend the maximum life span, while allowing people to be active and youthful well into "old" age. In the meantime, keep up your healthy habits. They will increase your chances of being alive and healthy long enough to benefit from amazing extreme life extension research.
Why hasn't the medical community gotten behind a treatment for "aging" by now?
Mainly because the vast majority of people don't see aging as a disease, let alone a solvable one. Imagine the urgency that goes into freeing victims trapped beneath a collapsed building. Aging is equally disastrous, but on a scale magnified by a factor of millions. Yet, because it sneaks up on us, and because hardly anyone recognizes aging as treatable, most people accept "natural" death... and die.
Won't only by the rich be able to afford extreme life extension technologies?
Maybe. But if so, only at first. Today, we experience about a 50% annual deflation factor for many, if not most technologies. And this factor keeps increasing. In other words, technologies get more affordable faster, at an ever increasing rate. Only the wealthy can afford many new technologies. But at that stage, they usually don't work very well. At the next stage, they are affordable to many people and work better. Soon, they work well and are affordable to most. Finally, they're almost free. The progression from mostly unaffordable technologies to very inexpensive is currently about a ten year process. Ten years from now, it will be about five years. And twenty years down the road it will only be about a two to three year lag.
Won™t life be boring if we live a long time?
If you™re bored now, maybe. But as we advance in every area of life, we see more and more opportunities and more and more diversity. This is continuing, not decreasing. Imagine the opportunity to spend active time with your children™s great, great grandchildren. How about embarking on a new career or going back to school and studying something you really love? I believe bored people have either lost hope or they are doing something outside of their passion. If you had an open-ended future to pursue your dreams, would you be bored?
I wouldn™t want to outlive all my friends.
This deathist phrase, at least to me, is an illogical reason for a death wish. First, if we have a choice, and your friends choose to die, why would you let them drag you along? Second, if you™re like me, you continually meet new people. Many become friends. And a few become close friends. How many new friends do you think you could make in several more lifetimes? How many people do you know who lost close friends or family members¦ or who went through emotional divorces and still found happiness and even new and better relationships? Heartbreak and loss eventually heal, and there are lots of interesting people in this world who would love to know you.
Simply put: Life is Good and Death is Bad.