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    • CommentAuthorFan
    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2010
    > Nor would the solution to this problem appear to be refusing to invent a longevity treatment.

    It would in a way: at the moment, people can say, "Oh well, at least everyone dies, we're all equal," or words to that effect.

    I'm not saying whether it's a good solution, but it's a part of people's current solution.

    Aubrey De Grey's TED talk starts with mentioning various arguments against inventing longetivity, including e.g. "dictators would live forever".
  1.  (9234.22)
    If I devised a fountain of youth? Judiciously and quietly apply it to the most beneficent souls with the brightest minds in society. Imagine Einstein's island of the enlightened out there somewhere already.
    • CommentAuthorFan
    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2010
    > Judiciously and quietly apply it to the most beneficent souls with the brightest minds in society.

    Maybe, just maybe, those souls are working to improve the lives of the world's poorest, not of the richest.

    And they are increasing life expectancy: by reducing infant mortality, for example.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2010
    @253 and Fan

    Nor would the solution to this problem appear to be refusing to invent a longevity treatment.

    It would in a way: at the moment, people can say, "Oh well, at least everyone dies, we're all equal," or words to that effect.

    The assumption is, as with all things medical, those with the money and funds for such a treatment (or therapy or whatever) would be able to get it and those without, obviously, would not, natch those with money living extended lifetimes while the poor don't. The only real equality in life is that we all die in the end.
    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2010
    @Fan and RenThing

    That seems an awful lot like an argument from spite. Sure the selection process may be flawed, but some people would live longer. How is that a bad thing?

    Not to say that this necessarily would extend human life per se. Or even be worth doing, given the risks.
  2.  (9234.26)
    zombies? could go horridly wrong or could go ok lets test people and find out! could be our very own zombie Apocalypse.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2010

    Not spite, simple statement of fact. Those with money get to live with treatable medical conditions like diabetes or heart issues and have a better chance of surviving serious illness like cancer simply because they have the money and resources to do so; the poor don't and die. So, why would this be any different if aging is simply reduced (in the far, sci-fi future) to a treatable condition? Notice that at no point did I ever say that this was a reason to not do it.

    However, a reason to not do it is, frankly, a matter of resources; particular resources are already showing signs of strain or running out (such as areas that have become over-fished due to demand or areas that are already super-congested as far as the number of people living in one area) and that's with a population with the self-correcting factor of death. How much worse could it be in the event that they manage to make a treatment that not only extends the life times of humans but also extends the time in which they are potentially fertile? Combine long life times with a high reproduction rate with a lengthy viable time and I'd anticipate such resource issues getting a lot worse.
    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2010
    If I devised a fountain of youth? Judiciously and quietly apply it to the most beneficent souls with the brightest minds in society. Imagine Einstein's island of the enlightened out there somewhere already.

    And how would you ensure that those souls would stay beneficent? We have the Nobel Prize because Alfred Noble read of worldwide celebrations at the mistaken announcement of his death. Nobel established the prize because death was coming and he didn't want to be remembered as a monster. People are complicated and subject to change. Turn Mother Teresa into an 18 year old girl and you might get another lifetime of service to God and man from her. Or, you may get the next Paris Hilton.
  3.  (9234.29)
    Net value of this strikes me as zero no matter what. The exceptional individuals argument is 50/50, could be positive (smart inventor) or negative (jerk demagogue). The personal experience argument is probably jus a flimsy western imagination but lets not get into that. The grand scope argument in favor of immortality doesnt exist. There is already more living in store for the current population of the world then a really imaginative person could conceive after spending their whole life trying to conceive it. The amount of living that will be done by the under-five -years-old people already alive on the earth is sufficient for any conceivable goal or value that one could struggle to dress over life as a whole, we just need it to be organized so resources like education and knowledge accumulation are distributed more efficiently. The fuck good does living forever do? Science instead needs to invent a way to stack the life experiences of the present population into a super compact vertical timestack silo. Chop chop, get to it.
  4.  (9234.30)
    Just questionspinning here.

    If you have people living forever, how would the economy handle it? would there be enough jobs for people if they remained in the workforce fore infinity, and still kept on having kids? Where would their kids get jobs? What would happen when you got bored and ran out of stuff to do? If the poor could not afford it (and I suspect they wouldn't), it could be seen as a social status thing, in addition to that; and how could the poor compete for higher-wage, higher-expertise jobs when they would have only a fraction of the lifetime to learn whatever super extended education we'd come up with?

    Also; if you can heal from pretty much anything, how would that impact society? Would ER trips become a thing of the past? Childhood fights, broken arms, etc. become seen as less of a big deal? Would it make brave actions less so, because, well, you could just heal from whatever? How would this impact friendships, or the value we put on others? Would a non forever-living-human be less valuable than a forever-living one?
  5.  (9234.31)
    It's worth considering that a fountain of eternal youth doesn't necessarily make you immortal. Death by accident or crime will just become the primary way to die. And we'll all become very, very cautious people.
    • CommentAuthorSteadyUP
    • CommentTimeDec 1st 2010
    Hickman's Posthuman actually addresses a lot of this. In short...
    ...If we become functionally immortal, we'll stop evolving - at which point, the monkeys come for us.

    Imagine Einstein's island of the enlightened out there somewhere already.

    If Einstein were still alive and active today, we'd be sitting here talking about how he totally jumped the shark back in the 60s. Being dead is part of what makes people like him seem so awesome years later.
  6.  (9234.33)
    @SteadyUP That cuts both ways though - it also means that Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin, though they're around forever as mentioned, are around long enough that people can get sick of them. And since they probably wouldn't shut up, even once they'd lost all relevance, I'm hoping the next up-and-coming edition of them would be more easily grouped with them and ignored. Though perhaps I'm being too optimistic about people's willingness to learn.
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2010 edited
    Would near immortality make murder an even more henious crime? And LIFE in jail even less attractive? More to lose for victim and criminal?
      CommentAuthorcity creed
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2010
    Fears of death and what follows it spawn monsters in human minds. Those might not be so easily slain as silly old death itself.

    @NeilFord - It does raise the stakes. But only if everyone gets the youth potion. People with no eternity to lose could be a real liability to have around.
    • CommentAuthorgzapata
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2010
    Also it can be cut both ways. Rush and Palin and their version of conservatism essentially pushes for the immediate satisfaction rather than the long term good of the people. I think people would be a lot more worried about what can happen decades from now to the world or our nation if they know they will actually still be alive then and will be suffering the consequences of their own actions or inactions.

    I can see it now- Crap we've destroyed the climate, have a mass population of uneducated idiots and only us, dogs, crows and cockroaches are left on the planet
  7.  (9234.37)
    @steadyuop; yeah I agree there's a danger we'd stop evolving. Dying and making way for a new generation is what facilitates change and new ideas. If we lived forever, how many times would we have to change our minds about the big stuff? Would we be able to let go of all our ideas every 50 years or so, or would we stick to our opinions and preferences?

    Say immortality had come about in the 19th century. Would that mean we'd all remain narrowminded Victorian prudes until the end of time?
    • CommentAuthorPhranky
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2010
    It reminds me of characters in Geoff Ryman's "The Child Garden" that were hundreds of years old because they consisted entirely of immortal cancer cells that retained their host's memories.
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2010
    My apologies, RenThing, I made an unwarranted assumption.

    Anyway, I plan on living forever, so this is good news. Though I'd always assumed I'd be doing it Hob Gadling style, so it's not that important.
    • CommentTimeDec 3rd 2010
    Lucky for those of you interested in the science - you've got a girl here who works in a telomere biology lab!

    The basics: at the end of each DNA strand, there is a string of nonsense DNA repeats, called the telomeres. Every time a cell in your body divides, a little bit of the DNA ends are snipped off in the process - thus these nonsense telomeres help protect the internals parts of the DNA that code for proteins that you actually need. A hypothesis is that a cause of aging is that most of the telomeres are gone because of the many cell divisions over time, so that either the cell notices they are too short and shuts down, or your necessary DNA is clipped and the cell dies.

    Many organisms have an enzyme that can rebuilt these telomeres - telomerase. We humans only have this enzyme in our eggs or sperm.

    The 2 major issues with this study are:

    1) Mice normally have telomerase active, so their normal aging process would not be related to telomere shortening. Thus knocking it out and adding it back in, as the researchers did, might have a different result than if it were done in humans.

    2) Almost all cancers eventually mutate to have telomerase active, allowing them to divide indefinitely. Activating telomerase in our own cells would not cause cancer in itself, but rather if cancer did develop, it would have one less step to take before it became deadly.

    Thanks for reading (if you got through it!)