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What are some valid objections (and their counterarguments) to extreme human lifespan extension?

What are some valid objections (and their counterarguments) to extreme human lifespan extension?

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By Shubhankar Kulkarni on Aug 18, 2020

[1] https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2004/03/healthy-life-extension-and-boredom/

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Lifespan/ Healthspan/ Immortality/ Open lifespan - Does the nomenclature matter?

[1] Institute F. Longevity Myth Busting - Aubrey de Grey [Internet]. 2019. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3fUJbkF6h0

by Shubhankar Kulkarni on Oct 05, 2020

A great video summary of arguments and counterarguments against radical life extension

by Darko Savic on Aug 18, 2020

Shubhankar Kulkarni 3 months ago
Don't miss the third video

The argument of naturalness

by Shubhankar Kulkarni on Sep 04, 2020

"Do You study at all when there is no deadline?"

by Juran K. on Sep 07, 2020

Povilas S 3 months ago
I agree that sometimes harsh conditions might be of value to you, but there's a huge difference when you impose them on yourself understanding the value of that (for example taking cold showers to strengthen immunity) and when you simply have no choice. No one wants to do something, if they simply have to do it. When you have no deadline, you study what you want, when you want and for how long you want. And if you don't study at all - then you don't want to. In other words, fear doesn't motivate you. Having a deadline often means that the subject of the study is also chosen for you. We can't always do what we want, because there are limits to that and death is the ultimate limit. Reducing those limits gives you more space for freedom, more space for choice. When there are no things you have to do, then you can do what you want. And how can you know what you really want to do if you always have to do something? There's no time for figuring that out. You had to go to school, then you had to find a job, etc., you have to survive in the first place and you can't even survive for very long, there's a deadline (especially good word in this context). When death is an inevitable thing anyway, then yes, remembering it makes you not to waste time for nonsense and can make you realize that you should only study what you really want, because time is precious. But this is only true when death is an inevitable limit. If you could remove that limit, you'd simply have more freedom in the first place. People often have this perspective that "have to's" is a good thing - they don't let you stay lazy, they grow you, but what is not considered here is that "have to's" restrain your freedom in the first place, and freedom is the ultimate value. If you choose something difficult yourself, then it's no longer a have to, it's done out of freedom, but you must be able to choose first.
Shubhankar Kulkarni 3 months ago
I agree with this point of view. However, the same argument can be used against the current limited life. For example, if I know I am going to die, why bother? Why bother studying, getting a job, chasing dreams if all of this is going to end some day and has no meaning after death? Thinking that things should change for the better only if I can live in that improved environment for a substantial amount of time, is valid. I agree there will be some psychological impact (although not necessarily a negative one) but understand this - in the year 1900, the average lifespan of humans was 40 years. It has doubled today. We have attracted some benefits, some problems, and some solutions to those problems with the extended life that we have today. This change was not drastic. It took 100 years. Further lifespan extension (after today) will, too, happen gradually. This gradual progress will prepare us (and our psyche) to adapt to the new lifespan. It would then, probably, not seem like a drastic change and disturb the human mind to the extent of madness. We humans will ease into it. Sure we will face newer problems, but will also find solutions. Also, I agree people suffered domestic violence knowing that it would end soon. However, with the extended lifespan, knowing that the violence would not end will also lead to a rebellion, asking for help, or divorce at the right time rather than succumb to it and face it till death. Also, people may be able to better plan their future.
Juran K. 3 months ago
Okay, you stated some really good arguments. It can definitely go both directions, but the pace of the change will give us (or not) time to accommodate.

Should aging be considered a disease?

by Shubhankar Kulkarni on Sep 10, 2020

Juran K. 3 months ago
American researchers stated that an early man´s lifespan 30 000 years ago was not more than 30 years. In a more recent, ancient times, Romans and Greeks had an average of 20 to 35 years of life expectancy. At that time, brutal wars, bad hygiene, and deadly diseases such as cholera, smallpox, or the black plague limited longevity. Slowly, people adopted better hygiene and diet routines, doctors started to wash their hands (yes, around year 1800!), learned how to treat diseases, and enabled longer healthspan that led to a rapid growth or life expectancies around the world in the last 100 years. The proof that these things actually work is nowadays seen in the difference of lifespan in developed and 3rd world countries (https://www.verywellhealth.com/longevity-throughout-history-2224054). But did humans 500 years BC look old, wrinkled, and with grey hair in their 30s? I guess no, same as the people in 3rd world countries look more less the same as people of their age in America, for example. So, during all these years, medicine didn´t postpone aging, just treated diseases, and prolonged general human healthspan. Statistics are known to reveal interesting but hide the vital, which is the case here. Despite the average human lifespan in the 1200s being 35 years of age, old healthy man who survived wars and epidemics could have lived to see his 70s. So, the aging/age limit is a constant throughout history, the same as death. Let´s take cancer as an example of disease. When a person has cancer, specific symptoms occur, pointing out the tissue or an organ where failure is happening. We can then, using staging and grading systems (defined for each type of cancer), describe the size, spread, and cellular characteristics of cancer. That allows us to shoot the right (more or less efficient) therapy. What makes it a disease is a localized source of malfunction, causing the appearance of specific symptoms and aberrant phenotype, which gives us a possibility to put it on sort of a scale. Aging is not a localized process, the symptoms that occur are not always specific and do not necessarily affect the functioning of the organism (graying of the hair, wrinkles). Also, most of the symptoms are already defined as diseases (osteoporosis, hypertension, impotency, cancers, etc). Therefore, aging (for not) is more likely a syndrome than a disease.
Shubhankar Kulkarni 3 months ago
By labeling "aging" a disease, my intention was to establish that it can be (or needs to be) treated. Policy makers (and in the future even insurance companies) might need a basis for acknowledging a treatment for aging. Calling it a disease makes it easier to comprehend its treatment. However, I am glad you pointed this out. Pursuing a cure for aging need not depend on its classification as a disease since it is desirable either way. [1] However, as mentioned earlier, labeling aging as a disease could benefit in ways like creating more funding (like the kind of funding anti-cancer research and treatments have today) [2,3] Also, treating senescence as a disease could result in a decline of ageism in medicine. If senescence is considered a disease, with a similar status as other diseases, perhaps physicians and other healthcare providers will be less inclined to consider treating the aged as less useful than treating the young. [4] Also, getting a disease status for aging will fuel further research in the pathophysiology of aging itself, allowing us to better define aging and spell out its characteristics like we did for cancer or the metabolic syndrome (group of diseases that includes type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, and stroke). References: 1. Murphy TF. A Cure for Aging? J Med Philos [Internet]. 1986 Aug 1;11(3):237–55. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/jmp/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/jmp/11.3.237 2. Gems D. Tragedy and delight: the ethics of decelerated ageing. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci [Internet]. 2011 Jan 12;366(1561):108–12. Available from: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rstb.2010.0288 3. Izaks GJ, Westendorp RG. Ill or just old? Towards a conceptual framework of the relation between ageing and disease. BMC Geriatr [Internet]. 2003 Dec 19;3(1):7. Available from: http://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2318-3-7 4. Bowling A. Honour your father and mother: ageism in medicine. Br J Gen Pract [Internet]. 2007;57(538):347–8. Available from: https://bjgp.org/content/57/538/347/tab-article-info
Juran K. 3 months ago
I understand your intentions. Aging as a disease would, through marketing campaigns, bring a lot of money to longevity research, development of anti-aging products and probably result in a longer lifespan. I also love the idea of treating the aged equally useful as treating the young. Nice example! Yes, although we can find many reasons why aging and senescence are not diseases, I completely agree that it would be in the interest of all mankind.

Caring for life as a whole rather than just our own

by Povilas S on Sep 12, 2020

Shubhankar Kulkarni 3 months ago
Thank you Povilas! To the problem of overpopulation, Vitalik Buterin answers with this: https://twitter.com/VitalikButerin/status/1244693006176919560/photo/1. The annual growth rate of the world population is currently decreasing and is estimated to decrease further. Aubrey de Grey, too, points out the fact that fertility rates are already plummeting in many areas. "Overpopulation is not a matter of how many people there are on the planet but rather the difference between the number of people on the planet and the number of people that can be on the planet with an acceptable level of environmental impact, and that second number is not a constant; it is something that is determined by other technologies. If we use renewable energy and other things like desalinization to reduce the amount of pollution the average person commits, we can increase the carrying capacity of the planet. The amount of increase in the carrying capacity that we can expect over the next 20 years far exceeds what we could expect from the rise in population resulting from the elimination of death from aging." Technology is bound to happen sooner or later, he says. By delaying the arrival of the technology, we are risking the people of the future to the same kind of death and disease and misery that we have today in old age, rather than relieving by developing the therapies in time. Reference: Illing S. Scientists are waging a war against human aging. But what happens next? [Internet]. Vox. 2017. Available from: https://www.vox.com/conversations/2017/5/4/15433348/aubrey-de-grey-life-extension-aging-death-science-medicine
Povilas S 3 months ago
Yes, but the actual number of people on Earth also matters. There is a limit to how big it can be, "the number of people that can be on the planet with an acceptable level of environmental impact" - as A. de Grey points out himself. Slower population growth helps to delay that time and total population size might even start decreasing, if people would continue to die from old age, but if that factor would be ruled out and nobody died from old age (assuming this includes most if not all old age related diseases) anymore, then it's very unlikely that total population size would ever start decreasing (unless there would be extreme indifference towards having children). So in those circumstances it would be just a question of time when that limit would be reached. It's a bit like with AI, if we consider any rate of development at all, it will achieve human level intelligence sooner or later. So once that limit is reached, getting out of Earth would be necessary, that's why I wrote about that.
Shubhankar Kulkarni 3 months ago
To which Aubrey replies with - If you are faced with a choice of either raising children or helping your parents have a longer and healthier life, what would you do? He assumes that you would go with healthier parents.

Longer life, but for whom and for what purpose? At what cost?

by Subash Chapagain on Sep 14, 2020

Shubhankar Kulkarni 3 months ago
Thank you Subash! Some very good comments there. To answer some, I would like to direct you to my comment on Povilas's suggestion above.

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