Who Wants to Live Forever?

I do not know if I would like to live forever, however, I suspect I will have an answer to that question after my first thousand years. Hopefully the answer will be: Why not?

Excerpt from Timescale for Life Extension:

Of my three milestones listed here, this is the one that stuns most people -- and, as far as I can see, for the least justified reasons. My guess is that the average age of death of those born in wealthy nations at or after the achievement of milestone 2 will exceed 5000 years.

My logic here is pretty simple:

1) When we reach milestone 2, those with access to the relevant therapies will have an absolutely non-increasing risk of death per unit time -- they will not age. This is because we will be identifying, characterising and solving aspects of aging that appear at progressively later ages, faster than they progress to a life-threatening state. We have no idea at present what we will need to do to keep 200-year-olds hale and hearty, but that's OK, because we won't need that information for at least another 100 years. If we just pay attention to things that begin to appear in 180-year-olds as soon as we have any, as well as in 80-year-old chimpanzees as soon as we have them, and given the amount of effort we'll be putting in, our chances of perpetually keeping one step ahead of the problem are very good.

2) At present, the risk of death per unit time that Westerners experience in their early teens is such that if it were maintained indefinitely we would live to around 1000 years on average. (This calculation has been done many times with different data and some people get 700, some 1200; 1000 is a fair consensus.)

3) My expectation is that our risk-aversion will rise sharply if we perceive our lifespan as indefinite, so that this 1000-year life expectancy will be extended by a modest factor; a factor of five is my conservative guess. This of course relies on our risk-aversion being ubiquitous -- applying to the willingness to go to war, the effort to subvert new infectious diseases, etc, as well as our attitude to mere accidents -- but I see no reason why that should not be the case.

-- Dr. Aubrey D. Grey, (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence)

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Fred writes: Scientific

Fred writes:

Scientific advance proceeds at a pace that indicates a new paradigm proposed by young scientists becomes mainstream only when the old guard dies out.

That is Kuhnian dogma which you can easily refute with the examples of continental drift in geology, prions in biology, and other rapidly-accepted theories in other disciplines.

I suspect that this may be due in part to less ability on the part of former icons in their fields to continue to get research money and graduate students for theories which have proven wanting in reality.  They don't have to die off, they just have to get reality checks.

If people had always lived

If people had always lived forever the cavemen would still be alive today and guess what? They would still be living in caves.

Scientific advance proceeds at a pace that indicates a new paradigm proposed by young scientists becomes mainstream only when the old guard dies out.

Paradoxically, peoples' lives get better because people die.

Unsupported assertions may

Unsupported assertions may seem meaningful at times however just because a position is cynical does not mean that it's true.

Even if your claim were historically accurate, and I do not believe that it is, it still would not imply nor give us reason to suspect that the future will be the same way.

The future will not get better simply because I die, regardless of who might think so.

Even if your claim were

Even if your claim were historically accurate, and I do not believe that it is

You are at odds with the overwhelming majority of philosophers of science and sociologists of science. Ever since Thomas Kuhn made the argument that Fred referenced in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, namely, that for a paradigm shift to occur, it usually must be preceded by the death of a well known authority or even an entire generation of scientists so that the younger generation has room to grow.

Now, I don't think this is a sufficient reason to not want the human lifespan to extend as long as possible, but it is an interesting cost to take into consideration.

Oops, forgot the second

Oops, forgot the second part.

it still would not imply nor give us reason to suspect that the future will be the same way.

This is true, but then, it is true for all cause-and-effect relationships based on prior observation. As David Hume argued, we have no logical basis for assuming that the sun will come up tomorrow, yet we all make this assumption anyway, as our lives would be impossible if we didn't.

Hehe props to Julian for a

Hehe props to Julian for a poignant post and Rainbough had a great point as well.

Futhermore, if one were to look at the economics of death (as proposed by Fred), the situation is no different than the Broken Window Fallacy. Human's are resources too, that need to be trained and educated. If your labor pool dies off, it is no different than having them all quit. You have to start over, reinvesting time/capital/resources to create competent workers.

In economic terms, death is no better for society than any other destructive force that requires the reallocation of scarce resources. I believe World War I and II are examples of the future not getting better simply because millions died.

As David Hume argued, we

As David Hume argued, we have no logical basis for assuming that the sun will come up tomorrow, yet we all make this assumption anyway, as our lives would be impossible if we didn?t.

What logical basis do you have to conclude our lives would be impossible if we didn't?

First of all, I suspect that

First of all, I suspect that if Jefferson, Madison, Adam Smith, and all of their contemporaries had survived to the present day, the pace of advancement would be faster, not slower, and the upstarts that tried to make their name by expounding bad economic and political ideas, the good ones already having been taken, would not have enjoyed the level of success that they turned out to enjoy.

Second, if we really feel the need to diminish the influence of older thinkers, we should just reproduce at higher than replacement levels (which will itself be much lower, there being few dead people needing replacement. As time goes on, the current generation of people will be a progressively smaller portion of the population even though they never die and their numbers never diminish.

Of course that will necessitate expansion into outer space at some point, combined with the continuation of the development of technology to support more people given the same Earth. That all strikes me as a feature, rather than a bug.

What logical basis do you

What logical basis do you have to conclude our lives would be impossible if we didn?t?

None. We have no logical basis for inferring cause-and-effect relationships based on prior observation. But based on reasonableness, not logic, it is difficult to imagine how we could plan our lives and guide our actions without making these assumptions.

Doesn't matter a damn how

Doesn't matter a damn how good or bad it is for "scientific progress". Ending death from old age is good regardless, and society will just have to adjust.

Pro-death people should all go commit suicide, so as to demonstrate the sincerity of their views.