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Sturgeon

Anti-Aging Technology And Physical Immortality

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I'd honestly be more enthused with the uploading consciousness types just because of the radical paradigm shift it would allow in the concept of self-control. On the other hand, making sure that stays safe could be seriously fun. I really don't think getting gaslit by some script kiddie would be fun.

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As a geneticist and as someone who has looked into this one pretty thoroughly, all I can say is that that poster is adorably naïve.

 

The problem with aging is that it's not a disease. It's a syndrome. Tackling one area of age-related illness (heart disease, for instance) simply means that another one comes along a bit later to fuck your shit up (dementia, cancer). In the end, you'll simply have an exponentially increasing series of interventions attempting to fix problems as they come up.

 

Once you bring genetic engineering into the picture (this is a ways into the future at best), you can see some major gains. This book, for instance, argues that mitochondrial engineering could up lifespan to something like 300 years. Past that, though, and you reach some fundamental limits to what cells (especially neurons) can handle before going caput.

 

The problem is akin to someone arguing for a design of car which never breaks down and never needs maintenance: you can do it, but you end up throwing the entire concept of 'car' out of the window in the process.

 

 

I'd honestly be more enthused with the uploading consciousness types just because of the radical paradigm shift it would allow in the concept of self-control. On the other hand, making sure that stays safe could be seriously fun. I really don't think getting gaslit by some script kiddie would be fun.

Ahahahahahahahaha. No.

 

We are so far from even being able to simulate a neuron, let alone a neural pathway, that the idea of copying your billions of neural pathways without loss of fidelity and then simulating you is just an appeal to magic.

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Yeah, post-human society of any sort gets very weird very quickly.

I'm actually pretty jazzed about the prospects for some research/technologies (biosystematics, tissue culture and printing, machine-neuron interfaces, whole genome engineering) but feel that we too often wax lyrical about the boring or impossible stuff.

Kind of like how material science folks wince every time nanotech gets mentioned.

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Toxn, that's along the lines of the criticism I figured the images would receive.

I don't really know anything about the subject, but it's one that deserves more attention, I think.

 

It's an interesting subject, to be sure.

 

I've said this before as well, but part of the problem with anything biotech-related is that we're literally too ignorant to know what might work or not. We're tinkering with a complex system that lacks anything like a human regard for logic or structure, and we have no way at present to make coherent sense of all the pieces we've found. This article, which I can send to anyone interested (because of course Springer took something publically available and put it behind a paywall), gives a nice analogy for the problem.

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Given the passing of Leonard Nimoy, I thought I would broach this discussion topic:

 

Imagine that a pill that cured mortality were invented tomorrow, but it had a totally random 5% chance of killing - instantly - those to whom it was administered.

 

1. Would you take it?

 

2. If you were King of The World, would you administer it to your population like we do vaccines?

 

3. If the percentage of fatalities was not 5%, what values of "X" would be your thresholds for answering "yes" to 1 and 2?

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The problem seems fairly easy to approach quantitatively.  Does more or less than 5% of the world's population die every year?  So far as I can tell, the answer is "nowhere even goddamn close."  The highest death rate of any country in the world is South Africa (a fact I'm sure they're perversely proud of) at 17.23 deaths per thousand persons per year, or 1.72%.

 

But those are statistics for the entire population of the country.  Seeing as this is the 21st century and we have infant mortality basically licked, the death rate for ages 0-30 is probably nominal in most areas.  From 30-60 it increases, and from 60-90 it becomes near unity.

 

If you had enough math skills and actuarial tables, you could easily figure out the crossover point at which, for a given amount of time in the future, you were at greater risk of dying anyway than you were of dying from the treatment.

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The real question is what happens when you factor in quality of life. Do you just freeze at your prime, or wait till middle age?

 

Also there are regions where questions of infant mortality are really different. What about regions in Africa where the birth rate is still problematically high, and that's something correlated with high infant mortality?

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The problem seems fairly easy to approach quantitatively. Does more or less than 5% of the world's population die every year? So far as I can tell, the answer is "nowhere even goddamn close." The highest death rate of any country in the world is South Africa (a fact I'm sure they're perversely proud of) at 17.23 deaths per thousand persons per year, or 1.72%.

SA! SA! SA!

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Clarification: This is a cure for aging, not an invincibility serum or magical sparkly vampire juice. If you take it as a child, you will still mature. If you have taken it, and you fall into lava, you will still die.

 

So basically, if you take it and live, you'll be stuck in that Keanu Reeves look where you're clearly older than your twenties, but you aren't showing any signs of aging. However, it cannot reverse aging that has already occurred.

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So I put this one to my wife, and here are her answers:

 

1. No, for the simple reason that if both of us took it there would be a 10% chance of one of us dying. This is a bit too high when you're contemplating raising children alone. Worse, the chances get a lot higher if you include friends and family - you essentially end up with a guarantee that someone you know will die.

 

2. It should be freely available, but limited to people over the age of majority who have undergone some sort of evaluation and counselling. There should also be provisions to stop overpopulation (a mandatory birth control shot per year perhaps?), as well as the legalisation of euthanasia for people who want to opt out. 

 

3. A very small number.

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My take is a bit different:

 

1.

A provisional no. Partly because of the whole '10% chance that your kids will have only one parent' thing, but also because I still have decades of good health ahead of me , barring accidents. Ten or twenty years should be enough time to sort out distribution and risk factors for pill mortality. It may even be enough time to lower mortality overall by developing a better pill.

 

2.

Yes, but I would worry about short-term vs, long-term consequences. Short-term, I think overpopulation might be an issue. In the long term, however, I think people will just keep delaying having kids to the point that population decline becomes an issue. Short-term, I would make sure that the pill is available to everyone, as a gerontocracy is a terrible way to run the world.

 

Long term, your society is pretty fucked. People are going to get slow, easily confused and rigidly stuck in certain patterns of thought as their brains get cluttered up with memories and burned-in ideas. Your society will get to be like an exaggerated version of the first world, with lots of ennui and suicide and not much change or development. Job mobility will end, economies will stagnate and culture will become locked into a single place. 

 

Eventually, the few people who refuse to take the pill will outbreed the rest and overthrow the whole tottering ediface. At which point you either end up with a butlerian jihad situation or periodic reversals to gerontocracy and stagnation.

 

3.

No set point.

 

4.

The pill I really want is something which allows me to live my span of years (or a bit more, if I'm feeling greedy) in perfect health, then gives me some warning before I die instantly. I have no desire to live forever, at least as I am now.

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*9.75% chance of one dying, .025% chance of both for a pair of two people. But point stands.

 

 

My take is a bit different:

 

1.

A provisional no. Partly because of the whole '10% chance that your kids will have only one parent' thing, but also because I still have decades of good health ahead of me , barring accidents. Ten or twenty years should be enough time to sort out distribution and risk factors for pill mortality. It may even be enough time to lower mortality overall by developing a better pill.

 

2.

Yes, but I would worry about short-term vs, long-term consequences. Short-term, I think overpopulation might be an issue. In the long term, however, I think people will just keep delaying having kids to the point that population decline becomes an issue. Short-term, I would make sure that the pill is available to everyone, as a gerontocracy is a terrible way to run the world.

 

Long term, your society is pretty fucked. People are going to get slow, easily confused and rigidly stuck in certain patterns of thought as their brains get cluttered up with memories and burned-in ideas. Your society will get to be like an exaggerated version of the first world, with lots of ennui and suicide and not much change or development. Job mobility will end, economies will stagnate and culture will become locked into a single place. 

 

Eventually, the few people who refuse to take the pill will outbreed the rest and overthrow the whole tottering ediface. At which point you either end up with a butlerian jihad situation or periodic reversals to gerontocracy and stagnation.

 

Aren't we already at the point where overall we aren't breeding over reproduction but our population increase is instead driven by the disparity in numbers between the young and old? I'd argue that a huge driver for slowing reproduction is a decline in premature mortality, so it may end up being you must breed and raise your replacements when you shuffle off the mortal coil or get someone to do it for you in such a situation.

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Eh, good enough as ten percent given that I put no thought into the stats at all.

People often forget that having children is a perfectly rational decision in terms of resource projection. The reason why so few folks are breeding in Japan etc is that it is simply too expensive to do so when you're in your 20s and 30s. Of course, by the time you can afford to rent a city apartment with more than 1 bedroom it's too late to have kids.

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So I put this one to my wife, and here are her answers:

 

1. No, for the simple reason that if both of us took it there would be a 10% chance of one of us dying. This is a bit too high when you're contemplating raising children alone. Worse, the chances get a lot higher if you include friends and family - you essentially end up with a guarantee that someone you know will die.

 

2. It should be freely available, but limited to people over the age of majority who have undergone some sort of evaluation and counselling. There should also be provisions to stop overpopulation (a mandatory birth control shot per year perhaps?), as well as the legalisation of euthanasia for people who want to opt out. 

 

3. A very small number.

 

 

I think I agree with your wife. 

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