[extropy-chat] On the Inevitability and Goodness of Superlongevity

Mark Walker mark at permanentend.org
Wed May 25 16:22:11 UTC 2005

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Damien Broderick"
> *Excellent* paper, Mark. Clearly written, well conceived, 
> multidimensional. Its only drawback is that it leaves out (presumably for 
> tactical reasons) any acknowledgement of the other immense changes and 
> dislocations we must expect during the next century or so, let alone the 
> centuries beyond. But readers who already strain at the feasibility of a 
> healthy, youthful superlongevity are not ready to think about the 
> singularity. Good stuff.

Yes, other factors (like the Spike) were not mentioned in part because the 
paper is intended for a more "sophisticated" audience. (Those scare quotes 
should be a couple of meters tall). There probably is also some value in 
teasing out these different elements and analyzing them separately. It is 
somewhat surprising to me that some people get more bothered about 
superlongevity than other possible types of enhancements. Students in a 
course I taught in the fall were asked for the final exam to say whether we 
should allow humans to be enhanced for virtue, intelligence, happiness or 
longevity. To my surprise the order I just listed was the order of 
preference among students. Probably about 1/3 of them argued that we should 
not enhance any of these traits, but 2/3 of them or so thought that we 
should enhance the ethical natures of humans. Slightly fewer thought we 
should do the same for intelligence, then there was a big drop off for 
happiness and longevity. Of course teacher bias might explain part of this 
because the poor things had to read my paper on genetic virtue, yet they 
also read something by me on superlongevity. I guess I find this surprising 
because longevity seems to involve simply the idea of regular old humans 
hanging around for much longer.
Thanks for your input.


Dr. Mark Walker
Department of Philosophy
University Hall 310
McMaster University
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4K1

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