[extropy-chat] extropy-chat] The Longevity Dividend

Brett Paatsch bpaatsch at bigpond.net.au
Sat Mar 11 03:40:29 UTC 2006

Hal wrote:

> Olshansky has also been an outspoken opponent of over-optimistic life
> extension claims.  But now he has come forward with a proposal for a
> major research into not life extension, but health extension, which he
> calls The Longevity Dividend.
> http://www.the-scientist.com/2006/3/1/28/1/
>> What we have in mind is not the unrealistic pursuit of dramatic increases
>> in life expectancy, let alone the kind of biological immortality best
>> left to science fiction novels.

I wonder why Olshansky thinks a 7 year decrease is realistic
as a sort of goal. I don't disagree that such *seems* inherently
more realistic than say aiming to eliminate aging altogether,
but I'm still left with the question who does Olshansky think is
going to set it as a goal for itself.  I'm wondering if Olshansky
is not mistaken in thinking that those sort of goals can be
shared by communities or polities in the world as it is
currently configured.

Sure individuals want extended healthspans for themselves
and those they care about, and I don't doubt that there are
also some individuals who would be unfortately in a small
minority in most existant nation states that would genuinely
imagine that the healthspan could be and ought be increased
for all, - but here is the kicker, existing systems are just
not set up for those sort of minority aspirations to be able
to be effectively shared widely enough.

Rather, it seems to me, that what drives incremental
progress from the supply side is the profit motive. Companies
want to profit from extending the healthspan. And companies
don't aspire in particular to expending the healthspan in order
to do their nations citizens a public service.

Unfortunately, I think Olshanskys hope that we (some
existing community or polity) might set the increase of
the healthspan for *all* members or citizens is probably
naive.  I think that governments and oppositions running
for government set policy that is aimed at the public
interest (ie the voter) not companies, and that there are
forces that drive governments and oppositions to avoid
wild romantic schemes aimed at the betterment of all
when those schemes cannot be implemented within
an electoral cycle.

I wish I was more optimistic than that, but I don't think
I can be. The sense of working for the good of the
public (of the citizens of ones countries) seems to have
been sent into history.

I'm inclined to think that the great privatisation push
(Thather, Reagan etc) that I think you commented on
a couple of years ago Hal (perhaps in the context of
it seeming like a sort of intergeneration asset grab) may
have seen off most of those who held public service
sentiments as though it was mere foolish sentimentality.

Market forces seem to me to have become too strong
now for governments to aim at the sort of goal Olshansky
lauds, and commercial forces aren't that interested in the
public good so will pursue only those gains that will make
them a return on investment. - This doesn't mean no
progress, nor does it mean no trickle down effects, but
it does mean I think that the sort of radical growth or
advances one sees in command economies (like China
perhaps used to be) are not going to be available.

> Olshansky and his team call for a $3 billion government program: 1/3 to
> go to basic research on aging; 1/3 for research on age related diseases;
> 1/6 for clinical trials of anti-aging medicine; and 1/6 for a preventive
> medicine program that would cover accidents and lifestyle issues.

Alas I think Olshansky may be dreamin.

> Olshansky provides a footnote to buttress his claim that a "growing
> chorus of scientists agrees" that his 7 year objective is feasible.

Its my impression that a growing numbers of scientist could hardly
fail to agree if they are focussed only on the scientific and the
technological. Scientist can hardly fail to see that we know more
about aging. Unfortunately scientists as a class aren't to my eye
anyway much better at reading how politics in democratic systems
acts as a sort of sheet anchor to pure technological progress.

Technophiles as a rule seem to be lousy leaders of public

Just my two cents.

BTW: I've switched over to reading the Exi-list in
digest form to save time and will be curious to see
if I manage to post this back successfully

Good to see Lee Corbin posting again, he does sort
of belong on this list.

Brett Paatsch 

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