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

Robert Bradbury robert.bradbury at gmail.com
Sat Mar 11 14:51:44 UTC 2006

On 3/10/06, Brett Paatsch <bpaatsch at bigpond.net.au> wrote:
Brett, there are a couple of points that you miss...

Sure individuals want extended healthspans for themselves
> and those they care about, ... existing systems are just
> not set up for those sort of minority aspirations to be able
> to be effectively shared widely enough.

You should go read the Wiki entry on the Gates Foundation [1,2] and research
some of the efforts they are funding.  The Gates Foundation programs are
largely focused on the non-aging related causes of death (AIDS, malaria,
hookworms, etc.).  In contrast the Ellison Medical Foundation [3] does have
very specific efforts related to aging and biogerontology.  You could Google
on the Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies @ U.
Texas San Antonio or efforts by Eli and Edythe Broad of the Broad foundation
which include the "Broad Institute" at Harvard & MIT and the "Broad
Institute for Integrative Biology and Stem Cell Research" at USC.**

I tend not to discuss it but much of what EMF is doing, in terms of
promoting information sharing and research in biogerontology mirrors to a
significant extent what I attempted to do with Aeiveos Corporation in the
1992-1995 time frame.  I consider myself to be in part indirectly
responsible for the EMF because I doubt Larry would have put his attention
on and committed funds to the area if I had not actively worked to get him
to see that aging was a problem which could really be taken apart *and*

People should understand that the combined net worth of the top 400 richest
people in the U.S. (alone) is more than $1 Trillion.  You don't have to
share the ideas "widely" if they are shared among the right people.  I would
observe that the wealthiest people, in terms of both quality and quantity,
have the most to lose by failing health (aging) and death.  As a group, many
of them are also relatively unencumbered by concepts involved in the
disempowerment of a critical support base that robust lifespan extension
would likely facilitate [4].  So the wealthy generally have a lot to gain
and relatively little to lose by extending the human lifespan.

People *will* commit resources to the area of postponing or eliminating
death because (a) they feel it is a noble thing to do and represents a
contribution they can make to humanity; or (b) it is in their own
self-interest.  Both of those concepts, IMO, may motivate many people to
begin to asking why we are devoting more funds to "putting people on Mars"
than extending human health and longevity by 7 (or more) years?

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.

Scientists "as a class" don't have to read the "politics in democratic
systems", all they have to do is get a significant number of people to start
clamoring -- "You can put men on the moon -- Why can't you stop aging?"

It is also important to keep in mind that the people having the debate
currently are *not* the people who will solve the problem.  Jay Olshansky is
a demographer (a very good one) and as such is perhaps poorly qualified to
comment on what can and cannot be done with respect treating and eliminating
aging.  You generally do not turn to people who are experts at comprehending
complex systems (scientists) as the people who will offer the best insights
into how to put solutions together (engineers) -- particularly if the
solutions one most desires to engineer may have little in common with the
systems being taken apart [5].

Also see [7].


1. http://www.gatesfoundation.org/default.htm
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gates_Foundation
3. http://www.ellisonfoundation.org/index.jsp
4. The significant extension of human lifespan potentially disempowers those
who believe in and are supported by concepts involving "souls",
"afterlives", "heaven" & "hell", etc.  If one is going to live hundreds,
thousands (or trillions(!)) of years, the concepts of "heaven" and "hell"
have much less throw weight.  Conservative parties which have strong
religious subgroups are likely to have significant problems when mere humans
start to have control over "life" and "death" (an area formerly the
exclusive domain of "gods").
5. For an extreme example, an analysis of how telomere shortening does or
does not contribute to aging (say among all of the scientists who are
experts on telomeres) contributes *very* little towards building nanorobotic
vasculoid systems [6] that can be implanted in the human body and would
eliminate heart attacks, strokes and cancer as causes of death.
6. Freitas, R. A. & Phoenix, C. J., "Vasculoid: A Personal Nanomedical
Appliance to Replace Human Blood", Journal of Evolution and Technology 11
(Apr 2002).
7. As a child I grew up in a relatively unique environment.  I got to take
lots of things apart -- pinball machines, old radios and oscilliscopes,
motorcycle and automobile engines, geological formations, etc.  I also got
to put things together things such as tinkertoys or erector set projects,
plastic car, boat and airplane models, relatively complex HO model train
systems, model rockets, various electronic projects and chemistry
experiments and of course the motorcycle and automobile engines (hopefully
in better condition than before they were taken apart).  My first "real" job
was at a florist facilitating the assembly of complex biological systems,
usually geraniums and my second "real" job was taking apart and putting
together stepping motor electronic driver boards and the stepping motors
themselves.  (This was all before the age of 18).  It is my firm belief that
one cannot *really* discuss the problems of aging and lifespan extension
with people who do not have significant experience with *both* taking
relatively complex things apart and putting them together.
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