Accept the Risk, But Do Not Embrace the Risk

A thoughtful post on the simple realities of life and death in this age of rapidly advancing biotechnology and nascent healthy life extension medicine can be found over at Existence is Wonderful:

Do we really need to "come to terms" with death in order to be psychologically healthy? Many would assume that the answer to this question is "yes", but where does that leave the rational life-extensionist?

Some of us today might very well reach some degree of escape velocity, through a combination of healthy living, luck, and simply being in the right place at the right time -- but no one person can afford any degree of complacency. And while the laboratory work and technological development continues, those directly or indirectly involved with such efforts will continue to struggle with developing what we feel is the most rational outlook with regard to the future, and our prospects of living to see more of it than a traditional human life expectancy would allow.

The risk of death - by accident or aging - prior to the advent of truly effective rejuvenation medicine is an unpleasant reality that we all face. Ignoring this reality, as folk are wont to do, is not going to lead you to the most effective strategy for lengthening your healthy, active, enjoyable life span. If you want to walk into the future with your eyes open, and benefit from having the best of plans in front of you, you should understand the risks you face - living as a vulnerable, aging human in a world of inadequate (but improving and improvable) medical technology.

But accepting a risk, understanding a risk, does not mean that you have to embrace that risk. The risk of death in future decades as seen today is no more than the risk as projected now, prior to the new information, medical technology and breakthroughs that tomorrow could bring. You don't have to reconcile yourself to living with a risk that you can change! This is what makes our modern era so very different from all that has come before - the advance of technology means that for the first time, we can all work together to greatly extend the healthy human life span.

Don't look about you at the future of medical technology and accept what you find as set in stone. That is not the path taken by the founders and volunteers of the Methuselah Foundation, presently nearing $8 million in cash and pledges for research and research prizes for longevity science. That is not the path taken by any of the scientists, patient advocates or others presently working to extend life and health.

You can help to make a difference! You can change the future, your risk of death and aging, and everyone's risk of death and aging. All it takes is making the decision to do something, to take an action - with small individual effort, many people can change the world by acting together. Don't let the chances pass you by.

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"Don't look about you at the future of medical technology and accept what you find as set in stone."

This is a good point to make, and represents one trap I think many people tend to fall into. When I first started approaching the concept of healthy life extension, one thing I came to understand was that there is absolutely no reason NOT to pursue such a thing based on past failures. I've frequently run into the argument, "What makes this generation different? People have been seeking longer lives for years!"

The answer to what makes this generation different is easy, actually: we have quite a bit more knowledge at our disposal now (the human genome was mapped in 2003, for instance), coupled with an increased understanding of genetics and human anatomy. The net amount of knowledge and capability we have now is exponentially greater than that available to previous generations. And though this is no absolute guarantee of anything, it's certainly encouraging and definitely makes the effort to extend healthy life worthwhile.

Posted by: AnneC at December 14th, 2006 8:11 PM

if you are not already rich how would you finance rejuvenation of your body before aging kills you?

Posted by: nick at December 16th, 2006 12:11 PM

nick: As an individual, you don't. As a group, however, we work together to more rapidly move the first working rejuvation technology through the normal cycles of increasing reliability and decreasing cost.

Before that, of course, you must build the group of like-minded folk through search, evangelism and persuasion.

This is fairly standard practice in any field in which time to results and cost of results matters.

Posted by: Reason at December 16th, 2006 2:04 PM

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