Is Living Longer Worth It?

Damn straight it is - but some paths to that goal are better than others. Here, Ronald Bailey reports at Reason Online from the ongoing Transvision 2007 conference: "The room was packed with 50 or so people interested in the issue of securing the 'longevity dividend.' ... The audience [ranged] from doctors, professors, and economists to people who had lived in alternative communities and even a few high school students. One might think that longer, healthier lives should be an easy sell, but, in fact, there are people who believe that dramatically extending human lives would be a bad idea. ... What is the longevity dividend? It's a way of rebranding the quest for extending human lives in a politically palatable way. ... [Aubrey de Grey] is pessimistic about the idea that the way the campaigners for the longevity dividend want to pursue it will result in reduced medical costs. ... American life expectancy has already increased by about seven years since 1960 and medical costs have obviously not gone down. Inherent in the idea of the longevity dividend is the notion of compressed mortality, that is, the period of decrepitude at the end of life will be shortened. De Grey argues that this not biologically plausible. ... Instead of pursuing the longevity dividend research agenda, De Grey wants to focus [on] rejuvenation interventions would repair the damage that aging produces in a person enabling them to live another 30 years. Then further research would develop better interventions that would repair the damage that occurs during that 30 year period and so forth. This series of anti-aging interventions would push death off indefinitely."



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