From the Camp of Mild-Mannered Deathism

The first of the response essays to Aubrey de Grey's piece at Cato Unbound epitomizes mild-mannered deathism; the instinct that any radical change to the human condition brought on by healthy life extension must be bad. If I had to pick out the one thing the archetypical human hates and fears above all else, it'd be the prospect of change - and that always shows through in discussions of radically increasing the healthy human life span. "Even without the threat of vastly extended tyranny, a nation of ageless individuals could well produce a sclerotic society, petrified in its ways and views. Senescence escorts us, more or less gracefully, off the stage, making room for fresh generations. The aging of individuals may be one condition for societal renascence. Fascinatingly, longevity research in animals suggests that one cost of age-retardation is sterility or decreased fertility. If there are trade-offs between long life and new life, then the quest for individual immortality may pose dangers for the well-being of the human collective, whether at the level of the family, the nation, or the species. While frailty and finitude don't seem such good things, they may be inextricably entwined with other very good things that we would not want to sacrifice." It is sad that so many people would choose the stasis of the now - and death and suffering without end, over and over - rather than immensely positive change and opportunity through longevity science. Talking nonsense about petrified, unchanging ageless societies is projection, methinks.


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