The Encouraging Spread of Discussion of Longevity Science

I am always pleased to see the continued spread of serious, intelligent discussion of healthy life extension and longevity science. Public dialog is a tide, buoying awareness and education, raising the boats of research funding. The more the better.

Anti-Mortality:

If a technology existed to eliminate the physical effects of aging, it would be a boon to mankind, and it would be atrocious to forbid it. People should be allowed to experience aging if they wish, of course, but if science could make it optional, then the option should be available.

And yes, I would take it. I would definitely want to live a thousand years or more. I would want all of my loved ones with me, and my only regret would be that some of them are already gone and cannot be. You and I are among the first of our species for whom physical immortality is even an outside possibility, but if the choice ever came up, I assure you that I would go for it.

Olson on Life Extension:

Anti-aging drugs would not confer invulnerability. We could still kill tyrants, and it would still be morally legitimate to do so. The prospect of living in Stalin’s dictatorship forever makes the duty of doing away with tyrants all the clearer. It wouldn’t just be a matter surviving for a few more years until the old guy croaks. It would be an eternity, and the obligation would be obvious. This is probably a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

I may be against the death penalty, but I’m all in favor of term limits, with outright tyrannicide as their most extreme manifestation. A big part of what makes Stalin “Stalin” was simply that he controlled a vast army and secret police apparatus. That’s the real enemy here, not life extension. Arguing for life extension does not mean that I’m arguing for an extension of the personal rule of anyone.

That's a well-formed response to the "eternal tyrant" version of the stagnation objection to radical life extension. Tyrants, or indeed any bad social order, is only as eternal as people allow it to be. Revolution against limits, against oppression, against evil - that's a personal, individual choice and obligation.

The story of any life is change, not stasis. People grow, change and engineer their lives, and through their individual choices, trades and collaborations produce a living, breathing, dynamic society. That won't stop when people live an extra 10 years, 100 years or 1000 years - but the range of individual freedom to experience change, growth and choice increases with each extra year.

That is a very good thing, and how could it be otherwise? People who would sacrifice billions in a futile attempt to hang onto the cultural norms they are used to are people who, in my view, suffer from some fundamental flaw in their moral compass. It's a pity there are so many of them - but all the more reason for those of us who support health, longevity and life to work harder at our goals.

Comments

I have just written a novel called Legislation 75 with regards to the baby boomers, the largest aging part of our society. In short my novel focuses on how the government is secretly experimenting with anti aging drugs as well as anti cancer mecications and are hoarding them for the elite class of society. We need to break down those walls and let the real truth be known. Society deserves better than what the government is trying to hide from us.

Posted by: Fred Weitz at December 21st, 2007 12:17 PM

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