The Tithonus Error as Prospection Error

The Tithonus Error is the widespread and mistaken belief that extending the human life span will result in us being aged and decrepit for longer. This is not the case, however: engineered longevity can only be accomplished by repairing or reducing cellular and biochemical damage - which means you will be younger for longer. At In Search of Enlightenment, you'll find an examination of the roots of the Tithonus Error: "There is an irrational public predisposition to regard research on specific late-life diseases as marvelous but to regard research on aging, and thus all late-life diseases together, as a public menace bound to produce a world filled with nonproductive, chronically disabled, unhappy senior citizens consuming more resources than they produce. ... I am working on a new paper [that] examines how misperceptions about the present and future state of global health are themselves major obstacles to tackling aging. Because [imagined simulations of the future] are based on memories, medical research that proposes to eliminate a disease is much more likely to invoke hedonic experiences in our simulations then is a medical intervention that retards aging. ... our inability to make accurate, sensible simulations of what a future of retarding human aging would entail (for both the developed and developing world) is itself one of the greatest obstacles to prioritizing aging research. And this problem needs to be redressed."



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