Why the Resistance to Engineered Longevity?

Thoughts from In Search of Enlightenment: "for the past 5 years or so, I have devoted the bulk of my time and energy contemplating the following question - why hasn't humanity undertaken an ambitious effort to advance the science that could help us redress the single leading cause of disease and death in the world today - namely, biological aging? What I have found most surprising, and alarming, in my teaching and research on this topic is the extent to which people will go to justify their intuition that we should not aspire to modify the current rate of the molecular and cellular decline of humans. These reasons typically range from sentiments like 'aging is natural' and 'doing so will exacerbate inequality', to 'it will cause overpopulation' and 'it will cause ecological disaster'. And yet no one raises these same objections when the discussion is about supporting the science which could help redress just one specific disease of aging - like cancer, heart disease or stroke. No one objects to medical research on stroke by claiming 'a disturbance in blood flow to the brain is natural' or 'preventing or curing strokes will exacerbate inequality' or 'all those people who would be saved from strokes will cause overpopulation or ecological disaster, so it is better they suffer a stroke'. Why not? Why is it that different moral sensibilities tend to be activated when the topic turns to modifying aging?"

Link: http://colinfarrelly.blogspot.com/2011/05/life-extension-sacred-values-and-taboo_10.html


No, everything he said was true. Research costs money and its likely ageing treatments at first will be expensive. There will be overpopulation eventually because we won't coordinate on a global scale within a short enough time span. Pointing out trends in fertility are merely trends. The reason why the industrial world is having less kids is because they are expensive but when you can live for centuries there is plenty of time to save up.

As for tiny changes in lifespan caused by cancer treatments, of course those don't matter because they don't rock the boat. Even still, reversing the ageing process is a great idea which I support because it is still better than the alternative.

Posted by: Matthew at May 10th, 2011 7:45 AM

I've found that not only do people reflexively produce all the sorts of rationalizations described above, but they are actively hostile to even discussing the subject. It's going to take an actual, dramatic result to get more heads extracted from the sand.

Posted by: Will Nelson at May 10th, 2011 9:19 AM

I know most people don't like talking about this subject at parties. As long as we can fund and develop this stuff ourselves and make it available to whomever wants it, I don't care about their attitudes at all.

I think the "Vegas Group" approach is the best business model anyways.

Develop SENS therapies for pets, race horses, and other animals. There is a lot of money in regeneration/rejuvenation of race horses. Camels too (seriously, camel racing is big business in the Middle-east). These are good markets, in dollar value, that do not require FDA pre-approval. Besides, we need to test these therapies on animal anyways to make sure that they work for humans. Why not make money from it?

I think the market volume is enough to make successful companies out of development of SENS therapies. Human applications can be done as medical tourism in Latin America or Asia.

Posted by: Abelard Lindsey at May 10th, 2011 2:21 PM

Post a comment; thoughtful, considered opinions are valued. Comments incorporating ad hominem attacks, advertising, and other forms of inappropriate behavior are likely to be deleted.

Note that there is a comment feed for those who like to keep up with conversations.