Advocacy for Longevity Science Can Take Many Forms

Advocacy for the cause of longevity science doesn't have to mean writing or getting up in front of people to give presentations. There are many ways in which you can go about changing the way in which the rest of the world thinks about aging, so as to grow support for rejuvenation research. Here, for example, delivery of the message is via a simple game about achieving actuarial escape velocity, the point past which advances in medical science add more than one year of additional future life expectancy for each year that passes, thus enabling indefinite healthy life spans.

At the moment the present approach to medicine produces a gain of one year every decade in life expectancy at 60, so there is a great deal of work yet to accomplish. That work will only happen rapidly enough to benefit most of those reading this today in an environment of widespread public understanding and support, but that doesn't exist yet either. Hence the need for advocacy:

The premise of LEV: The Game is the same as the aim of those of us who wish to extend our lives without end. One's character is challenged with living for as long as possible and attaining longevity escape velocity by reversing the damage of senescence at a faster rate than it accumulates. Every year in the game, the character receives an allotment of energy points with which to purchase power-ups, such as stem-cell therapies, applications of nano-medicine, cybernetic enhancements, or simple increments of diet and exercise. Each power-up can either increase the remaining expected lifespan, increase the rate at which energy points accumulate (called "productivity" in the game), or reduce the character's rate of bodily decay. The player needs to achieve a delicate balancing of these power-ups to avoid expiring before he/she accumulates enough energy points to purchase the next life-extending advance.

Our ability to achieve indefinite life extension personally will depend on the amount of resources and support from the general public invested in the overcoming of age-related bodily damage. Most people, unfortunately, continue to either be resigned to the inevitability of death, or to argue against the desirability of indefinite longevity due to extremely basic misconceptions. Even apart from the absurdly false boredom argument, overpopulation argument, and "playing God" argument, there is a more basic fallacy - the Tithonus error, which posits that becoming chronologically older necessarily means becoming biologically more decrepit. Yet the only way indefinite longevity could be achieved would be for people to remain biologically young, so that their susceptibility to deadly diseases does not increase beyond that of people in their twenties today. How could longevity advocates get the general public to understand this? Convincing people through arguments alone may often fail, simply because the Dragon-Tyrant of death is so ubiquitous and so overwhelming that many people will grasp at any straw, no matter how flimsy, to avoid being confronted with the grave injustice of their current predicament.

But a game gives a fresh, different, and engaging way to see and experience what indefinite longevity would truly entail. Anyone playing LEV: The Game would quickly see that becoming increasingly frail is no way to increase life expectancy. Your character will die if he/she experiences sufficient biological decay. You will be able to see a graph of the character's remaining life expectancy and the rate at which decay is expected to proceed during the years they have left. If you apply the most effective combinations of power-ups, you will also see the life-expectancy curve shift upward - sometimes slightly, at other times by massive jumps. The latter situation reflects what can happen once humans begin to undergo periodic rejuvenation therapies to remove age-related damage, as posited in Dr. Aubrey de Grey's SENS approach.

Furthermore, LEV: The Game encourages its players to engage in paradigm-shifting thinking about their own future trajectories. Instead of planning for gradual debilitation and eventual death, as most people do today when projecting their careers, retirements, finances, and family lives, a strikingly different mindset can take hold - the quest for perpetual maintenance and a return to youthfulness that may be possible at any chronological age, with sufficient technological advances and vigilance regarding one's health.



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