The Life Extension Advocacy Foundation authors are presently walking through the foundational arguments for pursuing the development of human rejuvenation therapies. This covers the long list of clear benefits to health, wealth, and society; cataloging the terrible cost of aging; pointing out that the most commonly voiced objections veer from the trivial to the ridiculous to the outright and obviously incorrect; and so forth. It is a strange thing that we humans hate to be idle, but at the same time it is in our nature to be very conservative. We cling to the present status quo, no matter how bad it might be, even as we are energetically collaborating to overturn it. You will find no shortage of people who defend the horrific toll in suffering and death caused by aging simply because it and its consequences are familiar. But imagine that aging did not exist: would you find people jumping up to endorse an introduction of the slow and painful death of tens of millions of individuals every year? The gradual, painful, and enormously costly incapacity of hundreds of millions more?
The traditional objections raised against the idea of longer lifespans touch a variety of different topics, but they can all be reduced down to a single, general form: "Rejuvenation biotechnologies would cause a specific problem, so it's best not to go there." Here, we're not going to question whether rejuvenation will cause a certain problem or not; rather, whatever problem we may be talking about, let us assume that it will happen and weigh it against the benefits of the defeat of aging.
To do so, let's keep in mind that aging kills about 100,000 people a day; that is, it accounts for two-thirds of all deaths worldwide. Moreover, it causes an indecent amount of suffering, disability, and debilitation, making the last decades of one's life increasingly miserable. To that, we must add all the problems of an aging society - money and resources spent on pensions and geriatrics with little to no utility, practical and emotional burden on the families of the elderly, too many retired people to be supported by a declining younger population, the lot of them. Let's also not forget that these are virtually everyone's problems. Is the above better than the potential side effects of the defeat of aging and the countermeasures we might thus have to take?
For example, suppose we determined that rejuvenation would cause such an unmanageable population increase that, in order to prevent it, it would be necessary to limit births worldwide, at least until we were able to support a larger population. Is asking all people to become sick and die better than asking those who want children to postpone their parenthood plans?
Another example: imagine that an evil dictator used rejuvenation to prolong his reign of terror by decades. So, on one hand, nobody would suffer and die of aging anymore; on the other hand, people who lived under the dictator would have to endure the dictatorship for longer. Forget for a moment that waiting for a dictator to die of old age isn't the best way to get rid of him; rather, let's reflect on this: would the amount of suffering caused by the dictator to a fraction of the human population be worse than that caused by aging to everyone? Would it be fair to ask the whole world to give up on lifesaving medical technology so that no dictator could ever use it to continue oppressing a minority that could be saved by more effective means anyway?
Let's face it - suffering and death are hardly a solution to anything. Will the rise of rejuvenation biotechnology cause unexpected side effects and challenges? Quite possibly, because it is a disruptive technology, and as such, it has the power to revolutionize our lives. But as for other past disruptive technologies, we'll figure things out as we go.