Deciding How Much Life is Enough: Another Way to Sabotage Your Future Self

We are adept at sabotaging the person we will be. Time preference is a tyrannical aspect of the human condition; we aggressively and instinctively discount the value of everything in the decades ahead, even our own lives. People let their health run down through lack of maintenance, sabotaging their future selves of two decades hence. Another more subtle manifestation is the decision made on just how much life is enough life. The infrastructure of savings, retirement, life insurance, our peers and our families, our stories, our cultural myths and traditions, all are geared towards a life of a certain shape and length. We are encouraged to plan ahead with a line to be drawn at a given age, a time to wrap it up and shut things down.

In the era in which aging was set in stone, there was a lot to be said for managed expectations. Stoic acceptance of the inevitable requires a little time to work though and put in place firmly enough to carry through to that end. But that is no longer our era. Now that the first rejuvenation therapies exist and can be accessed easily, the extensive infrastructure devoted to a fixed span of life is an impediment. It steers people incorrectly. Numerous biotechnologies of rejuvenation are progressing towards the clinic, and most will be available in some form a few decades from now. Human life is no longer of a certain span - unless you yourself decide it should be by shutting yourself away from what is happening in the labs and the clinics.

When asked how long they want to live, people often say no more than ten years above their country's average lifespan. This, mind you, is in a world where aging is still inevitable; people know that they won't be in top shape during those ten extra years, and yet, perhaps hoping that they might be an exception to that rule, they still wish for that little extra time. Even when told that they will live these extra years in complete health, the most common choice is the current maximum recorded human lifespan, which is roughly 120 years.

If we assume that no rejuvenation therapies are available to extend the time you spend in youthful health, then it is somewhat understandable if you don't feel up for a very long life, because the odds are that its final decades will be increasingly miserable; however, if rejuvenation therapies were available, and you could be fully healthy for an indefinite time, why stop at 120 years? Life extension advocates have probably all had their fair share of conversations with people who insist that 80-odd years will be more than enough for them, health or no health - worse still, some don't care about preserving their health precisely because they think that 80 years is a sufficiently long time to live.

How long one wants to live is only his or her business; just like no one should have the right to force other people to live no longer than the current maximum (an imposition that would indirectly result from a hypothetical ban on life extension therapies), no one should have the right to force anyone else to live longer than 80 years, if that's what he or she wishes for whatever reason. Indeed, it's not the right to die when you see fit that's at issue here; the question is whether people who claim that 80 years are enough have seriously thought the matter through before making their minds up or are simply parroting what others typically say out of social pressure.



When I was 17, 30 seemed old and 40 was kinda the mental limit I could comprehend of being healthy. .

And a cutie anecdote. When my daughter was 2.5 y old we started introducing hey to the concepts of numbers and age. When we asked her how granny was. She said 'very old. 9 years'

The issue here is that if something is impossible and improbable , there is no point of wasting your time and energy to muse how much would your want from this and that.

If you are poor in the 3d world is very hard to imagine the needs and wants of the first world average person. The same applies to the lifespan. If you had the role models of 150 years olds that are full of energy you would pick 150 + some buffer, say 10-20%

On the other hand, nobody world volunteer to be the sick and decrepit old fart , if given the option to look and feel much healthier and younger

Posted by: Cuberat at October 9th, 2018 8:53 AM

I've been thinking about this very idea now for some time. If I mention my hobby (life extension) and that I'm planning on being around until say 150 yrs, they, of course, either looked dumbfounded or just give a little laugh. Then they say they don't expect anything like that and plan on checking out much sooner, somewhere in their 80's generally.

Aside from the thought that if you don't wish for something, chances are slim you'll achieve it, I think most people do as the article says, they PLAN of checking out at some arbitrary age based on ??? (each has a different checklist). Worse, it's sadly easy to see people of all ages sabotaging their chances by dis-respecting their bodies through excessive food and drink, lack of exercise, and this defeatist mindset about aging. READ: I can't do/ want/wear/ have THAT anymore - I'm TOO OLD!

Until there is a proven plan to break this mold of defeatism, this is likely the way it will be.

Posted by: oakman at October 9th, 2018 10:30 AM

>...Until there is a proven plan to break this mold of defeatism, this is likely the way it will be.

Well, there is a way to break it. Senolitics and CR mimetics are the first generation of treatments ( CR are kinda been 0 but they are just getting mainstream attention)
and for the determined and willing to take the risk, they are already here
( Check the posts on this thread for example: )

Once the first generation of treatments is clinically proven to work, there will be a change in the public perception. We don't know how it will work. If it was expensive and only for the rich there could be a shit storm in the media that the rich will never die, while the poor and left to right. In a way , such an outcry might be the fastest way to bring the general public attention to the subject. If you are denied something, suddenly you want it much more...

Most likely scenario, though, will be that the senolitics work and add healthpsan. Suddenly the life expectancy goes up and the people might be healthy even after 100. Like the 90s becoming the new 60s over the course of the next 15 years. Then the Sheree mass of people benefiting from this will have to bend the public perception. And it will be the time for generation 2 treatments, which will attract much more attention

Posted by: Cuberat at October 9th, 2018 12:21 PM

Be careful what you wish for.

Posted by: Watcher at October 9th, 2018 2:40 PM

After three years of research, I'll soon publish a book on this crucial subject. Below is a message to those book club members:
Dear reader, I hope the combinations of 'Indefinite, the woman who regained her youth' and 'The HourGlass,' gave you both an enjoyable reading plus an awareness of the advances in extended longevity. A leap into the future, if you will. How should we prepare for such a cultural change? You're an important part of it. By providing relevant questions on protracted aging and its effect on on our lives and those of our children's, I hope to encourage a needed debate on its use, ethics and fairness. To not allow time to be controlled by the few and destroy the promising new world that awaits us all.

Posted by: Jim O'Brien at October 14th, 2018 10:59 AM

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