Life Expectancy
    By Gerhard Adam | August 28th 2009 01:56 PM | 27 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    Finally an article that blasts the preposterous mythology suggesting that human longevity is a relatively recent phenomenon and primarily due to advances in medical technology.
    In reviewing some of the comments made to the article it is clear that there is still a great deal of confusion surrounding the difference between "expectancy" and "lifespan".  The basic point in the article is that human life span is fundamentally unchanged over 2,000 years and quite possibly for a much longer period before that.

    Life expectancy is a much abused term because it is really a statement about probabilities and has little to do with life span(1).  In other words, expectancy is determined by taking all the things that can kill you and averaging them out to determine what your "expectation" of survival is.  One obvious element is infant and child mortality, so if you're an adult then that aspect of your "expectation" no longer affects the probability of your surviving.

    Similarly, if you live in a war zone your expectancy is obviously going to be different than if you live on a farm in Iowa, since the risks you are subject to will be different.  Expectancy is going to be related to the risks to which one is exposed and become relevant only in those cases where a comparable risk is associated with an individual.

    The same can be said for diseases, where your expectancy is obviously going to be different if you've been diagnosed with cancer, for example, versus if you don't have cancer.  

    While all these elements play a role, the mythology seems to have coalesced around an implicit assumption that it is modern technology, specifically medical, which is responsible for human longevity.  This creates the illusion that people living during other periods were simply dying at ridiculously young ages. It could certainly be argued that the risks (expectancy) might be greater to an individual during other periods of history, it would be incorrect to say that the human lifespan was affected.

    Another oft mentioned explanation is that modern medical technology is responsible for increasing human lifespans, however this isn't accurate.  While technology has produced many new lifesaving procedures that affect expectancy there have also been higher risks created by technological advances.  An individual traveling in a car with hundreds of other drivers has a dramatically different risk than an individual riding a horse or walking.  Therefore one could argue that many of the medical advances are simply keeping pace with new and creative ways in which we can injure ourselves.

    There's no question that surgical advances for dealing with organ failures, like heart or kidney transplants will affect outcomes, but these capabilities simply mitigate the probabilty of death without affecting the normal lifespan.  In other words, they may raise the life expectancy to a degree but do little with respect to overall longevity (except for the affected individual). 

    Part of the problem in assessing life expectancy is in determining what all the risks are that a particular group is subject to. This becomes especially important when one considers the population size that is being explored and what's included.  Native American life expectancy was certainly impacted by European settlers, but if we included both populations in such an evaluation it would be misleading in interpreting human life expectancy.  Similarly it is misleading when all risks are simply grouped together under the "human" heading and then making statements about life expectancy.

    So why does this matter?

    The problem occurs when the life expectancy or probability of reaching a certain age becomes confused and interpreted as an absolute indicator of age.  This creates the false impression that human longevity has been increased, when what actually happened is that the probabilities of an early death have been reduced.  What the specific reasons for that reduction are would have to be separately analyzed, but they have nothing to do with lifespan.

    Consider this contrived example where we simply state that 50% of the population lives to be 80 years of age.  This doesn't tell us anything about the other 50%, but life expectancy can give us some ideas.  To keep it simple, let's assume that the other 50% die at age 20.  This would give us a life expectancy of 50 years old.  What does this mean?  Absolutely nothing, because as we can see from our example, it really means that you have a 50/50 chance of making it to 50, however if you do, then you have a 100% chance of living to 80 since you're obviously part of the long-lived group.  The only thing that life expectancy showed was the one age that NO ONE would actually die at.  

    Similarly if we improve things so our lower 50% now lives to age 40, the life expectancy will have increased to 60 years.  This has done nothing to the original 80-year old group.  It has simply shifted the probabilities of dying to a later period for the younger group.

    Therefore it becomes reasonable to argue that advances in technology have probably contributed little to human longevity while it may have contributed (along with numerous other social and lifestyle changes) to improving the probabilities of surviving the earlier years. While this may not be an earth-shattering revelation, hopefully it will stop the type of preposterous misrepresentations indicated below:

    "However, two-thousand years ago average life expectancy was less than 20 years or about 7,000 days. It is difficult to imagine, but most of our ancestors kicked the bucket before our modern legal drinking age."

    "In 1796, life expectancy hovered around 24 years. A hundred years later it doubled to 48. In our modern world of air conditioners, hand washing and booster shots, you have a good chance of living 63 years, which is the world average. However, for those fortunate enough to live in a first-world country, lifespan jumps considerably."

    As exemplified in Gender and Poverty in Nineteenth-century Europe By Rachel Ginnis Fuchs

    "Infant and child mortality varied by region, social class, and family income, but the underserved and poorer populations of Europe experienced a higher likelihood of infant and child mortality than the more affluent.  The worn-out bodies and poor nutrition of pregnant poor mothers contributed to premature births and infant death."

    "Infant mortality in Italy, Russia, and the German states was far greater with about 220 per 1,000 in Italy, 260 in Germany, and 280 in Russia."

    This would suggest that it is social and lifestyle changes which have had a more profound affect on the probabilities affecting "expectancy" and that the suggestion that people were dying in their 20's or 30's is largely a myth.

    (1) One obvious problem in these definitions is that even "old age" will cause you to die of something, which makes the entire discussion more difficult.  However, I'm going to use the assumption that what we consider "old age" to be the commonly accepted point at which we expect physiological failures to occur and lead to death. Even without precise values there are implicit understandings of what we mean when we say "old" or "young", however generally it refers to the longest lived 10% of a given cohort (maximum life span).


    Great article, Gerhard. Maximim Life Span (Roy Walford) called this effect, Squaring the curve, and clearly that is nearly all of the current progress in "longevity.".

    Even so, I don't think it is going to stay this way much longer. SENS, TA Sciences, Sirtuin, and many many other organizations are finally willing to directly and unapologetically attack the aging process. We've shown, since 1972, that you can't get to the moon by not trying to go there, and the same has been true of anti-aging research.

    For decades people who are publicly funded have had to hide an interest in anti aging for fear of a (not likely) backlash from religious constituencies. So the problem has never been attacked. Finally it is being attacked.

    It is going to fall. Naturally there is no way to credibly predict when. But when it does everything wll change for the better. For some reason (people's negativity, past sour grapes, sci fi plot scenarios) people haven't yet realized what a boon to mankind this will be but any analysis that looks at it deeply will recognize that this change will be a profound and very good one, greatly reducing health care costs (or at least greatly improving the health care results per dollare spent) and greatly increasing the GDP as formerly weak people become strong again.

    It's a profound change and I only wish it were given anything like the attention that the manhattan project or the apollo program got in the past, because it would have profound positive effects if it were.

    But even without that the change is underway and it will happen. Just "how soon?" is in doubt.

    We are now able to read invidivual neaurons (though only invasively) and have seen individual molecular bonds (reported only in the past week) and things are only going to progress to better states over time.

    Here's the big picture that everyone is missing. Aging needn't be completely solved tomorrow for most of us to become practically immortal tomorrow any more than we needn't put 200 gallons of gasoline in our car in Boston in order to get to LA. We only need to put enough gas in our car to get to the next gas station, and we only have to practice enough life extending principle (quitting smoking, chieve among them) to add enough years to survive to the next breakthrough.

    Jeff Sherry
    Gerhard I read the same article at Livescience. It seems changes in technology allows people to reach the optimum of 80 plus years. Looking at NYC during 1900 with a huge number of draft animals, the drinking water supplies were affected greatly from animal refuse and the increase of diseases during the summer. How many deaths could be attributed to rotten food?

    Tony, didn't we have this discussion before? Having visited the following link all I have found so far is futristic Utopianism for the extension of human life. Isn't one of the basics of extending human life is to have the ability to change the time scale on the number of cell divisions? Forums (Powered by Invision Power Board)

    I'm not a sword crossing kind of dude, not good on the life expectancy chart to be messing around with sharp objects and cantankerous objectors who value life less than I do. :-) I am quite content to agree to disagree agreeably.

    Like I said above, I mis-placed the second set of comments, as they were intended for a different discussion threads, the transhumanist one. I'd actually prefer it deleted from thsi post as it doesn't make sense in this context.

    I pretty much agree with all that you said, just adding that what you said isn't new among people who actually care about life extension, and it is referred to as squaring the curve. I don't think you came out against life extension here, just against claims that it was happening yet.

    Now maybe you are against life extension, but you haven'st said so in this post.

    But there is one funny thing you missed and that is that it is happening now, according to the very article you quoted. (that is, that the diseases being eradicated are later stage diseases, so even the 80 year olds are living longer), though this is very recent, only in the last couple of years.

    As to cell divisions, that's partially true (that is, cell divisions are one part of the problem), but that is being handled. A company called TA sciences is currently on the forefront of that with a process that I expect will continually come down in price. The cell division problem is just one of the problems. It's famous in anti-aging because it's the only one that is clocked, that necessarily runs down and is associated with the Hayflick limit. But that's just one problem.

    That forum you linked to isn't anything I'm part of. I will say this, though. Utopian futures have gotten a bad name as they've always been associated with things like Gattaca and Brave new World where uptopia is achieved by limiting people's options, and that is no utopia to anyone who is serious about tranhumanism.

    Regardless of what is called Utopia at any given time, there's still things to do, dreams to achieve, problems to solve and challenges to meet. Our world would be considered Utopia to many who came from a primitive place sufferring from a drought.

    Gerhard Adam
    I deleted the comment, since it was intended for another post, so that way there can't be any confusion.

    I am going to post something on transhumanism soon, so I suspect we may have some points to discuss there. 
    ... so even the 80 year olds are living longer...
    While that may be true, there are other studies suggesting that the quality of life is not as it should be.  One has to be extremely cautious in looking at the ages alone.  Longevity without quality of life is fundamentally meaningless.  We need to consider whether we are prolonging life, or prolonging death.

    However, any discussion that sounds Utopian must also be based in reality and not simply wishful thinking.  All too often the ideas that things will be "universally" available have no historical basis for being believable.  At present, we're engaged in a debate about universal health care, and it would be woefully optimistic to suggest that some of the technological advances being suggested would be available to anyone except those with means (probably substantial means).

    This becomes even more problematic if the technology conveys an advantage to those with money and/or power since it would create a strong incentive for them to restrict access to such technologies rather than behave altruistically and make them available for all.   While one can hope that there are sufficient opposing forces to such efforts, one also shouldn't be too naive about the actual ways these things play out.

    BTW, I'm not directing any of these comments at you specifically, but just making general points.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Thanks for the delete
    ..woefully optimistic to suggest that .. advances ...would be available to anyone except those with means (probably substantial means).
    ... more problematic if the technology conveys an advantage to those with money and/or power since it would create a strong incentive for them to restrict access to such technologies rather than behave altruistically

    No one's talking about altruism. talking about capitalism. Do you have any idea how much more profitable it is to provide something to the masses, it it can be done, rather than to provide to just the few. Volkswagen always made more money than Rolls Royce, and the same is true of any product that can be used and desired by everyone.

    Healthcare is expensive because each treatment is individualized. After all we don't all have the same diseases at the same time. So each treatment is expensive. But we do all get the same imunnizations, so immunizations are relatively inexpensive.

    Think about that for a second, immunizations are cheap enough that even though only a fraction of us, say 5% at worse, were going to get any given disease we are immunized for, it is cheaper to just go ahead and give everyone the cure ahead of time. Aging will be no different since it is something that is of valuable to everyone.

    I think you'll have to look long and hard to find any true example of wealthy people going out of their way to hold the masses down. That's a major stretch. There is no advantage, for the average wealthy person, to be the only energetic, the only capable person. Quite the contrary most would prefer able bodied bright people capable of staffing their companies and buying their products. The idea that the wealthy people are somehow this evil lot out to keep people down is just not supported by any data other than bad TV writing. Sure wealthy people want the best for their own kids, but they also don't want their kids surrounded by homeless people who can't be productive. They want everyone to be doing well enough to keep the laws, to buy their products, and to be productive people if employed by them.

    I have personally met 4 different multi-multi millionaires, 3 in one-on-one situations, Bill Gates, Kenneth Thomson (Richest man in Canada) and Ray Stata (Analog Devices) and Anthony Robbins . The 3 I met, and Gates through his foundation have all, from what I could tell, shown a strong interest in their employees, their cutsomers, and from what I can tell, the world's welfare. The reason guys like that get such a bad rap is that they often have no interest in their competitors welfare, and it is those competitors who paint them out to be evil. They're not (except maybe to their competitors).

    There is no great cabal of rich people trying to hold back the average person from making it. It just doesn't work that way. The average person (and I'm included in this) holds themselves back by lacking ambition that keeps you working around the clock even after you've become comfortable in life.

    Think about this, are you holding people back because you don't employee 100,000 people and don't give them health care? Who's doing more for people, the Walton family who employees people inexpensively, or you and I who employee them not at all? I just don't get why people who are giving out checks to people are so castigated.

    There is a great cabal, though, many of them. Groups of seperate enteprenuers looking for something that would be valuable to every man and woman on the planet, and an anti-aging solution fits the bill. Keep in mind that they can't make it to expensive without attracting other competitors. Because if they do get too greedy there's yet another competitor there to make it slighly cheaper.

    Anti-aging will come on it's own. I have already seen a major shift in the past 10 years. In 1999 I couldn't see anyone online, other than the die-hards (or die-nevers) like myself, who spoke positively about reversing aging. Now I see people commenting all the time saying things like, "I hope they solve aging soon,before I get old. "

    One shouldn't be
    too naive about the way these things play out.
    They way these things play out is that the first thing (like the first computer) works poorly, is expensive, and only the wealthiest can afford it. And the first producers do get greedy and charge a lot. But no one can stop ideas, not in todays world. So whatever brilliant group of people has created at great expense, some other brilliant group of people can copy relatively cheaply. and improve it in the process. So it will get less and less expsensive with each generation that the products are introduced.*

    Remember, we only have to make it to the next gas station, not all they way accross country, and the vast majority of us are young enough that we could be around and watch 10 iterations playing out in 2 year cycles as each successive wave of the antiaging regimens improves. And that 10th iteration will cost us considerably less than we now pay for gasoline because mass production works that way, and people aren't nearly as thirsty as cars are.

    I'm not naive in thinking this is going to happen next year. But most people are naive in thinking that this has to take more than 50 years. The moon landing took only nine with a country that was not only 50 years less advanced than we are today, but a country that was engaged in a war in vietnam and a cold war at the same time, and yet we made it to the moon and back several times. We could reverse aging if we had anything approaching the same resolve today.

    You are clearly a very bright person, capable of thinking for yourself given how you knew ahead of time that the longevity claims of medicine were false. Don't you also realize that the media claims of scarcity are also false? They make no mathematical sense. Who doesn't own a car? (city dwellers with subway passes don't count, of course, because they have transportation). Who doesn't have internet access, skype phone service, access to you tube? Don't you think there are powerful interests who would have loved to stop you from having that? Of course there are, But the key point is that there are equally powerful interest who want you to get it.

    We'll be ok.

    The only reason I go on at length is because if we do keep going this tortuous, slow route, my mom won't be. And that's a very tragic(and in the centuries ahead it will be widely realized to be an) unneccessary loss.

    Think about this. From the day aging is solved onward death will become extremely rare. (If all of us had the same resistance as the most resilient of us, 11 year olds, we'd have an average life span of 1,000 years). When we hold this process up by a year, then we aren't taken a year's life away from those people who died of age related diseases, we're taking 900+ years of life away from them. It's just a terrible burden that will be born by those who are holding this up someday. You see, even if you make it (you only have to get to the next gas station, after all) anyone who didn't make it, to the extent that it can be linked to yours and my complacency, well they've lost out a huge amount. I'm trying to keep people from getting stuck with that burden.

    Get clear on this quality of life thing. If aging is reversed, but it means I have to suffer some poor life quality for a decade or so until it gets really really reversed, that's no big deal, I got 900 years after that.

    Before you move on to transhumanism, be sure that you don't make the common mistake that most people make of thinking to short term and thinking linearly. Advances are occuring exponentially, not linearly. When I first started in computers in 1980 articles were claiming that we were nearing the physical limits with our 40 megabyte hard drives. 1980 was only 29 years ago, and I am talking about what will happen in the next 50 years.

    Note these 2 events will happen within the next 50 years.
    1. Desktop computers will become functionally smarter even at normal tasks than we are now, and therefore able to cheaply power industry.
    2. Individual compenents will reach a size of about a few 10s of atoms per component (far smaller than human neural dendrites or individual cells.

    Sure there will be a huge disparity between the wealthiest and the poorest, but the poorest will be wealthier (in real terms of what they actually have and can own) than the middle class is today. So don't shed tears for them. It wasn't long ago that only the wealthiest had broadband, after all. Now almost everyone has it.

    BTW, I'm not directing these comments at you spefically, you're way ahead of the curve on your understanding. I just wish people would wake up and realize that there are throwing away something that they don't need to throw away, their lives and the lives of those they love. I know that I'm going to be ok because the next gas station is no more than 40 years away, and I'll still be here. But I also know that, with resolve, the next gas station could be just a decade away, or even sooner, like the moon was in 1961. That's all I'm saying.

    One other thing. I'm sorry I am writing so much. I only think I'm writing a sentence or two then I go to preview it and it takes up 2 pages. I'll be quiet now as I am clearly writing more than my share, and I have made my point. Whether anyone got it, that's a different matter. I can only hope. Look, you probably shouldn't post this, it's too long. So If I've only written it for your benefit that's fine with me. I actually said enough already. But if you do post it, I promise I'm done fo this topic.

    I wish you well.

    *Regarding cost, it will get cheap with each generation unless we try to legislate the price, in which case it will stay expensive.

    Gerhard Adam
    Don't worry about long posts.  I do it all the time :)

    While I can appreciate your optimism, I don't share it.  History is replete with examples of how those with money and power will attempt to control it and others.  This is precisely what allowed the feudal system to exist for as long as it did, why many governments are still totalitarian (or at least dictatorial), and why even capitalism tended to abuse its workers until regulations prevented children from being exploited and unions provided some degree of protection from the monied interests.

    I'm not suggesting that every multi-millionaire may not be conscientious, however there are numerous examples of those that wouldn't be (one only has to look at the last decade to see how some of these people have behaved and how little concern they had for those that trusted them).  The last century offers dozens of examples of individuals that have readily acted for their own benefit while sacrificing untold numbers around themselves.

    My main problem with your aging scenario, is that it can't work.  You're essentially suggesting that humanity will populate itself out of existence in a few decades should such a thing come to pass.  Death is a necessary opposing force to births.  Can you imagine how horrible it would be if every new birth had no chance at gaining anything in life because every niche was already filled by someone that would never die?  Even the simple case of getting a job would be nearly impossible if no one ever vacated a position.

    This doesn't even begin to raise the spectre of how people should be expected to conduct their lives when there is no end.  The motivation to achieve is directly related to an implicit understanding that there is only a finite amount of time.  Immortality becomes a curse since the only thing that made life valuable will have been removed.

    It is possible to have too much of a good thing, and life without death simply becomes empty.

    I understand that you may strongly disagree with me, but consider carefully what you wish for.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    Looking at NYC during 1900 with a huge number of draft animals, the drinking water supplies were affected greatly from animal refuse and the increase of diseases during the summer. How many deaths could be attributed to rotten food?
    No question about it, but it's also interesting to note that it was the shift in people moving to the cities and the technology that entailed that gave rise to the problem in the first place.  I suspect that changes in human lifestyle usually create a problem and then technology comes into play to restore things to their former balance.  In other words, no real progress has been made, it's simply a return to a type of equilibrium.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Glad you don't mind long posts because I really don't get it?

    You really think that me not dying, Moi? who only hav e asingle son, is somehow, by not dying, going to fill up every niche? Do the math. Not dying is a minor effect, not even linear. Having children (any number less than two) is a regressive effect that eventually maxes out and stablizes. Having children (any number more than 2 per couple) is an exponential effect that will eventually fill the universe with human beings piled one atop another no matter if you kill the parents off the instant the third child is born. the math doesn't lie, but our inherent beliefs do. You were clever enough to work this out with medical longevity claims, work the math out with births and deaths.

    Heres a quickie analysis. Assume we had 4 billion couples each having one child, but never dying. Next generation there would be 2 billion couples, then 1 billion, then half a billion and if you add the the non-inifinite series you'll find that even if no one ever dies, as long as each couple only has one child population will stabilize at 8 billlon couples.

    How does not-dying populate us out of existance?

    Overcrowding is vastly overestimated. In the US there are 3 acres for every man woman and child. The posterchild for overcrosding is Bangladesh, which has roughly the population density of Encino California and no one decries Encino's population problems. Overcrowding is not the problem in Bangladesh, it is a the controlled economy that doesn't allow market forces and deployment of capital.

    Cities are not crowded because there is not enough land for all the people, cities are crowded because for those people those cities offerred a better life than they knew how to find in the country. There is so much land, per capita.

    Oh some of it may need irrigation, but I don't know if you've noticed but Las Vegas does find even though it's smack dab in the middle of the desert and terribly crowded.

    People are not the problem. People who don't know how to be productive, that is the problem. And one of the reasons why it is so hard for people to learn all they could is that many of their grand parents die off before they can teach them well.

    As to despotism, Who is going to manage to be a despot in these times, who has the power to do that? Gates, Google, Obama?

    It's laughable if you look at it. It's just not possible. The times you were talking about wealth was far more concentrated than it is now, despite talk of disparity today. And the reason for that is becasse technology had not advanced enough to make egalitarianism possible. There just wasn't enough wealth then. People get all excited about Gates, Buffett, Brin and Page's wealth, and the Walton family for that matter, but as a percentage of gross domestic product their wealth pales beside the wealth of John J. Astor and some of the railroad and steel magnates of the 19th century one of whom at one time had a net worth equivalent to 1/3rd of the gross domestic product of the entire country. Microsoft, Google and WalMart combined don't approach that.

    With that kind of disparity, and with jobs relatively scarce despotism is possible, but today no one is that far ahead, or even close to it. And no one is so far behind as to willingly subject themselves to a despot. (I'm talking about the free world here, I'm not trying to get the whole world to the moon at once, let's start where we can)

    As far as niche's, do you watch business at all? There are no stable niches. Everything is supplanted constantly. The young have nothing to fear from the old. Have you seen the faces of the founders of facebook, of google, of you tube? The young are going to do fine.

    People are not a problem. Why people keep beleiving this club of rome nonsense from the seventies makes no sense at all, given that there has been no evidence to back it up, none. More people means more prosperity in a free society.

    Do you know that the sun puts 100 watts of power on every sqaure yard of the planet during the daytime. Every square yard. There is no way that we have scarcity except for laziness.

    Do the math, please. Look around? What matters more, how many people they're are, or what culture and political system do they live under? Compare Indonesia with Japan for instance. Similar climates, populations and resources, very different political and cultural rules.

    People are not the problem. More good people means a better world. More wise, good and healthy people means a better world.

    But here's the big one, is it worth living?

    You said: "Life without death becomes empty"


    If I have people to love, friendships, challenges, goals, people to teach, people to learn from, games to play, shows to watch, books to read, mountains to ski on rivers to raft on, trees to climb, birds to watch, songs to hear, I don't need death to give life meaning.

    Life is good in and of itself.Take something mundane, chess, take up chess, just chess, nothing else. It will be a 100 million years before you've seen every position on the board.

    I can't get over how often I've heard this crazy crazy sentence, "Without death, life has no meaning."

    And thank you Gerhard, thank you immensely, is the first time I've been able to say something back as this is undoubtedly the most misguided and unthinking meme I have ever heard, but it gets repeated so often.

    Niche's. Like I'm going to hold on to the buggy whip industry.

    You are talking in cliche's that don't hold up to even a moment's scrutiny, Scrutinize those things you are saying.

    Do you really really think we are running out of room for people?

    Get on a plane, a small plane. Fly somewhere. There's room, there's lots of it.

    And before you say, "but it's not habitable." remember that it is only not habiitable because there're aren't people there planting trees and irrigating. Antartica is habitable if people want to be there. Alaska, Siberia. And don't forget, Las Vegas, middle of a desert, massively croweded, yet somehow it does ok.

    You are imagining things that make no sense. I'm going to get bored with my wife's happiness, my son's curiosity, a stranger's kindness?

    There is more to be seen than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done. Elton John, the Lion King, but still true.

    Ok so let me go off the deep end a bit (and you probably thought I already was).

    When robots can easily and cheaply make things then it isn't that difficult to build a space elevatore. We already know how to build the carbon fibers, it's just that 40,000 miles of hand woven carbon fiber is just too tedious for us humans to manage, but intelligent robots, why not?

    So we do run out of room on the earh, the population zooms to the 40 billion it's predicted to level off at if people do become immortal and I am dissatisfied to share the 1.5 acre lot that is my 3 person family's share of the earth, and the 3,500 mile cone that extends from the surface of my lot to the center of the planet is just not enough place for me to be satisified with the housing poissiblites.

    Well with 40 billion people the aggreage wealth in terms of new geniuses producing new and better stuff means we'll able be much wealthier (in real terms of what we can afford to have and own, as opposed to the fake, who's got more cash in the bank paper money wealth)

    With the space elevator set up, then space is suddenly there for expansion, and the lift is nearly free.

    And you take a light gravity body like the moon, we could do a lot there especially with all the helium 3 which makes such great fusion power.

    Bored? The only thing I've I ever been bored with hearing person after person say, "aging is a good thing, life has no meaning without death, we'd be bored?"

    But not with you Gerhard. This time, finally I'm not bored because finally I can answer that being bored is merely a choice people make when they choose not to notice or care about the things around them. I can be bored in a hurricane if I want to be. Or I can be enraptured by the way a ray of light diffuses through a prism, or like proust, the way a cake's frosting is swirled.

    Paint things and you'll not be bored because you'll never perfect it.

    The Mona Lisa, ever wonder why it is such a captivating work of art? Davinci, a brilliant multitalented man, worked on that one painting off and on for 25 years. I wonder if he thought, "Durn I'm bored with this thing?" or did he think, "hmmm, just a little more blue in a slightly darker shade, maybe if I mix in some petals I saw in the field yesterday... then maybe maybe I can get the mood I want here..."


    Look people always say entropy causes aging, nothing to be done. about it (people who don't understand entropy, that is). The laws of Entropy do put an upper limit on our life span if we don't ever become transhumans. That upper limit is 100 trillion years, when the last stars will finally burn out. That's it.

    To me 100 trillion years is too short, I still will not have begun to do all the things that I can think of that are worth doing.

    Things change even while you are looking at them. If you activate your mirror neurons, put yourselves in the head and shoes of different charcters, most good films can be watched 20 times and they are different experiences every single time.

    What would it be like to be this character saying that thing, what woudl I say differently, how would I feel, what am I seeing here, what does this character know and not know, and if the character did know how would the character have acted differently.

    Ok after being in all the characters you can watch the same film and think about the director, the producer, even the editor.

    Isaac Newton (the guy who invented calculus in 3 months, on a dare, the guy who invented optics, discovered the nature of light, discovered the laws of gravity all before he was 26) late in his life said, "People speak as if I know a great deal, yet all my life I have felt as if I have been a child on the beach with a few small pebbles when there was a whole ocean of things there waiting to be discovered.

    Boredom is simply laziness, or lack of energy. If that has physical causes then antiaging therapies will likely cure them. If the causes are a choice, then aging has nothing to do with it, the person has chosen to be bored.

    I pretty much have to stay off the internet if I am to get my own work done. Even as I write these words I wonder about you, about the people who will read them, about how they'll sound in your head, about what inflections you'll put on them. Will you mistakenly put strident and arrogant, even cantankerous tones in my words, or will you put them in the playful bouncy and curious way that they are coming out of my fingers?

    Man how can you ever think you;'d be bored if you had the full vitality, the full awareness you are capable of? From whence comes boredom?

    If someone has physical energy but chooses to be bored, to not care, to not see, to not wonder, well I can understand why that person would think that death a welcome release.

    But if that person were in my head, seeing my thoughts for just a day, an hour, a minute even, it's hard to imagine that they'd still think that way.

    Tom Brady, third string quarterback, slow, weak throwing arm takes over for Drew Bledsoe, an all star who got injured on a so-so team. Then Brady goes on to win 3 superbowls. I am not even interested in football, but I am so intrigued that we just don't understand things yet, don't understand how they really work.

    Pick up copies of Connections, the James Burke BBC series. Sailing is hampered when people get out of site of land for centuries. Why? Because they can't tell time at sea because pendulums don't work. And the conquest of the oceans depends on what? The mastering of the ability to make accurate perfect screws.

    All of history is like that, there are a thousand million little things that turned out to make all the difference.

    The world is filled with critical moments, critical points in time. You could take path 1 or path 2. It might be a different road, a different car, a different class that you ttake.

    Steven Jobs said that he owes much of the success of the mac to a class he took on a whim, a class in calligraphy.

    Imagine that, the Mac, the iPod, the iphone, dreamworks picture's, all coming down to a college self described underachiever, taking a class in caligraphy when he wasn't getting anywhere. From this class in caligraphy came the interest in, the awareness of proportional fonts, and that's why we have them today.

    Next time you are in the grocery story play Sherlock Holmes, try to figure out what people do for a living, what their hobbies are, notice them, make an effort to make their lives better in whatever small way for whatever small instant.

    You'll stop thinking about being bored.

    I think I've met easily 10,000 people in my life. I've been with my wife for over 20 years, don't remember any two days being the same. There is so much, so much more that is there.

    100 trillion years from now I am certain that I will not have scratched the surface.

    There is a saying that I first heard applied to teachers, but it could apply to anyone.

    The saying was, "He hasn't been teaching for 20 years, he's only been teaching for 1 year, but he's done it 20 times."

    And this is where the boredom comes from.

    I was once a Fundamentalist Christian, and a devout and devoted one at that. And when I was in the military my best friend, he was a Satanist. Imagine that. I happened to reflect on that today as I was missing that guy. (Nicholas, if you read this, I remember you, look me up.) Here's what is strange, he and I had far more in common than most of the other Christians I knew. And this was despite our beliefs being fundamentally (pun unintended) different. The reason is that we both very curious very devout, and very engaged in life, living our beliefs, taking them as far as they could be taken, testing boundaries.

    Religions, extremely interesting things. I started going to different churches, first only Christian ones, then others, to see the people, and it is amazing how common the experiences are.

    "I just went with my parents when I was a child, but when I moved out I left the faith for a while, thought I didn't need it. And then when I got a bit older I realized I did, and here I am now back and now I get it."

    Who said that, Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox Jew? Nope, in this case it was a Neicheron, Dichonin(sp?) Buddhist, a faith that has a chanting practice where you chant sitting on a mat several times a day. Ever tried that? Sounds odd but it actually felt really good. There's no deity in that religion. I'm not sure, but I don't think there's an after life. And yet to here them talk, they sounded just like the Southern Baptists where I grew up. Amazing thing religion.

    Have you watched a crow work a food puzzle, seen a dolphin play with birds, or seen the Battle at Kruger video of the lion and alligator fight over a young buffalo, only to have the bufflo herd come to the rescue..

    Do you know how snowflakes vary, how the double slit experiement works, why the pattern that arises from a slow emitting beam of light passing through two slits probably means that we live in a universe that is one of untold billions of nearly identical universes.

    Or why is it that th e static you hear on the off channels on the am dial of a radio probably means tha tthere was a period of time that the entire universe was expandaning far faster than the speed of light?

    Of do you realize what an amazing miracle it is that the magic eye illusion works at all and what that means about our brains?

    Do you know how perspective works? What would a perfect tune sound like? Why 88 keys on a piano? Why do notes and decibels vary logarihmically, but sund like they vary linearly?

    It is 800 times brighter in the sun than in a normal lit room at night. I didn't know that. That's amazing. It only seems about 3 or 4, no more than 10 times brighter to my eyes because they adjust so quickly, so magically between the two.

    Bored? How? How in the world, in a world with so much to know, so much that we are just starting to scratch the surface of knowing, could you possibly think you'd be bored?

    Please do this for me, please accept that there are people, a lot of us, who cannot possibly be bored in a mere 1,000 years. Please accept that. You may not experience it yourself but there are a lot of us.

    For me the experience is probably better related by the movie Groundhog day where Bill Murray, because of some freak event, keeps reliving the same day, becomes bored and tries to kill himself but it doesn't work, he keeps waking up the next morning but it's the same day, groundhog day, over and over again.. (they chose groundhog day because I think the idea was to make it a boring holiday)

    And then something happens, he starts living for, noticing, and caring about others. From that point on his world changes and suddenly he couldn't be bored anymore.there was just too much goodness he could bring.

    And I think if I could have it summed up how I feel about life in one single scene it is when Bill Murray happens upon a drunk in an alley (remember he's lived this day thousands of times, been everywhere in this small city) and this drunk has a heart attack and he takes him to the hospital and at the hospital the guy goes into final cardiac arrest and dies and the nurse says he's gone and there was nothing that could be done and Bill with anguish says, "No, Not Today."

    And then you Bill again see Bill reliving the day over and over, but this time he's in the library reading medical journals, he's practicing CPR, he's studying open heart surgery and then finally, having lived this day probably thousands of times he saves the guy's life and gets to know him and show him that someone cares and that there is reason to live.

    That's how I feel. There is more, much more. There's something to live for. It doesn't have to end now, and it shouldn't end now.

    Don't fall for it. You've been set up. It's Aesop's fox and grapes. We accept death because we have no choice. Since we have no choice we've come to mythologize it so that this clearly bad thing is somehow good, somehow valuable.

    When evolution depended on slow acting genes it may have been valuable, but not anymore.

    Not Today.

    - Tony

    Gerhard Adam
    Well, I can see that you're definitely enthused about this.  In any case, I will still respectfully disagree with you, but I certainly am not going to try and change your mind.

    I also think you're dealing with several fallacies, but time will tell. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    I know that seemed like a lot of rambling, but it's just the tip of the tip of the reasons why I can't imagine ever being bored.

    One other point, history is also replete with examples of people without money and without education using power over others.

    Do you know what the reticular activating system (RAS) is, what it does?

    It's the reason why, the secone we start driving our new car it suddenly seems like half the people on the road are driving the same car now, when they weren't before.

    You seemed to have programmed into your brain the idea that it's worth seeking out the evil deeds of the powerful and fixating on them. the fact is they are far rarer than the evil deeds of the week. (the bonnie and clyde common hoodlums far outnumber the Pol Pot's and Hitler's) If it weren't so we'd be in far more trouble than we are.

    Think back to my question, who is doing better by people, Walmart who give employees relatively small checks and lousy benefits, or we who employ noone and give noone anything at all?

    I get the distinct impression that you have RAS'd your way over my questions and decided to hone in own what are actually relatively rare (in recnent history) examples of despotic business leaders. And it seems this is more of a distractor to take the conversation away from the fact that we could, right here in this country at this time end aging for people here. It seems like it has no bearing at all on what normally happens in todays world.

    Look, I am perfectly content to disagree agreeably if you are willing to admit the possibility that people exist who would not be bored to live 1,000 years, and who would not take up the space, monoplize the niche, hold down the masses with their longevity, but who would do more to help it.

    Heard of the Carneige foundation? Of the Hughes medical foundation? Of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation?

    Do you ever study wealthy people, what they do, how they live? Ever read what Henry Ford said about his responsibility to the workforce, how he paid the same wages to people who came in with only one disabilities and true disabilities that made the actually less able to work?

    I can't even imagine a scenario where an attempt to hold back anti-aging would be successful, or how such a thing could be put into practice.

    And I can't imagine any way that any niche holding could be set up.

    Finally I can't imagine how I could ever get bored? Every time I log onto the internet, every time I go to the book store, despite the fact that I can read a book a day, there are always more titles to be read than there were the last time.

    Same with DVD, same with CDs/MP3s/ you tube videos.

    Same with amusement parks and athletic events.

    Start caring about something, start trying to do something. start noticing people, start trying to make things better for them.

    You'll soon see there are not enough years to do it all, and it is just plan rewarding and fulfilling.

    Here is the more imporant thing, your RAS is stuck, just like mine once was in Fundamentalist Christianity. You only see what fits your current world view. You only hear those people who match your world view. And so you think that you have the intellectual high ground.

    But at the end of the you are coming right out and saying that you think that I should not be able to live as long as I want to, and that people should die by some arbitrarily allotted 80ish age, and that people who are not healthy should not be able to choose to live. It is you are are playing the despot roll, who are empowering despots with that world view. I advocate freedom. You are freed to choose to not live, to choose to be bored, to choose to not age, and I and those like me are free to choose to live.

    Don't be so dogmatic. Back off the "I know what is good for your life even though you can't see it. I know it is better for you to die at 80, and I'm going to make sure the world keeps on making people die at that age or sooner." mindset. Step outside it and look at it. Does it really make as much sense as you think it does. It is really such a flawless argument. "People might get bored, the world might be overpopulated, so we gotta slow this anti-aging movement down before they are successful."

    Does that really ring so true that you would despotically impose your will over other people so much so as to condemn them to an earlier than necessary grave?

    I don't think you have examined the true ramifications of your beliefs.

    Hitler thought he knew what was good for the world, Jews have to die, they are not like us.

    You seem to think you know what is good for the world, "Transhumanists can't be allowed to live like they want, they are not like us."

    Is that really what you believe? Think about it.

    Here's my prediction. Immortality is coming, it is going to happen anyway. Only the speed that it happens is being affected by the current "death is necessary, death is good," meme.

    And just like having a black president, (remember how impossible that was) when immortality does happen you'll wonder, "What was all the fuss about, why were we so worried about this? Why were we so lazy in our thinking?"

    But here's where it changes, there are strange lasting reprecussions of what we do right now unlike any that have ever happened before in this case everyone who loves someone who will perish unneccessariliy (because we were lazy and waited) all of them will remember (they'll have healthy brains after all) what they lost and why that lost it.

    They lost it because we waited unnecessarilly. It is a remarkable, incredible waste.

    Do the math: Population - not a problem.

    Read the Wall Street Journal: Unchanging niches - not a problem.

    Take up painting, music, astronomy and skiing. Boredom, not a problem.

    I only see 2 real problems.

    1. How am I going to forget those people that I loved who perished only because everyone was so lazy in their thinking now.
    2. How am I going to forgive those who's lazy thinking allowed my loved ones demise, yet who themselves survied through luck of being born late enough.

    But that's later, after the second or third gas station stop when it's all clearer.

    Today my problem is more immediate. How do I get people to get beyond the slavishness of their own reticular activing systems to finally realize that aging is the biggest solvable problem in the world today, the one most worthy of addressing and eradicating.

    Wish you well.

    Gerhard Adam
    As I said, I can see you're enthused and quite optimistic.  I don't share that optimism and I think that there's alot of flawed logic at work here, but I certainly am not intending to judge your motivations.

    The only thing that I would caution you about is in drawing lines between what you term "lazy thinking" and your goal.  At this juncture, the idea of immortality has not been established as a reachable scientific goal.  While you may embrace the notion and think that it's destined to be another Manhattan project or moon program, don't fall into the trap of setting blame if things don't go as planned.

    There are many people that don't share your vision and it is wrong to characterize them as villains for disagreeing.  
    Mundus vult decipi
    Wrote this before I saw your last.

    I know the fallacies you are making.

    1. You haven't worked out the population math. There is no population problem.
    2. You haven't figured out that you appear to be arguing that I don't have the right, and that it is unreasonable for me to want to live.

    I don't know the fallacies I am making.

    After all this has been the subject of my entire life, my main focus since, like I said, I was three.

    I do wish you well and I do respectfully disagree with your opinion. But I strongly disagree with your belief that your opinion should be hoisted upon those who are working hard to live and make life a choice and not nature's sentence.

    And like I said, this is my life, for you it's an article. For me it is my life, my mom's life, my family's life that is at stake. Hence the enthusiasm.

    That being said you've been more than kind in posting my ramblings.

    I wish you a very long and very non-boring life!

    - Tony


    Jeff Sherry

    Tony, it seems you have transferred your thinking from the afterlife of the souls immortality to an immortal living life of flesh. Sort of a born again transhumanist.

    Transhumanism seems to ignore the biosphere of all other living organisms except for humans. Presently we can't even control human population growth, how will extending human lives 50 years impact population growth?

    When there is potential for for human expansion in space transhumanism will be viable. Presently on a closed system of the Earth, transhumanism will be a destructive idea for humanity.

    (willingly was a typo)

    Gerhard Adam
    Assume we had 4 billion couples each having one child, but never dying. Next generation there would be 2 billion couples, then 1 billion, then half a billion and if you add the the non-inifinite series you'll find that even if no one ever dies, as long as each couple only has one child population will stabilize at 8 billlon couples.
    This is only one example of the fallacies that you expressed.  While the math is fine, the example doesn't exist.  It absolutely requires that ALL human beings ensure that they only have one child.  This fails to take into account people's religious beliefs, their societal standards, and just their own desires in abiding by such a choice.  It also fails to take into account the unplanned pregnancies and divorces that also are part of societal behavior and the role that children play in that scenario.  Most importantly, I don't see how people will behave this way when they have alternative choices.  Especially when you consider the role of disease, genetic defects, etc. that will also affect the distribution of children, I find the example implausible. 

    I'm of the opinion that no system that depends on changing human nature can ever be successful.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Ok here's a real world example. Africa's population was half Europes in the 1950s, twich Europes today. Which has the longer average lifespan? Given our assertions Europes, with the muck longer lifespan should have grown slower. Just goes to show that lifespan is not a dominant effect.

    The example I gaves was to clarify the math. The fact that each generation is smaller works with any number less than 2 per average couple (which is where all the leading G8 nations are at now, less than 2 per couple). And with less then 2 per couple each generation is smaller than the proceeding one, exponentially so, so that you eventually end up with extremely small growth rates. It's just easier to see if I use the number 1. The number I gave of 41 billion is about 3 times greater than current WHO estimates where where the population will level off, which is what is happening with population growth, it is levingly off.

    Human nature isn't something I'm arguring against. I didn't appeal to altruism, but the self serving ambitious of enteprenuers, to show how the technology would reach everyone. And the stats on population growth are very clear. The wealthier people get the less children they have. That's not legislation, it's human nature.

    Finally the overarching reality is that people who are forced to retire due to health are a drain on society. They still need things, but they are not still producing things. People who retain their health are a bonus to society. They produce, keep some rewards from that production and consume.

    I don't know why these aren't clear.

    Did I trade one religion for another? I think it would be more accurate to say that I remained open minded the whole time, seeking out the real truth, wherever that path happened to lead me, and yes my RAS is very much sensitized to look for the good in life, so that's what I keep finding wherever I look. It wasn't a conscious choice, I was born seeking out the good. Perhaps people can't choose that for themselves. If that's the case then I don't wish to burden people to try to do something they are incapable of doing. However current brain research (The brain that changes itself, Norman Doidge, MD) indicates that we are not so limited.

    So all I can say is that for those who are willing to look for it life is a good thing, extremely good in and of itself. More life a better thing, death and disability at the youthful but wise age of 80 is tragic.

    Logical Fallacy is a defined term that has many parts.
    It is death that gives life meaning - Non sequitor (it does not follow)
    If people live longer they'd get bored - Non sequitor
    There are many examples of wealthy people using their power against people - Selectivity bias
    Human nature doesn't work that way - Unsupported assertion.

    I do have certian illogical traits. For no logical reason I will preferentially look for the good in things. I admit that there is no logical reason why I should do so. But that's ok, logic isn't everything. And I admit that there is a possibility that no amount of effort could reverse aging, that the problem might, just might be truly intractable. However I think that possibility is remote. I think the reality is that there are only 2 reasons we haven't been to the moon since 1972 is that it is a hard problem, and we haven't thought it worth doing. And the only reason that we haven't conqured aging is that it is a hard problem and that we haven't thought it worth doing.

    My contention is that it is worth doing, (not the moon, reversing aging) and I've yet to see a single sound logical argument that holds up to any analysis that would lead me to conclude that it isn't worth doing. I've only seen unsupporter assertions similar to the club of Rom assertions in the Limits to Growth, assertions that have never held up to any pre-arranged test.

    Oh and to clarify. I wish you a long, non-boring, Happy life.

    - Tony

    Gerhard Adam
    The problem with your mathematics is that it absolutely requires that human reproduction reach zero.  That will never happen.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Jeff Sherry
    Tony, you do realize if transhumanism was attainable in 24 hours that it would turn all human thought upside down? Economics, politics, social name only a few would have to be all changed for the new reality of long lives. I don't think you are looking at the negatives at all and you are only looking at the I want long life. It comes down to there not being a free lunch and there will be tradeoffs that can't be ignored. If you examine a Bristlecone Pine in the White Mountain area of CA, it has along life but it also pays a cost.
    Re Jeff:
    Of course I know this would turn all human thought upside down. Here are some simple examples
    1. There would no longer be any excuse why only the young (and naive) are drafted, as anyone would be able bodied. This would tend to change the way people think about war as people who get a bit older tend to value their lives more than younger people do. (In Japan, they had great difficulty recruiting any suicide bombers over the age of 24)
    2. There would no longer be a valid reason for social security, or at least not for the current level of it, so that would free up tons of capital.
    3. There would no longer be the need to rush everything, relationships, friendships, how quickly you get your eduction.
    4. Half of all health care is spent on the old, on people in the last 5 years of their life, on diseases that occur far disproportionately in the old. Huge amounts of money could be returned to productive uses if there were no old.
    5. Old age homes would greatly reduce in number.

    Please don't say, "But hospitals would object." It's silly. Sure people would hate it to lose their job that depended on the decreptitude of the old. But so what. People hated to loose their job that depended on horseless carriages too. Change happens.

    There are tons of things it would change, most for the good except for special interest who depend on the current scarcity of lifespan.

    If cold fusion from garbage (ala Back to the Future) happened tomorrow that two would turn everythign updside down, and naturally oil companies wouldn't like it, but so what, for the rest of the world it would be great.

    BTW, the internet has turned the many things upside down, as hae micropocessors, as did internal combustion engines, as did electricity before than, and as has both google and cable TV, WalMart, Amazon, eBay, Drive Thru fast food Restaurants.

    All of these things changed entire industries, changed the way people lived, put many existing businesses out of business. Yet they persisted because they filled an important need.

    I think everyone should see a video that Larry King made when he nearly died of lung cancer. He said tht he always thought that when he got old and sick he'd be happy to go, but when that situation actually occurred to him he said something to the effect of being willing to give everything he owned for just one more day.

    There seems to be this meme that change is bad. Change is always bad from some, good for others. The only question is, is it good for most. Reversing aging is good for most in the short term, good for all in the long term.

    Full transhumanism, the ability to connect directly to consciouness, upload, download videos of your thoughts, fully transform your body from this fragile and highly limited biological one to a more configurable more sensitive and more impervious one, welllll, that is beyond the topic of this article, and tooo far beyond anyone's thinking. Until we understand how consciousness REALLY works, that is beyond any claims that I'd make. I don't know if that is going to work or not. So I am not going there yet, nor is there a need to go there ever for people who merely wish to live and are happy with their own body in a youthful state.

    I still don't understand why everyone's immediate response to change is to find the negatives. All change has negatives, as did cars. For that matter sanitation during childbirth reduced the mortuary business dramatically, reduced the nannycare business for all those fathers who had to continue raising their family without their wives, had all kinds of negative effects to subsets of the economy. But women lived, and that was the important effect.

    Re Gerhard:
    It only requires the average fecundity to diminish below 2 per couple. not to go to zero, ever. But still you have a major premise that is flawed and unproven (and one which I have shown many counter-examples to.)

    Your major premise is that people (as in "more people") are bad for the world, less people are good. I think the opposite is true as long as those people are free to choose their own way in life, and responsible enough to seek to be productive and not to steal from others. And it turns out that this is the way most people are. Most people want to fit in, to do well, to be respected for good things.

    Do you realize that technology changes what how many people it is possible for a given ecosystem to support. Before Columbus landed in North America the entire Americas, North and South had a population estimated at about 100 to 200 million people, and that was pretty much all it could support given the technological development of that time.

    I think you guys are misled by the media bias, which is built in to accentuate the negative side of things.
    Two stories
    Newsflash, New development causes hospitals to close in droves, putting millions out of work
    Newsfalsh, People don't get sick any more.

    Which would sell more papers. As cool as the second one sounds it doesn't get you to buy the paper. It's the first one that gets you to buy, it's, unfortunately, the way we're hardwird. As a result news outlets have evolved to point out the bleakest side of every possible outcome.
    I think most people are affected by a media bias towards the negative.
    A - There is a media bias built in to the way people operate that is designed to focus specifcially on those negatives that scare people. For instance, most people think murders outnumber suicides yet the reverse is true by 3 to 1. But there are relatively few people scared by the fact that someone committed suicide, but far more of us are scared by the fact that someone is murdered, and are more likely to read as a result. From the NewsPapers' economic perspectives there's nothing wrong with reporting that way, but from the way it skews our senses, there is.
    B - There is a historical reporting bias. At any given time there are millions of businesses and business people acting responsibly. But who cares about that. We care about the ones who aren't.

    My point is, the world actually is far better than people think it is, and could be far better still if aging were reversed.

    Note: a single affliction is a major contributing factor to the majority of degenerative diseases, a single affliction. Cancer, heart disease, artheoslerosis, the most common forms of diabetes, Alzeheimer's disease all of those have massively different likelihoods among the aged.

    Conquer aging and make no other progress against those diseases and you'll automatically cut them dramitically.

    Re; There is no free lunch

    What do you call the sun? It's free. It showers you with 100 watts of power for every square yard.

    Oxygen, free.

    Water, nearly free.

    The world if full of free lunches, they are everywhere.

    Google searches - free

    The knowledge amassed by the generations that have proceeded us, free.

    Doctors washing their hands during surgery was a free lunch. There was no downside to it.

    I'm not saying the tradeoffs can't be ignored, of course they can't.

    What I am saying is that most of the world has been so brainwashed to think that any change is bad that they have dismissed conquering aging out of hand, and without careful thought.

    Aging is bad, plain and simple. Yes it is natural, expected, something we are used to, but so was infant mortality and childbirth mortality for women for ages past. They were common, expected, natural, something you just knew happened, but they were bad all the same. Ending women's death in childbirth had lots of negative effects on society, as did reducing childhood mortality.

    Immunizations, before they occur, are they good or bad.. Head of lockjay, that is, tetanus. Used to kill a lot of people.

    So all of those things, I guess they weren't free lunches. Must have been some big downside to solving them.

    Oh wait, I can't think of any, perhaps you can tell me what they were. Tell me, was ending death in childbirth for women a good thing? Was reducing childhood mortality a good thing? Was ending tetanus a good thing? Or were these expensive lunches?

    They look like free lunches to me.

    I think I am walking in the land of the blind. How anyone can think that aging is good, that death is good, that decreptitude is good and necessary. That people are a bad thing...

    Taken to it's logical conclusions it seems that your belief are that we shouldn't end any diseases, that people should die in childbirth, that there should be no changes other than the natural state we were in 10,000 years ago when the average person died from starvation during the ice age.

    I still can't imagine how you can think that there really is no free lunch, no absolute good things, not absolute bad things. Jeff, your picture has you on a motorcycle. If I look at your picture closely I think you might be a transhuman.

    Is that a helmet in the picture? I think I see one in the picture. Why wear it? Don't you already have a skull? Why have a technological advance like a helmet protect your skull? Isn't that increasing the population? Don't you fear that by wearing that helmet you are going to take up some niche that is better left to the up and coming generation?

    Wouldn't the world be better off it people were allowed the non-technological advantages of not wearing helmets? When you wear a helmet you are being a transhuman, that is, reinforcing your skull artificially, just in case. But why?

    There ain't no free lunch. That helmet is the direct cause of increase longevity in motorcycle riders, and it is entirely artificial, entirely unnatural. You can't allow people to wear helmets, that would extend their lifespan, increase the population. Don't you see the downsides to that....

    See, it's crazy when I talk like that. and yet that is exactly what your arguments sound like to me. Of course a helmet is a good thing. It's stronger than the skull that nature gave you. More importantly, it's expendable, not precious. Your skull is precisious, not expendable.

    Everything I am saying is common sense if only you'd step out of "What is" and into "What should be."

    Step 500 years in the future. By that time aging will be reversed, it will be something that is second nature, won't cost hardly a thing (like vaccine's today), and will be something that everyone takes for granted. They'll look back and wonder how we sufferred through the "Grey death, scourge that was responsible for over half of all deaths."

    Step 500 years into the past, a time before toilet paper, before sanitation in general, when baths were considered unnatural, when even minor infections were often life threatening.

    There's free lunches. We're living in them.

    (By this I'm not saying that reversing aging is easy or cheep initially, only that it is worth it)

    Jeff Sherry

    Tony why don't you write a monograph on transhumanism for ScientificBlogging? I feel like I've pooed all over Gerhards well written Life Expectancy page.

    I don't think I've taken the stance of any industries being displaced by transhumanism as an argument. When we have a closed system of non-expansion of the Earth as our only biosphere, I think it is criminal to tackle anti-aging of humans when we have many of our food systems being degraded from (as an example) over fishing.

    So far you haven't convinced me that we have a need for extending human life. Loss of knowledge as a reason for transhumanism? What loss of knowledge is occurring due to deaths? All I'm seeing is a Ponce de Leone syndrome combined with poorly thought out utopianism which ignores reality.

    **I might be transhuman? You lost me on that train of thought. The picture is from Seward Alaska, which was part of a 17,000 mile solo motorcycle trip. The helmet is white for increased visibility for me the as the rider.  I also went sky diving when I turned 50.

    Gerhard Adam
    It only requires the average fecundity to diminish below 2 per couple. not to go to zero, ever.
    Sorry, but it does.  If there is no death, then there can be no birth if the population is to stabilize.  Otherwise regardless of how small the number of births, the door is open to infinite growth.
    Mundus vult decipi
    You haven't worked out the math. Everyone makes the mistake of thinking every infinite series leads to infinity, but it is not so.

    At 95% (1.9 children per couple) the 395th generation (starting at today's 6.8Billion people) is the last couple.
    At 1.8 children per couple it's the 199th generation.
    at 1.7 children per couple it's the 132nd generation
    at 1.6 children it's the 99th generation.
    at 1.5 children it's the 78th generation
    at 1.4 children per couple it's the 63rd generation
    at 1.3 children per couple it's the 52nd generation
    at 1.2 children per couple it's the 45th generation
    at 1.1 children per copule it's the 39th generation
    at 1 child per couple it's the 34th generation

    However if you kill every generation off at 25 years old, right after they've had their average of just 2.2 children per couple, then in just 32 generations you will surpass the level that the immortals take 400 generations to reach at 1.9 children.

    This is what a big deal the number of children have to do with population verses the life span.

    One affects the number exponentially, the other linearly. The exponential effect is far bigger and far more devastating.

    So even given your (I think faulty) premise that more people is bad, someone who does as my wife and I have done, has only one child, has every right ot immortality as we've had virtually no impact on the long term population size, whereas anyone who has more than 2 children is a criminal, regardless of what age they live to.

    I don't think people are bad, but so far your main complaint is more people, and if that is the main complaint then your complaint is not as much with immortals, but with people who have more than 2 children

    Regardless, you've proven my main point. People are lazy and won't even work out the true ramifications of what they are saying. It only took me 5 minutes to plug that into a spreadsheet and check it out, and sure enough any number less than two leads to a point where the population reaches a maximum and stops growing even if no one ever dies, ever.

    And the trend in all the G8 nations is toward less and less children (and my assumption is that those are the nations that will be the ones to spearhead longevity)

    I don't know what else to tell you when you have restated the same argument 3 times (immortal people leads to infinite population) without ever once checking the numbers out.

    Having more than 2 children leads to an infinite population, regardless of the life span. Having less than 2 leads to a maximum.

    Look, I can tell that I appear to be wasting my time talking to people. You've not checked out a single fact, just continued to make unsupported assertions.

    You haven't proven in any way that people are a bad thing. You've given me no reason why it is good for people to lose their strength and health. You've shown no economic arguments about why people should stop being able to work, stop being able to contribute to society. You've certainly not demonstrated even a single niche that is stable and can be locked up.

    You've ignored my clear analogies regarding other obvious medical advances and their benefits, and you didn't even plug some simple numbers into a spreadsheet before continually reitterating that immortality leads to infinite population.

    And the odd thing is, you are clearly a smart person as are your readers. So if smart people (who I assume are in the minority) won't even take the few minutes it takes to check the math, or to consider historical advances and current trends, then it is clear that talking is a time waster for me.

    I'm going to continue focusing my own meager personal efforts to reversing aging. I simply lack the eloquence necessary to get people to even take the time to plug a few numbers in a spreadsheet and check out their assertions. If I can't get you to even do that, I have no hopes of getting you to help raise people's awareness that a generation is about to be lost unnecessarily. And I just don't know how much time my Mom has, so I have to focus my efforts more productively.

    It's a shame though because I fear that due to the human laziness when it comes to looking at new ideas I fear a generation is being lost unnecessarily.

    Not yours, or mine, but my Mom's generation.

    So I am going to have to get back to work and keep doing my part.

    Thanks for giving me another change to dop my toe into the mindset of intelligent people (which clearly you and your readership are).

    Best I can tell it is still too soon for words to do anything. It is just too hard for people to see that the way things are is not the way they need to be.

    "A reasonable man adapts himself to his environment. An unreasonable man persists in attempting to adapt his environment to suit himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." -- George Bernard Shaw

    I intend to remain unreasonable on this so I have to go back to work.

    Wish you well!

    - Tony

    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, but you haven't shown any infinite series.  You've shown a continuous growth of each generation having 1 child.  If there is no death, then the growth continues with increasing population.  The only way to stop it is to stop having children.

    It doesn't require anything beyond basic arithmetic.  Whatever the number of people, if you add ONE then it gets bigger.  Since each generation is "entitled" to have one, then it must get bigger indefinitely.

    ...whereas anyone who has more than 2 children is a criminal, regardless of what age they live to.
    I'm sorry, but that statement is over the top.  Disagree all you like, but to label someone a criminal that doesn't adhere to your views is stretching credulity.

    You may feel like you're wasting your time, but you haven't offered one scintilla of evidence that anything your proposing has the slightest chance of working.  There are no scientific principles, there are only platitudes.  You have no historical basis for demonstrating human behavioral changes, you simply assert them to be true.  You've taken no account of religious or cultural beliefs that might oppose your "one child" view and you've used based the entire point on the presumption that human generations will gradually diminish until there are no new births.

    It just doesn't make any sense.  You may think that it's a perfectly clear vision, but it sounds like a utopian vision that isn't grounded in reality.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, I shouldn't have said that you didn't have an infinite series.  In truth, you have a series that divides each generation by 2 which converges to zero after 33 generations (approximately).  Similarly it must converge to provide your stable upper bound for population.

    In other words, the division by two can only occur until it equals or exceeds the number of people in the original population set.  After that there would be no new couples and therefore no new births.

    Don't know what your spreadsheet showed, but it can't be otherwise.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Re: after that there would be no new couples and no new births

    Well that's encouraging. You finally saw 1 of the things I was saying.

    Give it time. You'll see the rest. It is all equally as based in reality as that one was. And when you do see the rest I'm sure you'll be able to articulate it better than I have.

    Main points:
    Faulty claim: Reversing aging would be bad as it would cause an infinite population.
    Reality: Longevity has only a minor linear effect on population growth. The number of children people have, on average has a far greater major exponential effect. Any number less than 2 per couple leads ultimately to a maximum. Any number more than 2 leads to infinity. The only reason this matters is because people keep thinking that reversing aging will overtax the world with people, and it just won't. It's not that strong a population booster. You proved it for one child.

    Fautly claim: Aging reversal would necessarily be too expensive for the average person.
    Reality: This is likely true of the first solution that shows up. But the market is so big that the incentives are there for each generation of businesses to continually seek to improve things further by making them less expensive.

    Faulty claim: The rich would hold back this adoption
    Reality: In this day an age most of "The Rich" are normal but ambitious people who mostly came from normal families, but who were successful enteprenuers. None of them show any inclination to hold people back except with regard to their direct business competitors. And with regard to their direct business competitors, few have shown that much capbility to.

    Faulty claim: It is death that makes life worth lving
    Reality: It is life that makes life worth living. This claim is more of a platitude that people bring up because they want to find some reason to feel ok about death. But there is no reason to feel ok about death, it's a bad thing.

    Faulty claim: Religions would stand in the way of progress.
    Reality: Stem cell research is a pretty clear example that they haven't stood in the way of progress. Relgions are not anti-life. Many fund hospitals and research and see no contradiction in this.

    Fautly claim: It's not possible, so we sholdn't try.
    Reality: It might not be possible. Fusion might not be possible. Ending cancer might not be possible. Discovering life on other worlds might not be possible. Yet we do fund all these things, just in case they are possible. I think my overarching point is that of all of those things, if we instead focused on this one then that one would yeild enough of a payoff to pay for all the others. The payoff comes from ending the current math where people spend the last 20 years of their lives being unproductive to the rest of the world.

    So I don't deny that I can't be sure that aging can be conquered. But I am sure that we are closer, technologically, to being able to conquer it than we were to reaching the moon in 1961. And my thinking is that this would be much better single goal for us to focus on than any others because achieving this goal makes all the others easier to achieve.

    Faulty claim: There ain't no free lunch, there must be an equally bad downside to anti-agings upside.
    Reality: This concept comes from the way all our school training is contrived to make things easier to understand. They ignore friction, ignore all the energy coming from the son, ignore the enteprenuerial spirit of a million self-serving but rational businessmen who know they'll succeed more by producing wealth than by trying to steal it. And they have this strange concept that everything worth discovering has been discovered. And yet that is so far from true. There is just so much more going on. There are free lunches, and most come from innovation.

    Fautly claim: Immortality would make us bored.
    Reality: Doing the same thing over and over in exactly the same way throughout eternity would make us bored. But changing things up from time to time, even if you eventually go back and do some of the same things again seems to pretty much fix that. Take food, for instance. No one eats everything that can be eaten. People just cycle from food to food. Eat the same thing every day and it does get boring. But having a turkey every Thanksgiving isn't boring for most people, it's usually something they luck forward too, given that it comes once a year.

    And my final point is this, writers are trained to focus on the bad because it is the bad that gets people's attention.

    This, unfortunately, is an area where I see no signs of utopia in the near future. The desire to focus on, regurgitate, fixate on and Cry Wolf seems to work for media. I don't have a solution to it and in this regard I do think that my utopia is far away yet. It will require people realizing that they are being had, that things are getting better all the time, and it's just not news that anyone is willing to print.

    Also, by all the time, I mean over suitably long time frames, not 2 years but more like every decade. There are always ups and downs in the short term.

    These aren't platitudes that come out of thin air, they are historicallly significnt and common.

    I do have one platitude and that is that people, productive, trained, motivated and caring people, are good for the world and not bad for it. And the longer these people live, the better for everyone.

    I can't prove it, but I've yet to see anyone prove the opposite so I'll stand behind it.

    I don't think any Utopia magically pops into existence when aging is reversed. But I do think that it's still worth letting people stay young, or become young agin.

    - Tony

    Gerhard Adam
    The only reason this matters is because people keep thinking that reversing aging will overtax the world with people, and it just won't. It's not that strong a population booster. You proved it for one child.
    You don't see the utopian optimism in this?  What makes you think that people will voluntarily reduce birthrate until it goes to zero?  For that matter what makes you think that your discussion regarding couples is even pertinent?  Do you really believe that people will pair up as couples for life (i.e. eternity?).  Your biggest fallacy is that you're asking humans to give up their biology.  Don't tell me that they can overcome it, because they won't.  While some people will not want to have children, there is a significant number that will and you can't stop their biology from dictating it.  If you should succeed in reducing childbirth to zero, you'll have destroyed the human race.

    What do you do with people that have twins or triplets?  Do you deny fertility clinics to those that want children simply because they rarely produce only one child?  What about accidents?  Do people get to "replenish" their allotment?

    This isn't even remotely plausible since it absolutely depends on people voluntarily engaging in the behavior you've outlines, and there is absolutely no evidence that people would ever do that. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    You continue to miss the big picture here. My anti-aging discusssion is not a population discussion. You keep wanting to go there even though that simply is not pertinent. And in going there you continue to be mathematically deceitful.

    My numbers only require the average population to be less than 2 per couple. So what do you bring in to try to confuse people, the 1 in 80 births that are twins, the 1 in 2100 births that are triplets. You're not trying to have an honest discussion on the merits of reversing aging at all, but are trying to bring up one straw man (logical fallacy) attack after another so that you can avoid answering the central question of whether old people should be young again.

    I'm not going there any more. The math is clear. It is the average fertility that matters, not the specific fertility of any couple. And the key number is not 1 child per couple, the key number is 2 children per couple, on average. Less than 2 and the population reaches a maximum at some point, even if no one ever dies. more than 2 (on average) and the population eventually grows larger infinitely.

    You keep bringing this up so that you can support the strawman argument that longevity is a population discussion and it just isn't. Take your discussion to it's logical conclusion and all intervention into saving any life at any time is increasing the population and shoud be stopped.

    I am not interested in further straw man dodges. The numbers are incontrovertible. Less than 2 on average (something thati s nto fanciful, but has already been attained in most developed countries among the non-immigrant population) will not lead to infinity. That's as far as that discussion needs to go. Nothing else needs to be said about population and the effects of immortality as that simply is not the central issue.

    The central issue is this, does an 80 year old person merit the value of reversing their aging and becoming 20 again if they can pay for the treatment and if they live in an ecologically sustainable fashion? Of should this treatment be denied them because 80 years is all they are allowed?

    That's the question. All this other stuff is ways of avoiding the question, and all of the ones you've come up with don't hold up to scrutiny.

    Look, most people are too lazy to learn math because math has checkable results. In other words, there is no opinion in what 2+2 equals, only truth. As a result people why away from it as it exposes laziness. But this original article showed enough mathematical situation that I hoped you were beyond that. Yet you are using math in an incredibly lazy fashion to bolster your claim that people should die at 80.

    I am trying to stay above this type of argument, but I could go there easily by bringing up the straw man and saying that you think we should just line people up and shoot them when they turn 80. You didn't say that. And I never said, not even once, that we should restrict birth rates in any way. I only said that the birth rate determines the eventual population size more so than aging does, and that the trends are all downward.

    I'm not into straw men argument discussions. The reality of the problem is difficult enough. The science that has to be understood is difficult enough. Stop bringing up the population straw man argument and answer the central question.

    Is an 80 year old valuable enoug to save and rejuvenate? Or is all that life experience and humanity better buried 6 feet under ground?

    That's the question, it's the only question of merit. Population, mathematically, is a dodge of the question, not an honest look at it.

    The only real population question is, "Can humans live in a fashion that is environmentably sustainable? And that isn't a numbers issue. If someone is living sustainably they are making the environment better by their actions. And if they are not living sustaniably they are making the environment worse. 10 million pepole, living in a fashion that makes the environment worse are still 10 million people lving in a fashion that makes the environment worse, and a hundred Billion people lving in a manner that makes the environment better are making the environment better.

    So there are the 2 questions.
    1. Should the main cause of death, aging, be ignored while we spend untold billions focused on it's side effects?
    2. Can humans live sustainably?

    I think the answer to the first is no and to the second is yes. I don't think it's a platitude, and I don't even think it's hard to do either one, if we become committed to it, certainly not as hard, starting with today's technology, as getting to the moon was starting with 1961s technology. To me those answers are self-evident.

    Keep harping on population, if you wish, but please stop dodging the 2 central questions.