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If you're alive in 30 years you might be in 1000 years too (blogg.no)
151 points by StreamBright 566 days ago | hide | past | web | 226 comments | favorite



Unfortunately, no, this is pure wishful thinking.

Using life expectancy is a misleading argument, and I believe intentionally so. Life expectancy is a function of early mortality. Longevity is the average age at death of people who die only of old age, and it doesn't vary much and hasn't for thousands of years. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longevity

Ray Kurzweil and Aubrey De Grey are playing on the hopes and fears of people to make arguments about the fountain of youth that won't come to pass. I wish they would, but they won't.

The part that bothers me is that Kurzweil, at least, knows his argument is wrong, it is clear that he's intentionally misusing the data and knows it. Take a look at the very last graph and paragraph in this piece, for example: http://www.kurzweilai.net/the-law-of-accelerating-returns.

Kurzweil uses data from 1850-1920 and then conveniently skips all the years between 1920 and 2000. That is not possible to do accidentally, it is a misleading abuse of statistics. Unfortunately for Kurzweil, if you look at the data between 1920 and 2000, it paints a completely different picture, one of life expectancy asymptotically flat-lining.

Kurzweil also appears to conflate life expectancy with longevity, he says "In the eighteenth century, we added a few days every year to human longevity;". That statement is false. We added to human life expectancy, not longevity. And the gains were due to reductions in infant mortality and violence, and improvements in medicine and general health.


> Ray Kurzweil and Aubrey De Grey are playing on the hopes and fears of people to make arguments about the fountain of youth that won't come to pass. I wish they would, but they won't.

Oh but they will. Most certainly. It's a question of when, not if.

The body is nothing but a very quirky, very complex bit of machinery. Our task is to scientifically probe that complexity until we have such a great understanding of it that we can manipulate and improve that machinery in vivo.

To say that we cannot do that is to say that Science itself is too weak a method to overcome the level of complexity presented by advanced biological organisms.

It is therefore to predict that scientific progress will come to an unexpected, screeching halt, some time in the next decades.

I find this an absurd scenario, and therefore believe to the contrary. Science will overcome the level of complexity of human biology, and continue onward even long after that.

Because, putting anthropocentric intuitions to the side, the human body is not the most complex phenomenon imaginable.


Kurzweil and DeGrey are arguing that it's already happening. It is not, there is no evidence to date that we've moved longevity in a meaningful way, nor that technology is involved in anything other than improvements in health and medicine and environment, further delaying death.

To be clear, I'm not saying it can't ever happen, I'm saying that DeGrey's and Kurzweils claims that it is happening and will come to pass in the next century are bogus.


De Grey is most certainly not arguing that it is happening, he is arguing that it can happen with sufficient investment in the right lines of research. A digest of his position is that the science is way ahead of the will and interest to develop that science into therapies. What he is doing, via advocacy, fundraising, and personally funding research with most of his net worth, is to move the needle on getting therapies towards the clinic.

So things like the senescent cell clearance approaches presently under development at Oisin Biotechnologies and UNITY Biotechnology could have been built (with greater cost and slightly different components) ten or fifteen years ago, to pick one example. It was known that senescent cells were an issue, with a great deal of evidence to support that position.

The same goes for glucosepane cross-link clearance. That could have been picked up by any part of Big Pharama a decade ago, had anyone bothered to follow the lines of research that pointed in that direction.

And so on.


My mistake conflating DeGrey's arguments with Kurzweil's.

I can't speak to what should have been researched and wasn't, but I know DeGrey has an uphill battle getting attention, for whatever reason. http://www2.technologyreview.com/sens/docs/estepetal.pdf


>Kurzweil and DeGrey are arguing that it's already happening. It is not, there is no evidence to date that we've moved longevity in a meaningful way, nor that technology is involved in anything other than improvements in health and medicine and environment, further delaying death.

This is absolutely incorrect, unless you are being exceedingly facetious about the scientific process. There have been some truly remarkable advancements that span the gamut from simple behavioral changes like reduced calorie intake to advances in knowledge of certain enzymes and other compounds that have yielded statistically significant results - published results of just these two examples have yielded up to 50% increase in longevity in various animals with the latter leading to accelerated FDA approvals for human trials.

I think you're attempting to split hairs by quantifying two necessarily qualitative terms which really have a common understanding to be how long people live on average. And in doing so, you commit the same error you highlight: surely you're not suggesting that longevity decreased on average between 1920-2000? Even if you hold fast the true importance of lexical disambiguation, most would disagree on straw man grounds.

Where I do somewhat agree or at least am very open to consider is that some other force is at play that we don't yet understand. The fairly recent theory of hormosis presents some profound philosophical arguments that cannot be ignored. Life as we know it may have evolved to live less than its full potential for reasons we have yet to discover - perhaps highly interdependent relationships between co-evolved cooporative cells can only resist entropy for so long. If this is the case, then this sort of predefined balance/order would mean gains are offset by newly emerging losses - an example would be the massive increase in cancer occurrence that has mirrored increases in life expectancy, moreso when this broad category of diseases is considered by its generic definition of "uncontrolled cellular growth".

So there's certainly room for reasonable skepticism and it should shape our expectations accordingly. But that shouldn't mean the end of these pursuits nor the hope for what they could yield. And prudent scientific observation should at least suggest that greater longevity is possible. I recently read an interesting article about jellyfish and Hydra, which go through various developmental stages that actually come full circle and leading some to theorize that these somewhat basic life forms may actually be immortal. There's also tardigrades, which can live in the most extreme environments imaginable, including volcanic vents and even celestial bodies traveling through space! They've experimentally proven all our understanding of life wrong and that's only in the past few decades. Kurzweil is overly optimistic about these things because I suppose there's a degree of fear and insecurity there - he's likely predicting accelerated time lines because that's a narrative he can be part of and wants to believe that to be likely for obvious reasons. But I don't think he's wrong and fully admire anyone promoting a hopeful and tenacious outlook on life instead of the increasing opposite trend of disillusionment and cynicism - but that's an entirely different discussion.


You don't have to believe me. I'm only relaying what is the currently accepted scientific understanding, that so far we've only treated the symptoms of aging, not increased the potential for longevity.

"The U.S. Census Bureau view on the future of longevity is that life expectancy in the United States will be in the mid-80s by 2050 (up from 77.85 in 2006) and will top out eventually in the low 90s, barring major scientific advances that can change the rate of human aging itself, as opposed to merely treating the effects of aging as is done today." (emphasis mine)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longevity

> surely you're not suggesting that longevity decreased on average between 1920-2000?

You've completely lost me here. This is a straw man argument, I didn't say a thing about what happened to longevity this century, and the data clearly shows it has gone up slightly. Experts agree it will reach an asymptotic peak unless some science magic happens. But no science magic has yet happened, and while I agree we should pursue it, we have no scientific reasons to suspect that it will aside from human curiosity, desire to live longer, and fear of death.

> Kurzweil is overly optimistic about these things

Now that's just funny. There's a world of difference between being optimistic and overtly lying to prove a point that doesn't exist.


Again, The Census Bureau is hardly an authority on this matter - they're concerned with the challenge of just logistically counting Americans every few years via surveys (the lowest order of the scientific method) and it's questionable how precisely they even do that considering I can attest to having missed one such survey myself years ago. I treat their predictions on longevity with the same skepticism I view their census stats, which is optimistic given the massive gap in expertise. This, by the way, is in no way an attempt to diminish the very real and difficult challenges this task presents - only to place their expertise accurately.

Experts very much DO NOT agree on this and the fact that literally billions of dollars in R&D are expended on this area of science in just the US is testament to that. Sure it doesn't mean any groundbreaking discovery is guaranteed to happen - but it does show that belief in the possibility is alive and well. And why not? Those immortal jellyfish share 97% of the same DNA, including long stretches of matching sequences and compatible genes that have been experimentally transferred between them and other life forms numerous times. Even Right Whales, which are conscious mammals sharing immense biological relation to people can live 200 years or more, and that's in the absence of anything remotely resembling science and the presence of numerous impediments, including us, their generic brethren. Tardigrades may end up being miniature space suits for the most advanced intergalactic life forms known - who knows? What we do know is they throw most of what we believed to be true about life and morality right out the window - and that's a good thing. All this is to say that the possibility of longetivity increases driven by scientific exploration is much greater than the likelihood of that not being the case.

Kurzweil is who he is, for better or worse. But he has made outlandish predictions over the years, many of which have come about despite the skepticism. He's a successful entrepreneur and employed in a very senior position at one of the most valuable and forward looking companies in the world. He's not everyone's cup of tea, but I don't completely dismiss him as a crank. I disagree with some of the time lines he has, though cautiously because it doesn't take many compounding discoveries to get there on his schedule. But fundamentally, I agree with much of what he says - even though I think what they mean for us as humans and the universe as a whole is much less certain, and likely as scary as they are promising.

EDIT: here are some links you might want to read to confirm that whole "experts agree" conclusion:

Henrietta Lacks - the woman whose specific cancer mutation provided the vast majority of cells used to study cancer and numerous other cellular process, to this day. Cells which are effectively immortal: http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/05/there-was-on...

Immortal Jellyfish, from that disreputable rag, The New York Times..: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/magazine/can-a-jellyfish-u...

Just search HN for immortal and see what you find, then let me know if your assessment remains the same


> There have been some truly remarkable advancements that span the gamut from simple behavioral changes like reduced calorie intake to advances in knowledge of certain enzymes and other compounds that have yielded statistically significant results - published results of just these two examples have yielded up to 50% increase in longevity in various animals with the latter leading to accelerated FDA approvals for human trials.

BTW, I think you've mis-interpreted the discussion. The two examples you gave above don't affect the rate of aging. They affect the symptoms of aging, and they delay death. I think most people agree we don't know exactly where the limit of longevity is once we remove all types of early mortality. But, as is true with life expectancy, we will uncover a limit that is slightly higher than where it is right now. Barring scientific advances that change the rate of aging, both metrics will asymptotically flat-line somewhere.

It'd be awesome to see such scientific advances. I hope it happens, and I support the activity. But the truth is that none of the evidence we've gathered so far has unlimited potential for longevity, all of it is removing obstacles that cause early death, not pushing the real boundary of longer life than was previously attainable.


Yes, there's certainly a definite limit to how long any living cell will last in absence of opposing stressors (though hormosis has some VERY interesting thoughts on this matter - highly recommend reading up on this theory as it's gaining a lot of traction and makes some logical sense). But life and even our discrete selves are not comprised of one set of cells that last our lifetimes (some yes, but most not). Instead our cells divide and create (mostly) identical clones throughout our lives without many perceived effects in the short term, even if obvious over long term.

The true question is why doesn't this happen perpetually? If we believe that DNA is effectively the blueprint for life, then beyond the minute minority of escaping and persistent errors and external effectors to this process, then why doesn't it continue indefinitely? There's no really strong hypothesis here but some theories about the mechanics of why this occurs have been ventured. Specifically, a lot of research has been centered on the DNA telomere, which is sort of like the opposite of a rattlesnake's rattler that grows with each shedding except that it seems to be slowly lost over successive generations of cells and it's not clear why. However, there are some exciting discoveries in this area, including an enzyme which is the FDA trial I previously alluded to - as well as a supplement company already producing a version at very high cost right now. However, it's still very early and does nothing without numerous trials - and ironically will only yield insight when the subjects expire, which one would hope occurs only after receiving some of the benefits though all but guaranteed to be the opposite as par for the course of scientific pursuit. That's soon going to be the new dilemma - is the significant lengthening of one's lifespan worth the early adopter risk that it not only fails to work at great expense, but actually exacerbated and expedited that which it sought to prevent. Then again, that perspective is very much shaped if you're on the way in our the way out I guess

EDIT: grammar and typo edits


> To say that we cannot do that is to say that Science itself is too weak a method to overcome the level of complexity presented by advanced biological organisms.

That's not what science does. Science is the process by which we learn about natural processes. It doesn't overcome anything.

To invoke "Science" in this way is to treat it like a religion, like an all-powerful god. I mean, you even capitalized it.

Kurzweil, De Gray, and many others do this too. Either they don't actually know what science is, or they are cynically feeding a misperception of what science is. Either way, it's bad.

The process of using scientific knowledge to achieve human goals is generally known as engineering. And the heart of engineering is dealing with constraints. We have no idea, today, what constrains human life spans. Therefore we have no scientific reason to believe that we can ever use engineering to extend them significantly beyond what they are today.

We do know that all lifeforms have a limited lifespan, and most animals' are shorter than humans. That's a big clue that the constraint might be something fundamental and not easily overcome.


> capitalized it.

Good point. A related point, which occurred to me a while ago after reading various reports of scientific discoveries vs. other reports of how some things have not been figured out yet, is that there seemed to be a tendency to mention scientists by name for individual discoveries, but for the non-discoveries, people tended to write something like: "[Ss]cience has not yet discovered $THING or explained $PHENOMENON".


>Oh but they will. Most certainly. It's a question of when, not if. The body is nothing but a very quirky, very complex bit of machinery. Our task is to scientifically probe that complexity until we have such a great understanding of it that we can manipulate and improve that machinery in vivo.

And who told you it's a given that we'll manage to have such an understanding?


Who's "we"?

Humanity, or whatever we create to succeed us?


Who said we'll create anything to succeed us? (I mean besides Kurzweil and his ilk)?

I find much more probable that we'll wipe ourselves out in one way or another. We had some means to do so since the 40s, but since we added a lot more sick ways to our arsenal...


>>Who said we'll create anything to succeed us?

No body wakes up everyday to write unit test cases for Skynet 1.0

But people are working towards building robots that will replace a lot of human activity. It won't be sudden, it will be gradual, it will be so slow you won't have a way of stopping it. Opposition to any such thing will get you labelled as a luddite.

At some point in time trains will run autonomously, followed by courier vans then may be cars, Amazon will decide buying a fleet of robots from boston dynamics yields better returns than hiring people to word at their warehouses. As algorithms get intelligent and sensors get better, march towards singularity is a question of when, not if.

Your enemy is automation. Not Kurzweil.

The slow march towards singularity didn't start two decades back. It started when the wheel was built and rudimentary stone tools were invented by hunter gatherers.


>It is therefore to predict that scientific progress will come to an unexpected, screeching halt, some time in the next decades.

Until we have complete nuclear disarmament, this doesn't seem like a far fetched scenario.


http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1478-7954-8-18

The ongoing increase in life expectancy in developed countries is associated with changes in the shape of the survival curve. These changes can be characterized by two main, distinct components: (i) the decline in premature mortality, i.e., the concentration of deaths around some high value of the mean age at death, also termed rectangularization of the survival curve; and (ii) the increase of this mean age at death, i.e., longevity, which directly reflects the reduction of mortality at advanced ages. Several recent observations suggest that both mechanisms are simultaneously taking place. ... We illustrate the method with the evolution of the Swiss mortality data between 1876 and 2006. Using our approach, we are able to say that the increase in longevity and rectangularization explain each about 50% of the secular increase of life expectancy.

-------------

This history has happened without anyone trying deliberately to target and treat the causes of aging - all gains in longevity have been incidental. The difference between the past and the future at this point is that now the research community is just starting to develop therapies that do in fact target and repair the causes of aging. Future results will reflect that change of focus.


This is interesting research! Thanks for the resources. It should be noted that focusing on Switzerland is taking a developed country that has an abnormally high life expectancy in the global context, relative to Africa for example, so it is to be expected that gains in life expectancy are small, and thus gains in longevity can be relatively large by comparison. This doesn't directly support the claims Kurzweil made, even if those claims were true.

I am curious; I think there's a gray area in between life expectancy and true longevity, where it's hard to distinguish between them. (As if it wasn't hard enough already.) It is possible that what we call longevity is increasing right now due to reductions in pollution and other impossible to measure environmental factors. That would mean that increases in longevity are actually increases in life expectancy in disguise.

From the WP article on Longevity:

"The U.S. Census Bureau view on the future of longevity is that life expectancy in the United States will be in the mid-80s by 2050 (up from 77.85 in 2006) and will top out eventually in the low 90s, barring major scientific advances that can change the rate of human aging itself, as opposed to merely treating the effects of aging as is done today."


Direct link to the graph: http://www.kurzweilai.net/images/chart33.jpg.

It shows… 5 data points.


> So if you've made it to 150, you're "over the hump" (a long time ago), and then there's simply no limit to how long you can live.

Even if we accept that life-extending and rejuvenating technologies will progress as described, and that all diseases will eventually be either curable or eradicated, there's still the risk of death from accident (or murder).

In England and Wales in 2010, about 0.025% of the population died from accidental or malicious (but not self-inflicted) injury or poisoning. If we take that as a typical annual risk of death, then over a thousand years you have a 22% chance of dying from one of those causes. At about 3000 years, it becomes more likely than not: at about 9000 years, overwhelmingly more likely (~90% chance of death); at about 50000, a practical certainty (> 99.999%).

Of course, the above assumes that risk of death from injury won't drop as medical technologies improve, which is wrong, but as long as it's non-zero, there is still going to be a statistical limit on the length of life. No hanging around till the heat death of the universe for you.


On a lighter note, I can imagine that the size of the ego which accompanies the type of person that lives to 9,000 years old would more than likely encourage someone to poison or strangle them.


You gotta play the game theory out. An 8,500-year-old strangling a 9,000-year-old needs to be asking hard questions about the sort of incentive structure they're producing for the 8,000-year-olds.

The world where life span runs on like that is deeply, profoundly weird, and thinking about it is hard because it's so unlike where we live. You can't just imagine one 9,000-year-old and try to imagine what the world is like, because they will not be alone.


I imagine absurdly conservative politics and a completely ossified power structure. How are you supposed to advance if your boss has 500 years more experience and will be in that position for another 8000 years?

I mean in the current world rich assholes do eventually die and sometimes their replacements are better (or worse, but in a way that destroys their power base). Do you really want to live in a world where the Bilderberg Group is immortal?


Still not creative enough. If everybody realizes there's no way to advance because of the old people, everyone will react to that fact. Something will happen. Actually, lots of somethings, with varying levels of success and failure. But there certainly will not be 99.9% of the long-lived human race just sort of sitting around for centuries at a time going "Oh well, guess I'm going to be a loser for the next thousand years."

At that point the crystal ball becomes too fuzzy for me to guess exactly how they will react, except to point out that "go kill all the old people" is a really uncreative solution to the problem, and you've got a lot of people who will be highly incentivized to find another solution, since they plan on being the old people at some point.


A lot of people in the world know that the Kim family is strangling North Korea, but you don't see people rising up to overthrow them. Imagine a world where Kim Il-sung was effectively immortal. Imagine a world where the monarchies of the middle ages could last a thousand years or more. Without something to shake up the status quo every once in awhile the situation tends to stagnate, even if it is a bad situation.

It is possible that human mentality would change if we had to start thinking about longer timescales like this, but that seems optimistic.


>Still not creative enough. If everybody realizes there's no way to advance because of the old people, everyone will react to that fact.

Except everyone (the majority) could be old people too.

If you can live for 5000 years for example, you don't need as many reproduction going on (besides the huge overpopulation that would already be going on).


Obviously this could go either full dystopia, full utopia, or somewhere in between. I personally believe that "in between" is an unstable equilibrium and that a fall in one of the directions is inevitable.

But there's a reason we use the word "singularity" to describe that kind of future- it really is impossible to envision with any greater accuracy or confidence than elizabethans could imagine the world of 2016.


Beyond the reduced risk of death from injury, you also have to account for a change in behavior. I posit that we would all act very differently if we knew our life expectancy to be a few thousand years. I'd venture a guess that we would be a lot more risk-averse. Society would look drastically different.


Why wouldn't we be more risky if we knew we would live for 3000 years. Instead of 5-10 years of drinking and partying we would have 100-200 years of extended "college" years.

There no pressure to get your stuff together if you know you can mess around for a couple of centuries and still have time to get your life in order.


I'd rather just have my life together for a couple centuries and not have the pressure of having to get it together later.

Plus, can you imagine the compound interest? :)


That's not the right way to think about this.

Let's take binge-drinking, for example. Let's suppose that each binge-drinking episode has a .0001% chance of causing a fatality. That is trivially low.

However, in order to consider the trade-offs involved, you have to think about the expected value of your life in either scenario. So you must compare E(life | no drink) with E(life | drink).

These are practically the same, but where they differ is that in the drink scenario, your expected value is broken down into two scenarios -- one if you die as a result of the binge drink, and one if you don't. So you can break E(life | drink) into

99.999(E(life + d)) + .001d, where d is the added enjoyment you get from that one night of binge drinking.

The comparison, then, is ultimately whether E(life) >=< 99.999(E(life + d) + .001d

You can tell from this that what really matters is the ratio of d to E(life), the enjoyment you get from drinking that one night, compared to your overall enjoyment of your ENTIRE subsequent life. As we extend your life expectancy, as long as we assume that life is a good thing, we make the value of your subsequent life higher and higher. This, in turn, should make any rational actor be less willing to take on risks that would cut it short.


I couldn't follow your math, but the english conclusion seems illogical. Even if it is, assuming humans to be rational actors isn't a terribly good assumption.


Especially the humans who like to engage in binge drinking.


> Instead of 5-10 years of drinking and partying we would have 100-200 years of extended "college" years.

You're putting too much faith in the judgment of centuries-old "teenagers". My guess is that they would squeeze 100-200 years of drinking and partying into 5-10 years :)


Even if you can stay at 150 for 850 years, if you want kids, you might want to start somewhere in the first century.


And then after a millenium your great grandchildren will be relatively as old as you are (Say 900 to 1000, at that point how does aging affect someone?)

Also, how would your memory hold up? Would you even be able to really remember anything that happened over a century or two ago?


Probably not without some sort of memory enhancement. I'm not sure if that would even be preferable, maybe it would be better to let the past fade out.



Exactly.


Not really. Only the wealthy would have access to this technology, the poor would still have normal life expectancy. Society would look the way it does now (stratified), just more so.


I remember when I was a kid how people said the same thing about the ability to own computers.


Over 100 years most 'rich' only tech ended up getting cheap. (computers, cars, air travel).

So, you might have ultra rich at 850, rich at 800, and the masses at 750. But, having access to 100 years of refinement the 750 year old's ongoing treatment is likely far cheaper.

Though IMO, this is all wishful thinking. 1,000 years ago people thought they where close to unlocking immortality, and we are likely just as wrong.


I don't see why that would be the case, extreme longevity has arrisen in some organisms by natural selection, so it would appear to be a software problem. You need the tools to change a genome to be affordable (they already are to some extent) and you need the software to be written (it isn't).


Check out the book Altered Carbon if you want a sci fi series about pretty much this exact scenario.


Even better is the Beggar's in Spain Trilogy.


Getting to 150 and then stopping ageing means you'll live the next 850 years of your life in the body of a 150 year old. That doesn't sound fun.


Hey, as long as my brain works well, I'd be cool with it.


Video games are going to be pretty freaking awesome in a couple hundred years. I'm in.


If they can get you to 150 and stop your aging, it implies a mastery over the physiological context that means you can stop worrying about the age of the body as we might have previously. The aging would get repaired one way or another.


Some of the treatments are expected to also reverse the effects of aging, so you wouldn't live for 1000 years in the body of a 150 year old. Although I suspect it won't be neat and clean. So if you're born into a world with aging treatments, you might live for 1000 years in the body of a 25 year old, but if you age and then get the treatments, even though you might have the body of a 25 year old, you might have some scarring or other effects left over (like an obese person who loses weight very quickly and has extra skin).


Why would you think that you'd have to tolerate scarring in a world that could fix DNA and implant it as easily as we run shell scripts to change our UNIX environments?


Why would you think that the effects of aging would all automatically disappear? Eventually, sure, you might be indistinguishable from someone born a hundred years after aging treatments, but that may take a specialized (or more advanced) treatment.

Just as one example, I think it is far more likely that an anti-age treatment would prevent the formation of wrinkles than that it would remove existing wrinkles.


Because your comment was regarding our having the technology needed to allow someone to live 1000+ years. In order to allow that, we'll need to have mastered manipulation of literally every cell in the body.

By the time we can go in and reinvigorate teeth, bones, all the internal organs, all the cells in the brain... restoring patches of skin will likely be trivial.

Solving the problem of aging generally means solving an avalanche of specific problems - one of which is the rejuvenation of skin.


> Because your comment was regarding our having the technology needed to allow someone to live 1000+ years. In order to allow that, we'll need to have mastered manipulation of literally every cell in the body.

This is not correct. The core concept is that we will develop individual solutions which solve pieces of the longevity problem. Living to 150 may only require solving one of them. Living to 1000+ may require what you propose (although that is not clear either) but in the intervening time period between the initial solution and the ultimate solution you cannot assume all other physical aspects of an aged individual will simply vanish.


Earlier, you said:

you might live for 1000 years in the body of a 25 year old, but if you age and then get the treatments, even though you might have the body of a 25 year old, you might have some scarring or other effects left over

I feel that you're moving the goalposts on me by talking about the initial stages when some might make it to 150. My comments were regarding what you originally said above, not what you might have meant and tried to clarify in later comments.

I agree with you that at first we might solve some problems that extend life some years here and there but still be left with other semi-debilitating issues.

But once you're talking about all of the issues needed to be solved to reach 1,000 years, the technology will have to be far far far beyond the ability to repair some scarred skin.


I was responding to a commenter who suggested that you'd spend 850 years in the body of a 150-year-old. I was objecting to that idea, but conceding that there might be some unpleasantness left over. I only clarified the timeline of that unpleasantness when you objected.

To be clear, I wasn't only talking about scarred skin, but any consequence of aging. I was using excess skin due to rapid weight loss as an example of this type of comorbidity, in which one problem must be dealt with separately from another problem. It may be true that extending lifespans to 1000+ years will require technologies which will also resolve all other age-related issues. It may even be likely. But there is no principle that says it must be so.


Not to worry, they will soon figure out how to put you(your brain or its contents) in a new body(which might not even be biological).


It's better than the alternative though.


> Of course, the above assumes that risk of death from injury won't drop as medical technologies improve, which is wrong, but as long as it's non-zero, there is still going to be a statistical limit on the length of life. No hanging around till the heat death of the universe for you.

Technically, this is not correct.

If your chance of dying drops exponentially (perhaps not very realistic, hence 'technically'), your probability of survival converges to something greater than 0.

E.g.: If your probability of dying in the first year is 1/2, then 1/4, then 1/8 and so on, then your probability of living forever is roughly 29 % ( https://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=product+i%3D1+to+infin... )


For this reason I'd predict a society of immortal conservatives. No risk is worth taking. Speed limits drop precipitously. Traffic infractions become federal offenses. Interest rates drop to nil.

Everyone would just have too much at risk, to allow anything dicey.


There are a great number of books that explore this subject. Robert A. Heinlein's https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methuselah%27s_Children is an early treatment. As you say at least one society (I'm sorry I don't remember the book) became increasingly risk-averse and added to an ever-growing list of death penalty crimes to feed the organ banks. Rather than utopia my fear is that would be closer to the truth.


I don't see death penalty happening in a society where a lifetime could be thousands of years. Its just too harsh, with so much to lose. Perhaps sentencing would grow to centuries.


Go read a few Philip K. Dick novels and see if you change your mind. Take current examples of selfish actors with essentially unlimited funds (billionaries, big business, whatever gets your goat) and envision the world after 1,000 years of uninterrupted influence. It's easy to envision a dystopia where caste returns and you're born into a wage slave job at <large retailer of your choice>.


I guess I meant 'death penalty for the immortal'.


Murder becomes a much harsher crime as well.


Yes! The ultimate crime, surpassing even Treason. Perhaps death would be too easy for a Murderer. They would have to face perpetual imprisonment, thousands of years of confinement, to sufficiently punish them.


If each year your chance of dying is 0.025%, and there's no relationship between subsequent years, wouldn't the chance remain 0.025% even after thousands of years?

(since what we're talking about is the probability of independent events.)


The probability of dying every year stays the same, but the probability of dying in one of those 9,000 years is cumulative.


If that is how you calculate probabilities, what happens between 4,000 and 9000 years? Are you undead for 5,000 years?


No...

If you were just born, then you will probably die by age 4000. But if you are 3999 then you will almost certainly live to age 4000. Your probability of reaching a certain age is always contingent on your current age.


Perhaps we have already solved death and the world we currently live in is a virtual reality in which death is simply a reboot cycle where memory is wiped and new attributes are assigned.


"there's still the risk of death from accident (or murder)."

Yes, everyone already knows that. I wouldn't worry about living for 1000 years if you're alive in 30 years, the human races spends much more time discussing the inane. Someone yells the equivalent of "squirrel" and down the rabbit hole we go...


raises an interesting philosophical question: If one would commit murder and the victim has already lived 500 years is it then as much a crime as if the victim were 25 yro?

e.g. Assuming not everyone could afford the technology and you have a 30 yro killer who lacks the funds to rejuvinate committing murder on somebody much older. Would that even be a crime or could it be argued that a 2nd class citizen has only tried to revenge or to set right to what they perceive an unjust society.

Playing god is scary. I think we can only do it if we are really thick enough and full of our selves to believe that certain individuals are better than the rest. (... of course all under the usual disguise of democracy and with a system that ensures the majority of those living under it, that what they do is right and for the greater good).

People suck :-/


> If one would commit murder and the victim has already lived 500 years is it then as much a crime as if the victim were 25 yro?

Yes.


you haven't read or understood my comment. it is neither black nor white.


You already have that philosophical question now: 1 year old VS 99 year old.


No need to go so extreme when a more plausible scenario is a 15 year old vs a 65 year old.


It might be more of a crime. Before, you removed the remaining 50 year potential. Now you removed the 500 year potential. One could say the damages increased x10.


We punish based on intent, not on victim type.


We punish on both victim type and perpetrator type.

On the perpetrator side, the punishments themselves are in the context of current lifespan. If the life expectancy jumps to 150, is 36 the new 18?

On the victim side:

"A Denver Post analysis of five years of state sentencing data found that those convicted of child abuse resulting in death between 2007 and 2011 got prison sentences 25 percent shorter than those who killed adults and were sentenced for the comparable felony charge of second-degree murder."

http://www.denverpost.com/failedtodeath/ci_21996958/inequity...


No we don't. Most legal system have some concept of aggravating circumstances if the victim of a particular offense is a certain age, a certain profession, etc


Then we have the rich not only figuratively starving out the poor by hoarding wealth, land, and production; but, also literally starving them out by simply refusing to die while excessively consuming resources into eternity.


Biologists hate him! This programmer discovered Philosopher's stone with this one weird trick!

Anyway: Yes, we will do great advances in health care, but will we _cheat_ death? Will those advancements be available? Is this something we _should_ do as a society? Technological determinism/solutionism (as presented in the article) is a really shoddy idea. It ignores so many things and assumes that progress is an arrow always flying forward…


No technology has ever extended life. The so-called gains in life expectancy have only come about by reducing the causes of early mortality and slowing down the diseases of ageing.


I don't see the difference.


I'm not the commenter you're replying to, but maybe they meant that we've only reduced early causes of death like disease etc, but not done anything to affect our internal biological processes that cause aging. As an example, reducing skin cancer by staying out of the sun keeps you from prematurely aging, but it doesn't stop your hair from turning white and your wrinkles from forming.


Heart disease, obesity, and arthritis are sometimes reversible, partially thanks to better medical care.

Oh, and cancer.


Drugs that change our metabolism can affect how much damage something does to your body, and you die because your body systems fail or degrade. So fixing some causes and symptoms should be able to increase your possible lifespan. Just like we can increase the lifespan of some simple animals, we could increase our lifespan through physical means. There's no magic spirit inside you that can only last 120 years, as far as anyone knows.


Today you can be healthier at 1, 20, 40, 60, and 80 than you could have been 100 years ago.

However, just like 100 years ago, you will almost certainly be dead by age 100. For certain by 120.


Why would you not want to stop people from dying?


You wouldn't want population growth to outgrow your capacity. Also, usually, the longer someone lives, the more their ideology defines them. Could be a problem too


Your argument is "we don't want more old people because I disagree with them ideologically." Shoddy at best.


That's not it. The problem is that individuals have cognitive biases. People rarely change their minds. As a society, this is offset by a slow, regular replacement of its members.

If you end that cycle of renewal, the rate at which our society reacts to change and adopts new ideas would significantly slow.

That's a problem regardless of how well the society aligns with my ideals.


People's brains change as they age. There are definite differences between the way older people and younger people think. This isn't a generalization about old people having bad politics, but rather a comment on the tendency of people's minds to be harder to change over time.

Personally, I think one of the biggest challenges to transitioning to a low-birthrate, ultra-long-lived society is that a constant influx of young blood seems to be a necessary engine for new ideas and progress. There's a combination of not knowing better[1] and not having as much to lose that makes young people more willing to take big risks and push for more egalitarian societies over time. Left to their own devices, accumulation of wealth and status tend to ossify people's belief systems and reduce their incentives to throw everything out and start over.

[1] by this I mean not having the same accumulated beliefs about what is best. Sometimes those beliefs turn out to be unfounded, and you discover that by challenging them.


If you re-read the post, that's actually not his argument.


He's saying that the older someone is the more their ideology defines them, which is itself probably inaccurate. And he says that that "could be a problem."


He's arguing about ideological stagnation. That's bad regardless of just about what the ideology is and whether you agree with the particular.

To quote Max Planck, "Science progresses one funeral at a time." That's as true of anything as it is of science.


Right, but that's different than saying he doesn't like old people because he disagrees with them.


I completely agree. There is no way to keep our population in check. After all, it is the natural life cycle. Order would be unbalanced.


Limited resources will always keep population in check. When population growth outstrips available resources, war (or some other catastrophic event that reduces population, eg. famine, drought, disease, etc.) is inevitable.


>Limited resources will always keep population in check.

Actually, the opposite is true to a degree. Limited resources increases the birth rate.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_and_fertility


That refers more to individual behavior. What I mean is that, simply, if the world runs out of food, people will die until the population reaches a level that can be supported by the available resources. I don't see how any other outcome is possible. This happens on a smaller scale in areas where food distribution is problematic.

The only way around this is advances in technology that improve food production/distribution, but if this were to occur, then population would no longer outstrip resources and a new balance would be reached.


Raising the standard of living does the trick quite well:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_and_fertility


And the reasonable way of controlling the population is killing about 150000 people per day, many of them in quite unpleasant ways?


>>You wouldn't want population growth to outgrow your capacity.

Last time I checked space is pretty huge, we could move there.

And if you live long enough, you might not need a biological body to survive.


Aside from the economics of all this I'd suggest that on the basis of what we know about most humans, we'd end up with an appallingly ossified society. The Maos, Stalins, Kim Il Sungs[ list the dictators ] etc., in their 21st century forms will be ruling the roost for ever and a day. The last figure I saw on 'freedom of expression' across the world was (2016) 14%.

For example: "Internet freedom around the world has declined for the fifth consecutive year, with more governments censoring information of public interest and placing greater demands on the private sector to take down offending content. "

https://www.freedomhouse.org/issues/freedom-expression


Cancer articles have been trending on HN lately.


My father is a clinical oncologist/researche who is approaching "voluntary" retirement age. He's incredibly depressed about it given the sudden boom in successful research in the field. I believe the reason of the trend isn't just sudden interest, but quantity of production as well.


overpopulation? not enough resources? first let's solve these, so we can have number of humans exploding (exponentially, maybe).

if done incorrectly, this might end up in quite a disaster


Why would it? People always seem to assume that with extremely long lifetimes, humans would still reproduce at roughly the same age as they do now. I just don't believe that would be the case.

So many things change with lifetimes that long and it seems more likely to me that the human timeline would adjust to the new lifetime. Physically maturing into an adult may take the same amount of time, but now it's a tiny fraction of your overall life. You may spend 50 or 100 years in secondary education, then another 200 in a career at which point you should have enough money put away to live on the interest.

And it's at this point, when you're 300+ years old that you start having children. On this timescale, you'd still see more generational overlap than we have today, but no so much that overpopulation is a concern.


Does an increase in longevity by itself imply an increase in reproductive years?


We're in "hypothetical" territory there. So it could go either way.


I was speaking rhetorically.

In the case of men, sperm quality declines with age, so a man is more or less fertile his entire life, but that may not hold true in the case of extreme longevity. If this decline in sperm-quality is due to age damage, then an age treatment may also improve sperm quality. But this is not guaranteed and may require its own specific treatment.

Women produce all the eggs they will ever produce before they are born. Menopause occurs when a woman runs out of eggs. So in the case of females, an anti-aging treatment is unlikely to extend her reproductive years beyond the current age of menopause (although it may make pregnancy safer and more viable during the latter half of her reproductive years). Like sperm, a woman's egg quality also declines with age, creating further difficulty.

So the idea that women will put off having children for a couple centuries seems to be a nonstarter lacking other advances as well, but it may be a possibility for men.



Living to be 1000 sounds great until you realize some of the awful people in this world would be right there with you..forever.


I don't mean to be a pessimist but this entire article boils down to describing Moore's law, and saying that medical research will advance quickly because it uses computers as well.

Seems a little shoddy.


Not to mention that most in the know seem to agree Moore's law has come to an end, as all exponential growth must at some point in the real world.


Yeah, Some things work with Eroom's_Law https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eroom's_Law?previous=yes


If this kind of simple-minded extrapolation worked, we would all be flying personal vehicles that could break the sound barrier right now, and would take vacations on the moon.


Well, to play devil's advocate for a moment… if actuaries did agree they wouldn't publicise it as an increased expectation of health is would benefit them financially. If actuaries expected people to live less time they'd be keen to increase rates and advertise it. If they seriously expected people to stop dying then the estimated value of life insurance policies would drop to zero.

Personally, I think it's more than a little unlikely that we're the last generation to know death.


> If they seriously expected people to stop dying then the estimated value of life insurance policies would drop to zero.

I think it's (not im)possible that rates would go up! Here's why:

The most risky (largest) life insurance policies aren't taken out by people who fully expect to reach old age; rather, they are taken out by people in their prime with young families or other dependents. So you have people taking out large policies from ages 25 - 50 or so, and then going back to small policies or no policy at all. The risk pool is now very different -- lots of very pofitable policies, but also a lot of risk. The existential risk to the insurance company might actually increase in that case, and rates would have to be increased to accomodate this risk.

Probably not, and IANAA, but it'd be interesting if an actual actuary familiar with life insurance could chime in.


The worst case scenario is that people manage to fend off death but not old age and infirmity. This leads to the collapse not of the insurance industry but the much larger pensions industry, as there is no longer any amount of money that you can accumulate during a 50-year working life that will guarantee you a non-working life forever.


You are not being a pessimist, is just that the author presented a weak argument.


Just hope they don't lose a backup.... that could be the end of me!


I consider myself a transhumanist, though even I can't help but notice that these advances always seem just close enough so the author might manage to benefit from them shortly before he expects to die. Kurzweil did the same thing.

I used to do yearly blog posts on the current state of whole brain emulation, and we are very very far away from any breakthrough there. So far away in fact that some prominent neuro scientists like Dennett believe this can't be done even in principle (I disagree with them, but it shows how far we have to go still).

In any case, I'll probably not be around in 30 years, and many HNers won't be either.


The part where you think we're very far away, may be because a breakthrough is most likely going to be revolutionary when it occurs. Rather than a small increment, it'll be a substantial leap (even if it's not recognized at that moment). On the order of the transistor.

I'd be very skeptical that it will be noticed that it's possible, around the time that leap forward is about to occur. History indicates the exact opposite is most common when it comes to great technological leaps forward. Instead, what will occur is an ecosystem of supporting technology will prime the ground. Among the very few people that recognize the time as being ready, will be the person that actually invents said leap technology. And it may even be by accident, the ground was primed and an inventor in a garage put the pieces together (ala the inbound virtual reality revolution, it was all skepticism skepticism skepticism for decades, until the ground was primed to leap forward, while most weren't even looking at it).


You totally had me until you mentioned VR which is totally trivial compared to emulating a human brain. I think there was never the question if VR would be possible because we had forms of it 2 decades ago. It was more a question about the market actually existing and technology become faster and smaller to make it financially viable for mainstream consumers.


> may be because a breakthrough is most likely going to be revolutionary when it occurs

Not in this case, no. I realize your argument is mostly generic, too. Everybody understands that some problems are expected to have these kinds of revolutionary solutions or no solution at all. However, reading a mind into the computer and then executing it is not a matter of figuring just one missing thing out.

A workable solution requires us to be able to decipher and efficiently digitize the fine structure of the brain. Acquiring missing pieces of technique or technology is a necessary but not sufficient piece of this specific puzzle's solution. There is no sudden eureka moment where it all falls into place, it's just a near endless chain of painstaking detective work in biochemistry.


That's basically what he was arguing. "Instead, what will occur is an ecosystem of supporting technology will prime the ground."

Those problems you're talking about will be figured out bit by bit, and only once all those things are figured out, will someone realize "Oh shit, we're at the point where this is possible now!" while everyone around them isn't paying attention and still thinking "It's impossible. It's impossible."


A breakthrough may not be of any use to those already around. Likely a genetic manipulation would allow newborns to have a longer lifespan (many mammals have different lifespans already; it may be programmable). Adults may have changed in ways that make it ineffective. So we'd grow old among a rising generation of immortals.


> So we'd grow old among a rising generation of immortals.

Sounds like the premise of what would be a very interesting sci-fi book.


Its been done from time to time, but not as the main theme as far as I know.


As someone who turned 50 this year - immortality being available in 30 years sounds pretty good to me!

However, I seem to remember a similar argument being made in a book I read at high school, which obviously wasn't yesterday. The Mighty Micro, published in 1979, talked about the imminent creation of UIM's (Ultra-Intelligent Machines) by the 1990s and that these would, naturally, lead to such rapid advancements in healthcare as to give effective immortality.

http://www.tof.co.uk/stories/page8.html

[NB Mind you that book did make me rather interested in AI and I did do a CS degree and go on to do post-grad AI research for 6 years up to 1994 where I encountered a far better technology for enhancing intelligence. I can't really be too critical of someone getting this excited, after all I did, eventually somebody is going to do it...].


Yeah, I'm almost your age. When I was in high school, I had naive confidence that medical science would advance quickly enough to prevent my getting "old". I even remember a speech from a principal when I was in middle school, claiming that most of us in my class would live to well over 100 years. I believed him.

Despite that optimism and my very healthy diet and exercise regimen, I deal with increasingly deteriorating knee cartilage, loss of muscle mass, an impinged disc in my neck, decrease in reaction times, typical age-related memory degradation, increase in hair loss, yearly removal of pre-cancerous skin anomalies, failing reading vision, mild hearing loss, etc... you know, I'm getting old. This crap is building up and modern medicine offers no magic bullets to even the most minor of my age-related symptoms.

If I do make it another 30 years and if I'm still mentally with it, I'm sure that I'll be poo-pooing some claim that "in just another 30 years, you may live forever".

I don't doubt that eventually humans will figure out aging and be able to stop it -- but by that time, society will look a lot more like Star Trek with ubiquitous ability to manipulate our biology at an atomic level. Star Trek is at least hundreds of years away, not 30.


"decrease in reaction times"

I seem to find that playing online games does wonders for this...

Only thing that really annoys me at the moment is my eyesight - I'm quite shortsighted and wear contacts to do things like skiing. Trying to navigate a new ski area (just back from the vast Portes de Soleil) with a map is now getting quite tricky as I can't read stuff up close with my contacts in....

Also I seemed to develop the rare blue/black colour blindness which my wife wasn't happy about.


Oxygen[0] by Nick Lane makes a pretty compelling argument why this will not happen. With perfect health you can at best achieve ~120 years age. I think this paper A unifying view of ageing and disease:the double-agent theory[2] covers some of the arguments in the book.

To give a simplified view, the big obstacles are a) a technology capable of repairing damaged mythocondrial material in a living organism and b) a technology capable of repairing neural cells w/o replacing them (that is if you want to preserver 'you', not just your body). That is assuming that our current understanding of senescence[1] is even mildly accurate.

[0] http://www.amazon.com/Oxygen-Molecule-World-Popular-Science/... [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senescence [2] http://www.nick-lane.net/double-agent%20theory.pdf


What do you define as "perfect health" when you are made up of cells that keep being regenerated?

Some animals have biological immortality as far as we know. Most however enter senescence after reproduction, probably because evolution optimized for that.

I think that if we sampled people's DNA at 15, and then used a retrovirus every few years to refresh the DNA in the cells, we would solve the biggest issue of random mutations piling up. But this is a long way away. Of course, there may be other processes that build up but a youthful immune system should be able to fight them relatively effectively.

Even so, the chance of death would only be reduced from exponential-exponential to exponential, since the chances of someone living A to B and B to C are independent and therefore multiply.


I'm pretty sure that you can replace a significant number of my neurons without changing "me".


That’s a great question that’s been pondered by philosophers for a while: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus

Here’s a fun video talking about the same thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQHBAdShgYI


To the contrary, "you" are constantly changing as your existing neurons reconfigure themselves. Replacing them would have at least the same effect.


What makes you sure? Central nervous system neurons are incapable of regeneration[0], so is anybody's guess what would happen if they did get replaced. And, long term, "significant" has to be "all".

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroregeneration


People can have rather serious strokes that kill large number of neurons without losing their sense of self. Sometimes we remove half the brain

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemispherectomy

That gives me confidence that replacing neurons at a rate that counters natural aging does not significantly alter me.


From a Biblical perspective (if you believe that) it isn't possible. Genesis 6:3


This article seems inherently flawed in its assumption that a. the exponential growth of computing power will keep up, despite the numerous technical and physical boundaries imposed upon them, b. computational power will solve many of the unknown inner workings of the human body, and c. that being aware of, and understanding those inner workings allows us to modify the human body in such a way that we can 'rejuvinate' the system.

While I do feel that life expectancy of everyone below 40 is probably going to massively higher than historical life expecancies (disregarding systemic failures of society and outside influences), I don't foresee a future where everyone gets to live forever.


Moore's law has not been an exponential increase in technological capability in general. It has only been an exponential increase in one particular technology - more of the same. I see no evidence that the development of novel technology in general has sped up in any way.


It's funny watching techno-religious belief systems emerge in the West as Christianity recedes. This is literally the replacement of the afterlife. Sorry guys, this ain't gonna happen. One day you will die, get over it and start praying.


I've had the same thought so many other times. We blindly believe the 'clergy' of science despite not having any evidence ourselves of what is taught (other than for the obvious that we experience every day). String theory? Black holes? Gravitational waves???Granted, it's probably true (I'm a believer too), but it's blind faith -- I've never replicated any experiments myself, would have to trust the measuring devices even if I tried to replicate the experiments, so I believe because everyone else tells me to. And that's the hard-core replicatable physics! It gets worse as you move to less mathematical sciences like chemistry, biology, psychology, nutrition, etc.


Come on, science is not the faith part! Things that are observable and testable are clearly science. Things that are just ideas, ideas that are not verifiable (like string theory which don't predict anything) are not science, it's just ideas. Just like saying god created me, prove it wrong. If I make up some equation that I say I believe with evidence is true, that's not science.



There's a whole profession of people whose job it is to predict this called actuaries. They disagree with your conclusion.


But it's in their best interest to assume it wont happen.

If I correctly predict, as an actuary, the demise of the industry, I don't win anything. If I can calculate a superprecise premium for my insurance product based on this being true, I have an expensive product that underperforms the competition, and management is not happy. Whereas if I ignore superlong trends, I get to earn my salary, probably until I retire - you know, it probably won't happen. I value a product competetively. And if we miss, it won't be my only problem. So even if I can do the right thing, I will be punished for the event.


If actuaries can collectively predict the future, then term life insurance premiums should show a strong trend down as we approach the point where longevity increases significantly (adjusting for income, inflation, etc). From a few seconds of googling, they seem to be flat or increasing. It might be good to look back in 100 years and see if they got it right.


Predicting the future of lifespan based on the last 100 years is reasonable. That sensible system can't predict a black swan or revolutionary idea; suppose wereduce the chance of heart attacks by 90% by treating your blood chemistry. That's not impossible, also not possible today. But that would expand life expectancy.


Life expectancy has been increasing by ever smaller amounts in the past decades. I am hopefully that a lot of new technologies could help buck that trend, but so far the trends don't support the author's hypothesis.


It was mainly increasing because we almost made the death at birth close to zero. Now the gains are much harder to get on the other side.


Most people - at least most people here - know that a lot of those publicized numbers are due to infant mortality, but ...

Post-childhood life expectancy has gone up in smaller amounts as the parent comment says. The grand numbers ("life expectancy was just 60 in 1900!") obviously reflect infant and childhood mortality, but we've increased the average lifespan in the United States by 2-3 years in the last few decades alone.

Here's a graph that shows life expectancy at various ages in the UK - you can see this is not all due to childhood mortality:

http://www.maxroser.com/gains-for-all-life-expectancy-by-age...


This is quite compelling. At first I was going to mention the absence of war, but that shouldn't impact people in their 70s.


Life expectancy is a tricky figure.

Avoiding childhood death improved life expectancy at birth most dramatically on a global scale. But if you look from other points (say life expectancy at age 20), or scope it for locality and gender, the ability to intervene for many formerly mortal events pushed the needle up significantly. Examples: heart attacks, diabetes, cancer.

The differences aren't as dramatic -- saving someone from a heart attack at 50 may move the needle 5 years. But they are real.


One of the better societal aspects of Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon was the concept of "Meths" - super rich people who could effectively afford to live forever by inserting their consciousness into new bodies (or "sleeves" to use Morgan's terminology). One of the downsides of this was that, since the rich lived effectively forever, they only accumulated more and more wealth in greater and greater quantities, and limited the trickle down to other people.


The Meths differ from the modern-day superrich only in that they live on to continue concentrating wealth, rather than passing it on to their offspring to continue as has been the case throughout human history.

I quite enjoyed the book, and the idea of sleeving was pretty interesting and well-explored. It was kind of sad to see that most people worked their whole lives to save enough to re-sleeve simply so that they could live another life doing, effectively, the same. On the flip-side, it was quite well-observed that the eternally young Meths actually suffered from extreme cynicism and boredom.


It's been a few years since I read it - probably about time I gave it another go.

On a side note, I just found out today that Netflix is apparently making it into a series. Neat!


"The latest possible date a prediction can come true and still remain in the lifetime of the person making it is defined as The Maes-Garreau Point. The period equals to n-1 of the person’s life expectancy.

This suggests a law:

Maes-Garreau Law: Most favorable predictions about future technology will fall within the Maes-Garreau Point."

http://kk.org/thetechnium/the-maesgarreau/


"Trust but verify" is a good way to lead one's life. Ideally, we'd never take anyone's word for anything, and have the time and means to dig up supporting evidence for any position or statement that we encounter. But who has the time for that? We have to organize our busy lives around blocks of selective ignorance, portions of human knowledge and culture wherein we choose to take statements at face value, or follow the consensus viewpoint without doing the necessary groundwork to validate it. Books can and have been written on how to best go about this: acquiring and processing information costs time, and time is the most valuable resource most us of possess.

There exist a growing number of people propagating various forms of the viewpoint that we middle-aged folk in developed countries may (or might, or certainly will) live to see the development and widespread availability of radical life extension therapies. Which is to say medical technologies capable of greatly extending healthy human life span, probably introduced in stages, each stage effective enough to grant additional healthy years in which to await the next breakthrough. You might think of Ray Kurzweil and Aubrey de Grey, both of whom have written good books to encapsulate their messages, and so forth.

Some people take the view of radical life extension within our lifetimes at face value, whilst others dismiss it out of hand. Both of these are rational approaches to selective ignorance in the face of all science-based predictions. It usually doesn't much matter what your opinion is on one article of science or another, and taking the time to validate science-based statements usually adds no economic value to your immediate future. It required several years of following research and investigating the background for me to feel comfortable reaching my own conclusions on the matter of engineered longevity, for example. Clearly some science-based predictions are enormously valuable and transformative, but you would lose a lifetime wading through the swamp of uselessness and irrelevance to find the few gemstones hidden therein.

As a further incentive to avoid swamp-wading, it is generally well known that futurist predictions of any sort have a horrible track record. Ignoring all futurism isn't a bad attention management strategy for someone who is largely removed from any activity (such as issuing insurance) that depends on being right in predicting trends and events. You might be familiar with the Maes-Garreau Law, which notes one of the incentives operating on futurists: 'The Maes-Garreau Law is the statement that "most favorable predictions about future technology will fall within the Maes-Garreau Point", defined as "the latest possible date a prediction can come true and still remain in the lifetime of the person making it".'

If you want to be a popular futurist, telling people what they want to hear is a good start. "You're not going to be alive to see this, but..." isn't a compelling opening line in any pitch. You'll also be more convincing if your yourself have good reason to believe in your message. Needless to say, these two items have no necessary relationship to a good prediction, accuracy in materials used to support the prediction, or whether what is predicted actually comes to pass. These incentives do not make cranks of all futurists - but they are something one has to be aware of. Equally, we have to be aware of our own desire to hear what we want to hear. That is especially true in the case of predictions for future biotechnology and enhanced human longevity; we'd all like to find out that the mighty white-coated scientists will in fact rescue us from aging to death. But the laws of physics, the progression of human societies, and advance of technological prowess don't care about what we want to hear, nor what the futurists say.

I put value on what Kurzweil and de Grey have to say about the potential future of increased human longevity - the future we'll have to work to bring into being - because I have performed the due diligence, the background reading, the digging into the science. I'll criticize the pieces of the message I don't like so much (the timescale and supplements in the case of Kurzweil, WILT in the case of de Grey), but generally I'm on board with their vision of the future because the science and other evidence looks solid.

But few people in the world feel strongly enough about this topic to do what I have done. I certainly don't feel strongly enough about many other allegedly important topics in life to have done a tenth as much work to validate what I choose to believe in those cases. How should one best organize selective ignorance in fields one does care about, or that are generally acknowledged to be important? What if you feel - correctly, in my humble opinion - that engineered longevity is very important, but you cannot devote the time to validate the visions of Kurzweil, de Grey, or other advocates of longevity science?

The short answer is trust networks: find and listen to people like me who have taken the time to dig into the background and form our own opinions. Figuring out whether ten or twenty people who discuss de Grey's view of engineered human longevity are collectively on the level is not too challenging, and doesn't require a great deal of time. We humans are good at forming accurate opinions as to whether specific individuals are idiots or trustworthy, full of it or talking sense. Fundamentally, this establishment of a trust network is one of the primary purposes of advocacy in any field of endeavor. The greater the number and diversity of advocates to have taken the time to go digging and come back to say "this is the real deal," the more likely it is that that they are right. It's easy, and probably good sense, to write off any one person's views. If twenty very different people are saying much the same thing, having independently come to the same viewpoint - well, that is worth spending more time on.

One of the things I think we need to see happen before the next decade is out is the establishment of more high-profile longevity advocates who discuss advancing science in the Kurzweil or de Grey vein: nanotechnology, repairing the molecular damage of aging, and so on. Two, or three, or five such people is too few.


You say you've spent a ton of time reading about this, but don't actually say what your conclusions are. I know it's sort of counter to your point, but I would be interested in hearing your opinions on how soon we will start seeing significant increases in longevity.


That was their old post copypasted:

https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2009/12/the-maesgarreau-...

You can ask there, or search through that blog.


> Moore's Law, which states that the number of transistors on an area doubles every two years ... [and] will probably also hold true after it is no longer possible to increase the number of transistors per area. At that point another technology with significantly greater potential will take over for transistors.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't we already "maxed out" Moore's Law? Aren't hardware manufactures already running into problems at the quantum level because of how small and packed transistors are already? That would be why we've "maxed" CPU speed at around ~3-4GHz.


The confusion here is that people refer to several distinct exponential growths as Moore's Law, and some of them have already faltered.

The CPU frequency growth has halted primarily due to the fact that going any higher means we can no longer cool the chips. Power usage (and, consequently, the heat you need to dispose of) is proportional to the square of the frequency (higher-frequency gates also usually require higher voltage to get the switching times down, which means it's really the cube).

Another aspect is the size of the transistor. Some features are already getting down to the point where it's more useful to talk about them in terms of monolayers--i.e., the exact number of atoms. Some elements of a 14nm transistor are already two or three monolayers in size, and the distance between two transistors is already about 100 monolayers, which puts a hard cap on the maximum possible minimization, since you can't make transistors smaller than a single atom. In terms of the smallest transistors that can be feasibly made, the general consensus is that there is at most around 3 shrinks remaining.

There's another dimension, too: whether or not it's cost-effective to keep doing these shrinks. The 14nm node itself has given Intel lots of trouble, and the 10nm node doesn't look like it's much better. Intel has already been forced to give up its Tick-Tock cycle, and the semiconductor industry as a whole may explicitly give up maintaining Moore's Law as a collective research goal shortly.

In short, then, Moore's Law either ended a decade ago, is just now ending, or will end in a decade, depending on what you want it to mean.


No. That's not quite true. Yes we are very close to maxing out Moore's Law but so far we've still kept up. If I remember correctly there's a completely different reason for CPU speed not being higher than that (maybe the physical limit to transistors themselves?). We are still increasing the number of transistors per chip and not exactly scaling horizontally - after all we are fitting 4 CPU cores onto a chip that previously only fit a single one.


Probably off by a factor of 10. Very few people work in science doing research. The economy doesn't support enough people doing research to think we're going to make that kind of breakthrough within 30 years.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/us-pu...


> According to Ray Kurzweil, as soon as something becomes an information technology, it starts progressing according to Moore's Law

My field of chemical information - a subfield of cheminformatics - has been an information technology since the 1800s. It was the Big Data of the 1940s and 1950s, many of the pioneers of information retrieval worked on chemical data (Luhn, Mooers, Taube), and the term "information retrieval" and concepts like stop words (as part of KWIC) were presented at chemistry conferences.

The doubling period for chemical information is 15-20 years.

Citation indexing is another offshoot of 1950s information technology. Scientific publication grows by about 5% per year (says http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2909426/ ), so doubles every 15 years.

Either 1) those are not information technology fields, in which case, why not? or 2) "according to Moore's Law" means generally "has exponential growth", not the more specific doubling every two years.

With #2 firmly in mind, consider "and that's the main reason why we can expect medical technology to advance exponentially in the future."

How do we measure "advance" in medical technology, how do we know it isn't already an information technology field, and why should we expect the doubling rate of under 20 years?

Finally, here's a quote from someone who "served on the advisory council of [a longevity] organization, along with the chairmen of a number of major US corporations":

> Why has the problem of aging been such an intractable one? Up until [recently], the prevalent view of scientists had been that the task of controlling aging was fundamentally impossible. But today, such a consensus no longer exists. Many researchers now believe that their predecessors failed, not because their goals were misguided, but because the tools and the level of sophistication they could bring to the task were inadequate. Moreover, it is argued that progress has been hampered because funding has been scarce, and researchers concerned with aging have been too few and far between. ...

> Growing public and private support for aging research reflects the scientific community’s own increasing commitment. Today, aging research occupies unprecedented numbers of highly talented individuals, not only specialists in gerontology, but researchers from other disciplines as well. These include biochemistry, endocrinology, immunology, neurobiology, genetics, and cell biology, to name only a few.

I'll give the link to where that quote comes from, but before following the link, when do you think it was written? http://www.garfield.library.upenn.edu/essays/v6p107y1983.pdf .


Thanks for your thoughtful insight. Battery technology for electric cars appears to be on a slow doubling rate but hopefully faster than 20 years. Maybe 10% improvement per year (72/10 = 7.2 years to double then). Kurzweil doesn't say information tech doesn't double every 2 years in general, just I think that it's rate is somewhat steady. It's at least very exciting to think about progress continuing (however it is defined). 30 years to immortality is what every futurist should predict any time they publish a paper, because as an about 50 year old, that feels achievable.


Probably should have obfuscated the link.


D'oh! Didn't see that.


There is a huge difference between life expectancy and life span and this article [1] covers it pretty well.

Life expectancy is skewed by infant mortality rates:

> Our conclusion is that there is a characteristic life span for our species, in which mortality decreases sharply from infancy through childhood, followed by a period in which mortality rates remain essentially constant to about age 40 years, after which mortality rises steadily in Gompertz fashion. The modal age of adult death is about seven decades, before which time humans remain vigorous producers, and after which senescence rapidly occurs and people die.

[1] https://condensedscience.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/life-expec...

PDF: http://www.anth.ucsb.edu/faculty/gurven/papers/GurvenKaplan2...


Infant mortality for births beyond 24 weeks gestation in the developed world is well below one half of one percent[0], some below one quarter of one percent. It's not that big of an effect anymore.

[0] http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr63/nvsr63_05.pdf page 3


We are way too far from really understanding our own biology to be able to predict such an over-the-horizon end result.

I don't even know if we'll be able to reliably cure toenail fungus in the next 20 years - much less be able to solve a significant number of problems with aging in 30 years.


I'd be curious to know how old the author is, since the selection of 30 years to me points to biased analysis. As one likely knows that's spent any time researching the topic, and as others have committed, there's no evidence to support the author's claims. Historically speaking most people have been able to live as long as they do now on average. To my knowledge infant mortality was the big outliner historical speaking when it came to average life expectancy and points to why average life expectancy is a pour measure. Truth is that if there was a major leap, there's zero reason the general public would ever get wind of it; basic economic both in terms of it as a product and the impact it'd have on populations.


I'm of the opinion that I was born anywhere between 2 months and a year too soon to ride the wave of immortality.


His life expectancy graph is a bit naughty. Why doesn't the y axis start at 0? How about showing something more realistic...

http://krusekronicle.typepad.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/...

Doesn't look quite so good now, does it.


As I see it Kurzweil's predictions were mostly based on his understanding of computational complexity and extrapolating the development trend in semiconductor technlogy - and figuring out which things are practical. But still, extrapolation based on more or less theoretically well understood concrete principles.

I'm not sure if there is yet anything well understood in the human body. Just mapping the genome will give us very little hints of the consequences in the physical body. Even figuring out how a protein folds is still considered a computational achievement (I think?).

Chess is a concrete computational system. Even most tasks that we have can be considered to be constrainable to a well defined system (hence the AI will replace a lot of manual workforce).

But until such a well defined "theory of human body" exists, computers are quite helpless to create it for us. Just adding computers will not magically make us understand everything better.

Thus, just quoting "exponential development" will certainly provide nice food for thought but will not offer any practical footholds for concrete progress.


What can you say? I really hope this will be the case. I want to live 1000 years and preferably even longer.


You might want to check this rather well documented article about AI

http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/01/artificial-intelligence-revolu...


The original paper in which the idea of actuarial escape velocity was proposed by Aubrey de Grey is open access, and worth reading for a full treatment of the concept.

The thing to take away here is that this is inevitable, but not necessarily for us, unless we dig in and get the job done right now. The development of the necessary technologies is very thinly funded, meaning that timelines are very uncertain. Senescent cell clearance may be under development in two US startups right now, a part of allotopic expression of mitochondrial DNA in clinical trials in France, clearance of one type of amyloid has had a successful trial in the UK, and clearance of glucosepane cross-links a couple of years away from a drug candidate, but other areas of biological repair needed for SENS-style rejuvenation of the old are still years away from getting to even this nascent stage. It is a miserable state of affairs given that the cost of progress towards prototypes in mice is a few hundred million, less than a single drug's development funding. Funding and advocacy make a huge difference at this point in the bootstrapping of rejuvenation therapies.

----

Escape Velocity: Why the Prospect of Extreme Human Life Extension Matters Now

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC423155/

The escape velocity cusp is closer than you might guess. Since we are already so long lived, even a 30% increase in healthy life span will give the first beneficiaries of rejuvenation therapies another 20 years—an eternity in science—to benefit from second-generation therapies that would give another 30%, and so on ad infinitum. Thus, if first-generation rejuvenation therapies were universally available and this progress in developing rejuvenation therapy could be indefinitely maintained, these advances would put us beyond AEV. Universal availability might be thought economically and sociopolitically implausible (though that conclusion may be premature, as I will summarise below), so it's worth considering the same question in terms of life-span potential (the life span of the luckiest people). Those who get first-generation therapies only just in time will in fact be unlikely to live more than 20–30 years more than their parents, because they will spend many frail years with a short remaining life expectancy (i.e., a high risk of imminent death), whereas those only a little younger will never get that frail and will spend rather few years even in biological middle age. Quantitatively, what this means is that if a 10% per year decline of mortality rates at all ages is achieved and sustained indefinitely, then the first 1000-year-old is probably only 5–10 years younger than the first 150-year-old.


I have a feeling we'll have to go through a period of global catastrophe before humanity resumes making progress at a quick pace. The momentum of the previous age of intellect[1] is coming to an end, and we're well into the age of decadence. The strong pillars of duty in Western society have gradually, in the past two hundred years, been swapped out piece by piece with some kind of weak inflammable material of decadence. These days single terrorist groups conquer entire nations before being slowed down, and our inefficient & corrupt governments whose hands and feet act independently are hardly able to stop them even with funding of billions. Millions of migrants from wars encouraged by the West's governments threaten the unity of the EU. The enormous sovereign debt burden carried by the likes of Japan and U.S. creates economic instability which threatens the social fabric, leading to a situation where the choice of leaders is between an egomaniac (Trump) and a megalomaniac (Clinton). The supposed saviour of the world economy and driver of global growth, China, suffers from enormous mal-investments and is burdened with even more debt than the U.S.

My own pessimism is not helping.

[1] http://people.uncw.edu/kozloffm/glubb.pdf

    (d) The stages of the rise and fall of great nations seem to be:
    The Age of Pioneers (outburst)
    The Age of Conquests
    The Age of Commerce
    The Age of Affluence
    The Age of Intellect
    The Age of Decadence.
    (e) Decadence is marked by:
    Defensiveness
    Pessimism
    Materialism
    Frivolity
    An influx of foreigners
    The Welfare State
    A weakening of religion.
    (f) Decadence is due to:
    Too long a period of wealth and power Selfishness
    Love of money
    The loss of a sense of duty.
The very decadence that corrodes an empire's institutions, rendering its governments unable to effectively thwart the rise of bandits who conquer vast swarths of territory, creates the conditions necessary for a new cycle with a new empire. Even if they can deal with one, or two, or three, each new group of bandits will become harder and harder for a decadent declining empire to deal with. Taliban, Shia militias, ISIS....


I'd like to believe you, but what kills people is not their age, today it's mostly cancer and heart disease. While I'd hope we'll make progress, I doubt those 2 will be just gone in 30 years.


We'll soon add a new old friend: bacterial infection.


For the most part, cancer and heart disease are diseases of old age. Young people rarely die of them.


What makes you think we won't cure them? Cancer I think will definitely be cured in 30 years. I haven't been following heart disease so much but chances are we will have huge health breakthroughs by 30 years. I would put my money on there being new/different diseases that kill us in 30 years.


In theory, couldn't a lot of heart disease (if not more general cardiovascular diseases) be addressed by figuring out how to affordably grow new hearts from tissue? I understand that's not something we're capable of doing right now but from my (largely ignorant) perspective, it seems like the issue is "hearts break down over time". The heart is essentially a mechanical part, and unlike neurological systems, there's no qualitative difference between one heart and another aside from how well it pumps blood. When you have a mechanical part that wears out, you replace it. Artificial hearts have issues stemming from the fact that they aren't 1:1 replacements for human hearts but if you could grow a new heart from a person's cells and get to a point where doing so is relatively affordable, could you not swap out an old heart the way you'd swap out a fuel pump that's wearing out?

Compared to stuff like cancer, I feel like replacing hearts is more an issue of cost and engineering rather than developing entire new forms of treatment.


Well, today hearts are replaced by perfectly healthy hearts of other people and yet life expectancy after such a procedure is not great and patients have to take meds for as long as they live. Also cardiovascular performance is much reduced. So as long as this is not working really well, i guess growing hearts and replacing them is still a long way off. Also there are other kinds of common cardiovascular disease like coronary heart disease which can't be fixed by replacing the heart.


However appealing this might be for some, I hope we "solve" global population growth first.

Of course that means we need an ethical, voluntary, way of keeping population in check.

Which infers true sexual equality, or you get one child policies as successful as China's.

Or we have an exponential increase in lifespan and ever more people chasing those finite resources.

So, it's going to be a world very different from ours, or it's going to be a bloody mess.

May you live in interesting times?


We have many examples whereby societies that become "comfortable" see decreasing birth rates leading to negative population growth. As mortality pressure decreases, the urgency and drive to hurry up and have children decreases.

There's no reason to believe that if we all suddenly could live forever that we wouldn't dramatically slow down how quickly we had children.

Talk to any family about why they're stopping to have children. You'll normally get answers along the lines of, "Well, we're not getting any younger." What if you know that you're not getting any older either?

Personally, if my wife and I hadn't been pushing into our 30's and worried about having a couple of kids before we were too old, we would have waited indefinitely.

Who knows... maybe we might not even have been married? If you have 1,000's of years ahead of you, do you saddle yourself with one person for an eternity?


Population growth has been declining since the 60s.

UN estimates are that we'll peak at 10 billion.

Besides that it's already happening, reducing population growth isn't necessarily a good thing, in econimic terms of aggregate "utility." Is there a difference between preventing birth and causing death?


That estimated peak is based on existing and projected death rates. Even Japan's population would grow if death from old age and age-related disease ceased.


Correct. The projection is a projection. If the projection is wrong, the projection will be wrong.

I just give slightly more credence to the UN's projection than Aldring's.


The trick is not to 'use up' finite resources. There's lots of energy coming from the sun. And matter can and should be recycled.


Oh, I agree. It's just that historically we've not been terribly good at that.


If a scientist working in the field writes about this, backing his assumption with research papers and actual work that's being done in the field: I'm listening.

If a futurist writes about this, mostly backing his assumption by repeating alterations of the phrase "because of technological progress": I'm expressing my skepticism on hn.


The growth of life expectancy looks quite linear to me: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Lebenserwartung_Deutschl...

I don't really see a miracle technology coming around the corner that will help us reduce deaths faster than now.


this reads to me like "better die soon or you'll miss your chance and be forced to live as a human slave forever."


You can always jump from a bridge...


you would think, but it's really hard to do. I cannot self terminate.


What an optimistic roller coaster that reading was.

If you are interested in (anti) aging science Aubrey de Grey work seem like a good start.


My issue is that while medical technology may progress at an exponential rate, so too might the challenges of repairing our biology. So yea, we may be getting way smarter, but the problems may keep getting way harder, and then it is not as self evident as this particular article makes out that we are all going to be immortals.


I feel like these types of articles always miss a key point, which can easily be corrected by adding the phrase "If You're Filthy Rich" to the end of any headline.

"Cure for Cancer Around the Corner, If You're Filthy Rich"

And...

If You're Alive in 30 Years You Might be in 1000 Years Too, If You're Filthy Rich"

See? Clarity is king.


They were saying that 30 years ago


You can't fool me internet. I'm not going to get my hopes up on such a long shot.


If I recall correctly China has reached the escape velocity at some point in the sixties, gaining more than one year of life expectancy every passing year. The even harder part is to sustain this for long period of times.


Big damned if. Personally, I expect us to all starve or burn within the next 30 years. We have repeatedly shown that we are not responsible guardians of our own technology, and our disasters just get bigger.

Additionally, immortality is not a good thing. It would lead to domination of the world from now until eternity by the powers that be at the point at which the tech becomes available, stagnation of development (if you have 1000 years to do something, you'll take your time), and ultimately the depletion of what it is to be human.

The only way immortality could work would be with a complete moratorium on new births, and perhaps a Logan's Run style annual carrousel that randomly eliminates a percentage of the population.

None of that sounds better than what we have now.


How can you regulate population with people living half a millennium? The earth won't be able to deal with that unless we apply population control which is... pretty unethical.


The important question to answer is whether those advancements will be available to everyone or just the rich. In the case of the latter economic inequality will go ballistic.


They will likely cost billions for the first person, 100s of millions for the next, and keep getting cheaper. Think cell phones, now so cheap your pencil could have one inside for almost nothing in a few years.


... with your head attached to tubes and wires floating in a jar. Oh yeah ... but thanks to VR it will feel like being on vacation.


Something tells me the author's definitely of "quite likely" is very different from the statistical definition.


So you think wage slaves have it bad now? Just imagine what "low income" will mean in future. Credits for rejuvenation plus wage low enough so that your expected life earnings are just enough to pay for next life extension... Indentured servitude can be eternal problem now.


There is not a more horrible future to imagine than the one described here.


WHAT DO YOU THINK?

==================

This is talking about biological immortality - obviously an external event can still kill a person. In fact, a catastrophic species-ending event like a meteor would still be devastating.

And we still have to worry about runaway viruses (the Black Plague), political mind viruses (Nazism, Communism, Islamism), bacteria (Malaria etc.)

The biggest danger would be, as it already is, overpopulation. I think people would have to make a trade-off: have children or live forever. You won't be able to have both. At first, only the rich would be able to afford children and live forever, but given a long enough time period, social mobility will rotate enough people into being rich enough to afford it.

Now think about it realistically and philosophically. If computers are going to take over most of the tasks we do today - driving, cooking, research etc. as well as have a worldwide network of knowledge (eg Watson, Google) then what does any individual person become? Like an animal in a zoo, who exists mostly for pleasure and socializing but whose services to others aren't required. We can already see this as people get internet-connected cellphones... why ask your parents anything if you can google it? Both parties actually prefer that we google it.

Now imagine if it moves to even less latency, via heads up displays or into a computer-brain interface. What is each individual person really doing if the hive mind already has all the answers? Why do other people need this person? Just for pleasure and interaction.

And now think about your life when you were 1/3 the age you are now. Do you remember doing a lot of particular things? How does it feel to realize that most of the things that you did, it's almost as the same as if you didn't do them? Had sex that one random time with that person - how much would it matter to your current self if you did or didn't? Outside formational life events, most routine things you do today might matter to your future self almost as much as to some stranger!

So what is this continuity between your current self and future self? If you lived until 5 million years old, how much of your life could you really meaningfully remember, unless you are accessing an external memory? If you lived 5 trillion years but only remembered around 50 years total of your personal life, how is that much different than a person living 300 years and remembering 50? Only that you continue to live and your self preservation instinct always wins.

The older I get, the more I have questions about the meaning of my future self living 1000 years from now, with dim memories of my current self, versus someone else living 1000 years from now. Does anyone have similar questions and what answers have you come up with?


... I need to increase the amount I'm putting in my 401k.


Not unless they find a way to deal with boredom.


This is very bad writing, with very bad logic. Not worthy of HN.


Total garbage...


overpopulation anyone?


tl;dr: "i engage in wishful thinking because i didnt get the memo that moore's law is close to reaching its limits"


Bullshit


That sounds like utter torture. Hell I probably won't make it to 59 so what do I have to worry about?




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