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Scientists engineer mice genomes to lengthen their lifespans by 30 percent (nytimes.com)
316 points by mrfusion 130 days ago | hide | past | web | 197 comments | favorite



tldr for biologists out there. They made a transgenic mouse line of doxycycline inducible Yamanaka factors in progeria (LAKI) background. Too high induction lead to mortality and teratomas, which is known. They cyclicly induced the Yamanaka factors and found it reversed signs of aging (prolong lifespan by ~30%)


Thanks so much. I don't know why news headline writers are so insistent on bullshit, when they could have taken a cue from you and said 'gene therapy increases mouse lifespans by 30%,' which would have been just as short and interesting but vastly more honest.


Not quite. The actual article title is far more correct than either the clickbait headline or your headline:

"In Vivo Amelioration of Age-Associated Hallmarks of Progeria by Partial Reprogramming" (my addition)


But that is really hard to understand for a non-specialist. Means nothing at all for me.


Well, I'm quite sorry to hear that, but the paper was written for specialists, and its results are primarily interpretable by and relevant to specialists. Why exactly it made it into a press release and news articles is completely inexplicable when analyzed within the bounds of the work.


A popular science, or even general news type reviews of current research are very valuable. However, in the unavoidable simplifications, they do need to keep the main findings correct, not expand into outlandish claims for clickbait


I think the fact that the subjects suffer from Progeria (a syndrome that causes early ageing) is significant. There are other effects of ageing (such as damage to DNA in mitochondria from oxidative stress reducing a cell's ability to generate energy) that may not be displayed early alongside other symptoms of progeria and that this treatment would not do anything to alleviate.


I do not want to be too picky but I do not think the term gene therapy applies here. A gene therapy is when you give the organism a gene as a treatment, like giving a normal medicine. Here, the genes are included from the beginning and only activated like with normal medicine.


But very bad clickbait. The problems of media relying to eyeballs and ad clicks :)


Clickbait title to support the media business (marketing, journalist salaries), Hacker News for the summary.


Why did they use the mice with the progeria gene? Wouldn't the results be more impressive in wild-type mice? Were they just trying to get around the 2-3 year lifespan of a lab mouse faster?


Oh they did, in fact, but the results in WT mice were not as easy to overhype. The effects were extremely minor to nonexistent in aged wild-type animals (Fig S7 from the paper). Unfortunately, press releases and the subsequent news articles -- as usual -- have totally oversold what this paper means.


So what you're saying is that the mice that didn't have their genome edited didn't have a drastic life extension? I assume the improvements only occurred in the mice that had their genomes edited to reduce Yamanaka factors because they then artificially replaced the Yamanaka factors?


No. That's not quite what I'm saying. There was no particularly interesting effect of inducing transient expression of the Yamanaka factors on normal mice reported in this paper. It is effectively a negative result that's being reported, as it pertains to wild-type mice.

The paper primarily reports results that pertain to mice with a genetic defect that causes progeria. Mice with this defect have a shorter-than-normal lifespan.


so its more a treatment for progeria than general aging reversal


I had the same thought. This puts an asterisk on the integrity of the report IMHO.

Doxycycline has also been shown to greatly increase life expectancy! Of patients currently suffering from bacterial infection.


Yes and tetracyclines like doxycycline affect mitochondrial function and may confound the research in that way too.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2015.02.034


They didn't test this (or haven't yet) against normal aging in mice, only mice with progeria (unusually rapid aging)?


Pop-science-journalism headline is predictably overblown... I guess "scientists reduce impact of progeria in mice" doesn't have the same ring to it.


So they had mice with a disease that caused early aging and managed to fix that. But there was almost no effect on mice who do not have this disease.

Makes me wonder how overhyped this whole "our children will live for hundreds of years" thing really is.


Its very noisy to read these 'blip' articles, rather like following the stock ticker blow by blow ...

Its wonderful that we see these interesting reports every week, but as a non-specialist you never how it will impact human longevity, and when.

What I'd like to read is a well considered "state-of-longevity-science" report - by someone not Aubrey DeGray (give the man a medal) but equally cognizant, perhaps more conservative - that actually explains and weighs the torrent of advancements as they happen and gives them some context.

What is the likely impact of crispr, of rosveratrol, of telomere-foo, of gene-therapy, of blood cleansing, of stem-cells on logevity in 10 / 20 years ? Where and why should we rationally allocate research money ? What is likely to benefit Alzheimers patients in the 5 year term ?

Its the kind of state of play you need updated on a monthly basis, due to the pace of progress.

Does such a report already exist ?


To my knowledge no such report exists. The only answers you'll find will come from reading dozens of articles like this one over a long span of time, mixed with reading "primary sources" (put in quotes because as often as not those sources may be trying to sell you something).

While I am not qualified to put together a comprehensive report, I've been following this subject with some interest for a while, first as a skeptic, and now as someone who believes that not all of these people are completely full of hot air.

Even with my change of heart, I'd still bet against anything in your list other than crispr having any quantifiable impact on longevity in the next decade, and even then the first applications will be specific to particular age-related diseases.

Something resembling a more full "maintenance approach" to preventing aging and age-related disease may be within reach within 20 years, but I'd bet against that, too. Sticking my finger in the air and guessing, I'd say that such a complete overhaul of medicine is at least 50 years away. Although I should stipulate my guess is only that pessimistic because I'm biased towards thinking that such advances won't be made in my own lifetime because, hey, it rarely hurts to be a pessimist.


The main problem now is delivery of such gene therapies. Crispr is pretty limited.

And human in vitro modification is taboo also wrapped in politics.


I could put one together. Or you could read the last few years of posts at Fight Aging! and get the gist. But I'm pretty pro-SENS so it might not agree with your preferences.

The short answer to your question is that the impact of everything viable that is not SENS is probably going to be about the same as exercise or calorie restriction in your life span if you are in the middle of life now. Which is to say +10 years if you pick the right things, and the people building those things do a good job. That would be, say, the combination of a couple of successes in things building upon mTOR or stem cell or telomerase therapies or etc. Not resveratrol, not 99% of the other pharmaceuticals, not 99% of the possible gene therapies, and not 99% of what people are trying to sell you.


What's SENS?


Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategies_for_Engineered_Negl... gible_Senescence


retry :

Strategies_for_Engineered_Negligible_Senescence, here :

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


Cheers! Copy/paste fail. I'm usually good about testing, but obviously not this time.


Would you pay for a publication that maintained something along these lines but for a variety of topics - energy technology, human lifespan, US healthcare systems, etc?

Assume that the pieces are well researched and the journalists have domain expertise, paired with deep reading of primary texts.


Sure, but how much?

Currently Springer's stranglehold is very tight.


Summary of pro death arguments re: longevity progress

  Fairness
    Only rich people will get it. (no tech has ever done this.)
    Better to give money to the poor than science. (family,city,state,nation, has proven local investment beats foreign.)

  Bad for society
    Dead people make more room for new, other people. (consider going first.)
    Run out of resources (live people discover/extract/renew better than dead or nonexistant)
    Overpopulation (colonize the seas, solar system, or have a war.)
      Stop having kids
      Worse wars (nukes are more dangerous than having your first 220 year old person in 2136)
    Dictators never die (they die all the time and rarely of age)

  Bad for individual
    You'll get bored. (your memory isn't that good, or your boredom isn't age related)
    You'll have to watch your loved ones die. (so you prefer they watch you?)
    You'll live forever in a terrible state. (longevity requires robustness.)
    Against gods will (not if he disallows suicide, then it is required.)
More people make more progress faster. I'm glad my parents didn't decide the world would be prettier or work better without me in it. Einstein, Bell, Tesla, Da Vinci etc, still alive and productive would be nice. You're literally asking for others to die out of your fear. The burden should be higher. Have courage. If living longer sucks, we'll know 100 years from now, and decide then. First 220 year old in 2136 unless you know how to make one faster than 1 year per year? And that's if you added 120 years to a 100 year old person starting TODAY.

Man up, save your family, save yourself.

Disclaimer: I'm half way done with a book on this topic. Mail me if you're interested. Scivive on the most popular email service.

P.S. Curing aging isn't immortality. You die at 600 on average by accident, and if the parade of imaginary horribles comes true, even earlier.


  Fairness
   Only rich people will get it. (no tech has ever done this.)
Already, modern medicine expands lifetime and in particularly healthy lifetime significantly and the richer you are the more of it you can access.

Like, I don't have the same chances to get to 70 and still feel alright as someone born today in Bangladesh, or Zambia.

The world is already very unfair, and the only solution to that is to make it more fair, not to avoid developing treatments that, if the world was fair, would benfit everyone.


Specifically, make the treatments cheap and scalable, then ignore IP.


Then you will have no new treatments, and be back to square one.


Adapting a suggestion that I've heard and haven't studied too closely: Find insurance companies that essentially bet that people won't die in the next N years, find very large companies of this sort or form some kind of aggregation of them, and make the case to them that if they spend a bunch of money funding the development of some treatments that work, then they will make a profit because their bets will turn out better.


These companies exist, they sell a product called life insurance...


Yes, I was referring to that. I'm just not aware of such companies doing large-scale funding of life extension research to increase profits. I suspect it could be done, just that you might need to aggregate a lot of insurance companies to make it profitable.


Ah, but the other half of life insurance companies frequently sell annuities, which are bets you'll die soon enough. :)


> Overpopulation (colonize the seas, solar system, or have a war.) [...] Stop having kids

This already happens. The more affluent a country becomes, with its better healthcare, better education, and greater career opportunity, the lower its birthrate. The big crisis in 50 years will be population decline.


Let's hope so.

I'm a bit reluctant to write this, but it made me worried, so here we go :

I had a chat with a taxi driver in Stockholm the other day, and we talked about the situation in Somalia and that he planned to move back there as it's getting better there.

He had 8 kids, but wanted another wife and 10 more kids when he became my age - 40.

I mentioned that I have been married before so I have 3 kids with 2 mothers and was quite happy with that number...

He actually laughed and looked at me and said - "man, you Swedish guys will disappear."

I don't know how representative this was but looking at some societies in Sweden, I'm guessing it's not unique. It would be nice with some research.

Anyway.I'm hoping that the Somalian women will get some say in the matter, because if they don't, looking at the demography and the socio-economic mechanisms, both Sweden and eastern Africa might end up in a spot of bother.


Its all about having a lot of lottery tickets in the game theory device that is civil war. And religion is pro lottery-tickets, and infinite lottery cycles.

The horror, if you would adapt to this hellish circumstances, by speeding up the cycle, creating "specialists" for each cycle stage and survived through the hard times by reducing all that makes up human society. No arts, no compassion, no creation, no school, all of these are calories wasted, instead go full zombie and walk the earth till the cycle of strife ends.

PS: Before somebody yells racism. This behavior could be seen everywhere during world war 2. So one could claim that white racists are actually the pro-zombie equivalent found elsewhere.


Ending aging will reverse this trend. The crisis then won't be population decline but the side effect of population growth.


Ending aging will not reverse this trend. Many people only have kids due to age constraints and its effect on fertility and the health of offspring, ie. much harder to get pregnant over 35, and chance of birth defects or other problematic genetic problems increases dramatically, even for men.

This will no longer be the case, so there would be no rush for either gender to have kids. You can focus on your career for the first hundred years, and then have kids. At worst, there would be a minor uptick in population while people get accustomed to the new reality.


There's a really simple solution to this: Have a cultural policy that what's normal/acceptable is to delay having children for quite a while, and then to have only one child per couple.

One child per couple means that the total population caps out at double the current population (a population of 32 would have 16 children, who'd have 8, who'd have 4, who'd 2, then 1 person who's SOL - 32+16+8+4+2+1=63). A single order of magnitude is an acceptable loss, and everyone gets a child of their own.

Note: Not as in "literally force people to have only one child", just make it frowned upon like smoking generally is - most people won't care enough to defy it, and in the long term it should be enough. Although IMO families like the Duggars[1] shouldn't be provided immortality unless they start using birth control.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/19_Kids_and_Counting


Ending aging won't stop accidents, homicide, suicide or (probably) even most modern physical failures like diabetes and heart attacks.


It might fix the latter. The mechanisms involved in heart disease and diabetes are related to general aging as well.

Accidents and suicide could be handled too. Former by outlawing machines of murder (cars) and spare or artificial organs, latter by improving our understanding of neuroscience and psychology.


yes and no. Aging research wont, but that does not mean other science stops. Traffic accidents are at all time lows (in comparison to the amount of traffic) and will continue to do so (via automated driving, imidiate ambulance dispatching, etc.), homicide as well (maybe not in US but certainly in europe), and depression is under active research like being partly caused by the microbiome etc. Nothing is endless but getting 600 years old would still change a lot.


How about: bad ideas get to remain in power for much longer, because the generations of administrators/voters/executives that enforce them don't turn over.

Death ensures adaptation. For example, climate change denying oil barons have done much damage to the world, but we can take some comfort in the knowledge that they will soon die (or at least retire) and that their successors will probably be a little more enlightened. It may be too late by then, but at least it will happen.

>Run out of resources (live people discover/extract/renew better than dead or nonexistant)

One resource we are running out of is housing in economically productive areas, and it's not for lack of ingenuity, but by choice. The choice of the established, whose grip on power you propose to extend. Similarly, there is plenty of food to go around, just not enough value to trade for it in some parts of the world. What we're missing is not farming methods, but economic systems and power structures to implement then.

>You're literally asking for others to die out of your fear

The currently powerful, propertied generation is in a position to hold onto that power and property forever, via compound interest and seniority. If the current crop of 60-year-olds gets to be 600, the age of majority for voting will be 540 by the time they get there. And we will never outspend them on anything; even 20 years is a significant head start on saving and investing.

If they continue in their policies of environmental destruction and the monopolization of critical resources, like the underdevelopment of city land on aesthetic grounds, then we might not just be asking them to die, but going to war to claim those resources (and the helms of government, business, etc) for the young, to manage in different ways.

Not to get too bogged down in the specifics of particular issues, but age-related death does ensure a peaceful transition of power towards people more concerned with the present era's challenges and realities, rather than trying to, i.e., save the jobs of the last century or the sexual morality of the one before it.

Maybe age doesn't come to them soon enough to prevent the damage, but it does mitigate it.


An encouraging counter-argument is to watch the way that age cohorts have changed their attitudes to gay marriage in successive surveys. Society as a whole has become a lot more supportive, very fast, and all ages have been changing their attitudes. It's not just that young supportive people are aging upward into older cohorts, but also that old people who had negative attitudes have been softening their opposition, and many have crossed over from opposition to support.

The idea that the old have fixed bad ideas is mistaken. All ages of people can be persuaded.


It's better to make new productive areas than to fight diminishing returns and force there to be fewer productive areas. The founding of California and the USA are the result of such thinking.

The powerful, propertied generation dying and being replaced by people that look and do nearly the same hasn't cured any of the ills of which you speak so far. The rich have continued to get richer, and the poor richer at a much slower rate, death hasn't solved any of that, nor is it likely too. What you want is better marketing of good ideas, because that actually works. Wishing people dead for disagreeing with you is at least immoral.


How about: bad ideas get to remain in power for much longer, because the generations of administrators/voters/executives that enforce them don't turn over.

But also: you can have people with literally double or more experience, working on your hard problems. You also have a government that will look out much further into the future, because they will see the outcomes themselves.


Sure, but. Look at the state of the world 600 years ago, and imagine that the people at the helm were starting to hand over power just now.

I think the world would look a lot more like it did 600 years ago. Perhaps more moral by some standards, but probably also unable to replicate a technological breakthrough like the eradication of aging.


> Only rich people will get it. (no tech has ever done this.)

Virtually every tech starts that way, though.

The societal upheaval of rich people getting smartphones a few years earlier is probably not something you can extrapolate to the societal upheaval from "you could live forever but you don't have enough money right now".


> The societal upheaval of rich people getting smartphones a few years earlier is probably not something you can extrapolate to the societal upheaval from "you could live forever but you don't have enough money right now".

I'm not sure that would happen. Consider that they have an eternity to pay it back -- or really, a few hundred years given everyone will likely experience at a fatal accident on such a long timeline. What person couldn't pay back an exceedingly high price on an installment plan lasting a few hundred years?


Oh, interesting. Like a whole new kind of financial indentured servitude that you can't even die your way out of.


Look people, it's very simple.

Many countries are currently addicted to population growth. Their mentality hasn't adjusted to the rise of automation and the decline of demand for human labor. They still think we need to keep high birth rates to fund social security schemes.

What will happen in the next few decades is that fewer people will be needed to do anything really productive. More people will study and raise their kids. A smaller, richer population would be more sustainable when it comes to overfishing, overpolluting etc. We will turn the world into farms and hopefully plug all the holes that will result. Ecosystems will be much different with less variation, and humans will be trying to constantly keep the balance.

It is in this environment that we place advances in longevity.


The converse is that a size of the group required for taking over the world will get ever smaller.


Of course you can die your way out of it. What an absurd thing to say.


Whoosh!


What fear is motivating me to ask other people to die, as you put it?

Eternal life would be sort of cool but I dispute your proposition that more people automatically make more progress faster. More people increases competition which incentivizes some kinds of progress but arguably retards others - consider our lamentable record of environmental destruction.

I don't think your aspirations are morally wrong in any way but your thesis seems unproven and I could just as easily argue that your efforts are primarily motivated by your own fear of death. Having had far more near-death experiences than most people I've met. I'm broadly OK with it because my experiences suggest to me that there's a lot more to consciousness than the everyday world, and that if and insofar as life has a purpose, it may be to reach some higher level of knowledge within finite constraints. I sometimes consider that life-as-we-know-it might be like some elaborated version of a book a film or a game (similar to but not the same as Bostrom's simulation argument).

Would you enjoy a book or a movie that never ended? Obviously there's a market for such things based on the continued existence of daytime TV soap operas, but nobody seems to think those shows have much cultural value.


> Would you enjoy a book or a movie that never ended? Obviously there's a market for such things based on the continued existence of daytime TV soap operas, but nobody seems to think those shows have much cultural value.

There are thousands of things I know I have never done, and likely never will. There are millions of things I don't know I have never done. Don't you have even the tiniest bit of regret of where your life has led you, and wondered if you did things differently, where you would be today? Wouldn't you want to find out?


Oh sure, a little bit. But then I'd be wondering about what if I'd done things the way I actually did them, so maybe I'm regretting that in some other time stream. I try to be stoic about it.

It really comes down to whether you have more of a drive to be happy or to be right. On bad days I often wish I'd opted for the former, but I enjoy cultivating my inner garden and it gives me pleasure to see ideas grow over time.


What makes you think that someone who "can't find the time" to do anything interesting in an 80 year lifespan would accomplish anything with another 100+ years? The majority of the population would still be stuck slaving away for minimum wage for their entire life, regardless of the length of that life. If the key to immortality were to be found as part of a universal enlightenment that completely abolishes the concept of money and power, then maybe something could change. If it's business as usual, with individuals having an incentive to claw their way "above" others, then the concept of immortality is entirely depressing to me.

I'm also not interested in the eventuality of the "treatment" being cheap and available to all. What, are we going to label people as suicidal and mentally ill if they refuse to take the treatment? The "pro-life" agenda would spiral out of control.


Kids aren't too productive till they age. Perhaps we discover that 40 is the new 18. Or maybe there's more value to life than productivity. There must be polarity for movement. Some must have more than others. Excellence comes only from competition. You're inborn desire to find equality is beaten by natures desire for fitness. You may be less depressed when you see that a game where some win and some lose is better than a game where all lose, or no game at all. You will never be able to complain your way out of the game. If reality starts selecting for equality instead of fitness, we will live in a gray goo of equal. That's no game at all.

Taking a look at all the lives that could be affordably saved saved in Africa right now at low cost. Yet no "pro-life" agenda is currently spiraling out of control biting at that low cost. It is unlikely this more expensive and farther down the road longevity research would cause the hysteria you describe.


Excellence comes only from competition.

I reject that premise as overbroad and dismissive of historical examples of artificially limited supply (eg craft guilds) or other arbitrary constraints which nevertheless resulted in high output quality, and I could point to examples of that in nature too.

You're inborn desire to find equality is beaten by natures desire for fitness

This sounds like a very individualist approach to evolution though. I think there's good reasons to consider the idea of humans as eusocial animals that can operate as individuals but are biologically driven to group up, and that groups themselves are distributed organisms capable of collective thought.

It's not that I'm against individualism, but I'm saying that there may well be selection pressures that do favor altruistic behavior, and there's certainly research documenting its persistence in the wild. Finally, it's rather odd that you talk of an 'inborn' desire but then contrast it with 'nature.' I feel you view of this topic is a little simplistic.


Grouping effectively is a competition. Dogs have tails they wag, humans have eye whites and emotional attachment to eye movements, even language.

Competition requires 3 things. 1. A win condition 2. A contest 3. Participants. Pretending that equality amongst creatures exists anywhere that an individual can be discerned from the masses is futile. Equality of outcome moves indirectly proportional to freedom or individuality, tautologically. Equality is the enemy of specialization. You can't win a football game with 11 quarterbacks on the field.

The group out performs the individual, its why we're multicellular. It's also why you have natural and other monopolies. Notice the diversity of organs in your body, each good at what they do and little else. Would not equality dictate perhaps you be filled with bladders for the heart has it too good?

Team good. Specialize good. Win competition good. Have fair game to not rob potential winners of chance, good. Force equality down throats so winners lose and losers win. Bad.


You keep projecting positions about equality onto me which I don't hold. Please stop it.


You never step in the same river twice. If life gets too boring for you, remember the saying, cut down the tracks, not across the street. Might it be easier to cure boredom than decay? You need only become forgetful right? You wouldn't ask the restaurant to take items off the menu because you might not like them, would you?


I would expect a great cultural and scientific renaissance because you could devote a lot more time to creative pursuits. Even if many people are too lazy, the few geniuses with much longer lifespans would turn the world over.

An interesting side effect could be that public figures would become more careful, because if you're sunk, you'd be done forever.

Plus the shift from old people retirement driven politics. Much bigger focus on handling employment.


> I would expect a great cultural and scientific renaissance because you could devote a lot more time to creative pursuits. Even if many people are too lazy, the few geniuses with much longer lifespans would turn the world over.

Genius appears to decline with age. Prolonging life would not necessarily preserve genius, even if it preserves life.


Unfortunately, you are correct in that brain deterioration progresses faster than other forms of deterioration, which is why it's smart to focus on it over some other age dependent diseases. Your brain is a part of your body like your heart. Any cure for aging would obviously include the cure for mental deterioration.


> Any cure for aging would obviously include the cure for mental deterioration.

I respectfully disagree. Also, the article in question, and my comment, are really pointing to prolonging life, not a cure for ageing--that may be very far off. In either case, it is not at all obvious why prolonging or curing the ageing process in life would necessarily maintain optimal neurological function.

There's also problem's outside the scientific challenge itself. One being that genius is almost always only genius after the fact, raising interesting hypothetical questions about who exactly is preserved in their genius state - a promising 20-something, or a proven 40-something?


> What fear is motivating me to ask other people to die, as you put it?

I interpreted that as meaning that because, especially over a long period of time, preserving your life would decrease opportunity for other's to have a life.


This is a bit of a straw man technique. You've framed the argument to suit your counterpoint.


A straw man would be more something like "since no one has ever seen how badly immortal societies have gone, no one can say they're bad."


From Wikipedia: "A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent's argument, while actually refuting an argument that was not advanced by that opponent."

I'm probably what you would describe as 'pro-death'. But I would never have made any of the arguments you listed.

I could just as easily frame your positions to suit my argument.

For example; 'More people make more progress faster.' (India has not made as large a contribution to modern technology as the USA)


> For example; 'More people make more progress faster.' (India has not made as large a contribution to modern technology as the USA)

Only if you take the statement as some immutable law and not the intended meaning as a description of a general trend.


For you Sci-Fi fans out there, I highly recommend Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy. In his fictional world, humans do discover how to extend longevity and it goes into many of the social issues that arise (who gets treatments? The rich? The poor? How do we deal with over population?).


But other than a couple of concepts, the books are excruciatingly bad. Without giving the plot away too much, his characters literally cure cancer, fix pollution, and invent an economic system that everyone in the world agrees is fair, in between taking loads of drugs and having loads of sex. It's wish fulfilment for 14-year-olds who are bored in science class. I'd give all 3 0 stars on Amazon if I could.


Dealing with overpopulation is best done the Elon Musk way - go to space, it is empty.

A trip to Mars of three months in a lifetime of few hundred could be considered an interesting interlude.


So in a few decades there will be two camps: Pro-Death and Pro-Lifers?


The consequences of longer lifespan to social order are unimaginable. Even increase by dozen of years may result in wars and chaos, especially if the treatment will not be available to everyone. From where I stand it seems that relatively little resources are spent on the research of consequences of longer lifespan compared with the discussions we have about friendly/enemy AI, machines replacing jobs, universal income and other social order changing themes. While I am not saying scientists will stumble upon immortality tomorrow, a serious increase in lifespan may happen relatively soon.


> Even increase by dozen of years may result in wars and chaos

Care to explain? I don't see why humans living on average a dozen years longer would inevitably lead to "wars and chaos" and a breakdown of social order. Indeed, we saw lifespans increase by two dozen in the last 80 or so years and nothing happened at all.

The usual arguments about overpopulation don't seem to apply to developed countries; if anything it's the opposite. So what's the big deal? And why do you assume that any negative externalities created by life extension technology are inherently unfixable?


I don't think it's fair to say nothing happened at all.

Aging populations, coupled with low birth rates, are causing difficult political problems. In my country (UK) pensions are the biggest government expenditure next is healthcare, which the elderly use the most. This obviously has to be paid for so you have two options, raise taxes or increase immigration. Our government chose to increase immigration and a lot of people didn't like that so the government blamed the EU, this went on for a while and brexit was the eventual response.

So the chaos is already here, war might be hyperbole but a war caused by something is not unimaginable and ageing populations would be a contributing factor.

I feel there is an increasing level of bitterness directed towards the old. The government panders to them for easy votes which takes public spending from the young and my gut feeling is having policies that cater for the old is not healthy for the long term success of of a society.


>Our government chose to increase immigration and a lot of people didn't like that so the government blamed the EU, this went on for a while and brexit was the eventual response.

Well, your government chose to increase immigration while also suppressing housing construction and wages. The result is that the government set the immigrants against the native-born citizens in a zero-sum economic contest for basic human needs, while the rich eat up all available economic gains that could have gone to young workers or old pensioners.

>So the chaos is already here, war might be hyperbole but a war caused by something is not unimaginable and ageing populations would be a contributing factor.

You need young people to staff the armies.


The solution is to raise the pension age. Just politically difficult.

Raised pension age vs longer life, fairly obvious choice.


This is already a potential social problem with there being a link between deprivation and life expectancy. Increasing the retirement age may result in the poorest likely receiving no pension.


An alternative solution is to raise wages.


Would you rather have the problem of paying for your loved ones to still be around and healthy, or the problem of them being dead right now? Seems like a good problem to have. Imagine if their brains and bodies were still equivalent to 50 years old. You probably couldn't convince them to stop working. I detect lots of bitterness to the young male and foreign and little for old and citizen. Medical progress gets rid of old people too, they just remain young instead of dead.


It's worth noting that people getting much older (what the OP is saying) and the increase in life expectancy in the last century (what you mentioned) is quite different as the increase of life expectancy is due to a drastic decrease in child mortality not longer life for those who made it to adulthood. Once you make it to 20 or so, chances are you'll stick around for another 50-60 years even a century ago.


According to this random table[0] I found on the intergoogles, you're technically correct but misrepresenting it with your 50-60 figure.. 100 years ago it was around 50, and now it's around 60.

But finding trustworthy data about life expectancy at age X have been really hard every time I've tried to actually investigate claims regarding longer life expectancy, especially because ideally you'd want to exclude deaths by accidents and certain kinds of diseases (but not all!) to figure out at what rate actual longevity has been improved over the years. So I'm still a little agnostic about the whole thing.

[0] http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005140.html


> Indeed, we saw lifespans increase by two dozen in the last > 80 or so years and nothing happened at all.

Please define "nothing" in your sentence. Lots of countries have been dealing with welfare spending recently due to general aging in their population. If we live two dozen more years that means someone will have to pay for those retirements. I don't know where you live but most developed or developing nations have some sort of government-sponsored retirement/age pension system or welfare program they have to maintain (and is usually paid by the working force alive today).

> The usual arguments about overpopulation don't seem to > apply to developed countries; if anything it's the > opposite.

You gotta be kidding. Haven't you ever considered what would happen if a good chunk of the world population magically started to live by the wasteful and consumption driven standards most developed countries have, like the US or Japan (or even Russia)? We still have margin for more people in the planet but certainly not with the so called "developed countries" way of life (energy-wise, amount of garbage produced, pollution emissions etc).


> If we live two dozen more years that means someone will have to pay for those retirements.

You're assuming that we'd just extend life rather than slow or partially reverse ageing as the article describes. You would assume that people would work for longer if this was the case. You may even get a "better" (from an economics point of view) ratio of working life to retirement time.


This is important. The demographics issue isn't so much people being old, it's being old and infirm.

If advances give us a healthier old age rather than merely a longer one, then they would alleviate rather than exacerbate the problem.


I can think of a few pertinent cases. With every new generation you get fresh perspectives. Old practices die because generations die with them. Can you imagine slavery practices getting a "lifespan increase."

I bet the "cold war" mind set works the same way. You rarely see cold war brought up by much younger folks. It's always an old gen rehash.

What about a ruthless dictator like Kim Jong Un getting 12 extra years on earth?


With every new generation you get fresh perspectives.

Who says we can't solve that problem as well? We've already had a bunch of research into psychedelics and countless anecdotes about people who claim drugs like LSD completely changed their outlook on life. I could envision a future where people effectively live forever and continually renew their interest in life with drugs. Selective amnesia, personality-altering drugs -- a new person from the same body!


Fresh perspectives generate fresh perspectives. Birth doesn't as well, because schools tend to standardize viewpoints as do religions. If birth was a good cure, you wouldn't get regression. Like the dark ages, or what's going on in Iran. Rolling the dice and hoping for a better outcome is inferior to building and advertising better outcomes. It would be easy to dream the pro death people die off and be replaced with more adventurous types, but its not fair to wish for someones death because they disagree with you.


All these dictators in Africa ruling for (eternal) life ?!! What a nightmare !


The nightmare would be, as Hannah Arendt pointed out, the perfection of the concentration camps: the ability to torture someone forever while keeping them alive.


That's not different from having a bad leader ruling forever... That's torture. 1789 occured for a reason.


Increase in lifespan plus decrease in birth rate is the problem. If both grow, you just scale up. But if not, eventually you'll end up with a problem.


It's not about all humans living a decade more on average, it's about those with the wealth to afford it getting a decade more of healthy years, while the poor do not.

A decade more of time to earn more, build more, become more wealthy and pass that on to children who are then wealthier.

Damn, this would be a fantastic dystopian sci fi plot point.


Look at life spans of royalty vs commoners in 19th and early 20th century, this already happened and took the medical advances of 20th century to make similar.


Estate taxes and legacy-driven philanthropy play a huge role in the redistribution of wealth, so there is that.


My mistake, I meant couple dozen of years, like 24 - 99. Also, the change will be sudden, not gradual.


> While I am not saying scientists will stumble upon immortality tomorrow, a serious increase in lifespan may happen relatively soon.

We have been hearing that for a while though, when do you think "soon" will be ?


My main fear around longevity treatments is that a panicked, conservative reaction will condemn me to an unnecessary death while arguments rage and people moralise endlessly.


Not every change is an improvement, but every improvement is a change.

You could also pull out "make an omelet", but I'm partial to "more steps forward than steps back".

Also, the consequences of longer lifespan are not only imaginable, they're imagined (frequently) _and can be studied_, because it's _happened_. Even the (other) canonical problem situation - rich people live longer than poor people, by a lot - has occurred.

On the other hand, you are also correct that there an unimagined and unimaginable consequences. If people end up waiting until to have kids until they're older, will that be better for the kids (more stable / wise parents) or worse (further from similar experiences)?


Historically, as Lifespan increases war and poverty decrease. Its very easy to imagine the parade of imaginary horribles. Those horribles look out of place on a graph of global human fulfillment over time. It's so easy to dream how bad it could all go, that comments focusing on that are 10x the number of comments imagining any of the positive outcomes. Apparently the amazing and wonderful things people create together by not rotting and disappearing are harder to imagine.


If you get longer lifespan wrong you might get the problems you mentioned.

If you get AI wrong you get the end of the world, possibly not just for humans.


Don't worry, the treatment won't be available to all, unless it's a cheap pill with no IP constraints on it. Imagine the profits for the producers of a life extending miracle drug.

It would be more like spice on Dune. Hmm... if I recall correctly, the fremens (who had unlimited access to it) were a bloody waring bunch.


> if I recall correctly, the fremens (who had unlimited access to it) were a bloody waring bunch

They were, but not because they had spice. They had spice long before they became a bloody warring bunch. The interplanetary jihad was at the behest of Paul Muad'dib. The Spartan and militant culture that existed before Muad'dib was mostly out of self preservation in the face of a brutal Arrakis environment and colonial oppression.


It's a common misunderstanding that curing aging can be a pill. Aging is a quite loaded word. It means at least, curing cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, cell loss, hardening, muscle loss, vision loss... So what an aging cure really looks like is lots and lots of cures because there's lots and lots of causes. The easy way to categorize what needs fixed is: Cells: too many, too few. Junk: inside and outside cells. Mutations: nuclear and mitochondrial. Finally crosslinking.


I echo this. We're already over-populated on this planet as it is. Yes there's still a lot of available land, but there are reasons we're not using it either to live on, or to farm - too hostile, too wet, too hot/cold, and the cost of terrafirming those areas is prohibitive.

Unless we manage to escape this rock, and find a nice Earth 2.0 out there, extending lifespans is pointless. It's driven by pure selfishness, and if ever comes to fruition, will create a subdivide of people who can afford to live longer and healthier and those that can't; Homo-Richus vs. Homo-Poorus.


That's ridiculous. There are vast chunks of land in the US that are perfectly fine to live on, it's just that nobody wants to because the good jobs aren't there (i.e. nearly everything between the coasts).


I was talking about the world view, not just the US.

But you've actually backed up my point, despite there actually being large chunks of land, no one actually wants to live there, so we continue to squeeze ourselves into small urban areas.


No, I didn't back up your point. There are plenty of places that are liveable that we can start to move to if cities become too expensive.

Just because lots of people want to live in NYC and can't afford to live there doesn't mean we are in any kind of crisis.


Escaping this rock is no relief either. What happens when there's a Muskovite Empire on Mars and all the rich people move there to let the poor die on an old planet stripped of resources to make that possible? Transfers of wealth like that are already happening - let's not make it interplanetary.

Humanity has changed so much in the last few generations and we are still catching up. Maybe we don't understand the consequences. We definitely have to figure out it soon because we'll either never make it to another planet or we'll just bring it all with us.


You mean the poor going to mars to work there, rich people will stay at earth ( sounds like the expanse )


A Scientific American article on the same research with a useful comment here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13187302

Interesting bits:

"In living mice they activated the four genes (known as “Yamanaka factors,” for researcher Shinya Yamanaka, the Nobelist who discovered their combined potential in 2006). This approach rejuvenated damaged muscles and the pancreas in a middle-aged mouse, ... "

"... These (other) approaches can reverse some aspects of aging, such as muscle degeneration—but aging returns when the treatment stops, he adds. With an approach like the one Belmonte lays out in the new study, theoretically “you could have one treatment and go back 10 or 20 years,” he says. If aging starts to catch up to you again, you simply get another treatment."


Paper:

http://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(16)31664-6

Caveats:

1) Doing anything to the aging of cells in culture has next to nothing to do with what goes on inside aging tissues, or where it does that is heavily dependent on the details. The article doesn't tell you enough to decide, so you should look at the paper.

2) Doing anything that attenuates the effects of an accelerated aging phenotype, actually usually a DNA repair disorder, almost always has nothing to do with aging as it happens in normal individuals. You can hit mice with hammers, and then evaluate the effects of a hammer-blocking cage, but that doesn't tell you anything about aging - and for exactly the same reasons. This is generally true except when it is isn't, and that depends on the fine details. Again, go look at the paper.

3) The interesting experiment is the one in which pluripotency-inducing factors are upregulated in a normal mouse, but temporarily. This is the thing that people have looked at in the past and said, well, turning on widespread transformation of somatic cells into pluripotent stem cells sounds like a really bad idea. Cancer seems the likely outcome, and that has in fact been demonstrated in a couple of studies in mice, but there is also the point that your central nervous system rather relies upon maintaining the fine structure it has established in many cases, such as data stored in the brain. Running in and randomly reprogramming any CNS cells that take up the vector or the pluripotency signals seems like a bad idea on the face of it.

So on the whole it is fascinating that a good outcome was produced in the normal mice, analogous to the sort of thing that has been produced via stem cell transplants and telomerase gene therapies. But I'd still want to see what happens to the mice over the long term after that, and would expect cancer.


> The technique, which requires genetic engineering, cannot be applied directly to people, but the achievement points toward better understanding of human aging and the possibility of rejuvenating human tissues by other means.

Still a ways off for human use but definitely interesting research.


You have to understand all the rich people in the world are scared of death and will pay anything to avoid it for as long as possible. So if aging can be reduced or cured we will be able to do it and probably relatively soon.

And this quest is as old as civilization, maybe even older:

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

"He ruled until his death in 210 BC after a futile search for an elixir of immortality"


> all the rich people in the world are scared of death and will pay anything to avoid it for as long as possible

This is generally true of poor people as well.


Yes, but poor people can't pay. That's why they can't solve anything. Google can spend a billion dollars on this. Multiple billions can be easily spent on this. And it's a great time for that. So much excessive capital. So many millionaires and billionaires. All going to die. What can scientists do to help them?


We're looking for extended life for some people, without being able to guarantee a regular life for all.

What a world.


Old people are expensive. If the people on Medicare were as healthy as the average 50-year-old, it would basically solve Medicare's long-term funding problem. If it cost, say, $100K every 10 years, it'd be worthwhile to give it to everyone for free.

Edit: checked numbers. There are about 40 million Americans 65 or older, and Medicare spends about $600 billion/year, for average annual spending of $15K each.


50% of your lifetime medical cost occur in your last year of life. Old people aren't expensive, unhealthy and nearer death people are expensive. Delaying that last year of life by remaining robust is very profitable.


However, this technology would ostensibly over time get commoditized and available for everyone, like practically every other piece of technology so far.


That's what we'd like to believe about ourselves. But until we're post-scarcity -- as long as other people are competition for limited resources (land, food, water, health care, even attention) -- I wouldn't be too quick to believe it.


No, ultimately we're looking for unlimited life for everyone. We will not sell anyone to the dark.


I don't think "regular" is the adjective you are looking for. By definition there will always be lives that are not regular, both positively and negatively.


One is easier than the other I am afraid.


Rich people would get this first, but there'd be so much demand that unless there was something intrinsically expensive about a life extension tech (e.g. it required surgical intervention) you'd see geometric decreases in price. Then the patents would expire and it'd get mass produced in India for $0.05/pill.


> Then the patents would expire and it'd get mass produced in India for $0.05/pill.

Forget patents. This is the sort of thing that will flood the black market, and could conceivably be a target for eminent domain. In any case, it will make it out to the public in some manner if it becomes a reality, I'm sure of that.


Not to put too cynical a point on it, but if I were getting paid by the world's rich for a cure for death... the last thing I would want to do is release it if I found it.


Grow a new genetically engineered body from your stem cells then transplant your head.

Maybe wait and see if that Russian head transplant experiment is a success.


Head will die anyway. Death sequence is embedded in the cell, to prevent unlimited growth. You can extend your lifespan by 30% by removing aged cells, so stem cells will divide and produce a slightly younger cells, which reverse lot of age related malfunctions.


Every life extension discussion derails into debates about foreverness; and therein lies the problem: humans of all backgrounds (even today) are dropping dead of health problems at 60 years of age. Thus, foreverness is science-fiction with our current understanding. Baby-steps first perhaps? Regardless, many agree foreverness is not possible - and if it was - I would not want it.


It's a red herring anyway. The valid question is, would you prefer to remain alive today? You're free to answer in the negative at any time, but it would be nice not to have the decision taken from you by mere biochemistry.


The valid question is actually would you prefer to be healthier today. Aging affects everyone's health (perhaps after a certain age) whether they currently realize they have some acute condition (such as cancer or imminent death) or not.


There shouldn't even be a debate between people who approve of reversing aging and those who do not. Whoever doesn't approve... when the treatment will finally be available... just don't use it! I'll use my freedom of decision and my money to extend my life, thank you! If you want to die, go ahead.


What I don't understand, is that with ageing billionaires everywhere, why isn't anti-aging the most funded thing in the world? Or is it?


They perceive the field as moving too slow to reap the benefits.




Currently probably the most impressive treatment, yes. But it is not patented, so no company can go out and make a killing off it ;-)

Much better than the second best, statins.



Next thing you know, we will be getting email spam to buy Yamanaka Factor.. look 30 years younger just take this pill!


Lets hope so!


Careful what you wish for. Aging and death are woven deeply into the fabric of society, indeed, into the fabric of life itself. Old growth needs to be periodically swept away to make room for new growth.

The only logically possible outcome of immortality is that sooner or later the entire biomass of the planet is consumed by immortals, at which point all growth must stop. Imagine being the last person born into such a world, doomed forever to be the youngest, least experienced, least powerful member of a static society where no one ever ages and no new people are ever born. Is that really a life you would want to lead?


The world is not the only planet in the Universe.

This is not immortality, this is eternal youth, until you die for some reason (war, an accident, suicide, whatever) .

Thermal engines were a radical change in society, it let us do things that were impossible before, like flying. There will be new changes in the world, like nuclear fusion, DNA editing(with actual understanding of it not like we do today), symbiosis between man and machine with high bandwidth communication...

With nuclear fusion you could irrigate the Sahara dessert, you could irrigate Australia. Take Google Earth and look how big those places are. Those places are bigger than Europe and the USA.

With nuclear fusion you could LED grow plants without pesticides and almost without using water(you recycle it).

You can grow food or live in space, mine asteroids and planets like Saturn( do you know how big is Saturn?).


> The only logically possible outcome of immortality is that sooner or later the entire biomass of the planet is consumed by immortals, at which point all growth must stop.

You seem to be using the word "immortal" in some kind of fantasy meaning of "it keeps living forever no matter what". That's very clearly impossible.

Revise your definition to state instead: "keeps living indefinitely unless prevented by accident or disease, or is killed on purpose". Now see how your conclusions change.

Preventing and/or reversing aging is definitely good. If too long a life becomes a problem for some reason and you feel burdened by it, that's easily dealt with, just get a piece of rope, find a tree, and solve your own "problem".

> Is that really a life you would want to lead?

Your reaction is typical for a surprisingly large number of people. It's just a strategy to deal with the uncomfortable outcome of your own death, nothing more. To be able to cope with that, many people end up believing all sorts of bizarre things, such as "death is part of life", or "you don't want to live in that kind of world". Bullshit. You're just brainwashing yourself because otherwise you'd find the prospect of mortality intolerable.

An attitude that's a lot more honest is to recognize that aging and death are things we ought to fight, even though as of right now we're losing that battle.


> You're just brainwashing yourself because otherwise you'd find the prospect of mortality intolerable.

As someone who has suffered from suicidal depression and recovered from it, I am intimately familiar with the subjective sensations both of feeling like death would suck, and feeling like it would be desirable. Your subjective sensation that death sucks has nothing to do with the objective truth, it's just a reflection of the fact that genes that build brains that think that death sucks tend to reproduce better than genes that build brains that think that death is awesome. This does not change the empirical and theoretical fact that death is in fact an integral part of life.


straight to the point.

When we say we are interested in immortality, people say that's because of the 'fear of our own death'.

Sorry, but it's wrong.

When something is inevitable (given our current technology, it is) there is no need to be afraid.

However, when it becomes evitable, then it is time to fear. People are are brainwashing themselves because they find the prospect of their own mortality intolerable make me think they know we we will eventually have the technology, so try to feel better for living in the wrong time and place.


Immortals will still die occasionally due to accidents and other non-age related causes. Unless risk is totally eliminated from the world, there will always be a positive replacement fertility rate.


Actually, I think the greatest risk in a society of immortals would be murder. Everyone would constantly be eyeing each other as a potential resource to allow themselves to reproduce.


Why, more probably not. Things like car crashes and other ones indeed, but likely not murder.

Most advanced societies in the world are peaceful.


Given technological progress and human nature I think that might be a temporary or worst case scenario but unlikely to be a long term status quo.

What about exploration or just plain old boredom? There might be more radical escapes (VR, brain upload), more extreme sports or more people leaving this planet in search of something else.

1000 years is a long time. Forever is a lot longer than that..


Nobody lives forever even with "anti-aging technology".

This universe does not allow for that (black holes, galaxy collisions, stars burn out, meteorite collisions, accidents, war, crime)

If you stay on earth you have 4 or 5 billion years.

Nevermind the human aspects: 1) having to eat soup forever (teeth won't last that long) 2) marriage is forever (no, not even until death anymore)


I think immortality and living for a few million/billion/trillion years are essentially interchangeable, for all we can appreciate it - I mean, yes we'll die eventually, but nobody thinks a million years ahead. Hell, Most people don't even think 3 years ahead, from what I've seen of elections.

Risk of violent death is mainly an issue because it's not worth investing in - you're going to be die for sure before age 130 currently, why bother with the smidgen of a chance of death by comet when AGING is around? Remove aging-related death and people will put a whole lot more effort into preventing other things.

As for the human aspects:

Replacing teeth should be easy, since we can already do full implants (we just don't bother much, since most people die before their teeth fall out, if they brush/floss properly) and we'll have a long time to figure it out if we really want the normal type.

Marriage isn't forever currently, and I don't see how immortality would change that.


Or, we could limit reproduction for those that choose not to age, so that you can only reproduce when you're next in line with and someone dies, keeping a consistent population.


> you can only reproduce when you're next in line with and someone dies

A system similar to that has historically been employed in lines of royal succession, where the number of thrones available places a hard limit on how many people can be kings. It has generally not ended well.


Well, yes, it does introduce a motivation for murder, I'll give you that.


The immortals will be risk averse and stay inside their highly secured compounds.


Immortality will force people to reconsider the consumption of non renewable resources


> The only logically possible outcome of immortality is that sooner or later the entire biomass of the planet is consumed by immortals, at which point all growth must stop.

Growth is not a discontinuous function, it's continuous. Resources will become scarce, wars will be fought over them thus further slowing the decline, unless of course biomass growth is encouraged. Fortunately, this is quite simple.

We're already growing meat in labs far more efficiently than the natural process, and without the harmful environmental emissions that accompany raising cows.

Your scenario is fear-mongering, and not at all realistic IMO.


Accidental death catches up with you in 1000-3000 years. Birth rates would have to slow. But not stop.


You could live a truly fulfilling life in this time instead of cowering to increase your chances of not doing anything.


Immortality would be the most dangerous technology (to society) ever created. Hah.


(not sarcastic)


> Is that really a life you would want to lead?

Absolutely, if the alternative was not existing at all. Unless I'm being eternally tortured for some reason.


It seems to work alright for lobsters.


Related reading: Misspent Youth and the Commonwealth Saga by Peter F. Hamilton. A series of sci-fi books where "rejuvenation" technology plays a significant role, its impact on society and human risk taking.


Clicks on interesting hackernews post > prepares self for opposing negative comment > aaand first comment.


What actually happened to the lady who did this telomere prolonging experiment on her self?


It is what the rich want to hear, so there is money in saying it.


what amazing time to be alive :)


been hearing this since dawn of humanity. next.


world is flat as well. next.


Mightier and bloody wars will not be caused than when we finally figure out how to cure ageing.


Why? Any other thing we have invented has generally reduced war by increasing resources available to all, at least since industrialization. There are a few exception, but they were generally intended to be weapons, it seems hard to imagine an aging based weapon.


I don't know the reason or if the GP was quoting someone, but it may be the idea that by reversing aging we can expect the world population to grow even faster, resulting in massive conflicts over resources.


Weren't the world's bloodiest wars conducted after the advent of industrialization? The 20th appears to be the bloodiest century.

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


It appears that way, but remember that the 20th century is also the most populous century. As a fraction of the total population killed, the 20th century is (probably) the most peaceful.


It is by a large margin. Those two wars might have fearfully awesome, but the fact that there are so many years of peace makes the 20th century the most peace Century we have completed: http://www.hsrgroup.org/docs/Publications/HSR2013/HSR_2013_P...

Add onto that on many levels both wars were enhanced by scarcity... Germany want more in both, the assassination of the Archduke was encouraged on by a poor economy, Hitler couldn't have rose to power without a major economic crisis, there were so many failings in production and trade that might have prevented or mitigate either war.

Not aging and not dying will certainly be an economic boon. People can work longer, experts can more deeply master their fields and there will be less loss in passing knowledge down to successors. So economic production will rise and almost certainly faster than it does with aging and death.

Then the emotional factors in war and death... If people stop dying and live to see one war, they just might carry those lessons for the rest of lives.


Seems like this should probably be normalized by then current population.


Might be just that there were so many more people, thanks to industrialization.


Over population will be a problem.

To prevent that problem supply will be limited.

People will not be happy


I suspect that virtual immortality will cause less a problem with overpopulation and more a problem of deep resource inequity by those with significantly more time to acquire it.


The problem isn't an "aging based weapon" - it's the repercussions of what happens population that doesn't have a natural death rate. This introduces resource scarcity the likes of which we've never seen.


Reducing aging will likely reduce the resources available to all, by reducing the rate of population decline relative to the growth.


By that logic because we have extended life expectancy with hygiene, education, medicine and global transport that we should be producing less resources per person.

Lets look at food for example: https://ourworldindata.org/food-per-person/

Well that clearly isn't the case... Something subtle must be wrong with your clearly intuitive observation. I think the cost of educating and raising the next generation to the point where they are productive and having them to relearn the lessons of those that died early is simply more costly than what it takes to support an aging population.


Yes, but the production is not evenly distributed among every person. Really, the people who are actually farming are getting much more productive, but because they are better able to manage resources. However, there is probably a limit on the absolute yield per acre, as an example. It may yet be double what we do now(which is double what we did in 1970), but most farmers I've talked to think that they probably won't hit the FDA's target of doubling yield/acre by 2050. Managing soil chemistry is too problematic. It is simply hard to add back enough mass to the ground as we extract in food/year.


> Reducing aging will likely reduce the resources available to all, by reducing the rate of population decline relative to the growth.

Doubtful. It will also dramatically reduce the birthrate. After all, what's the rush to have kids when you have hundreds of fertile years ahead of you?


What we need right now is more babies and young people and less old people.

Babies make everyone around them happy.

Old people are racist and suffocatingly repetitive. They never have any new ideas and spend all their time in the past. They're the brakes on progress.

Life is all about novelty. Let's have new people in this world.


Between the theory that cybernetically augmented humans will become the "hard AI" of science fiction and signs that a cure for aging is nearly here, I would feel a lot more comfortable if we all started having a public debate about the limits we will set on metahumans.

A cybernetically augmented human might gain an intelligence completely alien (and hostile) to us non-augments. And an immortal-except-for-catestrophic-accidents could amass an unseemly amount of wealth and control over non-immortals over their long lives - moreso than the elites of today could dream of.

My concern about those that metahumans will hold such disproportionate power and they'll quickly get bored. Idle hands are the devil's playthings after all, and they could really make life difficult for the rest of us.

I want to see what a many-hundreds of years healthy life will be like and live many lives, but I do not want to have implants or devices that warp my mind/memory. I want to stay human, just minus the frailties. I'm hoping that these evolving new technologies sort neatly into two buckets: those that enhance but still retain the essential (limited) human experience, and those that seek to obliterate and replace the human experience (so that I know which ones to avoid.)




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