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Why older people should be allowed to change their legal age (aeon.co)
14 points by rendall 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 28 comments

This seems to ignore the (to me) most significant reason to forbid age changing -- many laws involve age.

If I change my age to 12, do airlines have to sell my half price seats, but it becomes illegal for me to buy alcohol and drive? Would it become child pornogrograhy to distribute naked photos of me? Do older photos become retroactively illegal?

If I become legally older, can I start withdrawing a pension?

Maybe we should disconnect age from the legal system, and say no company can ask. But if we did that then there wouldn't be any need to adjust your legal age anyway.

The laws involving age are exactly the issue here. What if someone has some developmental disorder that strands their body and mind at the developmental age of 12, despite being much older. Should they be able to drink, drive and vote? Should everybody retire at the same age despite differences in health?

It can't hurt to rethink some of those old assumptions. Of course changing your age is a stupid idea. But maybe identifying certain developmental phases and making it possible, in extreme cases, to assign someone to a more appropriate phase, might make it easier for the law to treat them the way they actually are, rather than the way the average person of their age is.

In programmer terms: don't rely on a magic number, but capture what the number means.

The devil is in the details of the implementation, though. If we discard age for a system of "achievement unlocked" style phases, who will be in charge of evaluating and approving these phase decrees? Subjecting an entire population to a potentially capricious bureaucracy to deal with a handful of edge cases seems like swatting flies with a 2x4.

Seems like something for the courts. Most people would still be considered adult at 18 or 21 or whatever, but the few exceptions can have it changed in court.

I'm not saying this is a good idea, just that it's a better idea than changing the actual age number like this article proposes.

Yeah we already do have a somewhat similar mechanism for legal insanity or incompetence to stand trial the two are separate things - technically someone who was so out of it they think their victims they killed were demons wearing human skins and everyone else is crazy for not seeing it and a dementia afflicted serial killer may or may not have been culpable at the time of crime but both aren't suitable to stand trial now.

The implementation is messy and imperfect for those fringe special cases but it is an exeception handler.

We have e.g. legal emancipation in many/most jurisdictions. But just because you may gain the ability to form a binding contract, etc, doesn't mean most people will treat you like you have.

I’m sorry, but this is totally demented. Everybody is born at a specific location at a specific moment In time — in relativistic parlance, an ‘event’. It’s set in stone. Allowing people to essentially change history for the sake of circumventing a presumed avenue for ‘discrimination’ is an argument why there should be laws and mechanisms in place to avoid that discrimination from being legal, not for tinkering with the data.

What if that guy moved his birthdate twenty years into the future, but his mother had died when he was fifteen? His birth certificate would no longer make any sense, because he’s be born from a deceased woman. What of the fiscal benefits his family received as a result of his birth? Do they get returned?

This is dumb beyond belief.

While it might seem dumb for you or me there were other dumb things, historically, that don't seem dumb anymore.

It is much better to try be civil and debate (use/respond to arguments in logical way) if your aim is to change people's minds about the issue you felt need to comment.

I am being civil.

Saying that something is dumb as bricks when it is indeed dumb as bricks is actually a valid, factual, and neutral observation.

Case in point: having read the article in it’s entirety I raised an exception that is consistent with the proposal (that one can only decree oneself to be younger), averted all the obvious riffraff (such as one merely declaring oneself underage in order to avoid prosecution & cetera), and raised an objection (incompatible chronology of individual’s birth certificates and mother’s death certificate) that the author had not addressed.

If you are so sanguine about debating soundly, please indicate how you would address the situation I conjectured.

This can only lead to "age deflation" (analogous to "grade inflation"). Who'd ever admit to being 60 if it were possible to change their age? There's a stigma around that age, which would be reinforced by the possibility of changing your "legal age." Which is a shame, because (as I approach 60), I'm realizing that 60 really is the new 50, or even 40. Better to just own your age and redefine "old" than pretend to be young.

> Who'd ever admit to being 60

Someone who want pension

> redefine "old"

Sorry, pensions again. So you propose that we up pension age to 87 because laws were written when percentile of 60-years old was where is is for 87-years is today?

I'll volunteer to switch from 30s to 72 if it means I can start collecting social security now.

Then I can spend my days competing in the 70+ age bracket of sporting events.

If a prospective employee is allowed to state a different age then their biological age, employers won't know how many years are left until retirement age. Regardless of how fair or unfair this is, it is relevant information to an employer. This gimmick will only work if the actual retirement age of the person shifts along with the stated younger age. That's quite a commitment!

Aside from employment, the stated age on an ID is rarely a limiting factor once the lower limits of driving, drinking, consent, and voting are passed. On the contrary, past 65 people are eligible for lots of discounts.

But if they legally change age, the legal age is what would count for retirement.

"Second, the person’s body and mind are in better shape than would be expected based on the person’s chronological age (that is, the person is biologically younger than he is chronologically)."

There's a lot of subjectivity hidden here. As determined by a doctor? Which doctor? What criteria? If a 40 year old has debilitating congenital tremors, but has the "mind of a 30 year old", who gets to accept or reject their age change request? Their body might not be in "better shape than would be expected", but it's due to a lifelong condition, not age.

By coincidence I just watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier yesterday (on Disney+), where he mentions he's 95.

Changing your actual age is obviously a silly idea, but instead of making age less dependent on when you are born, it makes more sense to legislate less on this number and instead make the categories, or phases of life, we want to identify by this number more explicit. Once we've done that, we can make it easier to legally put people in a different category without messing with when they were born or turning age into a meaningless number.

The article uses a bunch of examples like cryopreservation and whiskey to erroneously state that biological age doesn't matter, completely forgetting that A: that technology doesn't exist, and B: humans don't stop aging. Besides, don't people refer to whiskey as "aged 21 years" not "21 years old"?

The man with the lawsuit doesn't even have a legitimate argument for changing his age, why can't he just lie on dating apps like everyone else?

I feel that this is an odd way to deal with the problem. What about trying to fight age-based discrimination, among many other types of discrimination all-together? That's what they should be trying to change, not coming up with yet another way to easily commit frauds in so many different fields.

Its like changing the data to fix a bug in code.

Let's say we agree age can be changed legally. Who is to decide _what_ age it should be changed to?

What if the person wants to be 20 years younger, but is "actually" only 10 years younger? Is it going to be determined by a sort of medical exam?

What if they want to keep changing their age up and down every year for whatever reason?

I just don't see a good way for ensuing "fairness" and non-manipulation.

Very glib:

>>Perhaps you will say that what is appropriate for frozen people in a hypothetical scenario is not appropriate for real people in the real world. Nevertheless, the difference between thought experiments of this kind and cases in the real world is only a difference in degree, not a difference in kind.

As human beings' lifespans grow longer and anti-aging therapies become available, there will no doubt be less concern with chronological age.

What does legal age even mean? Your age is how many times you've been around the sun. It is a fixed concept, +1 every round trip from birth.

If you want to prevent or remove discrimination, then do that by fixing the system, creating tests for proficiency and ability not creating arbitrary constructs that seek to confuse users into submission.


see: http://longnow.org/seminars/02019/mar/13/modern-elder-and-in...

What needs changing is the preconceived mindset that working life ends at last century's retirement age. Society still suffers from a scaling misconception.

With better medical technology, people are living longer and healthier lives. The law has to begin acknowledging that.

There are a lot of logic in the article that I think are completely absurd. However, it doesn't sound any odder than changing your gender.

When asked my age I say 'I identify as a 15 year old.' But it's a joke.

It takes a real lack of character to favor institutionalized deceit over people being allowed to exercise their right to determine what criteria they will discriminate between people on.

That being said, I'd concede that these kinds of social campaigns do seem to be motivated by admirable levels of compassion and open-mindedness.

What's the point in having an age then if you can change it at will?

I don't know, you tell me. But neither do I see much legitimate point in having a legal non-changeable age beyond the minor non-minor distinction, or for reasons of estimating health.

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