Immortality and Personal Finance

Robert J. Bradbury bradbury@aeiveos.com
Tue, 23 Apr 2002 20:42:29 -0700 (PDT)


On Tue, 23 Apr 2002, Dan Fabulich wrote:

> > chris arkenberg <carkenbe@adobe.com> wrote:
    (this may not be a quote from chris since the attribution may
     be lost...)
> > >So the question is: does my personal financial contribution to
> > >immortality research probably matter quite a lot?  Or does it probably
> > >matter fairly little?

It probably matters to the extent of ~150,000 people per day
that die from aging associated causes.  On an annual basis,
that is more people than were killed in WWII (over several years).

> > Well, if you think you'll actually be around to benefit from your
> > investment & your research...

A cryonics plan is the best bet to allow oneself to benefit from
the investment/research.  Whether a specific individual benefits
could be offset with the idea that there are rewards to knowing
one has contributed to the accelerated evolution of our knowledge
base is an open question.  Even if one does not oneself survive --
people can look back and find heroism in ones actions.

If this isn't clear, let me make it clearer -- how much of ones
personal wealth (or ones personal survival potential) are *you*
willing to spend to promote the survival of (a) oneself; (b)
loved ones in your family; (c) the average individual in a
democratic society; (d) the average human on the planet?

> > Given the current projections for population growth and the ongoing
> > depletion of the world's natural resources, life extension research
> > in general tends to exist in a vacuum of selfish fantasy.

Ca-ca, poo-poo.  The cost of most "natural resources" has been going
down (in constant dollars) for many decades, not up.

Yes there are constraints on the resources available on the planet.
But nature has not evolved optimal paths for their utilization.

Bottom line -- human beings are ~100 W machines.  100 W can be collected
on average with a few sq. meters of land area.  Until humans occupy
the planet with a density (> 1 human/10 m^2 of land) there isn't
an "overpopulation" problem.

> > You either end up with the most privileged 3% living to 400, or
> > a population bloat of 15 billion impoverished humans. LE research also
> > seems somewhat ignorant of the very real problems  which threaten
> > the lives of people every day.
> 
> This is a confusing/confused trend fit.  Unlike Gaussian mortality,
> where one's lifespan is, as you note, limited by the random chance
> that something will crop up and kill you, augmented lifespan (if/when
> it's possible at all) is based primarily on the state of the
> technology available to keep you alive; the longer you can wait, the
> better that gets.  That means that if you get to 200 at all, you're
> *more* likely, not less, to get to 400, b/c there will have been 200
> years of work on LE tech to keep you alive.

I have to agree with this.  As someone focused on developing corporations
with architectures where life-extending benefits would very rapidly
"trickle-down" to the "less privileged" it *is not* a tautology or
a requirement that only the wealthy are able to afford life extending
technologies.

> If you think you know the answer, you don't understand the problem.

I'll be so bold as to say that I think I do understand the problem
and am relatively certain that I have at least one of the answers.

> You have my sympathies.  My dad died of heart failure earlier in this
> year.  It's my goal to prevent deaths like these in the future.

This is the crux of the matter.  The only solution we have for this
now is cryonics.  If we do not engage in this debate in a more aggressive
fashion we *will* lose more people.

> I don't know about you, but the thought that I might blow my only
> chance for survival, for my loved ones and for myself, is quite
> haunting.  I suppose it would be less haunting to people (like
> yourself?) who have already given up on survival, but I don't think
> these fatalist views should dominate the discussion.

I am forced to agree (though I disagree that the original author
may be so fatalistic).

> > I feel that the brilliant minds in LE might do better researching
> > cancer or heart disease or immune deficiencies. I'd rather have a
> > rich life of 80 years than live to 170 and watch generations of
> > friends and family die from disease.

Sigh.  What people need to realise is that cancer and heart disease
are are integrated components with the problem of aging.  One will
only defeat aging while at the same time defeating cancer and heart
disease.  There will be a paper soon to be published in the Journal
of Evolution and Technology regarding a nanorobotic organ system
that would effectively eliminate ~80% of the current causes of death
(including cancer and heart disease).  The problem will then be how
to implement such a system for many people.

Our current concepts of aging & disease will need to be significantly
modified to adopt to the technologies we can anticipate the development
of.

> Immortality alone might well be miserable, but what makes you think
> you'd even be so lucky?  If you live to 170, it'll probably be because
> somebody figured out how to get all sorts of people to live 170, you
> included.

Yes, this is most likely to be the case.  Even in our current
messed up intellectual property system there would appear to only
be a ~20 year delay from the development of life-extending technologies
to their application to the general population (e.g. generic drugs).
For the position proposed (above) to be "reasonable" you have to make a
valid case that Erythropoietin (EPO) (an Amgen patented pharmaceutical)
should not be as cheap as aspirin in 20 years.  There *may* be a
barrier between the discovery and application of life extending
technologies to the general population, but in the current legal
environment the time delays would seem to be much less than the
longevity of individuals, particularly those with extended lives.
 
> I won't give up while there's still some hope for humanity.

Nor will I.

Robert