Re: New Perspectives for Unlimited Longevity

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Posted by James Killgore on July 16, 19101 at 17:06:45:

In Reply to: New Perspectives for Unlimited Longevity posted by Tom Anderson on May 30, 19101 at 07:32:59:

: New Perspectives
: for
: Non-Aging Longevity

: - Plaintext version -
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: 1. Introduction
: 2. Defining Non-Aging Longevity
: 3. Popular misconceptions
: 4. Invalid claims about the certainty of death
: 5. Obsession with immortality?
: 6. The accepted cultural perspective toward death
: 7. Requirements for non-aging longevity
: 8. Today's society and its changes
: 9. Practical approaches
: 10. Conclusions
: 11. References

: 1. Introduction

: As the idea of scientifically extended longevity is slowly gaining
: popularity, countless articles on life extension and even physical
: immortality have become available -- of all these articles, why should you
: read this one?

: This article does not emphasize on scientific particulars of human life
: extension, although it relates to the scientific facts. It is different --
: focusing on both personal and cultural factors significant for a fast and
: certain achievement of non-aging longevity. Therefore, the article offers
: new ideas to advocates of life extension which could add to their existing
: knowledge, but also lets the broad public -- uninformed about the very
: latest scientific developments and lacking motivation and personal
: perspectives about the topic -- form a better understanding about it.

: This article was written for a general audience, however, especially the
: following audience can benefit from new insights and perspectives presented
: throughout this article: sceptics and critical thinkers, scientists and
: students of biotech professions, long-term investors of biotech/medical
: projects, transhumanists, longevity advocates and "immortalists",
: freethinkers and atheists.

: On the other hand, an intention is also to correct misbeliefs and offer new
: controversial facts to the opposite audience, such as christians, people
: seeking answers for immortality in mysticism and new-age culture, and the
: so-called fatalists (a major part of todays society, which considers death
: as inevitable).

: If you are well-read on the topic of longevity and potential immortality,
: if you know about the arguments against the extension of human life, and if
: you disagree with them, you might want to skip the first five or so
: chapters. Or, you might want to read the conclusions first and follow the
: links back. However, reading the article from top to bottom is suggested
: for the best understanding. The text contains mostly new and unrecognized
: facts and perspectives on how to personally achieve non-aging longevity
: with relative certainty, which ultimately requires certain insights and
: realizations that no technological or medical solution can deliver each
: individual. Supporting the hypothesis that the conditions for establishing
: open-ended longevity depend not only on scientific advancements, but also
: to a high degree on the general attitude that modern society brings toward
: immortality, it shows concepts and routes for necessary transformations
: that one can possibly apply in order to advance the goal of achieving
: research-based longevity.

: Goals of this article are to provide new insights, and deliver arguments,
: for the overcoming of death, but also critical, realistic views regarding
: some rather optimistic predictions. It will deal with memes, emotional
: convictions, and the state of our society regarding questions of life and
: death, which are crucially important for people active in the field of
: longevity -- scientific or otherwise. Finally, it will provide you with
: some new approaches and strategies on how to change perspectives and
: beliefs, and how to work to advance and speed up the eventual achievement
: of scientific longevity.

: Copyright notice: this document is intended as a reference for many
: viewpoints and facts. See the references to see which other texts have been
: used in the composition of this article. The document may be spread as
: whole or in part, copied and freely quoted. Spreading is even appreciated.
: If you've read this text and liked the ideas in it, please consider telling
: others about it.

: 2. Defining Non-Aging Longevity

: To talk about longevity, the meaning of the term must first be clearly
: defined. In our context, life extension and longevity mean to extend the
: life of a human being indefinitely and open-ended. It is based on the
: conviction that a de-facto immortality for human beings is not impossible;
: however, terms like life extension and non-aging longevity are mostly used
: throughout the text.

: This is because the word immortality is a historically unscientific word,
: which had almost always a mystical definition. Non-aging longevity is, by
: definition, nonmystic, fully explainable and achievable through scientific
: means, i.e., observing cause and effect.

: This text accepts that more definite forms of open-ended longevity or
: immortality, as possible through unpredictable future technologies, e.g.
: sophisticated nanotechnology and beyond, will not be available in the next
: few decades. Rather, it values the prospects of major possibilities
: existing right now, such as halting and reversing the aging process through
: hormones, human genetics, stem-cell research, even cloning and body
: transplantation (possible with more sophisticated neurological
: technologies). The author acknowledges that a cure or retardation of the
: aging process will not mean immortality, since people will still be prone
: to injury and disease. But the achievement of a highly extended longevity
: would mean a rapid decrease in death-rates worldwide, and the elimination
: of the inevitability of death. With a fast achievement of a solution for
: longevity that would allow most people to live healthy and safely, say,
: past their 100's, the longer road to better knowledge and technologies for
: preventing human death could be walked by the generations living today.

: For a word choice less controversial, the word immortality is replaced with
: longevity. But the meaning of rapid major advancements in science would
: ultimately be just that, immortality. This simply means, as most people
: would continue to live past their natural lifespans, new technologies could
: develop faster than their remaining life time runs out.

: The prime responsibility of business and science, therefore, is not the
: development of anti-aging and health products that let people live
: healthier and better within or minimally beyond their natural average
: lifespan of approx. 75 years, but research and development to establish
: definite cures and solutions against human aging and death itself, the
: fastest route possible, and to make it commercially available to as many
: people as possible.

: 3. Popular misconceptions

: This chapter introduces some of the most widely accepted beliefs about the
: impossibility of human immortality which are are based on emotions, or
: superficial, but yet so firmly accepted and unquestioned in our society
: that they are major factors working against longevity within our lifetime
: [1].

: Reason: Being used to it. People have always died before. In the 20th
: century, the average lifespan has been around 70 in developed countries.
: Only few people have lived longer, and those who did were old and had
: different places in society than healthy young and middle aged people. In
: that sense, our society is dependent on limited human lifespans, and the
: majority of people expect and plan according to this situation in their
: lives.

: Reason: It is impossible because it never happened before. People have
: doubts and resistance against the enhancement of human lifespan as they had
: with similar technologies, which had never existed before. Things that are
: common today, such as the ability for humans to fly (the plane), the
: exploration of outer space, breaking certain world records, steam power,
: and the use of electricity, were all once seen as ridiculous, and met the
: same kind of scepticism and resistance.

: Reason: Fear of the unknown. Fearing the unknown, which has perhaps once
: been a useful factor in our evolution, has become a hurdle in today's
: rapidly evolving human civilization. Many people are simply emotionally
: concerned about new perspectives. Unfortunately, this can cause trends that
: politicians, the often not-so-honest, or at best, vague news media, and
: other groups like to follow. This often results in major complications for
: the establishment of new technologies which later turn out to be quite
: useful. For example, in the 20th century, many people seriously worried
: that advanced computers, which we made more intelligent than humans, could
: develop their own consciousness and take over the world or enslave
: humanity. Many books were written about the topic, and futurologists,
: visionaires, and politicians engaged in serious debates over it. Similarly,
: most arguments against technologies such as genetics or cloning, are devoid
: of reason, facts and rationality, when you really take a close look. But it
: is still an important matter to counter them with better arguments.

: Indeed, you should listen to irrational arguments and counter them.
: Convictions and memes [2] can be spread and adopted by huge amounts of
: people without them ever realizing it. You could say that mortality itself
: is a meme (a subconsciously accepted and spreaded conviction or idea). For
: many cultures, mortality, as in the eventual end of our existence, is even
: a relatively new one, that appeared only after the bigger religious
: movements started being discarded and left, and with them, memes or beliefs
: of "spiritual immortality", "the soul", "afterlife", "rebirth", and so on.
: Certain individuals also have different death memes, sometimes in
: combination with religious ones, which say that "Death and Aging are
: Spiritual", "Growing old is normal", or "Old age is 80 years".

: Important to consider is that none of these convictions are absolute
: truths, but many people firmly believe in them as absolute, unchanging
: truths. To present rational arguments to the population against such
: "truths", or irrefutable errors, as Nietzsche preferred to call them, can
: help to subvert these memes, simply with realism, and most of all, honesty.
: The people who accept honest arguments then replace their convictions;
: either they become total sceptics, or, more likely, they acquire new
: convictions, which are retained unless replaced with better perspectives.

: 4. Invalid claims about the certainty of death

: Now, let's consider more detailed objections against non-aging longevity
: and the possibility of overcoming death, such as ethical, social,
: religious, etc., and counter them. This can effectively demonstrate that
: there are no ultimate reasons against the possibility of an open-ended
: lifespan, simply by invalidating the existing claims with logic derived
: from facts.

: Popular arguments of media and politics. These arguments are actually no
: arguments in the original sense, but a good mixture from the points below,
: together with subjective opinions based on the understanding and
: manipulation of erroneous beliefs and people's emotions. However, the fact
: that humans naturally trust and rely on authority makes any "arguments"
: coming from politicians and the media a lot more important than other
: arguments.

: Ethical concerns. For the field of political ethics and bioethics, now
: uprising and growing during the emerging of biotechnology, it is important
: to recognize that similar objections as raised today against biotechnology,
: human germline manipulation, cloning, stem-cell research, and so on, were
: once raised against practices like autopsies, anesthesia, artificial
: insemination, and the entire genetic revolution of our day. Yet, enormous
: benefits have accrued from each of these developments, contributing to
: curing diseases, saving people from death, and making possible more
: advanced scientific research. Ethics themselves are a quite complex topic,
: which is why I've dealt with them in a separate article. Remember that such
: ethical questions are often used strategically. They intentionally lead to
: endless debates without ever producing concrete results, even though all
: rational arguments have been exchanges.

: Religious concerns. Widespread religious arguments, i.e. not interfering
: with the work of God, or the destiny of man, are perhaps the hardest
: arguments to refute, because they are based on a world view different from
: the scientific/nonmystic way of thinking emerging today. But for the more
: open-minded religious people, their arguments are points to think about and
: reconsider. The author acknowledges that he is not religious, but an
: unbiased and tolerant person. Even when thinking from the perspective of a
: religious believer, the claims of big churches and religious organizations,
: cannot be equal to the word and will of God. If you are a christian, for
: example, you accept the fact that the fate of man are self-responsible
: thoughts and actions (after he left paradise). And as far as I know, all
: traditional religions more or less value human life and its preservation.
: Eastern religions like Hinduism are even based on a belief of physical,
: bodily immortality as the highest goal. In any case, if there is a God, who
: can tell that s/he would not be happy to see us move toward his/her level?
: Else, why should humans have self-introspective consciousness and the
: ability to change and override the defaults of nature? And since no human
: being can answer these questions for sure, no religious movement can tell
: for sure if there is an afterlife. If this is not the case, and if we just
: vanish for all eternity at the end of our lives, and don't take immediate
: advantages of chances to enhance our lives, it could mean we are making the
: ultimate mistake. Using our -- nature or God -- given abilities to attain
: control over nature and life, means to fulfill our destiny as human beings
: -- in either way.

: Social concerns. Since already so many social and general problems, war and
: unnecessary death exists in the world, many people think that we first need
: to concentrate on those problems. And this is an important point. Life
: extension and biotech projects, however, could benefit especially the
: poorest people and worst countries, in the long term. Todays problems of
: poverty and world hunger continue because the life and death cycles in poor
: countries. Even if thousands of people die daily, their society continues
: to exist. People in development countries also have a desire to have a big
: family and many children in a situation where so many people suffer and
: die. Today, there is no great motivation to solve such problems since the
: majority does not understand the full potential and value of human lives.
: When we will be able to increase the human life span significantly, each
: individual will become more important and valuable. Eventually, the
: starving and dying of other humans will become intolerable to everyone.

: Also, side developments of a biotechnological advancement toward non-aging
: longevity will include better and cheaper approaches to birth control, diet
: and nutrition, agricultural technologies, and so on. Also consider the
: computer revolution, which was first thought to affect only western
: countries. But the availability of computers and the internet in poor
: countries and dictatorships has ultimately contributed to growth and
: personal freedom. So it is unlikely that longevity or immortality products will
: be available only to a small elite, but rather, they would be desired
: by almost everyone, propagated and marketed to a maximum amount of people,
: which in turn would cause the costs to fall rapidly. This means, there
: would be no such thing as a longevity for the rich elite, while the rest of
: humanity would remain in its current state of being. However, this must
: also be said, no individual has a natural duty of helping suffering
: individuals, especially not through sacrificing himself. Any ideology or
: government forcing individuals to give up themselves for higher causes or
: the public good, is obviously wrong and immoral when it is based on force
: (or force-backed regulation) instead of volition and sacrifice instead of
: good will. Apart from this point, contributing to the solution of problems
: is desirable. The achievement of non-aging longevity through advanced
: biotechnology could ultimately be a great help in solving problems of
: poverty and third-world countries, especially because many social problems
: are rooted in the lack of respect for individuals and human life.

: Scientific arguments. The argument from scientific circles, and from people
: who don't believe in any of the above concerns, is, that extended longevity
: and de-facto immortality may be very complex or impossible to realize
: scientifically, because it requires the solving of technical, biological
: and medical tasks that are too complex, difficult, unsolvable for
: centuries, or even unknowable to us. However, this thesis is a pure
: assumption, for one, because the idea that something could be generally
: unknowable to human thinking and consciousness, is speculative, and rather
: improbable, and also because nobody has actually ever tried doing serious,
: professional scientific research specifically focused toward a certain
: prevention of death or limitless longevity. Today, especially life
: extension, anti-aging, and biotechnologies deliver valuable medical
: advancements. But, no major professional, commercial or scientific projects
: have the explicit or intentional goal of eliminating biological aging or
: human death. They are all oriented around cures for serious diseases or the
: improvement of health more or less within the life cycle natural for
: humans. This also proves a main point of this article: the social
: preparedness, immediate demand, and attitude toward open-ended lives are
: directly related to the possibility and speed with which this open-ended
: lifespan will be achieved scientifically.

: In a fully open-minded and rational society, the best minds would focus on
: the achievement of de-facto immortality in the most urgent, intense and
: efficient manner, volitionally supported and subsidized by the whole
: society. In such a society, everyone would soon realize the high value of
: human life, which would cause most of the worlds thinkers and geniuses to
: work on the preservation of human life.

: Therefore, every effort should be made in our society not to disturb the
: freedom and integrity of scientific research.

: 5. Obsession with immortality?

: Can someone who is openly advocating an unlimited human lifespan, be
: obsessed with the idea of immortality? At least, that is a claim often used
: by critics against longevity advocates, philosophers, scientists and other
: people open-minded toward achieving immortality through scientific means.

: I've decided to consider the outcries of the critics, and I've come to the
: conclusion that people can very well be "obsessed" with physical
: immortality, however, this is not related to the intensity with which
: someone may be working toward the goal, or how convinced one is about the
: possibility.

: Obsessive and irrational advocating of immortality is related to the
: following five points:

: * Unrealistic or mystical perspective. The possibility of immortality is
: seen from emotional viewpoints and opinions. Main arguments are not
: backed by facts, rationality or evidence.
: * Narrow, unintegrated perspective. Dedicated only to theoretical or
: philosophical debates. Being unrealistic about actual imaginable
: results and conditions for immortality.
: * Wishful thinking. Accepting the eventual achievement of immortality as
: certain or natural. Seeing no necessity to take practical actions
: toward the achievement of conditions necessary for a social and
: scientific process toward eventually yielding an unlimited lifespan.
: * Fictional arguments. Overestimating or misunderstanding technologies
: can lead to wrong predictions about the probability and speed at which
: they could lead to an unlimited lifespan.
: * Dependence. One's own plans for the future totally depend and count on
: one's own immortality.

: But after answering this question, we should also ask: can someone be
: obsessed with mortality? Yes, that is the case. In similar ways, one can
: also be emotionally convinced that mortality is inevitable for humans. The
: criteria are very similar, but much, much more people are obsessed with
: mortality (fatalism) than with immortality.

: * Emotional bias. Valid arguments for longevity are ignored.
: * Narrow perspective. Concentration on or being used to the negative
: facts only.
: * Wishful thinking. Considering the present state of society as natural,
: good and necessary, while ignoring possibilities of a much better
: society for the sake of comfortable "thinking".
: * Arbitrary arguments. Using a mixture of emotionalisms, popular
: opinions, and valid facts out of context to defend the own position.
: * Dependence. One's own plans for the future depend and count on others
: and oneselfs eventual death, so that one is inevitably moving toward
: death.

: 6. The accepted cultural perspective toward death

: This chapter analyzes the implicit views and convictions about death in our
: culture. It tries to show why some implicit convictions, or memes,
: effectively delay or prevent the achievement of scientific milestones of
: longevity. It presents the most logical and insightful answers to the
: question why humanity has not yet developed conditions for limitless human
: longevity, and the underlying problem and its background.

: When taking a look at our society, we can observe many emotional phenomena.
: For example, most of the big changes in life (such as moving to a new city,
: graduating, changing jobs, not seeing friends for some time, marrying,
: etc.) are a cause for inner sadness. Even at quite positive such as
: marriages, people tend to be sad and even to cry. The reason could be that
: such big changes make people aware of the way and direction of their own
: life. In our society, this is always reminds us of our mortality.
: Theoretically, in a society of people who had an open-ended lifespan and
: knew it, such events would cause great happiness. Actually, most things
: would be different.

: Also take into account that a belief in spiritual immortality based on
: faith in religions and mysticism is not comparable to the effects of an own
: open-ended ended lifespan in the here and now. Unarguably, faith does have
: effects on human emotions and life decisions, but the self-liberating
: perspective of an open-ended lifespan is very different from faith. For
: example, when religious people witnessing deaths and burials, even they
: seem to be sad, in the same way anyone else is. The question is why, if
: they believe in an eternal afterlife and immortal soul? Subconsciously,
: every human being somehow realizes the most fundamental facts of reality.
: People such as believers and mystics can only repress the fact of their own
: biological nature, defaulting to mortality, to certain extends.

: Many people even seem careless about death, and make fun of it. This, too,
: is a result of the repressing of the facts about death, its finality, and
: the briefness of the natural human lifespan. The bad thing about the
: repressing of these facts is, that it can only be done with the help of
: dishonesty, self-deception and evading reality.

: And the really bad thing is that such dishonesties have become an integral
: part of our culture and civilization. Therefore, most children are
: gradually introduced to these evasions through repression of emotions
: natural for conscious beings, life-after-death concepts, and other myths.
: By purposefully reducing the integrity of one's picture of reality, one
: also reduces the efficacy of one's own mind and actions.

: The remedy against this problem is simply self-honesty. By realizing the
: fact of permanent death within a brief time span, and planning and acting
: throughout life with this awareness, people become more aware of the value
: of their own lives and human life in general. They would also direct much
: more of their time and actions toward progressive and productive actions in
: life, instead of wasting their precious time.

: However, most people today are unaware of the real value of life, which is
: a major source of unnecessary problems, unnecessary suffering, incompetence
: and laziness, wasted time, and a slow speed both in individual and in
: civilizational progress. This mass self-deception yields the attitudes and
: structures that form today's death oriented society which moves only very
: slowly toward improving the conditions of human life, without having the
: wish or seeing a possibility for limitless longevity.

: The choice of accepting limits of one's own existence as inevitable, or
: not, is probably the deepest underlying psychological factor for all
: personal feelings, views, and resulting actions throughout life. The result
: of a self-deceptive choice is that people do not act to satisfy their
: survival pressures. Eventually, such self-deception will lead anyone
: directly or indirectly toward self-destruction and death.

: For conscious human beings with the abilities of self-introspection and of
: thinking into the future, accepting one's own death as inevitable, is
: literally unnatural. It conflicts with the biological organisms' prime
: directive of survival, because conscious beings know that their lifespans
: are limited by biological default. All conscious beings that ever lived,
: when realizing their biologically limited lifespan, originally held the
: natural conviction of their own death as being preventable, senseless, or
: unnatural.

: Even people who refuse thinking about their mortality, through ignoring
: biological facts, believing in afterlife and mysticism, believing in fake
: nonscientific solutions, or "grasping straws" by relying on uncertain
: scientific trends, seem to be much better off emotionally than those who
: accept the inevitability of their own mortality. But, both the ignoring of
: such obvious facts or considering them as inevitable, has literally lethal
: effects in the long term.

: The higher the evolutionary level of development of a living being, the
: higher is its ability to defend its life and biological survival. The
: thesis that the highest known form of life, self-aware, conscious human
: life, can develop the necessary requirements to prevent biological death
: itself, is nothing more than a logical conclusion. The reason why this has
: not happened before is due to self-deception that humanity has developed
: and carried along all the way from exiting a state of non-conscious
: unawareness of the own self.

: Upon considering the above statements, the current public views and
: convictions seem to contain one crucial error: human death is considered as
: natural. While in fact, humans are mortal by genetic and biological
: defaults, they are not necessarily mortal by nature. Together, the
: following points posit the hypothesis that human beings could be actually
: immortal by nature.

: 1. The natural mode of living is dominated by survival: by the prevention
: of the organisms death.
: 2. Human nature includes human consciousness and self-introspection.
: 3. Their nature enables human beings to realize the briefness of their
: biological default lifespan.
: 4. It is proven that consciously used human tools of invention, science,
: technology, business, etc. can override nature's default course. Major
: fields like books, transportation, electricity, nuclear power, planes,
: medicine, computers, biotechnology, etc. serve as definite proofs for
: this.
: 5. By being able to realize the briefness of their life, and being able
: to override natural defaults, humans actually have the natural
: prerequirements of eliminating their own biological death.
: 6. Consciousness is a prime requirement for overriding nature's defaults.
: Therefore it can lead to unnatural, artificial conditions of thinking.
: 7. Mystical faith, deception and life-after-death concepts are unnatural
: uses of a conscious mind. Conscious beings can and do create unnatural
: mind states which lead to immediate emotional well-being and
: relaxation. But they are actually evasions of reality. In our society,
: they result in an unnatural culture of death.
: 8. With the broad acceptance of facts of reality, by thinking naturally,
: humanity could and would recognize their prime responsibility of
: eliminating death. If humanity would realize this in its entirety, the
: focusing of all global technological, business and other efforts
: toward this goal, it would be established almost instantly.

: [continued on]

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