Re: a to-do list for the next century

From: Adrian Tymes (wingcat@pacbell.net)
Date: Sat Mar 25 2000 - 20:31:01 MST


Zero Powers wrote:
> >From: Natasha Vita-More <natasha@natasha.cc>
> >I have read many of the posts on this thread and I'm mind boggled. I mean,
> >if we are really talking about having some money to do something courageous
> >with what do you want to do? Live or die?
> >
> >I call it a war on death. The best defense is a cultural offense.
>
> Yeah sure spreading longevity propaganda is a good idea. But I think you'll
> have a hard time getting John & Jane Public to get on board until we can
> eliminate (or at least substantially reduce) world poverty and hunger. I
> mean the obvious response is: "What?!? There are *millions* of starving
> people in the world who don't have access to decent medical care, potable
> water or residential and communication infrastructures and you want us to
> work on giving them indefinite life spans? Are you mad?"
>
> If I had $100 million to donate I think it would go toward biotech research
> geared toward increasing world food production and social programs geared
> toward more equitable and efficient food distribution and medical care. I'd
> also like to see more aggressive efforts to bring computers and
> communication infrastructures to more of the developing world. Once you
> have a relatively prosperous and informed world population, the longevity
> bit will be a much easier sell.

1. This isn't an either-or proposition. Both "normal" medical care and
longevity can both be financed.

2. The amount of money needed to make decent progress towards longevity
- to take the level you quoted, $100 million - would have very little
practical impact on supplying "normal" medical care.

3. Longevity research may well advance "normal" medical care in ways
that purely investing in "normal" medical care would never accomplish.
For example, if one were to find a generic vaccine that made humans
immune to most or all viruses, that would have immediate applications
toward preventing people from getting sick - but such is much more
likely to be discovered by researchers looking to minimize health
problems over infinite lives, as opposed to researchers looking to just
let people live long enough to die at 60 or 70.

4. For the past several centuries, there have been some in the world who
have lived better than the others. One way to introduce immortality for
everyone would be to introduce it for the rich first, then as time goes
on - and the technology becomes more familiar and (one hopes)
simpler/less expensive - introduce it to everyone else. ("Poverty"
these days is not quite as hard a life as "poverty" was 100 years ago,
at least in almost any industrialized country, due in part to this
practice.)



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