Re: a to-do list for the next century

From: Zero Powers (zero_powers@hotmail.com)
Date: Sat Mar 25 2000 - 21:09:31 MST


>From: Adrian Tymes <wingcat@pacbell.net>
>
>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.

I realize that. I was responding to Natasha who emphasized the need to
counter the ubiquitous "deathist" meme. My point was simply that it will be
much easier to get people to support longevity research once it is clear
that the environment will be able to support 10 billion people who like to
make babies but don't like to die. It is hard to convince people that
indefinite life spans won't presently sap our environmental and agricultural
resources when people now typically only live less than 80 years and yet a
good percentage of us are living in poverty and starving.
>
>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.

I question whether $100 million would have very much impact on longevity
research. My guess is that there is currently at least that much being
spent right now on aging research and other research that will be of value
to life extensionists. And sure $100 million would not end hunger, but you
could damn sure build a lot of irrigation with it.

>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.

Perhaps, but I still maintain that if you couch it in terms like immortality
or indefinite life span research, you are simply not going to make any
headway with the public, at least until we have global poverty, ignorance
and hunger already under control.

>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.)

Oh sure, that's likely to go over *really* well. "Hey, lets all fund a
bunch of way-out research so Bill Gates can live forever, while millions of
kids in the third world (not to mention a few thousand right in the good old
US of A) go to bed hungry every night." Nobody's going to touch that with a
10 foot pole. Not Republicans, not Democrats, nobody.

Don't get me wrong. I wish there was a bunch more research being done on
nano, cryo and immortality. But the only way to get funding for such
research is to convince people that there money is better spent there than
somewhere else. I just think we're going to have a heck of a time
convincing people of that as long as there are things to spend money on like
feeding, healing and improving the standard of living of the 6 billion
people we already share this planet with.

-Zero

"I like dreams of the future better than the history of the past"
--Thomas Jefferson

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