AGING: perhaps we are over the hump

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sat Feb 16 2002 - 09:05:41 MST

The list has previously discussed the possibility that we
may get to the point where medical technology may be extending
the average lifespan at a rate of greater than one year per year.
This is in contrast to the ~0.25 year/year of the last century
in developed countries.

The exowomb article had a pointer at the end to this article:

Discovery of 'Methuselah gene' unlocks secret of long life,6903,644020,00.html

which I'm surprised people didn't pick up on given that its over
a week old. Now, IMO, it is quite likely that the Decode discovery
is the gene on chromosome 4, previously reported by Tom Perl's group.

(For those who are unaware of it, Aeiveos Sciences Group initiated
the first genotyping studies of the oldest-old that Tom works with.)

I'd be very surprised if the specific gene isn't pulled out within
the next year.

Now, given the genetic technologies I expect will develop within
this decade, there is a reasonable chance that we will be able
to give everyone the benefits of the Methuselah gene. If so
we will be bumping average longevity from ~75 to ~90 within
this decade, or ~15 years / decade.

If that proves to be the case, then the expected longevity of
everyone on the list under the age of ~65 just became *much*

Now, the "harsh" reality of this brings up an interesting question.
I've always thought that there should be a fundamental shift
in personal economic planning that takes place when people begin
to realize they are likely to live hundreds of years. I call
this "The no-brainer strategy to becoming wealthy". It requires
taking $100-$1000 and depositing it in a savings account or
mutual fund and never withdrawing any funds from the account
until the annual increase in the account value exceeds what
one reasonably needs to live in the world. It is based on
the idea that it doesn't require sophisticated investment
strategies to become wealthy, it simply requires living long

It would seem that Extropians/Transhumanists should be the first
to recognize the paradigm shift and adopt this strategy. But
I don't see any evidence that any of these individuals that I
know have done so. So the "interesting question" is "Why
is this the case?"

Possible explanations I can think of are:
a) We don't really believe lifespan extension of more than 1 yr/yr
   is feasible;
b) We believe the NanoSantas will make all wealth creation strategies
c) We believe the SysOp AI will make all wealth creation strategies
d) We belive the singularity will so totally disrupt things that
   all wealth creation strategies are irrelevant.

There are probably some others but I think this may cover
most of the positions.

We could have a long discussion about the synergistic effects
of biomedical technology, computers, Moore's Law, AI, etc.
that make it impossible to disentangle lifespan extension
from NanoSantas from SysOps from singularities, but in
the end the question would remain -- Do you want to bet
your future survivability on the requirement that the
Nanosantas, Sysops or singularities manifest themselves?

Does one want to be in a position in 30-50 years of
having an extended lifespan (through in-the-trenches
advances in medical technology) but not have the ability
to live independently and dedicate ones resources to
such things as the development of NanoSantas or SysOps
or Singularities?

To my mind, what may be needed is the establishment of
an "I-Will-One-Day-Be-A-Millionaire Foundation" for people
who adopt and promote this perspective. It is a fundamental
shift from the:
 "I'm born, I work, I may have children, I retire, I die"
to an
  "I'm born, I work, I may have children, I retire, I
  contribute my time and energy to the benefit of humanity
  for an indefinite period, someday an accident may catch
  up with me."

Please note that I'm not suggesting this be "imposed" on
people as there may certainly be those who do not have
this perspective. But given the social perspectives
that most humans seem to have at a genetic level, I
think it is likely to be a strategy many would adopt.

So I'm curious...

Who wants to join the
  "I-Will-One-Day-Be-A-Millionaire Foundation?"
and is willing to walk their talk?


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