RE: Who Should Live?

Billy Brown (
Thu, 18 Mar 1999 08:46:52 -0600

J. R. Molloy wrote:
> I think he mentioned just five people. So, who did you vote for?

The people at the top of my personal list are already signed up, or are aware of the issue and thinking about it. If we specifically exclude them, that leaves me with several dozen people and no clear way to rank them. So, I don't really have an answer to the question.

> >Would you say the same thing about life extension technology
> in general?
> Probably not.

Why not? From a moral/philosophical perspective, what is the difference?

> > Today it promotes an irrational acceptance of mortality that greatly
> > impedes life extension research, and is thus likely to lead to hundreds
> > of millions of unnecessary deaths.
> Hundreds of millions of suspension patients does begin to
> sound like it might cost more than a few bucks.

I was referring to the longstanding resistance to any sort of longevity research. This barrier has begun to erode recently, but it has cost us a lot of time. The more time we lose, the more people will die before we have an effective life extension treatment.

> No biggie, I just meant that overpopulation presently (not in the future
> the imagination) constitutes a problem which humans will need to solve
> _before_ putting hundreds of millions of people into suspension.

Why? Contrary to the beliefs of the Club of Rome, we have yet to face any significant shortage of resources. Suspending people who can pay for it simply creates another industry - and it isn't going to be any bigger than cosmetics, or tobacco.

> So, cryonics doesn't matter as much as addressing the issues of who should
> live, which has the potential to ignite a global conflagration as
> humans compete for longer lives.

A "global conflagration"? How? As Anders would say, this is a Hollywood meme.

Rationally, we would expect a treatment for old age to follow the same course as any other medical advance. It starts out being so expensive that only the wealthy can afford it, and gradually becomes cheaper as its use expands. Anyone who can afford it can buy the treatment, and the cost falls steadily with time.

That being the case, what is going to start a "conflagration"? Poor people in America don't storm hospitals today seeking cancer treatments, or cosmetic surgery, or other expensive medical treatments. They lobby their politicians for entitlements, or work to improve their status so they can buy better insurance. Why should we expect things to be any different for ageing treatments?

Now, I know some people are afraid that there will be some sort of uprising in the Third World, but that idea ignores the military realities. A nation that is too poor to afford modern medical care is also too poor to afford a modern military, which makes them completely impotent on the world stage. Besides, most of the people in these countries are still wedded to beliefs that oppose life extension - it will take a lot of exposure to the idea to even get them interested.

Billy Brown, MCSE+I