Re: Why are we allowed to age?

Anders Sandberg (
Thu, 12 Jun 1997 09:19:21 +0200 (MET DST)

On Sat, 12 Apr 1997 wrote:

> It would also seem to me that the mechanism of evolution -
> mutation->adaption->normalization could be short-circuited by extreme
> longevity or immortality. Swift turnover and ability to issue offspring
> that may be more suited to a changing condition are probably evolutionary
> positives....

Actually, as soon as an individual has reproduced the length of its
life doesn't matter much (for evolution, that is), although there
might be some competition between old and young.

I think it was Sir Medawar who suggested that we live long enough to
take care of our offspring, plus some extra time due to the built in
redundancy in our system. Living shorter than that would be a
disadvantage (you die before reproducing), living longer would be a
slight disadvantage (competition of resources) but due to the extreme
danger of life in the natural world this is rarely important. Note
that this view suggest that ageing is a gradual breakdown of our
systems simply because they were not designed to last indefinitely,
just long enough. Some species (like pacific salmon) even have
planned obsolescence.

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y