Re: Why are we allowed to age?

Joao Pedro (
Fri, 13 Jun 1997 01:13:37 -0700


I'm glad to see there were so many replies to my message. Thank you all.

First of all, I'm going to the U.S. East Coast in August. I'm new to
this mailing list but I would sure like to meet some other extropians,
is there any of you in the East Coast in August willing to meet me?

After reading your replies, I couldn't still form a conclusive opinion
(is there anybody who can?) but here's some of my thoughts and comments
on your replies.

I think we all agree that genes are selfish and care about us only to
create more like them.

One divergent opinion was weather a gene that codes for extra longevity
is good or evil? (in terms of reproductive success)

My opinion is that it is good. If one organism lives longer, it has a
higher chance to produce more offspring and therefore it is a good gene.
It's as simple as that.

William Wiser wrote:
> Most of human evolution took place when old age was not a common cause of death
> so it really did not help a lot to have a long natural life span.

You're making a mistake, you are assuming that aging is only the decayed
state humans reach at their 70s, 80s, etc. This is not truth, the
chances of a primitive human (or other mammal) to survive decrease due
to aging after he reaches puberty (that is why primitive humans never
died from the aging you name, they died at the first signs of aging).
So, a non-aging primitive human should have an advantage.

Anders Sandberg wrote this Medawar suggestion:
> living longer would be a
> slight disadvantage (competition of resources)

The gene is selfish, it only cares about himself and it is not going to
kill himself as an altruistic act to favour others. The gene will
continually create more copies, that is his mission.

Finally, Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> Evolution is a pretty simple mathematical phenomenon once you
> understand it. When applied to living organisms, it's quite
> clear that immoratility serves no purpose to a gene's survival,
> and in fact is detrimental in many cases. Once's you're done
> reproducing, your body is no longer useful to your genes' further
> replication, so no evolutionary pressure to continue is present.
> Evolution serves the replicators (genes, roughly speaking),
> not organisms.

If aging is not present, reproduction is never done, the body is always
useful to the genes and evolutionary preassure is always present.

If, indeed, a gene that codes for extra longevity is an advantage, why
isn't it present?

I don't know. The species that do not endure aging are very primitive
ones, perhaps in mammals it is much more complex and since with aging we
can still reproduce, the species continues. Perhaps to stop aging is so
complex that it will take millions or billions of years for aging to
naturally stop (although the consequences would be disastrous). Let's
see what we have to say about it.

Hasta la vista...

"No evolutionary future awaits Man except in association with all other
 men." - P.T.De Chardin
Joao Pedro: E-Mail -
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