Re: Long term genome (was Re:Is crypreservation a solution?)

Anders Sandberg (
14 Sep 1997 20:01:25 +0200

Joao Pedro <> writes:

> Anders Sandberg wrote:
> > I don't think genetic errors is a likely problem once the "basic" ones
> > are fixed. The genome is finite, and if we can fix one part of it so
> > well we can stop aging it seems likely we can deal with the secondary
> > aging problems. However, there are likely many other reasons beside
> > genes to why we age; we need some radical restorations after a few
> > centuries anyway of the non-replenishing systems, plain damage and
> > waste built-up, not to mention to expand our capacity to avoid getting
> > trapped in a loop.
> 'basic ones'? If aging was a result of 'basic' errors, evolution would
> soon had found a way to prevent aging which is not the case for our
> species.

Aging is not an evolutionary disadvantage, so there is no selection
against it. In nature few individuals even reach adult age, so from
the persepctive of their genes it is more important to give them
the chance to reproduce than to give them a long life. This is why
it is possible to breed long-lived fruit flies by preventing them
from mating until a certain age, now aging is a disadvantage and
evolution strives to limit it.

> The genome is finite but there are theories that claim all genes as
> pleiotropic or having more than one function at the same time. We are
> incredibly complex organisms with enormous interactions between all our
> genes. I think that seeing the aging process as individual genetic
> errors is a mistake.

I agree completely. The error-catastrophe theory is dead (at least
right now :-), since it cannot explain how single-celled organisms
or germ-line cells survive. The pleiotropic theory of aging is
better, it suggests that some useful genes also have harmful effects
as we grow older, and this seems to be borne out with the calorie
restriction experiments which show that metabolism and aging are
closely tied together.

> Also, there are certainly lethal genes that are active when you are,
> say, 200 years old and you will have to deal with them too with the only
> difference being the fact than no-one even knows they exist.

Yes, but as soon as we have solved that genetic problem (which may
be hard), then the solution can be applied to all people. This is just
a limit on how fast lifespan can be increased (and something to
worry about for us first-generation transhumans).

> Going back to cryopreservation, this futuristic lethal genes are a good
> reason to pursue successful cryopreservation. That way the first ones to
> witness the effects of this lethal genes would be cryopreservated until
> a cure was to be found.

Good idea.

I think our main difference lies in optimism: you see a lot of
problems, I see a lot of hard problems that can be solved, at least
in principle.

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