The Consequences of Human Life Extension

From the time the human species became aware of their mortality they have begrudged the short time granted them between birth and the long dirt nap. To escape that eventuality a great deal of irrational thinking has been invested to create alternative narratives more comforting than that which reality offers.
Resurrection, reincarnation, magic elixirs, fountains whose waters grant immortality or sorcerer’s incantations - all delusions of the desperate to avoid facing the reality of death.
However, 21st science is circling tantalizingly close to significantly extending the 3 score and 10 that our genetics has granted us. Not necessarily immortality nor a single “elixir”, but rather, a combination of many advances in diverse fields: genetics, toxicology, immunology, pharmacology, nanobiology and others.
The dilemma is, would greatly extended life spans be a gift of science so desired over millenniums by human beings or would it be the greatest threat to human survival yet devised?
A group of atheist, I believe, would offer a more rational evaluation of the question than those with preconceived notions about the end of life and a mythic existence beyond.

Your thoughts?

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Comment by Jim DePaulo on July 30, 2009 at 6:19pm
Despite our former chimpanzee president's efforts to hamstring science, the instrumentation and methodology of research has advanced apace with the rest of the world. The influx of a multitude of gene lines does not have to wait for the appropriate technology to be exploited - it's already available.
Comment by Scott on July 30, 2009 at 9:07am
Every significant advance in medicine and biology is viewed as sinful so maybe they would just refuse. Stem cell research is obviously the starting point and we are lagging behind the rest of the world in that race so maybe the Japanese will take over the world! At least they only worship a statue!
Comment by Jim DePaulo on July 29, 2009 at 10:51pm
We should play up the idea that life extension is contrary to the Big Sky Guy's plan and is, therefore, a grevious SIN befitting damnation - we will just out live the dumb asses.
Comment by Jim DePaulo on July 29, 2009 at 10:43pm
In its early years they called it the Hitler channel (still a lot of Hitler crap). Of late I see a lot of bible crap - trying to make a silk purse out of a pigs ear - The Seven Deadliest Sins. and The Naked Archaeologist What a load of shit.
Comment by Scott on July 29, 2009 at 2:13pm
That must show must have been on between episodes of "Ice Road Truckers" or "Deadliest Catch". I have much respect for those occupations and the people who engage in them but what happened to the History Channel. I remember when they were all about history. Now it is about almost anything but history. Sorry to veer off topic but it has been bothering me for awhile and I have been wondering if anyone else fells the same.
Comment by Scott on July 29, 2009 at 1:16pm
Yes, and lets hope it is an atheist who develops this technology and that they dutifully exclude the theist population from receiving any treatments whatsoever! ( wishful thinking )
Comment by Jim DePaulo on July 29, 2009 at 12:23pm
Coincidentally, the new History channel series, That's Impossible, examined Immortality on last night's episode. The program covered the relevant areas of science researching longevity but didn't deal with the consequences.
Depending on the methods involved this could be the ultimate tool of social control, particularly if it requires periodic treatments. If you don't follow the "party line" you might not get your refresher treatments.
Comment by Scott on July 29, 2009 at 10:08am
This is a great topic and a serious dissection of the sub-topics would end up as a book,to say the least. I think it would be a double edged sword. Think of the political ramifications for countries that have no free election. On the other hand, what if Einstein lived for another 50 or so years. This tecnology would impact every aspect of our existence. Long term effects may also be a problem. We may be able to extend the life but what might this do to the DNA molecule? Can we be certain enough that there will be no biological reprocussions? Of cousre those wealthy enough for this may not care about the future of mankind as long as they get what they want.
Comment by Jim DePaulo on July 28, 2009 at 7:54pm
I doubt if there would be to many people that would turn down a couple of extra decades in good health. I know it would be a no brainer for moi. And, there in lies the problem, none of the 6+ billion would turn it down either.
Comment by JayBarti on July 28, 2009 at 5:58pm
Who gets to decided who is worthy of a longer life?
What kind of life extension do you get if you have socialized medicine?
How about if you have private insurance?
Can the resources we have at our disposal right now survive the current population growth of Asia and an extended human lifespan at the same time?

We already do a lot to extend our natural span, replacement organs for one. I know the extended life span we do currently enjoy is screwing up government social insurance programs. When a lot of them were created the current generation at that time was figured to die off at about age 70-75ish tops. Now a lot of them are continuing to live well into their 80s and 90s. When I was growing up it was a big deal when someone hit 100, it now seems that 100 might be within reach of just being careful about what you eat and how you look after yourself.

I am not saying no mind you, after all who wouldn't want a few more years if it was an available option. It is just that extending the regular human lifespan has a lot of ramifications, some of which we as a society might not be able to answer until we try it and see what happens.

A very complex issue.



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