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redmartian89

Radical Life Extension

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So I am quite reasonable in my skepticism. I will believe in practical immortality when I see it.

Plan on dying before you are 90. You are almost certain to win that bet.

I think you're just being rationalist in your skepticism. A reasonable man would look at the leading causes of death before 90 (or 100) and ask "How can we stop this?". What is heart disease and what causes it; do we need some new drug to control blood pressure; can we find new treatments for respiratory disease; can diabetes be cured with a shot? Your only argument is that e.g. we don't happen to yet know of a cure for diabetes and surely we can't change that. I agree that you should plan to die before you are 90, and from what I can tell, you've been planning that for quite a number of years, but I don't see that that is a reasonable plan for the rest of the participants here, a number of whom I fully expect to be centenarians.

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If you go by what is currently known, plan dying before you reach 90. Most of the gee-whiz predictions on how cellular modification will cure disease have not worked out at all. Don't count on any miracle breakthroughs. In any case take care of your body, eat right, exercise and don't put off any tasks. Time is precious because it is scarce.

Bob Kolker

Bob, you are both right and wrong.

You're right that you can't count on any particular invention such that you can abuse your body or put off doing what you want to do in life. It would be unwise to live unhealthily on the premise that in the future someone will come along and cure you.

But you are wrong to predict that lifespan will remain absolutely static. My Grandfather was told by the scientists and doctors of his time to expect to live to about 60. He's in his 80's and still going. I severely doubt that life expectancy will not increase at least some in the next 60 years - that is, if we don't hit a dark age.

But we don't know when such inventions will come so one's best bet for living to see them is to live a healthy life. If you're convinced, as Bob is, that such things will not come, then it might be more enjoyable to live a more indulgent life that lasts to 80. But if they invent that age-eliminator when you're 85 then that would be a bad move.

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An interesting story on just this possibility ran as a serial in Analog sometime in the last two years. The story's name is "Rollback."

The story concerns a couple in their late 80s. They were born in the 1960s, in other words, my generation. She is a scientist famous for translating the first SETI signal. A billionaire offers to buy her age reversal (it's a brand new therapy costing upwards of a billion dollars) if she will work on more signals; she agrees under the proviso that her husband also be treated.

The therapy works only for the husband. But that's only the first half of the story.

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Bob, you are both right and wrong.

...........................................

But we don't know when such inventions will come so one's best bet for living to see them is to live a healthy life. If you're convinced, as Bob is, that such things will not come, then it might be more enjoyable to live a more indulgent life that lasts to 80. But if they invent that age-eliminator when you're 85 then that would be a bad move.

I do not claim that radical life extension cannot or will not positively absolutely happen. I do claim that there is no strong evidence for a working therapy or medical technology now. I also have pointed out that many of the over hyped Great Hopes, such as gene repair have turned out to be busts.

The lifespan of people in the advanced industrial countries has increased (on average) about 25 years since beginning of the 20th century. Most of that has come about from two sources: 1. improvement in hygiene (clean water, better sewers) and 2. control of infection. We have not made fantastic progress in treating cancer nor has gene therapy payed the dividends that were expected. Out best bet of getting from living to the late seventies to living into our nineties lies in eating right, exercising sufficiently, avoiding body pollutants such as tobacco, dope and booze and environmental pollutants such as lead and asbestos. That is about as good as we can do without interventions. I put my money and hope on living right. I do not bet on effective interventions. They might happen or they might not. And some of our best interventions have a Dark Side. For example antibiotics. The result of effective antibiotics is multiple drug resistant bacteria. We are very rapidly approaching where we were in the 1930's with respect to control of infections. The best policy is to stay out of hospitals where the multiple drug resistant bacteria flourish. Stay healthy and you won't have to go to hospital.

What will probably happen is that we will get to live long enough to have Alzheimer's Disease. There is not a glimmer, at this moment, of any effective treatment or prevention of that miserable condition. The fish rots from the head down. So does the human.

Bob Kolker

Edited by Robert J. Kolker

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Bob, those resistant bacteria are the result of the misuse of antibiotics (using antibiotics when it isn't necessary, not using enough, or not finishing your prescription).

True. But the problem exists. And that is why hospitals are not as safe as they used to be. The name of the game is to live in such a way as one does not need hospital stays. Of course, acute problems such as accident trauma is a different matter. If one breaks a bone, he needs it set. If one cuts a blood vessel he needs the bleeding stopped. Etc. Etc. I am talking about long term and chronic conditions.

It is true that surgery has been of great use in dealing with pulmonary and circulatory problems: by-pass, pace-makers and such like. There is one area where technology has had a significant impact. But these procedures do not increase average life expectancy that much (although they can save lives so help in individual cases). However, the conditions for which heart and lung procedures are needed in the first place can be largely avoided by living right. If people ate well, exercised and avoided body pollutants like tobacco smoke and booze they would not need by-passes and pace-makers so much.

Also if people were brought up "skinny" they would add ten years (on the average) to their lifespans.* Eat less, live longer (up to a point that is). The idea is to eat slowly and stop when the hunger stops, not when one is satiated. Leave the table a bit hungry. That is radical life extension right there. Once can live to 75 and leave the table bloated and happy after supper. Or one can stop short of that and live to 90 (doing the other things right of course). Eating less also leaves time for doing other neat keen stuff, like thinking. I ask you, which would you rather do: gnaw on a juicy spare-rib or prove a theorem.

Bob Kolker

* There is evidence supporting this: See for example http://books.google.com/books?id=tgS29D0Mr...i1PLjcGWlYgo6J0

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Here is another: Remember controlled fusion power. That has been thirty years in the future for the last 50 years. And so on and so on.

This is a persistent myth that is promulgated. When Fusion power was first proposed in the 50's, it was indeed 10 or 15 years away, but once mainstream phycisists realized the difficulties in containing high temperature plasmas much more reasonable projections were made, and since about the 70's phycisists actually working in fusion power have consistently predicted accurately the achievements of fusion power. The advancements in confinement control have been progressing steadily.

Fusion.GIF

fusion_progress_lg.jpg

fusion_advance.jpg

Like most things humans try to predict, they will be wildly over ambitious at first and for near term advances, and wildly under for long range advancements. I think anti-aging research is still in it's early over ambitious estimates phase, as more of the science and complexity with cells and between cells is understood, more reasonable suggestions will be made and progress will steadily be made.

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There is not a glimmer, at this moment, of any effective treatment or prevention of that miserable condition

Some studies have suggested that small doses of Deprenyl delay the onset of Alzheimers and reduce it's severity.

http://www.deprenyl.net/

Also, extremely active minds (think the mental equivalent of being extremely physically fit) can exhibit the internal physiological symptoms of Alzheirmers yet the subject experience none of the related mental effects.

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