Can We Stop Aging? Should We?

The great Tim Urban of Wait but Why has a deep dive into Why Cryonics Makes Sense.

A key argument:

Here’s an interesting way to think about it: Imagine a patient arriving in an ambulance to Hospital A, a typical modern hospital. The patient’s heart stopped 15 minutes before the EMTs arrived and he is immediately pronounced dead at the hospital. What if, though, the doctors at Hospital A learned that Hospital B across the street had developed a radical new technology that could revive a patient anytime within 60 minutes after cardiac arrest with no long-term damage? What would the people at Hospital A do?

Of course, they would rush the patient across the street to Hospital B to save him. If Hospital B did save the patient, then by definition the patient wouldn’t actually have been dead in Hospital A, just pronounced deadbecause Hospital A viewed him as entirely and without exception doomed.

What cryonicists suggest is that in many cases where today a patient is pronounced dead, they’re not dead but rather doomed, and that there is a Hospital B that can save the day—but instead of being in a different place, it’s in a different time. It’s in the future.

Kurzgesagt and CGP Grey also have a new two part video series on why we should stop aging forever. The first one is below. The second is here.

Am I seeing a trend? I hope so. To quote CGP Grey:

Humans must discard the learned helplessness that the reaper and their own brains have imposed on them.



To both questions?


Since the first one is obviously no, the second one is moot. It's like asking "Can we reverse entropy? Should we?"

There is nothing incompatible with the laws of thermodynamics in the halting of our biological "aging" processes.

I think that in the future our hospitals are less likely to be palaces of resurrection than convenient places for owls to roost. All this focus on individual mortality seems to be missing out on the fundamental lesson of the fossil record, which is not just that individuals have finite lifespans, but that species do as well.

Extinction does not necessarily mean "no descendants left". Plenty of species go extinct, but have lineal descendants alive today, which, by evolution, have become rather different species. We humans are the heirs of earlier hominids, and there's no reason to think there won't be post-human species (possibly plural) in the future who will be our heirs.

Well, as soon as we create a perfect human, it should live forever. Until then, Sam's right.

Do people really not read the science news at all? Lenti vectors mean that we change your genes. All your genes, in your existing cells, not in your descendants. This stuff is 20 years old... I used my first lenti vector in 2004 and they were old then.

The way to stop aging


To die.

Aging is the universal preX.

The only way young people do not pay the health costs of old people is by a bullet to the brain at age 21.

Errr 26.

No 30.

No no 40.

Age is the cure for aging.

When you are 60, 65 is not old age.

What a goofy "key argument". Start with a known hospital across town that can definitely save a heart attack victim, then claim equivalence to an unknown future hospital that might be able to save the patient at an unknown future date if it even wants to do so. Hospital A would never send it's patient to such a hospital B.

I do not expect everyone's intuitions to converge (even though philosophers oddly often seem to think they should, when we are properly reflecting), so I have no objection to your sense that this is a goofy argument. However, I dod not find it to be goofy.

The argument's goal is to prime intuitions about a conceivable case in which we would intuitively favor saving a patient and compare this to an analogous case with one factor changed: location is swapped with time. Maybe you do not find it persuasive, and I have no objection to that, but I can see the point of it and it doesn't strike me as a bad one.

I don't share your intuition here that Hospital A would not bank on the possibility of a hospital B, provided considerations of cost, etc. If there were a trivial difference in cost between preserving doomed patients for even a low probability of being saved by a future hospital B and letting them die, I think hospital A would have a clear moral obligation to preserve doomed patients.

I appreciate your interesting response, it's caused me to better understand the original point. I still intuitively disagree, but understand better why someone else may not.

I am under the (mostly ignorant) impression that brain damage occurs within minutes of oxygen deprivation. Assuming that is correct then the hospital A/B scenario is simply magical thinking. There are a bunch of issues here, conflated. It is noteworthy (imho) that many jurisdictions do not define death, they leave it up to medical authority. Of course, the fundamental fallacy here is that we are the same person today (or this afternoon) that we were yesterday (this morning). We believe (or act as if we believe) that we are a continuous entity, despite all the evidence to the contrary. So, given that the way our brains operate varies on many time scales (decades, years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds, milliseconds) the idea that there is some sort of "soul" that abides in us is a soothing fiction. But the irreversible (unrecoverable) change in brain function that accompanies neuronal cell death (or possibly precedes it, perhaps it is irreversible synapse damage?) will at some point amount to the death of the individual. Rebuilding that (unless the rebuilding is a duplication of the prior existing structure which, given the structure's complexity, is unlikely) isn't resurrection. OTOH, imagine a future where what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and feel is recorded. Imagine two A.I.s each with complete access to those recordings and with a neural/electronic structure congruent to our biological "minds". Could we agree that both of these A.I.s were us? That is, is it the access to our memories (including our feelings) along with the ability to process them (think, emote) that makes us us? Anyway, in a world where "revival" can occur 90 minutes (90 hours, 90 days, 90 years) after cessation of a given bodily function, we wouldn't (rationally speaking) continue to use that as an indication of "death" (as it is now understood). So the scenario described is basically: Given ~A, Then if B then A. Magical thinking.

It is a shame that no one seems to be reading this that can make meaningful informed comments.
is of interest.

People who age and die were once babies. Therefore those who suggest that ageing is a good thing, are contemplating killing babies. What really is the point of killing someone by neglect (not treating aging) just so someone can have another baby to go through it all again. An increasing number of young people have a lot of trouble getting through education and into a job that they take to alcohol and drugs. Those that succeed ought to be allowed to continue living indefinitely.

I read some of the piece and to me it is just bizarre. For example, "Asking whether it would be better never to have existed is not the same as asking whether it would be better to die. There is no interest in coming into existence. But there is an interest, once one exists, in not ceasing to exist." He takes as fact the "interest in not ceasing to exist" and argues from it that anti-natalism is not pro-suicide. He also says it is irrational to think the average life are on net worth living. Why is the "interest in not ceasing to exist" not also irrational? It seems a so-called rational person would have no interest in continuing to exist, no? The average person ought to break free from the chains of irrationality and commit suicide!

Nihilism is not wholly irrational, but it does lead to the death of reason. Many people do believe that to be alive is to suffer, that ignorance is bliss. There are rational reasons to believe this, particularly if you do not believe in anything transcendent. If life is nasty, brutish and short, why not save yourself - and others! - some effort? I could expound on the nature of evil, but eh, I'll keep it light. You come from nothing, you go back to nothing, what have you lost? Nothing!

For life is quite absurd / And death's the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow
Forget about your sin / Give the audience a grin
Enjoy it, it's your last chance anyhow

So, always look on the bright side of death / A-just before you draw your terminal breath

Life's a piece of shit / When you look at it
Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true
You'll see it's all a show / Keep 'em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you

Due to my strong personal convictions,
I wish to stress that this song in no
way endorses a belief in materialism.

I have banana pancakes, and life is good, beautiful, and true.

The sword of time will pierce our skins

It doesn't hurt when it begins

But as it works its way on in

The pain grows it grin, but...

The first 70 years of childhood are the most difficult.

Alex does some sensible and insightful posts, but his gullible gee-whiz reactions to the latest (or in the case of cryonics, ongoing long-term) quackery is becoming a caricature of itself.

If future medical technology is going to be able to perform these miracles of resurrection, then we don't need to bother to freeze our bodies. We can just stick ourselves in an ordinary coffin to be resurrected a few hundred years hence when the cure is found. Sure there'll be some deterioration of the body, but future medical technology will solve that problem.

In reality our frozen corpses are not going to be revivable, any more than the body in the coffin will be revivable. Unless you're a tardigrade -- those guys can survive extremely cold temperatures for extended periods of time.

'is becoming a caricature of itself'

No, this is not a caricature - this is really the sort of thing that a member of the GMU econ faculty has zero problem sharing with the rest of the world.

Well, at least Bryan Caplan has a healthy degree of skepticism over this sort of futurist fluff.

I like the time travel revival method myself. In the future, people will be scientifically advanced to the point where they will have discovered time travel. They can, therefore, travel back to the moment of someone's "death" and take them to the future and cure them.

Of course, they can only do this if the body is locked up where nobody can see them taking it, since otherwise they would be changing the past by taking the person. Freezing the person cryonically keeps him in a known visible location, and therefore prevents the time travel method from working.

With regards to
>>>I like the time travel revival method myself. In the future, people will be scientifically advanced to the point where they will have discovered time travel. They can, therefore, travel back to the moment of someone’s “death” and take them to the future and cure them.<<<
It is not necessary to physically travel back in time to achieve this result. What is necessary is to be able to gather enough information from the past at the point of death to reconstruct the target person and then reanimate them into youthful good health in the future. Assuming it is ever possible, doing that produces no paradox. Some may suggest that doing such a thing misses something and the person won't really be reanimated, there will be a copy. Or of course it may not be possible at all. Therefore have a plan B. Cryonics. Or maybe someone can think of something better? (Having a religious belief isn't doing anything, so that doesn't count. No cryonicist that I know of has a sure and certain knowledge that it will work.)

Then tell us how to do cryonics better to make cryonicists' goals feasible.

I don't get it. Scientists are driven by status-seeking and ego like everyone else, but I have yet to hear of one who looks at cryonics as an opportunity to show off his superior intelligence by saying, "No, you cryonicists have gotten this all screwed up! Here, let me show you what you have to do."

For the same reason that you don't see scientists clamoring to show UFOlogists and crystal healers where they've gone wrong. At best frustrating and pointless, at worst, it invites your colleagues to associate you with a bunch of discredited charlatans.

mkt42, the suggestion that we can just put people in coffins in the expectation of reviving them is not plausible. The problem is one of preserving the information stored in the structure of the brain. Freezing or vitrification does a significantly better job of this than simply burying the body in the ground. If you simply put a person in a coffin, their brain will inevitably deteriorate past a point at which a plausible future technology could acquire the information of the original structure of the brain and reconstitute the person.

Preserving people for resurrection in the future obviously makes sense, and I have never seen any good arguments against it as an option that, ceteris paribus, increases the odds that you will have a longer life. There are good utilitarian arguments against wasting the resources for preserving oneself when you have arguably no greater utility than you could obtain by investing those resources in helping people who are not doomed, and I agree with those arguments. However, so long as private citizens have the freedom to choose what to do with their bodies, I see no good arguments against cryonics being a respectable option.

Of course, if you refuse to "see" the very good arguments against cryonics, there's nothing we can do to change your mind. Nor would most intelligent adults bother to try. Some philosophers of science have claimed, and it seems many physicists agree, that THE fundamental "Law of Physics" is: Information can be neither created nor destroyed. (It has to do with microscopic (subatomic/quantum) reversibility). If that is true, then it is obvious that cryonics can be, at best, just a more convenient way to store the information required to "resurrect" the individual. You claim "Freezing or vitrification does a significantly better job of this [preserving the information stored in the structure of the brain] than simply burying the body in the ground." Well, gee: "significantly better"?? Please cite the published, peer-reviewed research which you base that astounding statement on! I'd claim just the opposite, that the increase in likelihood is Insignificant.
In fact, I'm willing to bet on it, but I'm fairly sure we couldn't agree on terms. (Me wanting concrete specifics, you claiming "we can never say never"...)

Do we really need a 'peer reviewed paper' on that question? Even assuming it is absolutely true that information can never be made or destroyed, it remains true that it is easier to reconstruct a document that was ripped two or three times by the guy who threw it out versus the document sent through a shredder. I don't see a problem assuming a person cryonically preserved would be easier to revive than someone left to decay in the ground.

Li Zhi, the "information can't be destroyed" thing only applies at the quantum level. If you hand me a bucket of water that used to be an ice sculpture there is no way I can work out what the ice sculpture looked like just from the water. As far as we know the information is just not there and we have no good reason to suspect that it is. At the chemical level where human brains operate information can definitely be destroyed and we have no idea how we can get it back.

Ice crystallization tends to destroy cellular integrity. Doubly so for delicate structures like axons and dendrites. Future doctors would thaw out a corpse whose brain had been turned into leaky mush.

They might be able to create an approximation of the person who had been frozen by mapping out the neural net, but that's all it would be, an approximation. The original would still be dead, but a rough copy could inherit their stuff. Hardly seems worth the effort to me.


Also, the notion that our godlike post-human descendants with their ability to reconstruct living humans from freezer-burnt leftovers are going to be eager to share the planet with a bunch of dumbshit cavemen like us is breathtaking in its narcissism.

..."hey would rush the patient across the street to Hospital B.."

To B or not to B

"To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d.

-----------------------------------------: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin?"
(William Shakespeare : "Hamlet")

I think aging research has the possibility of greatly extending the lives of everyone on the planet. If Trump believes it may become possible to live for ever if enough money is spent on research he may stop trying to take us with him.

Americans fear death, we welcome it. As famous Brazilian poet Gonçalves Dias wrote: "don't fear deat, she will come anyway".

So this is what Brazil has become: a population welcoming the sweet release of death

No a brave nation ready to face her bitter bite. Death has no sway over those who do not fear her. "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

So at least as good as your average Islamist state then. Good for you!

I don't know if we *should* but if it becomes feasible I believe we *will*. Rich Silicon Valley types would be the first, and then it would filter down.

I think abortion would become a hot moral issue, considered in a new way. Mostly I think society would collapse or become totally unrecognizable compared to today.

How does the end of aging change the social punishment for murder? On the one hand, "dooming" someone who would otherwise never be is much more costly (according to utilitarians). On the other hand, merely "killing" is not such a big deal!

Is Tabarrok, are we, confusing life expectancy and longevity, the former having increased significantly with advancements in both economic development and medicine, while the latter has hardly budged if at all. Of course, life expectancy is an aggregate concept while longevity is an individual concept. Would Tabarrok be more focused on the latter?

Longevity has done more than barely budge. But yes life expectancy has improved more.

If economies and nations are built on managing the expectations of the young then what will become of the economies when they consist mostly of disillusioned elderly working at drive-through windows and such? #JacobLeah #OverproductionOfTheGerontologicals

Funny how people like GMU economics professors who are at least rhetorically concerned about greenhouse gases, climate change, depletion of the earth's resources, etc., have absolutely no qualms about using vast amounts of energy to preserve their human bodies for a sci-fi resurrection, the religious version of which they have already rejected as fantasy. Funny also how concerns about overpopulation are irrelevant. We can just change the entire nature of biological life, which depends upon death and renewal, so that every member of one species, far and away the most environmentally damaging, skips the death part. Funny, finally, that people who are rhetorically libertarian can advocate for such a policy, which will surely require draconian governmental intrusion on personal decisions about whether or when to procreate. Then there is that pesky problem of human nature. The first people to achieve the holy grail of physical life everlasting will have surnames like Bezos, who will have no incentive to offer a discount on Amazon.

Billionaires like Bezos are really "wealth futurists," in that they are early adopters of what will become available to middle class people in another generation or two. Ferdinand Braudel pointed this out in his book, "The Structures of Everyday Life."

The cryonicist Thomas K. Donaldson, Ph.D., uses this idea implicitly in an essay he wrote back in the 1970's:

"Billionaires like Bezos are really “wealth futurists,” in that they are early adopters of what will become available to middle class people in another generation or two."

25 to 50 years?

Jeff Bezos could buy an iphone in late 2007 and the middle class could by one the same day or wait a year or two. Warren Buffet could take NR to raise his NAD+ levels 40% for 90 cents a day in 2014 and so could the middle class. The Tesla 3 at $100,000 is a bit pricey but the middle class will be able to afford something similar in a few years and won't have to wait until 2042 or 2067 to buy one.

"Funny how people like GMU economics professors who are at least rhetorically concerned about greenhouse gases, climate change, depletion of the earth’s resources, etc., have absolutely no qualms about using vast amounts of energy to preserve their human bodies for a sci-fi resurrection, the religious version of which they have already rejected as fantasy. "

Well, a lot of the concern about those things is signalling their virtue and "progressiveness," and this is hardly the most prominent example of their behaviors not aligning with their supposed beliefs. Cryonics is to religion as aviation is to the flying carpet.

"Funny also how concerns about overpopulation are irrelevant. We can just change the entire nature of biological life, which depends upon death and renewal, so that every member of one species, far and away the most environmentally damaging, skips the death part. Funny, finally, that people who are rhetorically libertarian can advocate for such a policy, which will surely require draconian governmental intrusion on personal decisions about whether or when to procreate."

In the long run, probably, but it will take quite a while before that actually has to happen. The current carrying capacity for humans on the earth is something like 100 billion. By the time the population reaches that level, technology should have advanced to increase it significantly, to the trillion-person level. I would say that indefinite lifespans would just speed up the day when it comes. People will eventually evolve to want more children, and so the population will increase until forced not to. People in the future will see the right to have as many kids as you want as stupid as the right to pollute the air or water as much as you want.

"Then there is that pesky problem of human nature. The first people to achieve the holy grail of physical life everlasting will have surnames like Bezos, who will have no incentive to offer a discount on Amazon."

Yet discounts frequently are offered on amazon. But don't let that get in the way of your narrative!

I would have said that cryonics is to religion today as spiritualism was to religion a century ago. These things come and go.

Perhaps we can all hope that the Social Justice Warriors will, when they are in charge, fund the research and development of this technology so that they can revive and then punish anyone who has ever uttered a non-PC sentiment or even had a non-PC thought. "Good Morning, Professor Tabarrok. I'm am your lawyer. You have been revived to answer for your crimes against humanity. You have been accused of 67,128 offenses. 3,421 are felonies. Lets discuss them, by category. By far most serious is your discrimination of your sexual partners. Let me be clear: it will be very difficult to argue that you've not discriminated based on the age, gender, race, weight, culture, appearance, and sex of the people you've had sex with...Based on your brain scans (necessary to reconstruct your mind) I see your first non-onanistic sex (onanism being a misdemeanor) act and one that is difficult to understand how it wasn't based on your preconceptions and prejudices, occurred in 19..."

Someone who signed up for this would spend nearly $100K plus. This would mean that they would dramatically reduce their consumption during their lifetimes to invest in something that may pan out or if it doesn't then it's money they wasted themselves.

Would the world be better off if instead they did used $100K to buy bigger houses or cars during their lifetime?

Thanks for making a good point. Houses do retain value, but cars depreciate very quickly. I would also add, suppose the person had gone on overseas holidays every year instead of spending several thousand every year on a life policy for their beneficiaries, or investing it in a trust for their beneficiaries. Or suppose in retirement they had bought a cruise. Would other people look down on this as being selfish and a waste of some else's inheritance?
Do people regard elderly folks spending money on home care or nursing home care as wasting someone else's inheritance? Recall that throughout history some legislatures have actually deliberately terminated the lives of people that can no longer make a contribution to the country. It is along that line of thinking that life extension and cryonics are deprecated.
It is important to remember that an inheritance is a surplus to someones life.

"Humans must discard the learned helplessness that the reaper and their own brains have imposed on them."

Some humans evidently are. It's likely, however, that, discard or retain, they, too, will know the helplessness that reality, not just their own brains has imposed on them. Perhaps Ariel Sharon's futile seven-year life support was a primitive step in the direction of immortality. On the other hand, it may well have been an extensive experiment in the treatment of bed sores.

I am reminded of the witticism that the people who want to be immortal are not those one would wish to spend eternity with.

A lot of what we call "transhumanism" now, in 2017, tries to anticipate what people in more technologically advanced societies in the 22nd Century and beyond would probably call "health care."

This one of the most ill-informed, illogical and incoherent pieces I have read in quite a while - even on this topic.

Yes and yes. Why are these even topics for debate?


The responses in this thread have been hilarious. We will research more into the biomechanics of cells. At 1st we will tinker with these inner workings, but in time we will design changes. And one of the larger changes will likely be life extension. Of course it will be opt in. I fervently hope that the posters above opt out of each life extension technology.

'The responses in this thread have been hilarious.'

Not as hilarious as the premise that the future will care about curing those who have died in the past - especially when the current attempts to reform America's health care system all involve removing health care from tens of millions of Americans who are actually alive right now.

This argument comes up regularly, but make no sense.

Whether people in the future would bother to revive people frozen today would be a real issue if millions were being frozen. But cryonics is currently very much a minority activity. A future that is reasonably wealthy, that has values not vastly different from our own, and that knows how to revive and cure people frozen today at low to moderate cost will certainly revive them, because of their usefulness for historical research if nothing else, even if simple charity isn't sufficient (as it probably would be).

It's a tribes thing. Everything must be fit into the most important thing in the world: the Democrat vs. Republican tribal fight. Since you didn't mention it in your comment, prior_approval will deem it unworthy of consideration.

It's an especially stupid argument since in the case of Alcor, the organization I'm signed up with, they have a trust fund set aside to pay the costs of reanimation, they aren't counting on someone else providing it for free.

"Of course [life extension] will be opt in."

I would hope that would be true in a free society (and that we will remain a free society). I have no problem with the pro-ageing/death group refusing anti-ageing treatment. There seem to be some though that would deny anti-ageing treatments to everyone else under the label of "bioethics". Another way we might lose the anti-ageing treatments of the future is that the research and development resources might be pre-emptively diverted to other uses. That wouldn't be a problem in a private healthcare system as the Bezos's of the world, along with the promise of future demand from many future patients, would be enough to fund the research. The more that medicine is socialized though, the easier it is to take the private wealth that would have funded the anti-ageing treatment developments and divert them to other uses. Bioethical objections would be the "seen" way we lose anti-ageing treatments. Socialized medicine would be the "unseen" way --- we might not even know about the treatments that we lost because they never would have been developed.

Looking at the posters above, I think that the two tribes haven't come to a conclusion as to what to think of life extension. Due to this people have to make up their own "minds". The result is the flailing around we see above, it's both comical and sad. The automatons are showing their true colors and it is quite sad.

Or it could be that the blue camp, with their usual distain for progress, is simply sneering as they are wont to do.

There is a way to see if people have made up their minds. Those who are against would not seek help if ill, but would just lie down and die because their time has come.

This certainly does happen, but how much this is due to a desire for oblivion and how much it is a desire to avoid the stress and uncertainty of hospital administration systems I am not sure. Maybe it is the latter that drives those who are against making death by aging a thing of the past. But if they could just take a pill? [I can't resit this] Would this be an easier pill to swallow?

'Those who are against would not seek help if ill'

Being ill is not generally a fatal condition. Someone with a cold taking a couple of aspirin says nothing about one's opinion's concerning life extension. In much the same fashion that using a cast after a broken bone has been set, there are a lot of reasons to seek help when ill that do not relate to dying.

Fair point, but those with more serious conditions such as heart disease or cancer still seek help, and are disappointed when given lots of tests only to be told nothing can be done. How many lie back and think of their god and pass away to nothing, even if they profess faith?
Unfortunately at this point in history doctors can test for far more conditions than they can cure.

How many lie back and think of their god and pass away to nothing, even if they profess faith?

In my experience of family members who've gotten a terminal diagnosis, they all have. As far as aging in general, I've had a couple of conversations with very elderly people who've said they're ready to go. They've told me they either miss a spouse or they miss their parents.

Something like half the people over 85 have dementia, 70% of which is Alzheimer's Disease and another 15% is vascular dementia. It is not clear that AD and VASD are actually separate diseases, so AD might actually be 85%. Extending lifespan without solving AD is doomed to result in greatly increasing the population requiring assisted living care. Solve AD before you even think about solving aging.

Creating wards full of these patients would be a bad idea, I agree. But this isn't how it would happen. Very few people aged 25 years or thereabouts have dementia, so if people can have their developmental clocks wound back and then set at such an age permanently then these conditions would be rare.

Of course you can assume, like AlexT, all kinds of hypotheticals, and it all means nothing based on current science.

Here's my hypothetical: invent a pill that stops aging at any particular age, so you can stay "Forever 21" and shop until you drop at your favorite mall. Or, invent a pill that reverses aging (the human body being an open system so you would not violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics), Mork & Mindy TV style. Or, invent a pill that body shapes you into your favorite celebrity...yada yada yada.

Click-bait, and we fell for it...

As for AlexT's "heart stopping" scenario, it happens all the time today: depending on your condition, US hospitals can 'bring you back' from a cardiac death and put you on a respirator. But most people at an advanced age will die on the respirator after a month or two.

I would not pick 25 to be the age at which to live forever. I doubt many women would.

It's a never-ending refrain that people that have been trained/educated for a certain occupation can't be retrained/educated for a different one. A purse seamstress can't be made out of a hog butcher. So, how do these ageless immortals adapt to what will inevitably be the changing technological and occupational scene of the endless future? It seems that preserving intellectual human dinosaurs might be even worse than the current state of the US Senate.

A cure for Alzheimer's isn't that far away. One expert, Rudolph Tanzi thinks by 2025. He recently joined Chromadex that sells NR (Niagen) that was given at 750 mg to college football players who have had a concussion in a U Minnesota/ Mmayo Clinic trial that ended this past spring.

People need to die to make room for something new. It's kinda funny, but great new theories in science often are not widely accepted until the old guard to just dies off, and sadly that's how it is for many ideas as well. This whole let's-never-die argument is just the gerontocracy coming to eat the children.

Yup. One way to look at the basic fallacy is to point out that a 25 year old, with the memories and experiences of a 80 year old would not be (even close to) a normal 25 year old, mentally speaking. To take the argument to the extreme, picture a world where the adults all have the mental abilities of 10 year olds. Anyone believe they would make good parents (in the main)? So, why would we believe 25 or 30 year olds would make good Chairs and leaders (on average)? There is a place for 16 year olds and a place for 61 year olds in society, but they aren't interchangeable, nor equivalent. In a perfect world, we would have the physical bodies of a 16 to 27 year old and a mind that cycled between 20 and 50. I don't think you can have a 55 year old mind in the brain of a 20 year old.

"People need to die to make room for something new." After you, my friend. :rolleyes:

We're living in a gerontocracy now. For the well off, life is extended. We have an elderly president. Elderly senators and representatives. Elderly Supreme Court members. The ruling party kowtows to the elderly at the expense of everyone else.

It's not so great. Imo.

Well, France and New Zealand have recently elected young leaders. If what "Moo Cow" writes is true, it can be tested. Maybe these countries will enact exemplary legislation that will be the envy of the world. Let us keep an eye on them and perhaps learn from what they do.

Alternatively look back into the past. Hitler was 44 when he was elected to power. Stalin was 46. Lenin 47.

Considering that, I don't think elderly people can do any worse.

Countries don't enact legislation, exemplary or otherwise, sociopathic pseudo-leaders do. All legislation is meant to coerce and is unlikely to be the envy of the world after the population becomes aware of the details even if it benefits a portion of it. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.

We've always had people who lived a long time. In my own family tree, most of my 18th century ancestors that I know about lived past 70. My ancestor Eleanor of Acquitane died in 1204 at the age of 82. Average lifespan may have been lower because of deaths from childhood diseases, but the survivors lived about as long as we do now. If you think government-subsidized health care is going to keep you alive, forget it. Health care has little effect on most causes of mortality. (An exception is cancer, which has gotten much better with surgery and chemotherapy.) If you want to live a long life, you need to take responsibility yourself, through diet and exercise. As Alexander Solzhenitsyn said about life in the gulag, "The people who rely on doctors to keep them alive are the first to die."

You also need to carefully pick your parents.

Congratulations for descending from Eleanor of Aquitaine, but she would likely have lived longer today. Life expectancy at old ages has also improved significantly, though not as dramatically. Even at 85, life expectancy has improved by around 2 years over the past 75. That's actually a very big deal.

Interesting Presidential trivia. The first President to live past 90 was John Adams, who died that year. The second President was Hoover, who also died at age 90. The third President to reach 90? Gerald Ford, who died at 93. Carter is 93, Reagan died at 93, H.W. Bush is 93. So, of the first 37 (okay 36, no need to count Grover twice) Presidents, only 2 made it to 90. We now have 4 four Presidents in a row who have lived at least 93 years.

Re: Even at 85, life expectancy has improved by around 2 years over the past 75.

Due mainly to antibiotics preventing deaths from common infections (e.g., pneumonia).

How did people live so long in the Bible? Were they happy in their almost endless twilight years? Jesus died at about age 30. That's a short life. But Christian theologians inform us that Jesus always was, so He wasn't really age 30, and he didn't really die anyway. How can that be, since He "died" for our sins. Didn't He? Life, death, what's the dif? As I age and experience the pains aging brings, I sometimes wonder just how long I want to live. Moses was 120 years old when he died. Jack LaLanne was 96. Was Moses in better physical condition than Jack LaLanne? I doubt it. Moses survived on manna, while Jack LaLanne survived on fruit, vegetables, and meat. Maybe manna is the secret to longevity. On the other hand, Moses's manna was spiritual nourishment, not the typical diet. Cowen has identified the Bible as a book he disagrees with but nevertheless reads (interview at Vox). Is Tabarrok's quest for longevity a quest for transcendence? Here are three books reviewed in the NYT Tabarrok might wish to read (the review is titled Unknown Unknowns): I suspect Cowen has already read them. Our time in this life being rather limited, one must choose to read books that offer something beyond entertainment.

the way to stop again.

If this present civilization continues long enough, the technology will eventually be invented to stop/reverse aging and to revive those who were and will have been frozen. If they are developed in my lifetime (I am 51 already, so it is very unlikely to happen), I would certainly partake of age stopping/reversal, and I am pretty damned certain every single commentator above would do so as well despite their claims otherwise.

For me, the only pertinent question is whether I should have myself frozen if age stopping/reversal isn't developed in my lifetime. Everything else being equal, it definitely increases ones odds of becoming biologically immortal, but that still doesn't mean I should or will do it- there is still the possibility that a future society not only won't allow me to be revived, but will, instead, dispose of me. Given that possibility, I think my accumulated resources are best spent on, first, living self of today and then my nieces and nephews, and their children. If I had children and grandchildren of my own, the decision is even more clear cut again cryo-preservation.

As for the question of whether or not biological immortality is good for the species or not, it cannot be answered, and thus I don't really much care.

I would be happy to contemplate for millennia the pro's and con's of life extension.

Long before they freeze you, there will be a brain or head swap with a comatose person, just as we harvest kidneys or livers from those who are comatose, we will swap heads and transfer them to the comatose person who will revive with another brain and head attached to their body.

This will create all types of ethical problems.

Per Alex's suggestion, will there be a market for fresh comatose bodies. Should only the rich heads be placed on those bodies.

But, the biggest ethical question will be:

What if they put a female head/brain on a male body: Which bathroom should that person use?

Any studies been done on the amount of wealth contained in financial instruments (trusts? non-profits?) which would, if it's ever successful, become the property of the resurrected? The two obvious forks are it will either be taxed away or will turn into voting rights. (the latter being the only likely way to prevent the former (if the wealth becomes a nationally significant fraction of GDP). )

Alcor claim to have patient trusts of some sort. Cryonics Institute (CI) take the view that the legal system can't do it, so just "over fund" and they will look after patients if they can. There is no point in trying to pin them down with legal paperwork. There are some non cryonic organisations that offer the service to cryonicists but they are secretive. Tomb robbing is often quoted as an example as to why this can not work. It does seem odd though that you can direct your body for use in the future by your reanimated self but not any assets. A bitcoin or other cryptocurrency "brain wallet" has also been suggested, but as future technology capable of reanimating someone could easily read this out without reanimating them, this is also unlikely to work. Although far from ideal, the CI solution seems the most sensible, at least so far.

For cryonics to work at all there has to be massive technological growth for decades, even centuries. Therefore investment in science based industries will make enormous growth compared to anything else. If the growth doesn't happen, then the person won't be revived and won't know anything about it anyway. If the legal system would support it, a cryonics patient could probably live off what a few thousand or even hundred dollars invested now in a technology index or managed fund would become hundreds of years hence. A sort of Pascal's wager.

If it's centuries, there will be damage from natural sources of radiation such as potassium that will not be repaired by your frozen enzymes. Even disregarding the damage caused by the freezing process, at the cellular level you're going to be hamburger.

I worked in anti-aging labs for seven years (Shay-Wright telomerase lab, Poeschla lenti-vector lab.) One of the weekly duties in a lab is to freeze your cells so that they can go to the future (the post-apocalyptic future, two months later where you realize a mistake and need to go back in time before you screwed up your cells...) Freezing has worked since the early 1960s, and it will work for whole organisms the day anyone puts ten million into working out better whole-body warming methods. Oh, and many subarctic heterotherms already freeze solid in winter... yes they have an extra ice-crystal-forming protein, but once Nature does something you have to stop saying that it can't be done ;)

Nature has already made Greenland sharks live over 400 years, Bowhead Whales live over 230. All of you saying that life extension can't be done haven't read the literature. (telomerase activation, senolytics, nicotinamide riboside... but most of all the economic literature (see link below).

Those of you saying it shouldn't be done, well, we invented the shotgun a long time ago. If you're absolutely sure that not only can you not entertain yourself, but that no AI will ever figure out a way to entertain you, then leave.

...but you live in a Simulation anyway so you'll just wake up at the Roy game at Blitz and Chits! Wubba lubba dub dub!

Why computers work and biotech doesn't:

"yes they have an extra ice-crystal-forming protein, but once Nature does something you have to stop saying that it can’t be done"

Precisely. And that's why the people who are currently freezing themselves are wasting their time and resources. Human cells do not have the necessary chemistry to be revived after being frozen.

mkt42... go visit a cell culture lab. Every lab in the world has been freezing and reviving human cells since the early 1960s. In the Shay-Wright lab, we froze and revived hundreds of different mammal, reptile, and bird cells.

Every day.

Read a bio textbook... any bio textbook. You are a century out of date.

And we've been killing cancer cells in labs for a century as well.

That doesn't mean that we've cured cancer.

Those same biology textbooks tell you the difference between in vitro experiments versus in vivo experiments, and between say keeping the HeLA cell line alive forever versus keeping Henrietta Lacks alive.

If you think that reviving a mammalian cell means that we can (or will be able to) revive Ted Williams' frozen head, well I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell.

For some people heart death and brain death are separated,

"""But for some reason, patient #4 shows evidence of delta wave bursts for 10 minutes and 38 seconds after their heart had stopped."""

So for some people their life could be prolonged if the life support equipment is activated in time. You did have a Vice President with no heart beats

Sweet Lord, Alex.

Thank you for confirming my Readers Digest Theory of Econ Professors. And you did it within 48 hours. I appreciate it.

If I publish a paper, can I get a PhD in this theory? I only ask because I am running low on toilet paper.

This may be useful for people genuinely trying to understand the concept of cryonics

Thread too stale for this to be read, Tyler and Alex should post less, like SSC does and then let the debate happen for longer in the comments. At the moment most of the commentary is the same old boring retired guys with just snark to add not really adding any useful insights or new thoughts.

Anyway with that off my chest, here is my thinking on cryonics. There are really two questions here, first is it something you actually want and second is it moral. The first question sounds maybe a bit strange, of course everyone would like to live for a long time (assuming of course we are doing so in good health and absent any moral issues which I will deal with second). But why do we have that desire? - it is due to evolution, anyone who didn't have a strong desire to live didn't have many descendants. But that desire arising in past times was just a mechanism to keep us out of trouble in more simple times, it doesn't really have the capability to decide on the choices offered in today's world. Trying to get philosophical about these questions doesn't help. The question "is a copy of me really me" is just a debate about definitions of "me". Even if you define the answer as being yes, that doesn't necessarily help satisfy your mechanism of desire of survival. These arguments about being clinically dead for 10 minutes then being revived as just the same as my head being scanned and then revives in 200 years just don't work on my survival mechanism. Cryonics is too distanced, too abstract and there are too many intervening steps. To say that my feelings are "not logical" is missing the point - wanting to survive is not logical either, its just an implanted desire.

As a contrary example, my survival mechanism is activated by me knowing about the life extension effects of eating right and exercising. It would also be activated by being offered a genuine life extension pill, or by surgery that would extend my life.

On the moral side of cryonics, you first have to define your moral philosophy. If you are utilitarian then assuming the choice in the future is between reviving you are raising a new child, then probably it is negative utility since you as a mature individual will have less fun than a kid learning about life for the first time.

Of course the bigger picture is that we almost certainly live in an infinite universe, so that there are infinite copies of you existing now and will exist in the future. Why doesn't that pacify the mechanism for survival? Basically it is too abstract, those other copies of you don't "feel" like they are you. This is similar to the feeling I have for cryonics.

I am surprised to see how dismissive and hostile the comment-section here are to this concept.

For the pro-aging crowd I'll help them with a strong argument: aging and the associated certain death, is the way life renews itself. It is not a fight against entropy to fight death, but death is one of the many innovations life has done to combat entropy in favor of continued replication.

This means, that if we were to fight aging and death with technology, (as we clearly are now close to, especially with genetic technology and the general field of regenerative medicine) then we would have to find a way to solve this problem without death. Meaning: how do we avoid we as a society and individuals renew ourself, and don't become solid and entrenched variants.

And the solution to that is something akin to continuous renewal at every level except at the continuity of an individuals consciousness. We would have to constantly sacrifice who we are for who we could become, and be willing to learn and change our models of the world on an individual level. And similarly at a societal level.

So my answer would be: yes of course we should fight aging. Aging is a degenerative process of the body and mind. I mean, it's not a pleasant way to go to gradually fade out. But we should do it like an intervention in the market economy, assuming that death solves a huge problem and has a key function - a problem we should expect to reappear if we were to be able to delay aging, and would have to solve again if we took that solution away.

And I think everybody even in this comment section would choose to remain healthy in body and mind till they reached the age of 100 if they can, and at least be given the possibility to die voluntarily.

We already have all the problems from aging... our political leaders accumulate power, and use it when they've become senile. Ending aging is the only way to fix this.

Fortunately we're already making progress:

Having been in the life extension/cryonics community for several decades, I read Aubrey de Grey's book when it came out in '07. I remember that he stated that the most difficult bio-technique necessary to cure aging would be the development of transplacement somatic cell gene therapy, which had yet to be developed at the time. CRISPR, the answer to this, was announced in '12. CRISPR, and its derivatives, turned out to be such a simple technique that you can train high school students to do it.

Two years ago Liz Parrish, a lady who had a career in IT, announced that she had developed not one, but two CRISPR gene therapies from scratch in what an investigative journalist found out was essentially a home lab for the princely total of $200K. One of her gene therapies is for telomere length maintenance, which worked. Whether it actually cured her of aging is something we will all learn in the coming years (I personally do not subscribe to the telomere shortening theory of aging).

My point is that the most difficult actual lab technique for developing aging cures was successfully developed in a home lab for $200K. Given that the laboratory instrumentation and apparatus continues to improve and become cheaper in a "Carlson's Curve" progression, the cost to develop such work will only get cheaper in the coming years. I make the prediction that aging will be cured by a bio-hacker working in his or her home lab in the next 10-20 years and that the recipe will get out on the 'net in a heart beat. Those of us who want life extension are going to have it, even if we have to make it ourselves in a home lab for, say. $50K (and yes I do have that kind of money to set up a home lab if necessary). Those who do not want life extension don't have to have it.
The cost of developing the therapies is low enough that we can do it on our own.

We no longer need to seek the approval of "others" (e.g. the larger society outside the life extension community) to accomplish out goals. It is for this reason why I consider public "debate" on the pros and cons of curing aging to be pointless and silly.

I don't have to convince you of anything. I just have to do the work.

Thanks for posting that message. Do you mind if I forward it to
or alternatively you may like to join and post it yourself.

Liz Parrish is on Twitter

Go ahead. Please do.

I have never understood the idea of have to "discuss" any particular thing i want to do with others if I am perfectly capable of doing such on my own with my own resources. Public discussion and debate is way overrated. On the particular issue of life extension and cryonics, I have no patience whatsoever with the attitudes of "deathist" scumbags on this matter.

Well put, Abelard. No point to waiting on the FDA if you have a terminal disease (we were fixing Duchenne's MD in labs back in 2003... but nobody ever figured out how to get "risky" lenti vectors through the approval process. So the patients from that time are now "safely" dead).

Liz made the point that she did the AAV process in a Latin American country because their law lets patients and doctors pick treatments, not the pharma lobby or religious groups.

It is not for any politician or bureaucrat (who are by any reasonable economic definition parasites) to even have any influence over my long-term strategic life choices, in health or any other matter.

Mind emailing me?
My views are similar to you. Not sure how to get started, but I do consider people like you to be my allies (Those those you don't give a **ck about the larger society)). And perhaps with with the right co-operation and set of circumstances the cost can be brought down even further.

Abelard, Mind emailing me? (dennis_jeeves-1[{at}] views are similar to you. Not sure how to get started, but I do consider people like you to be my allies (Those those you don’t give a **ck about the larger society)). And perhaps with with the right co-operation and set of circumstances the cost can be brought down even further.

A discussion on this topic has started on the Yahoo Group New Cryonet, with lots of technical information

It is fairly argumentative, but don't let the putdown be a put-off to extracting the technical material.

Thanks for the invite, but i'm already part of those groups.
I find discussions with 'deathists' to be tiring, tedious and outright stupid.

Maybe we just need a more visual explanation:

I think living is awesome, even when it hurts. Being here to experience things, whatever they are, is incredible. There are more things to experience than I could in a dozen lifetimes, so I want to be around as long as I can be. That's why I'm signed up for cryonics. I see my body as a machine. We're becoming better and better repairmen (CPR and kidney transplants come immediately to mind); sooner or later they'll figure out how to repair whatever h wrong at whatever time I keel over. The trick is to get to the repair shop (future hospital) in good enough shape for there to be something left to repair. AIUI, short-term memories are electrical signals and will be gone, but long-term memory involves restructuring of synapses and is much more durable. Cryonic preservation as it is done today may or may not get the job done, but cryonics procedures also improve, which is another reason to last as long as I can before I need them (the first being that if I am never reanimated, I want to have lived as long and as well as possible).

This is quite an interesting topic. I am actually doing a college research paper on something similar. Here is my topic: Scientists have just announced an important discovery. They have invented a pill which when taken as a single dose will arrest the aging process in effect making us immortal. However, there is a drawback to taking the pill. Since we live in a world of limited resources if we as a society decide to take the pill, we would have to give up on procreation. We would no longer be allowed to have children. As the president of the world you have the authority to decide whether we as society should take the immortality pill. Make sure you justify your position either way. Provide some ways in which we could have both immortality and children. In an alternate universe, scientists have invented a suicide pill. When taken it will cause a quick and painless death. Proponents of such a pill argue that it can be used by the patients who are terminally ill and in great deal of pain. Opponents argue that suicide is prohibited in many religions as it represents rejection of the importance and value of human life. As the president of the world you have the authority to decide whether the suicide pill should be legal. Make sure you justify your position either way.

My standpoint is not to have an immortality pull but to have the sucide pill. What do you think?

I would take the immortality pill and accept the infertility bit. It seems a free choice matter and I would vehemently oppose any legislator that tried to deny people this free choice. It seems a very sensible way to present immortality, although true immortality isn't possible - there will always be a fatal accident sometime. The proposed arrangement would be a very good solution to the overpopulation problem, because the same person living six hundred to a thousand years before meeting his personal accident would not produce the same number of children during his lifetime as a person who has more than one child (ie more than two per couple) who themselves have children.

It would be interesting to know what proportion of the world's population would think similarly. I would guess about 30%, but that is just a guess based on the New Scientist survey in 2000 as to how many people would have cryonics if it were free. I can't see ever 100% accepting the pill, but if that happened then the entire species would end up exterminated once everyone has had their personal accident. More likely, if the population dwindled noticeably, fewer people would take the immortality pill with its infertility side effect.

As to the suicide pill, there are plenty of these around already. The difficulty of making these legal for anyone assisting is that it could be abused, or pressure put upon the subject. At the moment, such pressure is already put on elderly people to give away their assets to the next generation well before death and reduce their quality of life thereby to avoid various charges and taxes levied on an estate at the death of its owner. So maybe a parallel to get elderly people to kill themselves to save others the burden of looking after them isn't so fanciful after all. It is important to realise that modern hospice care means that very few people are in the painful conditions hypothesised.

Hope this helps with your research paper.

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