×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

The Fight To End Aging Gains Legitimacy, Funding

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the gentleman-scientist dept.

Biotech 569

oddwick11 writes "Aubrey de Grey and other leading scientists and thinkers in stem cell research and regenerative medicine will gather in Los Angeles at UCLA for Aging 2008 to explain how their work can combat human aging, and the sociological implications of developing rejuvenation therapies. From an article today in WIRED Magazine 'Now, though, some scientists are beginning to view his approach — looking at aging as a disease and bringing in more disciplines into gerontology — as worthwhile, even if they still look askance at his claims of permanent reversible aging within a lifespan. The Methuselah Foundation now has an annual research funding budget of several million dollars, de Grey says, and it's beginning to show lab results that he thinks will turn scientists' heads.'" The conference is free, though registration is required; L.A. area readers who can attend are encouraged to post their thoughts. Update: 06/27 05:18 GMT by T : Dr. de Grey notes that you can also simply show up and register on-site. Look forward to a Slashdot interview with de Grey in the near future.

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

569 comments

eat my shorts slashdot !! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23962375)

Eat my shorts slashdot !!

Hope (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23962377)

So there is hope for John McCain after all!

Re:Hope (4, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962465)

As an aging human myself...may I say I support this effort whole heartedly.

It doesn't appear as if vampirism is going to save me at this point, so, time to support medical science!!

Yes...I DO want to live for ever.

Now...which politician will speak out in favor of wiping out aging?

Re:Hope (1, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962603)

The conference is in L.A. They'd be glad to help you live forever using a disfiguring cocktail of fad diets, plastic surgery, Botox(tm), hair transplants, bathing in feces(works wonders for your pores!); and to top it off, they'll hold up your chihuahua in a 4-star hotel.

Oh, and the whole anti-aging idea is so god-complex outlandish that it couldn't possibly be hosted in any other place 'cept L.A.

Re:Hope (5, Insightful)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962809)

There's nothing ridiculous about trying to fight off the same thing we fight our whole lives.

Re:Hope (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23962821)

Now...which politician will speak out in favor of wiping out the aging?

there.. fixed that for you :)

Re:Hope (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962835)

Now...which politician will speak out in favor of wiping out aging?

Dunno, same one who'll speak out in favor of PANCAKES?

Re:Hope (4, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962891)

"Yes...I DO want to live for ever."

I wonder if this means at some point politics and religion will have to go obsolete, I can't see immortals who are idealogically charged getting along with each other, will this lead to immortal wars, or will age and maturity see idealogy as nonsense?

Re:Hope (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#23963003)

>Now...which politician will speak out in favor of wiping out aging?

Presumably it will be one who can't do the math: A mammal that takes 16 years to mature and then spends 500 years breeding. You think gas is expensive now? Does retirement look far away? I assume it will look further away when retirement age rises to 450, with annual increases.

Wow... (5, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962379)

500 years from now, just think how out of touch the elderly will be! I can't wait to shake a cane and tell the youth that in my day we had Atari 2600s, not AI-merged universal consciousness!

Re:Wow... (1)

mindbuilder (960119) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962469)

>500 years from now, just think how out of touch the elderly will be!

People will learn to keep themselves updated better.

What is this strange thing that makes people want to deny the likelihood of curing aging within the next few decades? I saw a survey of doctors that reported that the doctors thought that the average life expectancy a hundred years from now would be only about a hundred years. That means those doctors thought aging wouldn't be cured for more than 200 years! What on earth possesses people to think that progress will be so slow?

Re:Wow... (1)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962589)

500 years from now, just think how out of touch the elderly will be!

I saw a survey of doctors that reported that the doctors thought that the average life expectancy a hundred years from now would be only about a hundred years. That means those doctors thought aging wouldn't be cured for more than 200 years!

Can you actually imagine out of touch elderly people who are fit enough to actually implement their old fashioned, crotchety notions? The fact that the life expectancy will still be one hundred years will have more to do with homicide than old age.

Actually, all silliness aside, that raises an interesting point. If aging is no longer a killer and supposing people aren't automatically neutered, would the fact that human life is devalued make homicide less of a crime?

Re:Wow... (2, Insightful)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962655)

Actually, all silliness aside, that raises an interesting point. If aging is no longer a killer and supposing people aren't automatically neutered, would the fact that human life is devalued make homicide less of a crime?

I do believe you're begging the question.

Grammar Nazis, you may bookmark this comment for reference.

Re:Wow... (2, Insightful)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962675)

I don't see how extending human life would work to devalue it. I don't play a violin for every person that dies in far off countries but I do feel personally hurt when people are dying for no good reason.

Stupidity will of course rise with the population increase, and that's the real killer, of both other stupid people and the innocent sensible people watching where they're going.

Re:Wow... (4, Insightful)

bnenning (58349) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962901)

Can you actually imagine out of touch elderly people who are fit enough to actually implement their old fashioned, crotchety notions?

That assumes that if aging were cured, "old" people would still be "old fashioned", which is far from clear. Why do the elderly often resist new ideas today? I figure it's either due to physical changes in the brain, or it's a rational decision that the time invested in learning new stuff wouldn't be worth it since they don't expect to be around much longer. Anti-aging treatments would address both those points.

If aging is no longer a killer and supposing people aren't automatically neutered, would the fact that human life is devalued

Huh? If anything it becomes more valuable. It would mean that a murderer had deprived his victim of centuries of life or more, instead of decades.

Re:Wow... (5, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962669)

What on earth possesses people to think that progress will be so slow?

Because it's going to be hard. Damned Hard. We have picked the low lying fruit (clean water, decent nutrition, vaccination, appropriate lifestyle) and are making small amounts of progress on the most common age related diseases (heart disease and cancers).

The rest is going to either require 1) a "magic bullet" - some relatively simple pan organism aging switch that we can engineer a mechanism to interfere with and hope to hell it doesn't cause more problems downstream or
2) a much better understanding of the extremely complex interactions that cause the human body to age.

The first possibility is pie-in-the-sky, it's what many of the researchers are working on now and my wild ass guess is that it will fail. The second is going to require time, and a lot of it since doing the "experiment" on increasing aging will take close to a century and we will have to do many such experiments to make sure it works. Even if you find an aging model in a mammalian organism such as the dog with a normal lifespan of a decade or so, it will take quite a long while to figure out what's going on.

And I haven't even begun to think about the ethical issues involved. Since "aging" starts the moment you are conceived, you will likely have to interfere with the process early, say in a person's teens or twenties. That's going to be fun getting past Institutional Review Boards.

I am Bill Clinton (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23962391)

I am Bill Clinton and I want to penetrate you until you are 98.

Make it happen.

No no (2, Insightful)

Rascargil (1313175) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962399)

Aging is not a disease. Imagine contesting with our own offspring if everybody decides to live forever.

Re:No no (4, Interesting)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962681)

Thanks to the magic of calculus, as long as you have less than two children (on average) per couple, the population will stabilize eventually. Many first-world nations have already reached that point (and are experiencing negative population growth as a result).

A one-child policy seems a reasonable price to pay for immortality - hell, even if sterilization was mandatory a lot of people would still jump at the chance. And why shouldn't they? There's plenty of interesting people in the world to get to know. If we didn't spend our entire lives concerned only with our immediate relatives we might become a better species.

Besides, even without old age plenty of people will still die from yet-uncured diseases, accidents, wars, murders, suicides, etc. Death isn't going away any time soon.

The big question is how it would affect us psychologically: If death was no longer inevitable, would we give life more value? Would men still march to war? Would terrorism become a far more compelling tool? Would we spend eternity cowering inside private fortresses, fearing the slightest risks to our fragile immortality?

Re:No no (2, Informative)

Acapulco (1289274) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962785)

Did you read Bicentennial Man by Asimov?

You should if you are curious about a very interesting point of view orbiting around those issues.

I won't spoil it, but it's worth it and it should take no more than one or two days to read.

Re:No no (1)

layer3switch (783864) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962807)

prolonged life does not mean, IMHO, contesting with our offspring, but contesting with each's own.

Aging, Death, Life, are part of us more so than we are part of them in retrospect, and should youth become a "pill" away, I'd feel more incline "not" to reproduce as early in life as I do now.

Re:No no (5, Insightful)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962923)

"Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon. " - Susan Ertz

NOOOOO! (5, Funny)

NerveGas (168686) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962405)

Please, please, no.

The hope that my mother-in-law will someday die is one of the few things that allows me to be around her. PLEASE, don't take that away from me.

It's about frigging time! (2, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962407)

The life-extension movement has been asking for this approach for at LEAST a half-century.

By the way: Watch for the government to try to restrict this research, or use of its results, to "save social security".

Which shouldn't really be an issue: A good set of treatments for aging would lead to people of larger calendar age not just hanging in there in a sickly state consuming large amounts of medical treatment - but retaining (or being restored to) good health and able to return to work and create the resources needed to support them (and in style).

Re:It's about frigging time! (1)

nanostuff (1224482) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962483)

Watch for the government to try to restrict this research, or use of its results, to "save social security".

If the theory is that the government will restrict what is not in their favor, I find it hard to believe they would, of all things, prevent the development of technology that could extend their reign indefinitely.

Re:It's about frigging time! (2, Interesting)

duckInferno (1275100) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962613)

A good point - assume say 30 years of one's life is spent in an unproductive or counterproductive state (childhood/frailty/etc). Someone who lives for 500 years will have a lot less overhead than five generations of 100 yearers.

Re:It's about frigging time! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962747)

Someone who lives for 500 years will have a lot less overhead than five generations of 100 years

And you think it's the old fossils that still program in COBOL? Just wait... The arguments on Slashdot ... my head asplode.

Re:It's about frigging time! (2, Funny)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962969)

The arguments on Slashdot ... my head asplode.

Our six digit UIDs are looking pretty good right about now.

What a Great Idea, Not (0)

Glug (153153) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962411)

With 6.5 billion people on the planet, and all of the world's major problems (global warming, wars, famines, extinction of animal and plant life, etc etc) being a direct result of human overpopulation, the fight to end aging seems like the most idiotic endeavor of them all.

Re:What a Great Idea, Not (1, Insightful)

Trogre (513942) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962455)

...being a direct result of human overpopulation...

[citation needed]

Re:What a Great Idea, Not (2, Informative)

maino82 (851720) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962609)

If you'll remember back to your high school biology class, most of the items Glug listed are what are widely accepted in the scientific community as density dependent limiting factors. Meaning that as a population increases, so do wars, plague, famine, etc. Global warming is debatable as a density dependent limiting factor, but you could make a strong case for it.

Re:What a Great Idea, Not (2, Interesting)

ScottCooperDotNet (929575) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962727)

Funny how we're "overpopulated" but need constant immigration to keep our economies going. I don't believe "overpopulation" is the right word, but it's time for some new, well planned cities, no?

Re:What a Great Idea, Not (1)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962773)

Present day Asia has more population that the entire planet did a few hundred years ago. Why doesn't Asia have an 18th century world's concentration of war, plague, and starvation?

The answer, I would say, is that, while it is a factor, population is hardly the key determinant. Rather, it is not the quantity of the civilization, but the quality. Given limited resources, a well managed, civil population of 10,000 will do far better than an uncivilized, chaotic population of 1000.

As for Glug, if he wanted to deny a treatment that would regenerate him on his deathbed, more power to him. The rest of us would much rather accept the treatment and strive to continue to improve the world's condition for everyone through means other than cutting the population.

Re:What a Great Idea, Not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23962521)

Umm, the world isn't even close to being overpopulated.

If we make technological advances to extend life and build better machines, there would be no problem having double or even triple the number of people alive now.

Re:What a Great Idea, Not (5, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962629)

People don't give a shit about the planet because they know they will be dead long before it is.

Give them eternal life and watch how quickly they become militant greenies.

Re:What a Great Idea, Not (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962703)

Good point, but you're assuming that they won't find ways to make habitable other planets(or make their own planets) in a galaxies far, far away. In that case Earth will be preserved as a museum, just like the ancient north-african desert with a homo erectus mannequin. And who's to say that there aren't other intelligent species out there?

I'm sure there is intelligent life out there... (1)

f16c (13581) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962857)

And who's to say that there aren't other intelligent species out there?

That will kick our asses in any case.

Re:What a Great Idea, Not (4, Funny)

Stevenovitch (1292358) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962861)

And who's to say that there aren't other intelligent species out there?

What exactly do you mean by other?

Re:What a Great Idea, Not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23962859)

That's the single biggest reason I support de Grey's work: give people a 500-year outlook and I'm quite certain they'll make more responsible decisions.

Re:What a Great Idea, Not (1)

bnenning (58349) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962935)

Yeah, and don't get me started on those morons trying to cure cancer.

Even if it ends up being "necessary" for us to die, it would still be a huge improvement to cure aging anyway and instead implement a system like Logan's Run. You'd get 100 years of good health and much reduced medical costs.

Great idea and moral imperative (1)

CaeruleanXII (1312245) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962967)

Will you be the first to volunteer to die then? There are other solutions besides the death of every man, woman, and child on this planet.

Re:What a Great Idea, Not (1)

wwahammy (765566) | more than 5 years ago | (#23963007)

By your logic shouldn't we stop treating all illness? It would seem to slow the problem of overpopulation.

I have huge concerns about overpopulation too but that doesn't mean I want to stop research into treating illness and disease. It means I choose to create 2 children or fewer in my lifetime and I encourage others to do the same. If you live for 1000 years but only create one child then we're still better off than if you lived 40 years and created 10.

Re:What a Great Idea, Not (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 5 years ago | (#23963051)

With 6.5 billion people on the planet, and all of the world's major problems (global warming, wars, famines, extinction of animal and plant life, etc etc) being a direct result of human overpopulation, the fight to end aging seems like the most idiotic endeavor of them all.

Not quite as idiotic as citing war and famine as problems caused by overpopulation, despite the fact that there are more people around today than ever before, and both of these are far less frequent than they ever were before.

The other things you mentioned are bogus too, but they don't fly in the face of the evidence so extremely that you'd be idiotic for believing it, in those cases you'd simply be wrong.

Very rewarding (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23962425)

I've been in attendance at the last 134 annual conferences and found it to be very rewarding.

Mortality and evil. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23962437)

LOOK at the current crowd of greyhairs in control. Do we really want them immortal? Yes, perhaps even the majority of old people are nice people, like us only, well, older.

But time allows people to accumulate societal power. Fine if they're nice people. Not so fine if they're psychos. And the evil will rise to the top, it's what they do - people who actively seek power tend not to be good people (though sometimes they might "mean well".). After all, the most telling sign of evil is starting to believe "there is no good or evil, only power".

So is mortality the price we need to pay to avoid permanent rule by utter assholes? We can't assure that only nice people become immortal, really. I guess we still have assassination
(I mean anti-aging is not anti-bullet/polonium/ricin/whatever), but a lucky immortal might consolidate so much power as to be near-immune to that too - it'd already be pretty damn hard for me to e.g. take out GWB.

Re:Mortality and evil. (1)

kaidadragonfly (993636) | more than 5 years ago | (#23963023)

Mortality doesn't assure that we avoid permanent rule by utter assholes, merely that which asshole is in charge changes from time to time.

Methuselah's Children, etc. (5, Interesting)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962451)

Heinlein wrote extensively in his novels on the subject of aging, treating it as a syndrome that was inherently cureable, including the anhedonia (loss of the joy of life) that came from that multitude of minor pains that take up so much of your attention as you get older. Pain is terribly distracting, from minor itching all the way up to opiate-resistant terminal conditions. It's a lot of nerve noise. Anything that can solve the complex of symptoms that lead to age-related death will also have to deal with pain and anhedonia as well.

Re:Methuselah's Children, etc. (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962997)

A lot of science fiction has explored life extension.. of course, a lot of people don't read, and a lot less read science fiction, so I expect that we'll rehash everything as the technology becomes available.

Overstating their abilities might be an advantage (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23962461)

Saying you can stop aging soon could be an easy line on old rich men beginning to fear death.

No difficult questions on progress or specifics; investors that came to you. There's your millions.

(No, not saying anything at all about whether or not this whole thing is a good or bad idea)

Re:Overstating their abilities might be an advanta (1)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962753)

This whole thing is a big waste of money. We already have the perfect cure for aging, and with the Supreme Court's recent decision that Washington D.C. isn't allowed to ban it, we should be able to keep fighting aging for the foreseeable future.

They want to end aging? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962487)

What, so we can all die in a horrible accident instead?

Re:They want to end aging? (4, Insightful)

duckInferno (1275100) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962555)

Beats dying early due to disease. I'd much rather be given the choice of when to end my own life. If this doesn't sound like your cup of tea then kindly stand aside for those who long for this.

Re:They want to end aging? (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962687)

Yes. I'd sure as Hell rather die in a plane crash at a healthy young age of 500 than die of old age of 80.

Boon for the news (5, Interesting)

mrami (664567) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962507)

Imagine a world where all deaths are either by tragic accident or homicide...

Re:Boon for the news (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962695)

If people weren't in such a rush to burn up their youth they might take life a little more seriously.

Re:Boon for the news (1)

layer3switch (783864) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962699)

or in suspended animation.

I don't understand why death must mean something horribly gone wrong?

Circle of life or Circle of death, I guess, all depend on point of view...

Re:Boon for the news (1)

mrami (664567) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962767)

I don't understand why death must mean something horribly gone wrong?

Probably because you don't get a practice round.

does this mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23962517)

we're going to be heads in a jar after all?

Overpopulation... (5, Interesting)

duckInferno (1275100) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962531)

... won't be an issue as long as anyone who opts in for clinical immortality is also stripped of their fertility. In fact, i'd imagine underpopulation would be a significant risk if enough people take it.

I for one would love to live to see the day where we roam freely amongst the stars. With all the advancements in almost every area of existence that we are experiencing today, I don't forsee myself getting bored any time soon.

Re:Overpopulation... (1)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 5 years ago | (#23963017)

As a 'child of the oil', I certainly dont want to be around after it is gone. The world will be vastly different after the oil age and I actually think a lot of room needs to be made, as opposed to taken up, in preperation for that future time.

Re:Overpopulation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23963019)

... won't be an issue as long as anyone who opts in for clinical immortality is also stripped of their fertility.

Like the Highlander?

In fact, i'd imagine underpopulation would be a significant risk if enough people take it.

There can be only one.

I cut my nail too short and it hurts (5, Interesting)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962533)

'living forever' really seems like it should be possible. Our bodies have a process, and that process can get altered by diseases and malnourishment and improving how we keep clean and what we eat has given us much more time to live.

Why should aging be any different? Nobody really dies of 'natural causes', it's always something specific that breaks homeostasis in the end (sometimes starting from the beginning), natural causes is another name for 'there's no worth in investigating exactly why this person died because they're too damned old, but it's probably heart failure, even though that's a symptom of a mode of death'.

Our bodies aren't designed on a basis of 'right' and 'wrong', it's designed on what worked best to getting the next generation across. Unfortunately, renewing certain kinds of cell tissue was never vital to that goal.

We already know electronics and stuff are prone to getting old and eventually failing themselves, but there's no reason to use our artifice as an analogy, we have yet to create something that is constantly replacing itself on the cellular level, essentially becoming a whole new thing over and over.

I hope this research makes some serious progress, even if it will be only our descendants that enjoy the results.

Some interesting/disturbing possibilities (3, Interesting)

edwebdev (1304531) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962535)

If human lifespans are ever extended to a significant degree, there will be significant repercussions as governments attempt to deal with what would inevitably become a very serious overpopulation crisis. Death and suicide are currently viewed as horrible things by the majority of western cultures. Would a practical illustration (catastrophic overpopulation) of why death is a natural and necessary component in the "lifespans" of living things, including human populations, change popular and governmental dispositions towards death and dying?

What kind of effects might this have on policies towards euthanasia? More provocatively, might governments starting offering tax credits or other kinds of awards to families whose eldest members opted to end their lives? Might governments impose penalties on individuals who were older than a certain age?

Re:Some interesting/disturbing possibilities (2, Insightful)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962627)

If we could increase the health of everyone, we could help maintain resources and shelter and everything for everyone.

I've been back and forth across the US quite a bit and I've been to a few other countries, there's a lot of empty space between here and there and the only overpopulation I've seen are in the big cities that people incessantly cling to or migrate to for reasons beyond my understanding, probably because I was raised in a big city and hated it.

The dirty truth of it is that overall, humans are in comparatively poor health to what they could be if everyone ate right and had the best health care available and actually made use of it.

When was the last time you washed your hands? When was the last time you washed your hands even though they didn't look like they had anything on them? When was the last time you washed your keyboard?

Death is not necessary, it's just a cliche everyone falls for eventually.

Re:Some interesting/disturbing possibilities (1)

edwebdev (1304531) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962725)

I would say one of the problems with the empty space argument is that resources are finite and that it takes far more space to support any population than it does only to house that population. The exponential growth of most populations, if left unchecked by death of older individuals, would present a problem.

The dirty truth of it is that overall, humans are in comparatively poor health to what they could be if everyone ate right and had the best health care available and actually made use of it.

Totally agree with you here.

Death is not necessary, it's just a cliche everyone falls for eventually.

I would argue that death of older or less fit individuals is an important natural force in any biological population, but I concede that people may come up with new ways to mitigate imbalances introduced by a much longer-lived population.

Re:Some interesting/disturbing possibilities (2, Insightful)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962795)

I like the way you talk.

If people were in better health, if their bodies needed less to go on because they were getting just what they needed and not the other crap, then those finite resources could go a little further.

Most people only have about 20 years, between ~20 years old and ~40 years old, where they're at their best to really go out and do their part for society. Growing up there's not a whole lot a person can do and age takes it's toll as early as 25 for some people.

If people had more time to do the best with themselves, we could have more people working on getting those resources and improving on them.

I'm getting tired, I hope I'm making sense.

Why That Trip? (1)

rubypossum (693765) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962983)

What is it about human nature that makes some of us enjoy doom and horror? Why is the dystopia far more prevalent than the utopia? Even when people (read: men and woman) are able to choose their job, live forty years longer than normal, eat themselves to death with plentiful food and enjoy more leisure time than any other period in human history; we still find dark futures lurking in everyone's minds.

Now a group of scientists is saying we can live forever, and what is the immediate reaction? That will never work! It will spell doom for humanity because of x, y and z.

Personally, I think humans will survive if we gain immortality. I also think we'll remain humans. Which will mean that some of us will still take risks to steal eachother's stuff. I think that I would commit suicide out of boredom after the first few hundred years. However, I'd like to find out.

Heh. Boredom as the impetus behind war.

All new low. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23962537)

Research like this is what makes me hate human beings. I don't understand why people are so afraid of death. Live your 40-100 years, and then die. Stop looking to science to "save you", stop chasing after religion to "save you". You're going to die, and then you will no longer exist. Deal with it. Nobody wants you around longer than that anyway.

Besides, there aren't enough basements in this world for all slashdotters to live forever. Basements must be vacated for the next generation!

Re:All new low. (1)

duckInferno (1275100) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962583)

Sure, death isn't to be feared, but that doesn't mean we need to set an egg timer. I'd rather die when I'm good and ready rather than have my world cut short because of "disease". You don't want to live beyond the arbitrary limit you have set? Fine. Just don't try and ruin other people's lives in some sort of misguided crusade against longevity.

Re:All new low. (1)

edwebdev (1304531) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962633)

Sorry, wasn't attempting to advocate any particular philosophy, just saying that death plays an important role in the maintenance and advancement of a species. I guess the process of natural selection is a good illustration of how death of the individual can ultimately serve a biological population.

Another Car Analogy (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962593)

When my car gets old, it will get rusty. If you happen to have a car with a fiberglass or stainless steel body, the parts under the hood will still fail.

If you're treating aging like a disease, might as well find a cure for death too.

Re:Another Car Analogy (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962731)

Cars don't heal... constantly... without stopping... regenerating tissue without a moment to think.

That car will get old and rusty if you leave it sit, but if you overhaul the entirety every year and replace every part that goes bad or unreliable as soon as it does then that car will last you until you crash it or forget about it. I guess that's grandfather's axe, but then so is the human body except for brain cells.

Re:Another Car Analogy (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962963)

That car will get old and rusty...

Cars aren't people. Eggs aren't people. There are no acceptable metaphors or similies for people that involve comparing them with objects.

Re:Another Car Analogy (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962883)

At the end of the day, that's exactly what a treatment for aging is: a cure for death. And if you view death as simply the cessation of the body's systems, there's no conceptual reason why you shouldn't be able to restart those systems or prevent them from crashing in the first place, given the right tools and technology.

The question is, should we be doing this? My take on it is, yes, yes we should. We should be doing everything we can to extend, as long as possible, every human life currently in existence. If it turns out that we've opened a Pandora's box in doing so, then we'll find further solutions to those additional problems. Either by colonizing space (if only near space, like Lagrange points and the moon), or by adjusting our society to accept death as a useful function of life. No matter what happens, though, it'll help humans evolve, culturally if not genetically.

Stratification of the classes (1)

TornCityVenz (1123185) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962615)

So you think there's a major gap in lifestyle between yourself and that neighboor 5 blocks away behind the gate? What about between you and the hungry in africa living on $3 a day? Now...Imagine the wealthy who can afford this treatment, and the money they will pay to make sure the lower classes DON'T get it. The idea that we might acually be able to reverse ageing before we can colonize anouther planet makes me shudder. However..such a techinique might be usefull for deep space missons, to bad that is only the pipedreams of good sci-fi.

Re:Stratification of the classes (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962745)

I have a feeling people will fight a lot harder for the fountain of youth than good teeth and healthy meals. If they don't have the ambition, then they don't really need it.

Don't... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23962631)

Bad Idea....

Yay! You too can work foreever! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23962647)

Great, just what I need, now I'll never be able to retire.

Seems sort of selfish to me (1)

Stevenovitch (1292358) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962665)

Extending the lifespan significantly seems to have all kind of benefits for the individual and all kinds of negative consequences for society and the species in general.

You're fucking over your kids and grandkids, who probably won't be allowed to be born for reasons of overpopulation while you selfishly hog the great tit of life.

And to end it all I imagine that within the first few hundred years of having pretty much the exact same population existing on earth bacteria will have advanced so far past us that it'll just wipe us all out in one massive wave of the worst pestilence imaginable unleashing an extremely cruel death on every human alive

...come to think of it I don't see why we deserve any better. I wholeheartedly support this initiative.

Paging Thomas Malthus... (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962673)

When I read articles like this about scientists coming up with ways which can result in the dramatic increase in population, I can't help but think about Thomas Malthus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malthus#The_Principle_of_Population [wikipedia.org]. He theorizes that while our capacity to provide food increases arithmetically (1,2,3,4...) our population grows at a geometric rate (1,2,4,8...)

"The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world."

In the first edition of the Essay, Malthus suggested that only natural causes (such as accidents and old age), misery (war, pestilence, plague, and above all famine) [Book I, Ch. 2], and vice (which for Malthus included infanticide, murder, contraception and homosexuality) [Book I, Ch. 5.] could check excessive population-growth. In the second and subsequent editions, Malthus raised the possibility of moral restraint (marrying late or not at all, coupled with sexual abstinence prior to, and outside of, marriage) as a check on the growth of population.

We've seen all of these from China's "One child" law, African warlords using food to control the population and pollution causing reduced lifespans. We've seen famine in Ireland (potato), and recently the tomato scare in the US. What would happen if instead of a few varieties of tomatoes, this was a bacteria that destroyed wheat (ala locusts).

Re:Paging Thomas Malthus... (2, Insightful)

corbettw (214229) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962895)

Malthus published his famous two centuries ago. If he had been even close to being right, Western civilization would not currently exist. The fact that you and are here, having this discussion, shows that he wrong in nearly all his assumptions.

Re:Paging Thomas Malthus... (1)

layer3switch (783864) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962897)

Or...

what if prolonged life means, longer reproductive cycle? Comparison to every other species, humans (not so much physiologically but socioeconomically) have very short window to reproduce. If we increase that window substantially, say, for 100 years, what are the chances, we might "actually" have better chance of being a better parent, a better human being, and a better neighbor?

Quoting from my college professor, "if you give a monkey enough time, it can build a computer." If we give ourselves enough time, perhaps we can build a better society at last.

Humans out-evolved by other Earthling animals? (5, Interesting)

maiki (857449) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962697)

Assume they stop or reverse aging and take it to the next step: never dying. Also assuming that we don't kill ourselves by overpopulation, what does that mean for the humans as an evolving species? We would stay the same while the rest of earth's species continue to develop? Death may be disastrous for the individual, but it allows the species to continue to adapt to changing conditions, no?

Things which regulate the population (1)

Aetuneo (1130295) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962709)

So, currently, we know about the following things that are/were regulating overpopulation (an incomplete list):
1. Health, leading to death of illnesses, injuries, etc. Now mostly removed by medicine.
2. Famine, Plague, etc. Used to randomly sweep through communities. Now mostly removed by 1) Globalization (preventing really large famines) and Medicine.
3. Predators. Would kill off the weak and unlucky. Mostly removed by weapons, habitat destruction.
4. Natural Disasters. Becoming more of a problem.
5. Cancer. Only an issue when you live past your biological usefulness (the point where you begin consuming more resources and/or stop producing children), and require additional support from others. Thus, becoming a rather major issue.
6. Death of Old Age. The ultimate regulating factor. The point when the body just gives up and stops working. Pushed back by medicine, but not removed.
7. Ecosystem Collapse. Has not yet happened on a large scale; however, will happen if overpopulation increases without central planning for dealing with the additional resource needs.
8. Death by Old Age, where the vast majority of a population is above child-bearing age. If this is enough of the population, their death may lead to an end of the species. To my knowledge, this has never happened.

The point: the more humans mess around with aging and such, the more unpredictable things will happen, and the more things that were predicted but ignored will happen. For example, people have been talking about climate change and world overpopulation for a long time, but still nothing really major is happening to find a solution.

Re:Things which regulate the population (1)

layer3switch (783864) | more than 5 years ago | (#23963015)

For example, people have been talking about climate change and world overpopulation for a long time, but still nothing really major is happening to find a solution.

Perhaps no one has lived long enough to come up with an answer yet. :)

Good News Everyone! (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962711)

Some day I'll be able to live healthily and interminably, thus monopolizing your lives and resources for even longer than I had already planned to!

Immortally Yours,
Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth

"Scientists and thinkers"?? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23962721)

Is that Religion of Singularity-talk for "unable to get papers published in peer reviewed journals"?

Ra's al Ghul (2, Funny)

Bwana Geek (1033040) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962781)

While de Grey and colleagues are very excited about their findings, they warn that repeated exposure to the Lazarus Pits may drive some people quite mad.

Quality of Life vs. Imortality (1)

hpycmprok (219527) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962793)

I really don't want to live forever. If it were possible, I think eventually everything would become mundane.

However, if the length of youthful vigor could be extended, if the quality of life could be improved into the autumn years, I'm all for it.

I'm already distracted more and more by the general discomfort of my body, and am starting to really notice the slowly increasing limitations of my physical abilities. If that could be reduced, it could make the time people have to live more worth living.

But living forever? Forever is a very long time.

If you really want to live forever, know God (-1, Offtopic)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962867)

Please hold off on the hatred moderation for a post. I wouldn't be posting this if I didn't know something special. I'll keep it brief, but you can always email me at James_Sager_PA@yahoo.com.

I'm all for science, and I hope scientists can stop aging. You have to think though. Even with a cure for aging, something will inevitably kill you. And even if you could live for a real long time, you'd still encounter suffering directly or indirectly.

God is the only one who holds the promise for an eternity better than anyone can conceive. God also loves us so he wants to see us happy. Even though this world may be flawed because of evil made its way in it, we're only here for a short while. If you want to live forever, don't worry because the arrangements have already been made. Just go in life being a good individual. And the Bible makes a good read especially if you read the New Testament.

War on Aging (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#23962957)

Just don't start the War on Aging, because in America that would really mean the war on those that are aging.

Its all game theory. You can't live for ever (1)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 5 years ago | (#23963029)

The reason we have the age we do has nothing to do with health.

It is game theory. The length of time we live relates to the social structure we have.

So if we live forever, we need a dramaticaly different social structure.

The second aspect is that given we are living longer means that alot of deseases that would have been "selected" out now stay in the gene pool. So we are not infact much healthyer at all.

Live forever you say. Next thing you know, neocons will change the laws so they stay in goverment for ever. How will you ever change that ?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...