Quora – Scientists cure aging. How does your life change?

Quora – Scientists cure aging. How does your life change?

Not much.

I have known since 1974 that biological life extension was possible, but not how to do it.

The big question that has occupied my mind for most of the period since is:
What sort of social, political and technical institutions does one need to have in place to give potentially very long lived individuals a reasonable probability of doing so with reasonable degrees of freedom?

Over 40 years of exploring system and strategy “spaces” and questioning assumptions that very few people question, have led me to a set of answers that I have reasonable confidence about.

So I would continue doing the sorts of things I have been doing for the last 30 years, talking to people about the assumptions most people accept that are just not true (though they were once useful approximations, that is no longer the case).

Some of the big ones:

1/ Evolution for complex organisms like ourselves is much more about cooperation than it is about competition. If any of us want a reasonable chance of living a reasonably long time (more than 1,000 years) with reasonable freedom, then we must develop social institutions at every level that are fundamentally cooperative, at the same time as they have individual life and individual liberty (universally applied) as their highest values.

2/ While markets and the ideas of “money” and “capital” were very useful tools in an age where most things were genuinely scarce, in an age where automated systems allow for universal abundance of a large and exponentially expanding set of goods and services, these ideas now pose existential level threat with the incentive structures they give at higher levels of abstraction. Thus we need to develop alternative systems that are abundance based that do all the many levels of essential functions that markets currently perform. The major reason anyone is hungry or without education in today’s world is because of the incentives present in markets based values (which necessarily value anything universally abundant at zero – so some people have to be hungry in order that others be well fed, in a market based system – and that is not stable long term).

3/ The idea of “Truth” (capital T version, as in one True way to do anything or how anything actually is). It is an idea that comes out of an overly simplistic model of how reality works. Two major different sub aspects of this.

a/ Reality seems (beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt) to allow infinitely many different ways of doing most things, that are very nearly indistinguishable on any sort of “cost” metric. So in most situations there are many equally possible ways of doing just about anything (in that the “cost” of determining the difference is greater than the original “cost” difference itself); and all a group needs to do is agree to all doing one of them, or some limited subset of them, if rapid progress is the desired outcome.

b/ Our perceptual systems come with many levels of uncertainty, so our experiential realities are necessarily approximations to whatever reality actually is. In most contexts, this doesn’t matter much, as they are usually close enough to be useful, but it really matters when people start arguing about things that are not common, and can exist very differently in our personal experience of reality. None of us can be 100% certain about any aspect of reality (really). All of us need to accept that other people may experience reality very differently from ourselves; and that we will all be different from what reality itself actually is in ways that few can even begin to understand as yet.

So I will continue working to change ideas in use at all levels of awareness and operation in society.

I will continue to advocate for having the value of individual sapient life at the top of the value hierarchy, followed by individual liberty, then whatever else individuals choose. And that requires that we each acknowledge that such values demand of us that we act responsibly in social and ecological contexts.

Freedom so defined is a real freedom, of freedom within the necessary limits required to sustain complexity like ourselves; not some mythical freedom to follow whim without consideration (which is a recipe for death and destruction). Reality has its own rules, and we ignore them at our peril. The rules around the sorts of boundaries required to sustain complex forms like ourselves are not human inventions, they are requirements of reality itself. Any particular human culture may be an imperfect approximation of such requirements, but that does not change the underlying nature of the systemic requirements (at any and all levels of abstraction and awareness).

So I would very likely continue doing a similar sort of balance of activities to what I am doing now, part intellectual exploration, part discussions such as this, part caring for community, part caring for the natural world, part exploration of new possibilities, part maintaining existing competencies and structures, part social engagement, part playing in both natural and artificial environments. Some of it alone, some of it in groups of different sizes.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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