A reply to a comment by Peter to a post in Lifeboat Foundation facebook page linking to Scientists pull living microbes, possibly 100 million years old, from beneath the sea
[ 18/12/20 Peter stated “I don’t see how this pertains to longevity”]
In one sense it doesn’t, and in another sense it does, and that is the sense in which all bacteria are without specific age related loss of function attributes that higher organisms like ourselves exhibit.
In order for complex cooperative organisms like ourselves to exist there must exist mechanisms to enforce cooperation at each level.
At the cellular level, any line of cells that stops communicating with its neighbours and starts using resources to duplicate itself in excess of the need specified in those communications from neighbours, is a threat to the cooperative. In terms of us, we call such things cancer.
Most of what we recognise as age related loss of function is due to antagonistic pleiotropy (as per Williams et al) expressed in the telomere mechanism that limits the number of replications cells can perform (and thence the size of tumours).
It is, of course, vastly more complex than that (as all biology is) and that is a good first order approximation to the major aging mechanism we as humans experience.
The thing to get from all this, is that the default cellular mechanisms are tuned to indefinite life, and that the age related senescence mechanisms we see in most complex multicellular life are a mechanism to ensure cooperation of the cells in the complex.
We can now envisage the development of other mechanisms to ensure cooperation that do not limit the age of the complex.
That is the essential takeaway message.
That was in fact obvious to me in October of 1974, and much of my intellectual effort in the years since has been investigating the classes of strategies and systems that are in fact required to give potentially very long lived organisms a reasonable probability of actually living a very long time.
That has involved deep explorations of the systemic nature of both freedom and responsibility; and has convinced me, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that security and freedom require fundamentally cooperative contexts to survive; and that fundamentally competitive contexts pose existential level risk (at any and all levels).
[A very brief and simplistic summary of a subject that would fill libraries.]