Longevity prize

Award Ceremony | The Hypothesis Longevity Prize

[ 29/April/23 ]

As I completed undergrad biochem in 1974 it was clear to me in logic that the default state for cellular life is indefinite – because every cell alive has an equal claim to being the first cell – it is part of an unbroken chain of cell divisions and amalgamations.
Thinking deeply about the evolution of complexity lead me to appreciate the role of the limited life of individuals in the rate of evolution in populations (extremely long lived individuals impose a “genetic drag” on the rate of change). So that fact alone means that we would expect most complex organisms to have multiple mechanisms leading to limited life of those complex individuals.

I became convinced that indefinite life extension was possible, and could be extremely complex, because of a host of potential mechanisms, but understanding that led me to ask the next logical question:

Given that indefinite life extension is possible, what sort of social, political and technological institutions/infrastructure are required to give potentially very long lived individuals a reasonable probability of living a very long time with reasonable levels of resources and freedoms?

That took me into very deep explorations of complexity and strategy and technology.

What actually works?
What is actually driving different classes of complexity at different levels?
What ideas/systems that were historically reasonable approximations to solutions to complex problems fail in the face of this new level of complexity?
Why is it that most people have the extremely over simplistic experiences of reality that they do?
Why does everyone spend so much time believing things “True” that they can so easily demonstrate cannot be the case?

Answering those questions, leads to an understanding of how evolution has biased our neural networks to prefer simplistic solutions that usually work, to prefer simple binary distinctions to complex and nuanced distinctions.

Seeing the social and technological outcomes of these processes.

Seeing people who believe that evolution is all about competition, and fail to see the necessarily fundamental role of cooperation in the emergence and long term survival of all levels of complexity.

Seeing people who value freedom, but refuse to acknowledge that freedom without responsibility necessarily self terminates. Freedom is essential, and freedom has to acknowledge the existence of probabilistic boundaries and risk landscapes if it is going to survive.

If freedom is to survive, then all individuals have to accept and respect the necessary diversity that is the outcome of any real expression of freedom (any meaningful exploration of any level or class of novel territory).

So great to see you folks doing this work. Keep it up. Please get useful outcomes to me asap (70 rapidly approaching, and am noticing reduction in function, it is getting harder to create models with several thousand variables and keep track of all the relationships).

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) with reasonable security, tools, resources and degrees of freedom, and reasonable examples of the natural environment; and that is going to demand responsibility from all of us - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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