In The Tradeoff, I outline the unintended consequences of humanity's shift away from its ancestral way of life to the 'man made' way of life we experience in civilization. In the long-run, however, I can see how technology (medical advancements in particular) will eventually lessen many of those undesirable consequences. In particular, extending the mean age of a population to the degree possible will improve the stability and sanity of human governance. So, how much do we need to extend life expectancy for this to play out as I speculate?
Physics Makes Aging Inevitable, Not Biology is an interesting article that challenges the idea of extending life expectant... but I see flaws. Read it if you like and then consider my responses...
Note: I have inserted parts of the article below that stood out for me, followed by my responces.
In An Unsolved Problem of Biology, Medawar pitted two explanations for aging against each other: On one hand was “innate senescence,” or aging as biological necessity. On the other was the “wearing out” theory of aging—aging due to the “accumulated effects of recurrent stress.” The former is biology, the latter physics. Innate senescence implies that aging and death are dictated by evolution to make space for younger generations.
One error we make is the zero-sum view of nature, i.e., it’s either free will or determinism. Here, it’s either “innate senescence” (biology) or “wearing out” (physics). Realizing I don’t’ know is better (71) so, I’d see it as possibly both, plus the unknown ‘constant’ i.e., The way possible to think, runs counter to the constant way.
Medawar himself argued for the “wearing out” theory—the physics viewpoint on aging. First, he said, it is difficult to see how natural selection could have selected for senescence, because we don’t reproduce in our elderly years and natural selection is driven by differences in reproduction rates. Second, it is unnecessary to actively kill off older individuals to keep an aging population small. Random chance can accomplish this on its own.
This portrays the tunnel vision of evolutionary theory. It is all about natural selection for fitness, and discounts any other, what I loosely call a ‘universal consciousness’ aspect. Profound sameness (56) is always a factor I constantly and increasingly seeing at work.
Eliminating cancer or Alzheimer’s disease would improve lives, but it would not make us immortal, or even allow us to live significantly longer.
Who wants to be immortal? Not me. How long is significantly longer? At what increase of mean age life span for a population would make a useful sobering difference in civilization’s governance ‘wisdom’? I already see a difference between the ‘teenagee’ civilizations of past centuries and the ‘middleagee’ civilizations of today. I’m not expecting miracles; just better management that is more in line with nature overall… not perfect, just better.
That doesn’t mean there is nothing we can do. More research into specific molecular changes in aging is needed. This may show us if there are key molecular components that are the first to break down, and whether that breakdown leads to the subsequent cascade of failure. If there are such key components, we would have clear targets for interventions and repair, possibly through nanotechnology, stem cell research, or gene editing. It’s worth a try. But we need to be clear about one thing: We’ll never defeat the laws of physics.
It was good to see he came down to earth in the end. And who ever said we need to defeat the laws of physics.