The latest lethal disease – Future imperfect by David Friedman
Over the past 500 years, the average length of a human life in the developed world has more than doubled while the maximum has remained essentially unchanged.
Note:GRANDI PROGRESSI NELL’ETÀ MEDIA
We have eliminated or greatly reduced most of the traditional causes of mortality, including mass killers such as smallpox, measles, influenza, and complications of childbirth.
Note:DOVE LE MAGGIORI VITTORIE
Even if you are no longer fertile, staying alive and healthy allows you to help protect and feed your descendants.’
Note:VECCHIAIA ED EVOLUZIONISMO
The obvious answer is that if nobody got old and died there would be no place for our descendants to live
Note:PERCHÈ LA MORTE?
But that confuses individual interest with group interest; although group selection may have played some role in evolution, it is generally agreed that the major driving force was individual selection.
Note:MA NON CONFONDIAMO L’INTERESSE DI GRUPPO CON QUELLO INDIVIDUALE
second possible answer is that immortality would indeed be useful, but there is no way of producing it.
Note:FORSE L’IMMORTALITÀ È IMPOSSIBILE
there are organisms that are immortal. Amoebas reproduce by division
Note:EPPURE L’IMMORTALITÀ ESISTE GIA’ IN MOLTI ORGANISMI
while the cells in my body are massively redundant, the single fertilized cell from which I grew was not. Any error in that cell ended up in every cell of my adult body.
Note:ALTRA SPIEGAZIONE: L’ERRORE INIZIALE È PRATICAMENTE IMPOSSIBILE DA EVITARE
Aging may simply be the working out of a large collection of accumulated late-acting lethal genes.
Note:LA MORTE È IL RIFLESSO TARDIVO DI PICCOLI ERRORI INIZIALI
A slightly different version of this explanation starts with the observation that in designing an organism – or anything else – there are trade-offs. We can give cars better gas mileage by making them lighter, at the cost of making them more vulnerable to damage.
Note:VARIANTE: LA SALUTE PROLUNGATA È SOTTOPOSTA A TRADE OFF
Suppose there is some design feature, encoded in genes, which can provide benefits in survival probability or fertility early in life at the cost of causing increased breakdown after age sixty… My genes made the correct calculations in designing me for reproductive success in the environment of 50,000 years ago but I, living now and with objectives that go beyond reproductive success, would prefer they hadn’t.
Note:ESEMPIO DI TRADE OFF
our knowledge of biology has increased at an enormous rate
Note:IL PROBLEMA DELLA MORTE VERRÀ RISOLTO. PERCHÈ?. PRIMO MOTIVO.
The second is that solving the problem is of enormous, indeed vital, importance to old people, and old people control very large resources, both economic and political.
Note:SECONDO MOTIVO: POTERE AI VECCHI
Most of the relevant information consists of the observation that doing particular things to particular strains of mice or fruit flies, experimental subjects with short generations and no legal rights, results in substantial increases in their life span.Thus, for example, it turns out that transgenic fruit flies provided with a particular human gene have a life expectancy up to 40% longer than those without the extra gene.
One of the most effective ways of extending the life span of mice turns out to be caloric deprivation, feeding them a diet at the low end of the number of calories needed to stay alive but otherwise adequate in nutrients. The result is to produce mice with very long life expectancies. Whether it will work on humans is not yet known
IL LATO NEGATIVO DELL’ IMMORTALITA’
People whoprefer mortality can still die. Those of us with unfinished business can get on with it.
Note:IL LATO POSITIVO DELLA FACCENDA DELL’IMMORTALITÀ
But while I am unambiguously in favor of stopping my aging, it does not follow that I must be in favor of stopping yours. One reason not to be is concern with population growth.
Note:E IL SOVRAFFOLLAMENTO DEL PIANETA?
I do not share that concern, having concluded long ago that, at anything close to current population levels, mere number of people is not a serious problem…. look at the works of the late Julian Simon…
Note:PERICOLO REMOTO. SIAMO SEMMAI TROPPO POCHI
One is the problem of gerontocracy, rule by the old. Under our political system incumbents have an enormous advantage; at the congressional level they almost always win reelection. If aging stops and nothing else changes, our representatives will grow steadily older.
Note:ALTRO PROBLEMA: IL GOVERNO DEI VECCHI
societies dominated by the attitudes of the old: bossy, cautious, conservative.
Note:SOCIETÀ VECCHIA SOCIETÀ POCO INNOVATIVA
world without aging it seems likely that Salazar would still rule Portugal and Franco Spain.
Note:NEL CASO DELLE DITTATURE ANDRÀ ANCHE PEGGIO
It has been argued that scientific progress consists of young scientists adopting new ideas and old scientists dying.
Note:PROGRESSO DELLA SCIENZA
One answer, popular with the old, is that it is because they know more. If so, perhaps gerontocracy is not such a bad thing.
Note:MA PERCHÈ I VECCHI PENSANO DIVERSAMENTE? PRIMA IPOTESI
Another is that the brain has limited capacity…. Humans, old and young, demonstrate a strong preference for the beliefs they already have; old people have more of them….
Note:SECONDA IPOTESI: EFFETTO DOTAZIONE
shift from fluid to crystallized intelligence. Fluid intelligence is what you use to solve a new problem. Crystallized intelligence consists of remembering the solution you found last time and using that.
Note:COMPRENDERE LA VECCHIAIA: DAL FLUIDO AL CRISTALLIZZATO
CHE FARE CON TUTTO QUESTO TEMPO A DISPOSIZIONE?
When contemplating an extra few centuries, one obvious question is what to do with them. Having raised one family, grown old, and then had myyouth restored, would I decide to see if I could do even better a second time or conclude that that was something I had already done?
Note:PROBLEMA DELLA NOIA
Weak evidence for the former alternative is provided by the not uncommon pattern of grandparents raising their grandchildren when the children’s parents prove unable or unwilling to do the job.
Note:RIFARE LE COSE: I NONNI CON I NIPOTI DIMOSTRANO CHE NON CI SI ANNOIA RIFACENDO LE COSE
in many fields, scholars do their best and most original work when young. My father once suggested the project of funding successful scholars past their prime to retrain in some entirely unrelated field,
E NEL LAVORO? FORSE È MEGLIO RICOMINCIARE ALTROVE
you could spend the first fifty years of adulthood earning (say) $80,000 a year, spending $50,000, saving the rest, accumulate about $2.54 million and then spend the rest of a very long life living on the interest: $50,800 a year for food, housing, and a good Internet connection.
Note:PROGETTO DI VITA
While thinking about how to spend your second century, you might want to consider the social consequences of eliminating the markers of age. In a world where aging is entirely under our control, a young woman of 20 might be dating a young man 100 years older than she is – and he might or might not tell her.
Note:I SEGNI DELL’ETÀ. LA PEDOFILIA SDOGANATA
Immortality also raises issues for our legal system.
Consider a criminal sentenced to a life sentence. Do we interpret that as “what a life sentence used to be” – say to age 100? Or do we take it literally?
Note:LA SORTE DEGLI ERGASTOLANI
two different theories of criminal punishment… One is that we lock a murderer up for the same reason we lock a tiger up: He is dangerous to others, so we want to keep him where he cannot do much damage. That is the theory of criminal punishment sometimes described as incapacitation….
Note:CHIEDIAMOCI: PERCHÈ LA GALERA? PRIMA RISPOSTA
impose a cost on him, a cost high enough so that other people contemplating murder will choose not to incur it. That is the theory described as deterrence.
Note:SCONDA TEORIA: DETERRENZA
If our objective is deterrence, centuries of incarceration maybe overkill, which is an argument for eventually letting the convict out. If our objective is incapacitation, on the other hand, we may want to keep him in.
Note:CONSEGUENZE DELLE DUE TEORIE
A third justification offered for imprisonment is rehabilitation,
If so one might reinterpret “life” as “to age 100 or until rehabilitated, whichever takes longer.””
Note:CONSEGUENZA TERZA TEORIA
Thus, the appropriate clinical trials would be to:1. Select N subjects.2. Preserve them.3. Wait 100 years.4. See if the technology of 2100 can indeed revive them.
-what is the status of a corpsicle? Is it a corpse, a living person temporarily unable to act, or something else?
If I am frozen, is my wife free to remarry? If I am then thawed, which of us is she married to? Do my heirs inherit, and if so can I reclaim my property when I rejoin the living?
If I am concerned about keeping my wealth to support me in the second half of my life, there are legal institutions, trusteeships and the like, that give dead people some degree of control over their assets.
Note:L’ISTITUTO DEL TRUST
Their chief limitation is one that applies to almost all solutions, the fact that over a period of a century or more, legal and social institutions might change in ways that defeat even prudent attempts at planning for revival.
Note:MA I PROBLEMI RESTANO
One alternative is to transfer wealth in ways that do not depend on stable institutions, perhaps by burying a collection of valuable objects somewhere and preserving their location only in memory.
Note:ALTERNATIVA: NON AFFIDARSI ALLE ISTITUZIONI
If I commit a crime and then get frozen, does the statute of limitations continue to run, providing me a get out of jail free card if I stay frozen long enough?… does my sentence continue to run?…
Note:IL CRIMINALE IBERNATO COME, QUANTO E QUANDO SCONTA?
somebody who wants to get frozen a little before he dies instead of a little after. Whether or not freezing makes it impossible to revive me, dying surely makes it harder. And some illnesses – cancer is an obvious example – do massive damage
Note:EUTANASIA E IBERNAZIONE
Under current law, freezing someone before death, even ten minutes before, is murder.
Note:IBERNAZIONE E OMICIDIO
The simplest way of changing that is to interpret freezing not as death but as a risky medical procedure whose outcome will not be known for some time. It is both legal and ethical for a surgeon to conduct an operation that might kill me if the odds without the procedure are even worse.