Hacking the human lifespan

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/06/16/hacking-the-human-lifespan.html

What an unfortunate use of the word, “hack”. I guess it really has taken the place of all other verbs.


The main problem i can imagine is wealth disparity becoming worse and worse should people live longer than 100 years. Imagine Trump, or other wealthy people living that long. Then political leaders living that long as well, imagine a Putin or Kim Jung Un living well past 100 years. I am not seeing many upsides of an increased life span beyond a bigger opportunity for wealth accumulation and corruption.


Aubrey de Grey is just another shithead charlatan peddling ancient pablum to desperate, gullible fools with too much money to waste on pathetic wishful thinking. He’s hipster Dr. Oz. Sounds like these tech bro billionaires have at least discovered how to remain a baby for ~70–100 years. Time to hack their Pampers.


Ah, ah, ah.

It really has hacked all other verbs.


The “cure for aging” is death. Our limited lifespan is a feature, not a bug. Prolonging life to the degree suggested by de Grey is impossible.

Naturally, this is a darling project of silicon valley billionaires. They’ve spent their entire lives slinging bullshit about how they want to transform the world and improve the lot of humanity whilst doing absolutely nothing whatsoever to address the real issues and problems of their less well off neighbors (like fixing the housing crisis in the San Francisco Bay area), let along the issues and problems of our species as a whole. Pouring money and time into moonshine like this lets them lie to themselves about how they are a force for good in the world while they continue to do great evil as a byproduct of making vast profits for themselves.


Yep. Right at the kneecaps.


EDIT: I highly recommend this book. The list of contributors is bonkers, and the discussions about immortality are great, though aged. “Contributions by Robert Anton Wilson, Timothy Leary, Steven Heller, Michael Miller, Camden Benares, Israel Regardie, Neil Freer and others…”

Continuing in the unique style of Hyatt’s seminal work, Undoing Yourself With Energized Meditation, and in conjunction with some of Falcon’s finest and most rebellious authors, Undoing Yourself Too explores more deeply some of the subjects most important to Christopher Hyatt including Immortality (“Are we the first generation of immortals… or the last generation of mortals?”); Monomania and Monotheism; Language and Hypnosis; Hyatt’s Tripolar Formula for Success (“Have some Fun, Make some Money, and Do some Good along the way”); the nature of Culture (“Culture is the result of the interaction of Genetics and Geography”); and Who Owns You?


Will you accept Mark E. Smith as interpreted by Paris Brightledge?


For the type of Silicon Valley billionaire who funds these projects, the obsessive focus on quantity always seems to crowd out the issue of quality. If only they took some time to balance their education with the study of the “worthless” humanities they’d have learned the Greek myth of Tithonus, who asked for immortality but forgot to ask for eternal youth. His wish was granted, and as a result:

when loathsome old age pressed full upon him, and he could not move nor lift his limbs, this seemed to her in her heart the best counsel: she laid him in a room and put to the shining doors. There he babbles endlessly, and no more has strength at all, such as once he had in his supple limbs

I’d be glad for an extra decade or two, but not if they’re spent in decrepitude and dementia (or, you know, having to do Thiel-style vampiric blood transfusions or eating only Soylent). Anyhow, the smart ones know that the de Grey stuff is really only about buying time until the the Kurzweil stuff comes on-line – if the human lifespan has to be extended to 300 years, let alone 1000, the larger project will be a failure.


Be careful with that word. You or I may not agree with de Grey’s timeline, his goals, or the idea of a cohesive “cure for aging” (just like there will probably never be something you can point to as “the cure for cancer” even if we learn to eradicate all cancers).

But…the body is made of atoms and molecules, and those can be moved around in all sorts of ways humans haven’t tried yet. Are you claiming it is literally impossible for there to be a process that converts atoms and molecules from a configuration corresponding to “old person” to one corresponding to “young healthy person” while preserving whatever it is that counts as “memory” and “personal identity?” If so, that is a far stronger claim than what de Grey is claiming.


If Silicon Valley millionaires fund a discovery of a way to lengthen lifespan, I’m happy enough with that. There are some people that have this kind of old-timey “You’re supposed to die” point of view that kind of assumes that we are in a special moment. Like, the shorter lifespans of the past are a sad tragedy, we have perfect lifespans now, but to extend them any further would be an unnatural perversion of the natural order. There is this strange conflict between “Wanting to commit suicide is a mental health issue that should be addressed” & “Wanting to live longer is a sign of a pathetic fear of death”. My general point of view is that I prefer to avoid the (seemingly motivated) arm-chair psychoanalysis and wish people could live as long as they wanted to live.


Excellent point. It makes me wish that Forbes and other publications would stop ranking people based on the fortunes they’ve amassed.

As a child, I really enjoyed the version of the myth in which Tithonus becomes a cricket.


Lifespans have been hacked for many thousands of years. Think war, murder, suicide, and executions.


I just want to know how the story turns out, and maybe see Haley’s comet a few more times, I never got a really good look last time.


“By 2025 or 2030, there will be more of a culture of dying and lots of different ways of experiencing it.” Well that was the normal way of things during aeons -Industrial Age was the exception in history. For example :

Not to mention the many books of the dead existing in many past and present cultures.

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Looks Undoing Yourself Too, is a collection of essays. Many of those have been printed in other books.

Does look like Antero Alli has added commentary and meditations to connect the essays.

I’d have thought telling people we can make them live forever would inhibit developing a culture of death, or at least a healthy one, especially if it’s only a potential immortality that can still be interrupted by catastrophic bodily harm. Dying at 40 is tragic, but how much moreso if you might have lived to a thousand instead of expecting a mere ninety or so. I can see a lot of people being paralyzed by fear, living very conservative lives until they reach at least their 800s.

Of course, I think the titular claim is bullshit, so at least I’m not gonna have to deal with any of this.

People’s ambitions, drive and agency is also dictated by our finite lives. We have only one life and it is short, we must make of it what we can. If you knew you had 500 years to figure shit out can you imagine how little would get done?

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Meh. It’s all a simulation anyway. For some reason, the programmers wrote the autonomous packets of code to self expire after a certain period of time. It would take some hardcore hacking to work around that.

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