Living Longer

I wrote this post in 2017 on a blog that no longer exists. Now that I’ve added a blog to Cycle Uphill, I thought I’d transfer the post over here….

I was reading an article about how a Professor Longo is selling a special formula diet that lets people live longer by being on a calorie restricted diet while still getting the essential nutrients in a tasty form.

And of course there are many other researchers looking into life extension including people at Google, Human Longevity, SENS Research Foundation, and several universities such as Harvard and UCLA.

A part of me wonders, to what end? Why?

There have always been smart, intellectually curious people who want to live as long as possible because they are fascinated by the world and want to learn more or create more. These people believe that as we have more time we will use it in an “elevated” way.

As Gary Kasparov, former World Chess Champion said, “Intelligent machines will continue that process, taking over the more menial aspects of cognition and elevating our mental lives toward creativity, curiosity, beauty, and joy. These are what truly make us human, not any particular activity or skill like swinging a hammer — or even playing chess.”

But for every one of those who believe we will elevate our mental lives towards creativity, curiosity, beauty, and joy, I’ll bet there are hundreds who don’t know what to do with their time. That’s partly what the opioid epidemic is about. It’s why so many retirees drink themselves, if not to death, then at least to oblivion. It’s why in 2016 the average American adult watched 5h 4m of television every day. It’s why so many unemployed young men spend their days playing video games.

Perhaps I misspeak. All the people do know what to do with their time. It’s just not perhaps what those seeking to extend life might be thinking.

Besides the question of what will people do with that extra time, one needs to consider the economics. If anyone is concerned about the financial health of Social Security and Medicare, they need to start panicking if people retire at the same age yet live longer.

And if people have to retire later, what does that mean for someone working a tough minimum wage job? Or being at the beck and call of the brutal scheduling algorithms now used in retail? More years of misery?

Or perhaps extended lives are just for the lucky few: those rich enough to afford the extra years of life and also curious enough about the world to want to keep learning and exploring.

I guess we’ll find out soon enough. I for one will be curious to know how we will fill our (possibly) extended lives with creativity, beauty, and joy.

And of course the answer to the question of “to what end? Why?” is fame, status, and money for the people who figure it out.

Links and Other Clicks

Article about Professor Longo and his research. And an article by someone who tried the diet.

The article from which the Gary Kasparov quote comes.

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