Attitudes to life extension via genetic engineering

Joseph J. Strout strout at helmholtz
Mon Feb 13 11:38:00 EST 1995


On Sun, 12 Feb 1995, Patrick O'Neil wrote:

> Conversely, I have considered the wideer ramifications of such 
> manipulations and capabilities and have come to the conclusion that 
> significant life extension in general would be disastrous.  The worl 
> population is already booming and there is concern about the environment 
> and available resources for the ever-growing minions.
>	...
> Unless there is another planet sitting around for us to expand onto, or 
> unless everyone will accept strict population control methods, then it 
> cannot work.  The problems are the same, to varying lessor extents if you 
> are only considering minor life extensions.

I think your analysis is essentially correct.  Humanity's gestation is 
nearly over; the difficulty is making sure that Mother Earth does not die 
due to complications of childbirth.

The only long-term solution, of course, is to expand from Earth.  As you 
pointed out, long lives would be benificial given ample room and 
resources.  Fortunately, there are resources aplenty in our home solar 
system.  The gas giants, especially, are rich in energy and raw 
materials.  Of course, the original question was about life extension 
through biological means, and it is doubtful that such methods will 
enable people to live on other worlds except in enclosed structures, and 
this will limit the rate of expansion.

Of course, it would take an extremely aggressive emmigration program to 
counter the growth rate; births will have to be legally restricted, most 
likely, as they are in China already.  The combination of emmigration and 
birth restriction may succeed in saving Earth -- despite an extended 
lifespan.

,------------------------------------------------------------------.
|    Joseph J. Strout		Department of Neuroscience, UCSD   |
|    jstrout at ucsd.edu		http://sdcc3.ucsd.edu/~jstrout/    |
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