Response to Hayflick

Julian Assange proff at
Sun Jan 7 00:50:18 EST 2001

"John H." <johnhkm at> writes:

> There's a worry:
> People can discuss and legislate all they like, if the technology is
> possible it is going to be implemented legally or illegally; probably both.

This widely used argument is arrant nonsense. It's important to
recognise it and shoot it down where-ever it is seen; for it leads to
complacency and fatalism.

In every science/engineering development process there are many (i.e
thousands or millions) of decisions to be made. Many of these
decisions are finely balanced enough such that even small external
forces (including the perception of external forces) can tip them one
way or another.

Every student, researcher and investor must decide to spend their time
and money on one thing or another and it is rare that the difference
between the top choices is large. When large differences
occur, they are quickly exploited by market forces and made small.

So, public perceptions, tax (dis)incentives etc do make a difference.
Sometimes a very large difference.

In fields that require substantial capital, educational and time
investment, the participants are notoriously conservative and
responsive to government censure. The best way to quell a revolution
is to give people assets they can lose.

> the more chronic assistance will be required. Eg. We're all slowly
> going blind, imagine a world filled with 120 year blind people? 

Perversely, the most effective anti-aging technique yet invented might
be UVA/UVB/IR screening sunglasses.

> Most? The bait of universal life prolongation will be held out, in reality
> it will be for a minority and may never be feasible for the vast majority.

Like small-pox and oral sabin vaccine? 

Recombinant lactobaccilus bifidus and other gut flora could produce
significantly beneficial anti-oxidative pre-cursors
in-vivo. Automatic dosage control via feedback of cellular production
of oxidative markers could make such treatments extra-ordinarily safe
and as cheap as eating a container of yogurt every few months.

There are dozens of potential solutions like this one, that have
insignificant marginal cost. Some are achievable right now.  All
that's needed is money and public acceptance. We have magic bullets in
terms of delivery. If we had more money for micro-array experiments
on the abnormally long lived, perhaps we would have more magic in
the payload too.

> It's easy to make a machine that lasts a long time and functions well, but
> bodies are very different, there were never designed to last a long time in
> the first place.

On the contrary, we were designed to last as long as possible, given
certain reproductive trade-offs. This is why the problem is hard;
evolution has already found all the easy solutions. Yet, we can see
that evolution needs gradual increments in its fitness landscape and
does not take advantage of large scale co-operation. Vaccines take
advantage of both our ability to think ahead and co-operate. They
demonstrate that it is possible to significantly augment natural
abilities by applying what was not within our evolutionary grasp.

 Julian Assange        |If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people
                       |together to collect wood or assign them tasks and
 proff at          |work, but rather teach them to long for the endless
 proff at  |immensity of the sea. -- Antoine de Saint Exupery

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