desirability of aging.

William Shelly Hayes gt8623b at prism.gatech.edu
Sat May 28 12:24:41 EST 1994

If aging is conquered, there are several aspects that few people seem to
consider.  Old age and infirmity is a disease.  I think that our natural
(without aging) physical maturity would stop in the early twenties.  This
physical age would also have an effect on our minds.

As we get older, 'crystallized' knowledge is more prevalent - 'fluid' 
knowledge is less prevalent.  This is one of the reasons that older 
people are more conservative (generally speaking).  There was some
research I remember hearing about at one time that was experimenting
with rats.  The object of the research was a drug that allowed the 
'fluid' learning ability of younger rats in the older rats.  The adage
that one cannot teach an old dog new tricks has an enormous impact on
our society - some of which is good.  Rational conservatism can keep
devastating trends from taking over (hot-headed youngsters).  A
population composed of just old (in body and mind) but immortal people
(which I believe is impossible as one is trying to keep a deteriorated
condition stable) would become a static and boring society.

I do not believe that immortality (barring accidental death) would become
static except for possibly a stronger safety conciousness.  People would
live until they got tired of it, and then they would make themselves stop
living (and all of us would go to hell for committing suicide :)  ).

The initial aspects of a means to stop aging if it were cheap enough to be
generally available would be devastating to our society.  One third of our
society would be back at work (as they would be essentially very knowledgeable
twenty year olds) and the birth rate would not slow down significantly.  This
cannot help but to generate a lot of war and other craziness as the 
population increases.  

The way I hope aging research progresses is for it to reduce old age 
infirmity (as it is doing now), but still keep the limit at ~85 years.  As
our society progresses, the age limit will hopefully move upwards with
the onset of the disease getting closer and closer to the maximum age limit.
Basically, people staying young until they die.  I think this would be the
smoothest transition for aging remedies to make it into our society.  No
matter what, as immortality approaches, some means of enforced birth control
is going to have to be instituted.

Unfortunately, I believe that research will only unveil a total fix for aging
and not an incremental one.  Medicine now only treats symptoms of aging and
that will not get us far enough for the total fix not to be somewhat 

Of course the preceding is only my opinion, it can always stand improvement
and refining.

May I recommend the book 'Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do'
by Peter McWilliams
aka 'The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in a Free Society'

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