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Attitudes to life extension via genetic engineering (fwd)

Patrick O'Neil patrick at corona.med.utah.edu
Sun Feb 12 13:42:53 EST 1995



---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 12 Feb 1995 10:32:09 -0700 (MST)
From: Patrick O'Neil <patrick at corona>
Newgroups: bionet.molbio.ageing, sci.life-extension, sci.cryonics
Subject: Re: Attitudes to life extension via genetic engineering 



On Sun, 12 Feb 1995, John de Rivaz wrote:

> 
> I have been asked to gather information on attitudes of optimism and 
> resistance to life extension by genetic programming. 
> 
> In addition to discussion on these newsgroups [bionet.molbio.ageing, 
> sci.life-extension, sci.cryonics] we need to know if there are any other 
> newsgroups who would provide intelligent non-emotional arguments about 
> it, for and against.

  I have long harbored and interest in genetic manipulation (not 
necessarily engineering) being used for significant life extension, but...
in thinking about it and in discussions with others, and considering the 
present population problem worldwide, I could not sanction any 
significant alterations.  
  Right now, on average, there are about 4 generations alive at any given 
moment, particularly in developed nations.  Even though the trend in 
developed nations is for fewer children per household (~2.5), if suddenly 
it became possible to extend everyone's life by, say, 30 or 40 years, 
then you instantly add a 5th generation to load.  In addition, if such 
measures only were available in developed nations, but not in developing 
nations (where heaviest population growth occurs) then you would add to 
tensions that already exist between the first and second and third 
worlds.  If, on the other hand, such measures became available to them, 
with their exploding populations, it would be disastrous.
  Economically, we are able to support only so many jobs.  At the moment, 
with a growing economy (though made up of low-paying jobs) we still have 
~5% unemployment.  What happens if suddenly those who would normally be 
retiring due to age are now able to work very well for another 30 years?  
What of the young coming into the FINITE job market?  What of the 
environment and the concordant need to divert more water, clear more 
wilderness, grow more crops to feed the extra billions?  Unless EVERYONE 
were willing to accept STRICT birthcontrol laws, widespread, significant 
life extension is not tenable and, ultimately, would devestate us and the 
world we share with all the other creatures.  How about holding off until 
(and IF) we start colonizing space?  At such a time, with a huge area to 
harmlessly expand into, significant life extension would be absorbable.  
Without more space, then significant life extension would lead to exactly 
the opposite for us and many other species.

Just some thoughts 

Patrick





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