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Attitudes to life extension via genetic engineering

Philip Rhoades okx at extro
Tue Feb 14 09:47:40 EST 1995

Joseph J. Strout (strout at helmholtz) wrote:
: 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.  

This is a nice idea but apparently just science fiction (unless some new 
technology is developed to get large numbers of people off the planet 
cheaply - in terms of energy).

: 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.

Like I said above - it just ain't possible - parts of a solution are:
drastic population reduction (over a couple of centuries), drastic cuts in
the consumption of scarce resources, fanatical conservation of species
diversity and huge increases in recycling. 

Ideally, I think a world population of ~1 billion is a good idea - with 
disease, poverty  and war elliminated - at least that's what we should be 
aiming for - BEFORE we worry about going to other planets and stars. 
Shifting a few people off earth cannot solve the problems. (BTW I am a SF 
fan and I would be on the next shuttle if given half a chance - it's just 
that hi-tech space solutions to the world's problems are a fantasy).

[Lecture mode off]


Philip Rhoades
Pricom Pty Limited
E-mail:	okx at extro.ucc.su.OZ.AU
Phone :	+61 2 963-2246
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