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Attitudes to life extension via genetic engineering

Patrick O'Neil patrick at corona
Tue Feb 14 18:36:26 EST 1995

On Tue, 14 Feb 1995, John de Rivaz wrote:

> There are a few points I would like to raise here.
> 1. That made by George Bernard Shaw - people living longer lives would be 
> personally concerned about the future and have less need to reproduce.

Nice saying but it has no objective, scientific foundation.  People will 
continue wanting kids in much the same way as they do now, and look at 
the relatively recent medical capabilities that allow women even past 
menopause to have children...they OPT to have ADDITIONAL children even 
though their normal fertile period has come and gone.  This would not 
disappear with longer lives, this practice would increase:
"Honey, it has been 30 years since our last child.  They are all grown 
and living their own lives.  Let's have another."

> 2. As population growth is exponential, if everyone who ever died was 
> resurrected, it would only double the world's population. And we are taling 
> about life extension, not resurrection.

The problem is not one of bringing back all the past living, but 
maintaining the exponentially increasing pool of people who would 
forthwith have access to longer lives.  The affect on overall population 
size would NOT be insignificant.

> 3. by refusing life extension research on the grounds of population, we are 
> doing the same thing as saying to old people that we will not give you 
> access to medical treatment because we want to make room for someone else, 
> and that expands into "we will kill you to make room for someone else".

This is already done in medicine in which a patient is refused treatment, 
such as a heart transplant, etc, when they are aged because such an 
operation would be largely a wast of a precious organ that a younger 
individual would better serve. This is cold, hard fact and it is the way 
it is.  Doctors rate recipients based upon both the  criticality of their 
condition AND on the *relative* benefit to be gained.  A 60 year old 
doesn't have that much of a life ahead when compared to a twenty year old 
who is just starting out, has a young spouse, and has (or plans on) 
kids.  The younger person's life is ahead of them, for the older person, 
it is all behind them.  You don't have to like this state of fact but it 
is a MUST when dealing with heroic medical treatments.

> 5. It is uneconomic to pay to educate new people if we can go on getting 
> contributions from those we have already educated.

This point is largely irrelevant because we are not seperated, even now 
(or ever) from wour evolutionary heritage which pushes us to reproduce.  
Your genes don't give a damn about the social worth of others, they 
"care" about getting propagated.  That cannot be intellectualized away.  
This drive is what makes sex the single most powerful motivator and force 
in any sexually reproducing creature's life.

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