If anti-aging technology was the medical standard, few would opt out of it. Many people would opt for voluntary suicide of some sort after 10^x years for x between roughly 2 and 4.

The claim that "people want to die" basically caches out to "if effective anti-ageing tech were available for free/cheap, then most voluntary suicides would just so happen to coincide with the present-day life expectancy of 80 years, or people would actually opt out of anti-ageing treatments entirely and decide to age".

Well, I find it extremely unlikely that that would be true.

Suppose that miss average woman who reads women's health magazines articles on the "top 8 natural anti-ageing solutions" today and buys expensive snake-oil anti ageing cream today is transported to the year 2200, as is Mr mid 30s metrosexual man with his "grooming arsenal". Will they use the cheap actually effective anti-ageing treatments instead of their snake oil that they spend money on today? Absolutely.

So years pass on the calendar without them ageing and they hit roughly 80. Will they suddenly decide to just kill themselves because it's been about 30 years since their kids grew up? But not 10 years or 60? It seems pretty unreasonable to me that the point of psychological exhaustion with life will happen to coincide with the point when biological bodies currently wear out.

The variance will be huge. Maybe Mr Metrosexual will just want to go clubbing, get drunk, play football, have a long series of major relationships, go on holidays, play xbox etc for 10^3 years? Why the hell not? Maybe mind modification will at some point become popular in non-nerdy circles at some point over those 1000 years? I don't think you have to be into majorly nerdy stuff to get 10^3 years of fun out of life.

You could alternatively argue that the claim that "people want to die" basically caches out to "people will eventually want to die rather than live for a literally infinite amout of time". At that point I think it basically becomes vacuous for reasons that have probably been debated ad nauseum in futurist spaces; finite dynamical system cannot evolve indefinitely without looping etc etc.

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People often want to die long before they commit suicide or even consider it. I think Sister Y said at one point that she had wanted to die for years, without ever committing suicide.

It doesn't seem to me highly unlikely that the point of psychological exhaustion would be close to the physical one. That seems like the sort of fit that evolution could produce pretty easily.

2ChristianKl5yHow many people die sooner because they decide to smoke? You likely will never have an anti-aging pill that completely eliminates it but a series of actions that require effort.

Why people want to die

by PhilGoetz 1 min read24th Aug 2015175 comments


Over and over again, someones says that living for a very long time would be a bad thing, and then some futurist tries to persuade them that their reasoning is faulty.  They tell them that they think that way now, but they'll change their minds when they're older.

The thing is, I don't see that happening.  I live in a small town full of retirees, and those few I've asked about it are waiting for death peacefully.  When I ask them about their ambitions, or things they still want to accomplish, they have none.

Suppose that people mean what they say.  Why do they want to die?

The reason is obvious if you just watch them for a few years.  They have nothing to live for.  They have a great deal of free time, but nothing they really want to do with it.  They like visiting friends and relatives, but only so often.  The women knit.  The men do yardwork.  They both work in their gardens and watch a lot of TV.  This observational sample is much larger than the few people I've asked.

You folks on LessWrong have lots of interests.  You want to understand math, write stories, create start-ups, optimize your lives.

But face it.  You're weird.  And I mean that in a bad way, evolutionarily speaking.  How many of you have kids?

Damn few.  The LessWrong mindset is maladaptive.  It leads to leaving behind fewer offspring.  A well-adapted human cares above all about sex, love, family, and friends, and isn't distracted from those things by an ADD-ish fascination with type theory.  That's why they probably have more sex, love, and friends than you do.

Most people do not have open-ended interests the way LWers do.  If they have a hobby, it's something repetitive like fly-fishing or needlepoint that doesn't provide an endless frontier for discovery.  They marry, they have kids, the kids grow up, they have grandkids, and they're done.  If you ask them what the best thing in their life was, they'll say it was having kids.  If you ask if they'd do it again, they'll laugh and say absolutely not.

We could get into a long argument over the evolution of aging, and whether people would remain eager to have kids if they remained physically young.  Maybe some would.  Some would not, though.  Many young parents are looking forward to the day their kids leave.

A lot of interests in life are passing.  You fall in love with a hobby, you learn it, you do it for a few years, then you get tired of it.  The things that were fascinating when you were six hold no magic for you now.  Pick up a toy soldier and try to play with it.  You can't.  Skateboarding seems awesome for about five years, and then everyone except Tony Hawk gets tired of it.

Having kids might be like that for some people.  Thing is, it's literally the only thing humans have evolved to be interested in.  Once you're tired of that, you're done.  If some of you want to keep going, that's an accidental by-product of evolution.  And there was no evolutionary pressure to exempt it from the common waning of interest with long exposure.

The way to convert deathists isn't to argue with them, but to get them interested in something.  Twist them the way you're twisted.