Past and Present

Ten years ago teenager me was hopeful. And stupid.

The world neglected aging as a disease, Aubrey had barely started spreading memes, to the point it was worth it for him to let me work remotely to help with Metuselah foundation. They had not even received that initial 1,000,000 donation from an anonymous donor. The Metuselah prize was running for less than 400,000 if I remember well. Still, I was a believer.

Now we live in the age of Larry Page's Calico, 100,000,000 dollars trying to tackle the problem, besides many other amazing initiatives, from the research paid for by Life Extension Foundation and Bill Faloon, to scholars in top universities like Steve Garan and Kenneth Hayworth fixing things from our models of aging to plastination techniques. Yet, I am much more skeptical now.

Individual risk

I am skeptical because I could not find a single individual who already used a simple technique that could certainly save you many years of healthy life. I could not even find a single individual who looked into it and decided it wasn't worth it, or was too pricy, or something of that sort.

That technique is freezing some of your cells now.

Freezing cells is not a far future hope, this is something that already exists, and has been possible for decades. The reason you would want to freeze them, in case you haven't thought of it, is that they are getting older every day, so the ones you have now are the youngest ones you'll ever be able to use.

Using these cells to create new organs is not something that may help you if medicine and technology continue progressing according to the law of accelerating returns in 10 or 30 years. We already know how to make organs out of your cells. Right now. Some organs live longer, some shorter, but it can be done - for instance to bladders - and is being done.

Hope versus Reason

Now, you'd think if there was an almost non-invasive technique already shown to work in humans that can preserve many years of your life and involves only a few trivial inconveniences - compared to changing diet or exercising for instance- the whole longevist/immortalist crowd would be lining up for it and keeping back up tissue samples all over the place.

Well I've asked them. I've asked some of the adamant researchers, and I've asked the superwealthy; I've asked the cryonicists and supplement gorgers; I've asked those who work on this 8 hour a day every day, and I've asked those who pay others to do so. I asked it mostly for selfish reasons, I saw the TEDs by Juan Enriquez and Anthony Atala and thought: hey look, clearly beneficial expected life length increase, yay! let me call someone who found this out before me - anyone, I'm probably the last one, silly me - and fix this.

I've asked them all, and I have nothing to show for it.

My takeaway lesson is: whatever it is that other people are doing to solve their own impending death, they are far from doing it rationally, and maybe most of the money and psychology involved in this whole business is about buying hope, not about staring into the void and finding out the best ways of dodging it. Maybe people are not in fact going to go all-in if the opportunity comes.

How to fix this?

Let me disclose first that I have no idea how to fix this problem. I don't mean the problem of getting all longevists to freeze their cells, I mean the problem of getting them to take information from the world of science and biomedicine and applying it to themselves. To become users of the technology they are boasters of. To behave rationally in a CFAR or even homo economicus sense.

I was hoping for a grandiose idea in this last paragraph, but it didn't come. I'll go with a quote from this emotional song sung by us during last year's Secular Solstice celebration

Do you realize? that everyone, you know, someday will die...

And instead of sending all your goodbyes

Let them know you realize that life goes fast

It's hard to make the good things last


New Comment
65 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 3:26 AM

This is 1. fascinating, but 2. not entirely useful. I'm upvoting it anyway because it's something I hadn't heard of and may want to do if it's as helpful and inexpensive as you suggest. To answer that, I'd need to know:

  1. Who to go to to get cells frozen.
  2. What the procedure entails.
  3. How much #2 costs.
  4. What's required to get the cells off ice and appropriate tissues or organs grown in the event that I need them.
  5. Probability of success for #4. (or even just: How often has this been done, and what proportion of attempts have been successful)
  6. Cost of #4.
  7. Common death-causes for which this entire exercise is useful.

...and probably a few other things I haven't thought of. The post answers none of these, although I'm glad you brought it up anyway because at least now I know the possibility exists.

Also of note: it sounds like this is used for things like replacing failed organs with own-grown ones. Which, okay, that will buy you longer life, and that's a good thing, and I'm sure organs grown from younger cells work better. But it doesn't sound like it will buy you longer youth, which is what anti-aging is all about. I think your complaint might be misdirected. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding you.

What's required to get the cells off ice

Getting it off the ice is relatively easy - we vitrify/freeze gametes and embryos and they grow into healthy people. I think the restrictions center mostly around the current limitations of adult stem cells (in place of embryonic or umbilical). You can do quite a few useful things but, risks.

I'm not certain about relative risk/benefit of doing those things with a cryo-preserved younger version of your adult stem cells as opposed to harvesting them when needed from a clinical perspective...but from a basic science perspective people have found rejuvenating effects from giving old mice transfusions of young blood, neural progenater cells, etc so it's promising.

(Also, if anyone's going to do this, you might be able to collect free goodness points by going on the bone marrow registry at little additional inconvenience.)

Upvoted for altruism.

So, you've noticed you are confused, and concluded that the false belief must be "the anti-aging community contains a non-negligible number of rational munchkin types", rather than "storing tissue samples is cheap, flawless, reliable, and useful"?

You say you've asked loads of people. What did they say? "No, I didn't do that. I dunno why."? Did no one have an explanation like "I hadn't thought of it" / "I never heard of it" / "It's poorly advertised and I don't know who to call" / "It's too expensive for too little pay off; let's fund cryonics / rejuvination therapy instead" / "It doesn't actually work the way you think" / anything at all? It sounds like that's what you're saying, but did no one at least try to rationalize it? Even with "That sounds dumb" or just laughing it off?

Not even one rationalization, even a feeble one?

That seems unlikely.

Not just "I'd expect people to be smarter than that", but "I'd expect people to make at least a tiny effort to justify their preference when it is called into question, even if by just saying 'that is my preference'". Maybe your responses were mostly noise, but what sort of noise?

If it's just that people haven't even heard of it, then clearly the solution is to raise awareness. If it's that people aren't getting sufficiently excited, then the solution is to do our own cost/benefit analysis, and if it still works out in favor of tissue-freezing, raise awareness of that.

Oh they rationalized it alright. Also cost benefit can't be the excuse of people with more than, say, 10 million dollars and whose main goal is living long.

You seem to be missing the point of CAE_Jones' comment there. The people you ask about your unconventional idea "rationalizing" why they're not doing something that seems obvious to you is what it feels like on the inside when your "obvious" idea is actually dumb and the people you're asking have good reasons not to be doing it, what makes you so confident that that's not what's going on?

As the person who first emailed Rudi back in 2009 so you could finally stop cryocrastinating, I'm willing to seriously dig up whether/how this is feasible and how much it would cost iff:

(1) You disclose to me what all the responses you got (which are available to you); (2) I get more than five of those responses which aren't variants of "No, I didn't do that."; and (2) Overall, there is no clear evidence, among the responses or elsewhere, that this wouldn't be cost-effective.

The minimal admissible evidence is things like a scientific paper, a specialist in the relevant area saying it's not cost-effective, or a established fact in the relevant area which has as a clear conclusion this is not cost-effective.

Thank me later.

Thanks for that amazing service back in 2009. May the end of my cryocrastination always be with you.

God, I need an anti cryocrastination angel too!

Here is a rough cost-benefit analysis. I found all the numbers before doing any maths and tried to be as optimistic as possible towards your theory to account for people more intelligent than me coming up with better ways to do it if it became standardised.

The cost of freezing a cell is proxied as the cost of freezing your eggs, which is already commercially available. It is £2900 for the initial harvest and £275 for a subsequent year of freezing. This £275 is not discounted because you pay it every year. Source. Let's assume that the clinic are nice and let you freeze as many different organ-cells as you want for the same £275 / year fee.

There are 56,000 people in the EU who are on the organ donor waiting list, suggesting there are around 56,000 people who have a sufficiently chronic failure of an organ that it didn't kill them outright but will kill them if they don't get a transplant. Many of these 56,000 people will get an organ through conventional means, but let's say none of them do to account for the fact that as medicine advances we will probably be able to transfer more people off the 'going to die' list onto the 'might be able to survive if given a transplant' list. Let's also assume that this represents 56,000 new people on the organ transplant list each year, even though the average wait on the list is around three years. Source (also I found a dodgy-looking source suggesting that 50,000 people die of organ failure each year, so the figure for the number who could benefit is probably not out by more than an order of magnitude). There are 500m people in the EU, so your chance of being on the organ transplant list in any given year is about 0.01%.

Same source as above suggests the average QALY gain for an organ transplant is 11.5 for a liver transplant, 6.8 for a heart transplant and 5.2 for a lung transplant. Let's assume all transplants give you the full 11.5 QALYs because medicine improves.

Finally let's assume you freeze your cells now at 25 with the expectation that they will be used in 40 years at 65. You only get one shot at doing this; you may never freeze your cells again because they degrade too much on your 26th birthday.

This means in total you pay £13900 for a 0.01% chance at 11.5 additional QALYs, for an expectated value of £10.8m / QALY. That is to say, if you would pay £10.8m for an additional year of life at the margin, this is probably worthwhile (given some very optimistic assumptions). However, this is only true if you get one shot to freeze your cells at 25. If instead you can wait until you need them and freeze them then, you'd only be paying something like £250 / QALY. You can see from these two numbers that even if cells degrade in quality to the extent that they are a thousand times harder to successfully transplant you are still better to wait until you are pretty sure you are a high-risk group for organ failure. Anyone who believes £10.8m / QALY is a good deal should also be prepared to accept a salary cut of around £115,000 / year in order to avoid a 20 mile commute since road vehicles have a fatality rate of something like 1.5 per billion miles travelled.

That's great! thanks so much for doing this.

Also in the future we may take blood transfusions from our younger selves, since apparently this is already helping some rats now.

Besides getting new organs and blood, anyone can think of another advantage of having cells frozen in the future?

Realistically, I would expect that having your own cells frozen probably brings more benefits on average than being able to get an organ donation. Organs are in short supply. If they were abundant, doctors would give them to more people, increasing your p given above.

Still, if organs were free and 100% immunocompatible, many things would still be a problem. E.g. cancer.

Do you have any papers or other resources on why freezing one's cells would be a good idea for transhumanists? I think that we'd be interested in hearing you elaborate on why you think any given method of freezing cells would be worthwhile, which isn't something that you've discussed in the above post.

To be fair, your readers can Google things, too-- but in general, it is really nice when people who make posts give readers a bit of background knowledge on the topic the post is about, especially when the topic (freezing cells) is something that isn't commonly discussed on LW.

Seconded. Specifically, citations for the implied claims (1) that it is not exorbitantly expensive to perform the organ regeneration or pay for an insurance policy that will pay for that, and (2) how often death is caused by something that can be fixed with organ transplants. Also relevant would be the probability that you would get a successful organ transplant without the cell preservation.

Two responses:

First, if this is a useful thing that we should be doing, good on you for making the case for it.

Second, it's not at all clear to me that this is a useful thing that we should be doing. What is the use case where I say "I'm glad I have those frozen cells from young me"? Egg freezing has obvious benefits given declining fertility with age, and unsurprisingly I see a significant infrastructure in place for freezing eggs. But for those of us that aren't women, that doesn't seem tremendously useful.

How big is the (expected) difference in success between, say, organs rebuilt with cells from a 25 year old to organs rebuilt with cells from a 45 year old? (If we don't know that, why are we saying the case for this as a life extension technology is "certain"?)

I think what diegocaleiro is saying is that the people he asked didn't make any arguments of the above form. They didn't consider the option rationally, and then reject it for rational, analytical reasons. From the post itself:

I could not even find a single individual who looked into it and decided it wasn't worth it, or was too pricy, or something of that sort.

It seems (from diegocaleiro's description) that no one he asked had actually performed a cost-benefit analysis, even a flawed or half-hearted one. The question of what this sort of behavior implies is an entirely separate one from that of whether cell freezing is a useful practice.

It seems (from diegocaleiro's description) that no one he asked had actually performed a cost-benefit analysis, even a flawed or half-hearted one. The question of the what this sort of behavior implies is an entirely separate one from that of whether cell freezing is a useful practice.

Would you describe my comment as a cost-benefit analysis? I mean, I know what cognitive algorithms I executed before typing it up to the limit of my introspection, but I don't know if diegocaleiro would look at that and say "oh, he's rationalizing" or "oh, he didn't think that this was a promising technology but had considered it before / hadn't thought of it because of that."

It's possible to see quite a bit of epigenetic change in identical twins as they age. This doesn't necessary mean that those changes are deterioration, but it might be worth looking at what a person's base state is, or a least a younger state.

"I've asked them all, and I have nothing to show for it." ... "Let me disclose first that I have no idea how to fix this problem."

I'm unsure what "nothing to show for it" means? I want to recommend that you have intensive (in the sense of contentful rather than combative) arguments, try to identify weakpoints in their reasoning (or excuses, as the case may be), and then write up your analysis for others to read. However you may already have tried to argue the issue, and came out the other end with nothing worth analysing. On the other hand, you may have had unintense arguments, in which case it seems like a substantive discussion is the first port of call. On second thought, a substantive discussion is called for in both cases, since if you come out with nothing worth analysing then the discussion wasn't substantive after all!

PS. This is my first comment on this site, I'm not familiar with the etiquette surrounding introductions and ( doesn't contain any information on that point. Let me know if there's any introductory rituals I would be remiss to ignore.

There's a Welcome Thread that you might want to check out!

It seems like whole genome sequencing could be a lower-cost, lower-quality option? (No recurring freezing costs, just a lump sum for the sequencing? But it's less likely to be useful.)

Also, it's not clear to me that it's important than an artificial organ be produced from my cells.

Is this an idea you had yourself? Did you run it by any experts? In any case, this suggests to me that you are generalizing hastily about what you see as this implying about people.

[-][anonymous]8y 0

Also, it's not clear to me that it's important than an artificial organ be produced from my cells.

That's been my working assumption as well.

What exactly do you mean when you say "freezing some of your cells now"?

Why do you believe that it would help someone grow a bladder for me in case I need a new bladder down the road?

I literally mean freezing cells. I didn't specify the kind of cells because you could go for stem cells (from teeth or bone marrow), or blood cells, or some other sample tissue. I also didn't specify the freezing technique because you could prefer to vitrify them, grow more on a Petri dish or do something else altogether, my point is about the rationale of preserving them, and I didn't want people not to deal with the least convenient possible world.

For an individual to make the decision to freeze cells there has to be a specific action. Without a specific action you can't make the decision to engage it or not engage it.

Plenty of people do freeze stem cells for their children. Some men do freeze sperm. Some women freeze egg cells. If you think you know of a high reward way of freezing cells that isn't already explored, start a company.

Yes, thank you! My goal was exactly finding the action that must be taken to freeze and keep frozen some cells. That was it, a simple action. I had to ask over 22 people in the high headquarters of anti-aging before Tyler Emerson (who himself did not freeze his pluripotent cells) found a company that does that for pluripotent cells.

Plenty of people freezing their kids Stem Cells emphasizes my point, it is much more a movement of mimesis and contagion that caused that, otherwise you'd see individually motivated people doing the same for themselves, for selfish reasons. At least, or so I thought, you would see the major longevist figures alive doing it.

I don't know any way that isn't explored, nor do I have interest in starting a company in a business that, as I have just described, has a fully procrastinatory and irrational market. That would be financial suicide.

Cord blood stem cells are obviously useful - you can use them to give perfectly matched bone marrow transplants and there has been VERY LIMITED success turning them into other cell types in laboratory research. The process for getting bone marrow stem cells from an adult is either painful (gigantic drill/needle into your hip bone) or dangerous (drugs that cause your bone marrow to overproliferate and leak into your blood) not to mention expensive so most people aren't willing to go through with it on the off chance they need a bone marrow transplant, instead opting to give it only when someone else badly needs the cells.

De-differentiated pluripotent stem cells are dangerous. Think teratomas. They've been genetically modified to de-differentiate and are thus prone to going all weird later. Amazing for research purposes though even if there's recent work to the effect that not all IPSC cell lines are exactly like natural pluripotent cells.

Let me disclose first that I have no idea how to fix this problem. I don't mean the problem of getting all longevists to freeze their cells, I mean the problem of getting them to take information from the world of science and biomedicine and applying it to themselves. To become users of the technology they are boasters of. To behave rationally in a CFAR or even homo economicus sense.

Most people choose their behaviors based on the behaviors of their peers. You didn't go on Google Scholar to read about the risks of alcohol and make a rational decision before you took your first drink, you did it because your friends did it. (As an illustration, if you read the literature on TDCS (zapping your brain with electricity to cure depression and do various other stuff), you'll find that it's quite harmless, whereas if you read the literature on alcohol, you'll learn of the many ways that it can kill you. Yet many people who happily binge drink are leery about zapping their brains with electricity... until they see their friends do it, of course.) So, to spread a new behavior, you want to spread it like any other meme. Start with high status people if you can. Look how much more seriously people are taking AI risk now that an Oxford professor and Elon Musk are its public face. (I actually have no problem with this, by the way. Delegating belief formation to high status people is not a terrible idea, especially if the high status people are highly intelligent and rational and they're listened to by the general population.)

So where exactly do I go for that? Googling "freeze your cells" gives me the information about technical details of that, rather than a company that provides such service, or completely irrelevant weight loss surgery information.

Sounds like a service that cryonics providers might usefully diversify into.

How long a shot it is that this is a useful thing to do, compared with cryonics?

Well, depends on how much you discount the expected utility of cryonics due to Pascal's Wager concerns. The variance of the payoff for freezing tissue certainly is much smaller, and freezing tissue really isn't a big deal from a technical or even societal point of view, as evidenced by, say, female egg freezing for fertility preservation.

I had a similar thought; actually my childrens' have had cell samples frozen since I banked their cord blood.

Perhaps it's a rationalization, but my instinct is that even a 100 year old person will have plenty of functioning cells available for use in cloning or whatever and that errors in the code sequence could be corrected by comparing cells from different parts of the body.

From a quality of life POV, I would think that joint replacement (knee, hip, elbow) would be a huge improvement for many people. Outside of organ growing is there any progress on growing joints?

What about something like this? . I'm not sure if they'd store the samples at a timescale long enough to be relevant though (aka, 4+ decades).

How important is it, though, that the cells be your own cells? In several decades, we may have even better tools to deal with the transplant rejection that stems from regenerated organs with different genomic material.


FWIW here is a relevant article:

How important is it, though, that the cells be your own cells? In several decades, we may have even better tools to deal with the transplant rejection that stems from regenerated organs with different genomic material.

He might also simply make stem cells out of aged cells of our own bodies. There are already cases where it's possible to reverse a cell.

Searching for "tissue freezing service" points to , however their site is basically useless. Has anyone looked at these guys in any detail?

They charge 60 000 dollars for reversing pluripotent cells and freezing them. Let's wait for more wisdom from the crowd, other people have found different options on this thread, more may be on the way.

This is the first time I have encountered the idea of freezing cells. Is this a viable options for people who are not rich?

The two tooth storage services I looked at both cost US $120/year. One time fees were in the $600-1800 range. Both figure for up to four teeth extracted simultaneously.

Is it possible to freeze e.g. blood instead? I'd rather not have my teeth extracted if possible.

Do you have to do anything fancy for tooth storage? As I recall, the dentist managed to extract my wisdom teeth intact and so I think they're sitting in a box somewhere (but have been for ~five years). Given that people get useful DNA out of prehistoric specimens, that makes me not immediately dismiss the possibility (but I expect that freezing them or something similar is better).

You can get DNA from that easily but it's by no means living. You can't make a living cell from such DNA, you can just dissolve the tissue and get sequence data by running the resultant treated slurry into a sequencer. Hence the people who have been trying to clone mammoths for a decade failing - they can't find a single still-living culturable cell in any of those permafrost mammoth carcasses, despite trying and trying and trying, and thus can't do somatic cell nuclear transfer into an egg, even though they can get a complete set of mammoth sequence data.

They want them frozen immediately, shipped in an insulated box with an ice pack, and then they extract cells and store the cells cryogenically. So that's probably not sufficient.

Why did the dentist save them?

When I've had surgeries, and tried to get tissue samples, the hospitals have said they're not allowed to let human tissue leave the hospital unless it's treated in ways that destroy the DNA (eg formaldehyde). Even when I have a valid immediate clinical need for DNA testing of the sample backed up by a note from a doctor, and the extraction requires serious, damaging surgery.

Why did the dentist save them?

I'm not sure, and they may very well have been treated to destroy the DNA.

Interesting. I got my wisdom teeth given to me in an envelope with tiny pieces of soft ligament (that rapidly dried out) still attached to the roots within 15 minutes of waking up. Still have them in my bedroom desk drawer.

Course it wasn't a hospital. It was more like an outpatient clinic that only did dental work, where the most intense stuff they did was putting people like me unconscious with barbituates for ~25 minutes.

maybe most of the money and psychology involved in this whole business is about buying hope,

I really think it just didn't occur to them. It's certainly about buying hope - but we'd like to purchase hope effectively!

Let me disclose first that I have no idea how to fix this problem... the problem of getting them to take information from the world of science and biomedicine and applying it to themselves.

Well, I do! Create a trustworthy central hub which analyses and disseminates this type of practical information. If such a hub exists, figure out why it missed this solution. There is a lot of information concerning how to stay alive for longer, and even someone trained in the biological sciences would have to put in huge time investments to separate the signal from the noise and seek out the creative, off-the-radar solutions.

There are people who are exercising their butts off, taking questionable hormones, intermittent fasting, and all kinds of extremely effort-full and sometimes paradoxically risky activities in the quest to stay alive, so if you truly know of an effective thing that people don't know about and aren't pursuing, it's a flaw in information dissemination techniques...because there's a ton of people trying.

Could it be the high barrier to entry? I'm not an expert, but I have the impression that the biomedical field is regulated up the wazoo. I've been thinking about what it'd take to get a basic company off the ground, and the main trouble that occurs to me is the regulation upon regulation that is required to do anything with human cells - let alone medical procedures!

If the regulations on human cells were applied consistently, you'd need a review committee, a hazmat suit, a HEPA filter, and a negative air pressure containment unit each time you went to the bathroom.

Interesting example, but have you actually done a cost/benefit analysis to show that it would be beneficial? If your analysis looks good, I would be more likely to take this seriously as an indictment of the rationality of the anti-aging enthusiasts. Currently, it just seems like grandstanding.

This is consistent with my experience with European life-extension movements. Generally speaking we just don't have a clear idea of where we should be going. Neither do we even always agree an what research or project is even relevant. So we have a collection of people sharing a vaguely defined goal of life-extension, all pushing for their pet projects and hypotheses. No one is really willing to abandon what they came up with because no clear evidence-based project under which they could assemble exists (or is perceptible)(this therefore of course includes all such personal pet projects and ideas). Additionally, few if any really seem to believe strongly in life extension (as a way of life or something important enough to take precedence over other projects in their life), and newly interested people turnover is very high with little retention beyond a few months.

That is... pretty impressive.

First post for me here, but I've been following this technology for the last ten years. This is an interesting idea, well worth following up on. I would have to say that the best thought here is that, if others aren't doing it, to do it yourself. I'm stealing this idea for my idea for a company, if you don't move on't first. Sound good?

Alright, I'll bite:

Do you have a list of Labs/Hospitals which will sell storage of frozen tissues (and possibly the future service of thawing and growing them for implantable cloned organs) at competitive prices?

If not, where do you recommend I start, when looking for reputable sellers of such a service?

Tell me where and how. If I can preserve cell samples for under $1000, I'll almost certainly do it. I think it would be relatively easy to convince my parents it's a good idea ("just in case"), and I can use the commitment effect from this minor precaution as a foothold to convince them to sign up for cryonics.

[-][anonymous]8y -1

I am new to this community. Is the anti-aging stuff popular here? To me it comes accross as a bit weird. There is a scale of depression/hedonia from being almost catatonic to being ecstatically happy. Very depressed people often want to kill themselves right now. Supposedly, ecstatically happy people would like to live forever. If you are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, you supposedly want live another few decades, not more. If you are not hating your life but not loving it very much either, then the idea of dying in a few decades IMHO sounds logical and good. By that time you can expect to be tired about life anyway, you will have less and less of the good stuff (childhood friends, experiences to discover etc.) and more and more of the bad stuff (cumulative stress, aches etc.) and it will sound like a good deal to end it without shame i.e. naturally.

I think this largely depends on one thing really. If you have a purpose for your life, you supposed want to work on it forever. If you are like most people or like me, just going through life and trying to fish out pleasurable experiences from it, nice holidays in interesting places and big laughs with friends drunk, you probably don't want to do that forever.

Welcome to LessWrong!

Yes, we are generally very anti-aging here. It is probably one of the core parts of our culture.

If you are not hating your life but not loving it very much either, then the idea of dying in a few decades IMHO sounds logical and good.

My response would be: my desire to continue living or die would depend on my expected future utility of continuing to live. That is, if I expected that my future utility would be negative and would continue to always be negative, I might want to die, but that is not the case.

I don't consider myself someone who is either ecstatically happy or depressed. Like you I am in the middle. However, I feel that this middle state still has an overall positive utility.

But even if I was currently suffering so much that I considered my life to be negative utility, I would still want to live if I expected things could improve in the future, which I do. If we observe the course of human civilization, life conditions have generally improved greatly for almost everyone in society over long periods of time, and will probably continue to do so if our civilization continues to advance technologically, economically, socially, etc.

Thus, I do not wish to 'only live a few more decades and then die'. Instead, I anticipate that the utility of my living could continue to increase in the far future, and might actually be significantly better than it is now.

For many people in our current time, quality of life declines as they get old, especially near the end, due to health decline, loss of social connections due to friends deaths, etc. As a result, many people 'accept' that death is necessary, as life would only keep getting worse anyway.

But if we are able to cure and reverse aging, this would no longer necessarily be the case. We may be able to reach a point where we are able to restore youth, energy, and health to people. If so, living forever would not be a state of being an old., decrepit person with no social life, but would be a return to the healthful youth state that many associate with the best years of their life!

Regarding having a purpose for one's life: If you do not feel that you have a purpose for you life, this does not mean that you would never find one in the future, especially if one were to live a very long time. For example, if you knew you were going to live forever, and you didn't have to deal with some of the sufferings and energy drains of your current life, would you then perhaps be more motivated to find such a purpose?

If you are afraid of running out of different experiences to enjoy, consider that people are continually inventing new things to be interested in. Stories, games, knowledge, shared cultural experiences, etc. People are generating new information that you can consume at a rate faster than you can consume it, and in a future more advanced world this would only become more and more true.

f you think you will get bored of everything that there is, consider that we now have ideas and experiences and potential hobbies which were almost inconceivable 100 years ago, and in a universe that allows for infinite complexity we can continue to generate them for as long as the universe lasts, for as long as there is negentropy left for us to consume.

I want to see the future, not just because I think living has positive value, but because I anticipate that value might increase in the more technologically advanced future.

I don't think I could ever run out of things to explore, but if I did, and I eventually wanted to not live anymore, I would rather make that choice myself when I reached that point, and not have it forced upon me too soon because of accumulated damage to my mitochondrial dna, loss of telomeres, accumulation of mutations, and/or whatever else is the cause of the aging process.

If someone figures out how to stop or reverse aging, presumably that will mean higher quality of life for old people, so the

more and more of the bad stuff

will no longer apply, at least in so far as the bad stuff is physical rather than mental. As for people "somewhere in the middle of the spectrum" -- if we suppose roughly constant quality of life thanks to anti-aging treatments, always wanting to live a few more decades means never wanting to stop living just as much as always wanting to live a few more millennia does.

If I came to expect a thousand years of healthy life, I think I would be more inclined to find long-term purposes. (Maybe a succession of projects each taking a few decades to a few centuries.) Wouldn't you? I mean, my motivation to try to cure aging, or prove the Riemann Hypothesis, or put an end to poverty or malaria, is less than it could be because I don't expect to be able to make a very large contribution to any of those things. (I am not claiming that this is rational, that an ideal agent would have that motivational structure. Only that I do and I don't think I'm alone.) If I thought I could make 50x as big a difference, I think I'd be willing to work harder. But I may be wrong; introspection is unreliable.

Welcome! LessWrong is generally anti-Death. See HPMoR or The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant.

[-][anonymous]8y 1

Thanks. Interesting. I think one issue is maintaining the will to live indefinitely, not getting tired of life, of cumulative stress, basically anti-depresison. I think it would be more useful to focus on fixing that, and when everybody totally wants to live on and on and on, then that generates motivation to throw more resources on anti-aging. Without that, there is a lesser motivation, as people who are not very happy, like myself, will not support it vigorously. Senescence is an acceptable, honorable, non-shameful way of slow suicide, suitable if you are only lightly depressed. You can get old and die without ever having to admit you are depressed or you want to die. If life is extended, you basically either have to endure it longer, or have to own up to, admit defeat, admit you fail at life, and choose suicide. Neither are very attractive options. This is why I recommend fixing the will to live i.e. light depression first.

Fixing the will to live is not going to be easy because it goes against the logic of evolution (which does not care if you are depressed or dead after you have reproduced) and much of human biology. You essentially want to keep people in a constant "expecting rewards" mindset, biologically speaking. In a look forward to tomorrow because something cool with happen mindset. However, it is likely that would lead to some kind of burnout, like, dopamine receptors becoming desensitized from over-use or something like that. Fixing this would be a major brain rewiring.

I recommend reading the sequences, if you haven't already. In particular, the fun theory sequence discusses exactly these issues.

Upvoted for suggesting a specific sequence.

Hm. This was eye opening enough that I felt like commenting for the first time in a year. I've known for a while about people being too despaired to desire living on, but this puts it under a new perspective.

Most importantly it helps explain the huge discrepancy between how instrumentally important staying alive and able is for anyone who has any goal at all (barring some fringe cases), and how little most people do to plan and organize themselves in order to avoid aging and dying, even as it is reasonably expected to be unavoidable with our current means.

What you said suggests maybe another, little explored - to my knowledge - by life-extensionists set of strategies to sustain effective life extension projects - as generalized public acceptance and backing is still very much nowhere as far as it should be.

[-][anonymous]8y 0

I have this impression that anti-aging and anti-death on LW is a general extension of that kind of culture in America that 50 and 60 year old still exercise and not smoke and drink little because they still expect a lot of happiness rolling in to worth it. At least this is the culture I generally glean from e.g. The New York times who seem to always have some fad diet and exercise and seem to at least pay lip service to health. They are the kind of people who would NOT find a joke like "A real mans six course dinner is one pizza, five beers" funny, which also suggests that this culture drifted quite afar from blue-collar values, I think it is the white-collarization of American society that ultimately created it. While I was strongly influenced by the culture of the less developed parts of Europe where that joke would be funny, mores are still on blue-collar levels, it is OK to drink and smoke yourself to death at 60 because by that your kids can make a living so you no longer owe much duty to them, and you lived for discharging your duties anyway and not for fun. Or, the fun was precisely in things getting drunk with friends.

What missing from this view is of course the third option, precisely the option that seems most prevalent on LW: living not for discharging duties nor for "partying" but for pursuing personally selected goals. I think the idea of personal selected goals requires a culture or attitude that is individualistic, and even egalitarian, where individuals are expected to be autonomous enough to find goals and empowered enough to have a chance at them. In other words, a political culture where people are more "association members" and less "subjects". I think it also requires an economic environment with significant discretionary incomes that worrying about bills is no big deal, and people can expect to make a living out of interesting jobs, not simply taking anything that pays the bills.

I mentioned collars, because all this cultural background difference I describe is not that kind of cultural difference that is say between America and Japan, it is a difference in time, not space: almost everything I wrote as my experience would be entirely relevant to an American plumber in 1925 or 1950, not sure exactly when. In other words, it is more about being on different levels on the Maslow pyramid, really the difference is here that the white-collarization of American society is a collective climb upwards on that pyramid which explains more or less everything about this. Longevity is a high Maslow pyramid level desire.

One perfect example of of this climbing of the Maslow pyramid is how women, feminists refer to work as empowering careers. To a blue-collar culture, it is very strange - they see work as torture (French: travail), a necessary evil done for survival. Actually this is one of the best signals and predictors of Maslow level and longevity expectations IMHO.

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