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Old 12-20-2019, 07:52 AM
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Science Fiction Debate: Extending Human Lifespans


Part 3 of 'Science Fiction Debates'

Our topic:

Extending the human lifespan.

The situation:

You've done it. Well done! You've come up with a way to extend the average human life. Impacting nothing else in human life - childhood is still roughly 15-20 years, senescence is another 10-15 years - you've managed to extend the average lifespan from 70 to 350 years. It simply extends a human's maturity for several hundred years. People stay looking between 35 and 55 for several hundred years. Nobel prizes await you! Go you!

But...

What is the impact of doing so? The process costs money. Not so much that a middle class first-world person can't afford it...but it's not cheap and certainly not free.

Is it better to release this into the world or bury your discovery? What will the impact be, socially and in other ways, to humans, society and the world in general of humans lasting much longer? Is it ethically right to allow this to go forward or is it better to deny it by destroying your notes and hiding in a cave someplace?

If you do release the process, what's the best way to go about it? Thinking...thinking...

You sit there, with The Washington Post on speeddial, pondering your options...

What do you do, my friend? What do you do?
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Old 12-20-2019, 08:01 AM
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Whatever the process, it would be fabulously expensive. The super rich/elite would, for all practical purposes, become a separate and very privileged race. The hoi polloi would continue to age normally and die because they simply wouldn't be able to afford the astronomically high cost of an extended life span. We see that principle in action now with "regular" health care. So many world wide die because they can't afford the medicine necessary to treat them.
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Old 12-20-2019, 08:06 AM
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Release it into the world. The secret will get out, or someone else will discover it, so it's best to get it out there.

Here's how I'd do it (at least if I take a grand total of 5 minutes to think about it):

Record every little bit of the process so there are no secrets (let's presume it's some combination of drugs, nutrients, engineered viruses, etc.). Convince other experts in the field that this is proven to work. Arrange for a press conference with numerous science reporters at several reputable news sources. Explain it to them and release ALL the data to the public. The idea is to make sure that everyone at least has access to the information of this process, even if some of the steps/drugs/etc. are not easy to acquire. The free market will probably make these drugs/etc. much cheaper over time so everyone can get them.

Obviously there could be some negatives to this -- overpopulation being the main risk. But I think this would explode interest in all the technologies that could alleviate overpopulation, including settling space and other planets/moons, which would suddenly become much more achievable if we all have lifespans of hundreds of years.
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Old 12-20-2019, 08:19 AM
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I have thought about this for some time (also with a variant where one gets a infant body and has to regrow, relearn how to use the body, but with full cognition, knowledge and memories). But for the full life extension one I see people becoming increasingly indebted, basically taking out a mortgage on themselves for the next treatment. In that scenario, a retreatment is needed maybe every 20 years or so, or the person will age normally and irreversible till their next treatment.

As for morally, one can look at the Bible, Gen 6, which these long lives caused people to only think of evil all the time. I think this has to do with oppressive rulers who will not be leaving through death anytime soon, who place their people in positions of power to support that leadership. The people are oppressed and truth and information is controlled for the leaders advantage. This is what I believe God saw it good to limit human life to about current limits.

Last edited by kanicbird; 12-20-2019 at 08:19 AM.
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Old 12-20-2019, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Jasmine View Post
Whatever the process, it would be fabulously expensive.
Nuh-uh. I specifically laid out that the process is affordable for middle-class, first-world people. So it won't be limited to the billionaire class unless you choose to set up the system in such a way as to do so.
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:00 AM
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I'm going to have to work straight through 280-300 years to have enough money to retire on.
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:06 AM
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I release it, understanding that availability of a good that fundamentally unfair to ration will catalyze the end of pretending "supply and demand" is a fair way to decide what contributions to society deserve the most pay.

Governments are paralyzed by their ties to wealth, but "Fellowships" of more egalitarian people arise, sharing their collective wealth more fairly among their members and "voting with their dollars" to reshape many corporations.
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:09 AM
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Will men and women be able to procreate during this extended period of time?
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:10 AM
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I'm going to have to work straight through 280-300 years to have enough money to retire on.
That brings up a really interesting point, and maybe an opportunity -- Social Security and other retirement plans shouldn't apply to those who get these treatments, at least not until they're ~300 years old (or more, depending on what their new lifespan is). That could probably help the economy a whole lot -- no more worries about a retirement/elderly-care crisis, as now people are working for centuries, with that much longer for retirement accounts and such to build up.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 12-20-2019 at 10:10 AM.
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:14 AM
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Unleashed on today's world, this process would be cause ruin. We're already hurtling towards climate disasters that will cause a refugee crisis on a level never seen before. Add in a lack of aging and we'll soon overpopulate this poor old planet.

We would need mandatory birth control. This will not go over well. I see most futures with the wonder drug leading to major class warfare.
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:23 AM
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Whatever the process, it would be fabulously expensive. The super rich/elite would, for all practical purposes, become a separate and very privileged race. The hoi polloi would continue to age normally and die because they simply wouldn't be able to afford the astronomically high cost of an extended life span. We see that principle in action now with "regular" health care. So many world wide die because they can't afford the medicine necessary to treat them.
This is it. There will be way too may people to find jobs for. There will be limited openings for the young, probably having to wait until there 30s or 40s to get a real position, and most will be maxed out in their earning potential by what we now call retirement age, they won't be getting incremental raises for hundreds of years. We'll have millions of people over the age of 65 trying desperately to hold on to their jobs knowing they can easily by replaced by someone making less. A situation we have now multiplied many times over. Those who can afford to grow extra old will resort to anything to maintain their status.

OTOH, I don't want to live hundreds of years. If I could restore some youth right now that would be great for a few more years, but I'm getting pretty bored and fed up with life anyway. One thing for sure, the societal hindrances to safe effective suicide will disappear even if only to keep the corpses from piling up on the streets.
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:37 AM
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There will be way too may people to find jobs for.
There is not a fixed number of jobs, and more fit, mentally acute and image-conscious people means more demand for pretty much every product and service.

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most will be maxed out in their earning potential by what we now call retirement age, they won't be getting incremental raises for hundreds of years.
Agree with this; incremental earnings will more or less stop being a thing fairly fast.

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We'll have millions of people over the age of 65 trying desperately to hold on to their jobs knowing they can easily by replaced by someone making less.
Disagree. IME many jobs now are highly skilled to the point that you continue improving throughout your career and your previous knowledge and experience is still valued (this is the justification for incremental earnings now). So I'd say it's the other way round; it may be hard for certain people to get into particular roles when many people in that industry already have 100+ years experience.

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OTOH, I don't want to live hundreds of years. If I could restore some youth right now that would be great for a few more years, but I'm getting pretty bored and fed up with life anyway. One thing for sure, the societal hindrances to safe effective suicide will disappear even if only to keep the corpses from piling up on the streets.
In terms of my individual life, yeah after a while working, socializing, sexing etc gets tiresome. But if I could live a few centuries, I would, because I want to see more of what we learn about the universe and what we can achieve.

Last edited by Mijin; 12-20-2019 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Jonathan Chance View Post
Part 3 of 'Science Fiction Debates'

Our topic:

Extending the human lifespan.

The situation:

You've done it. Well done! You've come up with a way to extend the average human life. Impacting nothing else in human life - childhood is still roughly 15-20 years, senescence is another 10-15 years - you've managed to extend the average lifespan from 70 to 350 years. It simply extends a human's maturity for several hundred years. People stay looking between 35 and 55 for several hundred years. Nobel prizes await you! Go you!

But...

What is the impact of doing so? The process costs money. Not so much that a middle class first-world person can't afford it...but it's not cheap and certainly not free.

Is it better to release this into the world or bury your discovery? What will the impact be, socially and in other ways, to humans, society and the world in general of humans lasting much longer? Is it ethically right to allow this to go forward or is it better to deny it by destroying your notes and hiding in a cave someplace?

If you do release the process, what's the best way to go about it? Thinking...thinking...

You sit there, with The Washington Post on speeddial, pondering your options...

What do you do, my friend? What do you do?
Certainly it will have impacts. But if the process is affordable to the middle class (or even if it's not, initially, but if by adding scale it is projected the costs will come down) then I'd say absolutely it should be released to the public (after testing of course). Basically, I don't see the utility in burying it, unless it's such a difficult and off the wall process that, literally, no one else would or could ever replicate it. Because if you bury it, someone else will discover it. If it CAN be done, it will be, so there is no point trying to hide that.

Myself, I think most of the issues will work themselves out organically. Things like retirement are going to be seriously impacted, as is our concept of a working life. I don't think we would be in for a massive overpopulation issue, as folks would still die...they just would age slower. We've kind of been through this already, as a species, for the last few hundred years, so this would be an extension of that. Global climate change is going to still be THE elephant in the room, as will resource depletion, so we are going to really start having to push our space exploration and exploitation time tables, as well as our energy production methods.

It's funny, but this one is less science fiction than it is a matter of 'coming soon, just not here yet'. I think that extending human (and other animals) lifespans is only a matter of time, especially the rather modest extensions the OP is talking about. If you REALLY want a mind blowing discussion, I'd suggest looking into what changes would happen if fusion ever becomes a reality.

At any rate, I think this is something that we've already been through as a species (i.e. extending human life) and as a society we've already seen how it will change our perceptions and our civilization. Look at how birth levels as well as education and wealth have all changed with the simple expedient of better healthcare and nutrition, especially for children. In the past, people had huge families because, frankly, they knew and expected that several of their children wouldn't make it past 2 years old, and even if they did several more wouldn't make it into their teens...and several of those might be carried off even after that. If we could, potentially, live to 350 (and live well), that would certainly shift our society, our goals and our civilization. Instead of looking, as I am, to retiring soon, I'd probably be looking at the possibility of taking maybe 10 years off to do other things, and maybe rebooting my career to something completely different (I've been doing IT for over 35 years now, so it's a bit old). I think that would be the norm...people probably spending their 20's and 30's 'finding themselves' or going to school, then working for 20-30 years, then taking a break, then maybe going through that cycle again, perhaps traveling or just doing something different, then probably back to work for another 20-30 years, then rinse and repeat.

Assuming we get through the next century fairly unscathed with climate change, I think we will be in a pretty good place. Our technology is finally getting to the point where we COULD actually support a technological civilization of folks who live into their hundreds, and probably even move much of the population and industry off the planet, reverting large parts of it back to 'natural' (i.e. looks natural but really crafted by humans, which pretty much is what we have today) states
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:43 AM
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Good thoughts, XT! Becoming a doctor, or a lawyer, might become a hobby like woodwork or gardening is now. I might join and serve a few tours in every branch of the military, just to see what it's like.
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:50 AM
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There is not a fixed number of jobs, and more fit, mentally acute and image-conscious people means more demand for pretty much every product and service.
I have to rethink the jobs issue. Besides your point, there are a lot of other competing factors, such as how much the population will grow after considering people who can't afford a longer life or don't want one.
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:54 AM
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Bury it. We're already at 8 billion population, extending the life span past 300 years would double that in a decade or two.
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Old 12-20-2019, 11:38 AM
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Will men and women be able to procreate during this extended period of time?
Yes, complete biological stability just as now. There may be an issue with women's ova running out but I haven't done the research.

I pulled most of this from two authors, Larry Niven and Jack McDevitt (though there's others). Niven postulates a future where people live hundreds of years and some of them grow bored and take ever greater risks for thrills to stave off boredom until killed by misadventure. McDevitt shows a world - non-human - where death has actually been defeated completely and the ensuing civilization becomes very conservative and risk averse leading to stagnation and even technological regression.

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Old 12-20-2019, 12:00 PM
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I'd be in favor of eliminating prison life sentences and instead having them on a term-by-term basis (where everyone prisoner is eligible for parole review every year or few years) because it would be truly inhumane to lock someone up for 300 years for a crime.
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Old 12-20-2019, 12:19 PM
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Bury it. We're already at 8 billion population, extending the life span past 300 years would double that in a decade or two.
Can you show your math? Basically, today, something like 50 million people die each year. Most of them older, but not all. I put that at 160 years to produce another 8 billion, and this doesn't even factor in that just because you COULD live to 300 doesn't mean you will. Also, people who can afford the process (presumably 'middle class', whatever that means in terms of buying power) aren't going to be having hordes of children...in fact, I'd guess just the opposite. The current trend, across the world and across the board is fewer children per woman, and I see no reason that would change except for even more downward pressure on having even fewer children.

We are currently set to peak at around 11 billion people by the end of this century, and then it will be an increasing decline. Some countries are already having major population crunches in fact, and if folks lived longer I think it would simply balance that inevitable decline out.
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Old 12-20-2019, 12:46 PM
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So people are just going to stop fucking, is that what you're saying? Sex is a basic biological need, that's not going to stop, and a lot of that will result in pregnancies. Plus you've got these people who think a vagina is a clown car, just push out as many babies as you can. Population will continue to grow, people living past 300 will push that number up exponentially. Even if my estimation of 10-20 years is off, that's still over population on a massive scale in too short a time.
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Old 12-20-2019, 12:53 PM
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Thomas Malthus called and he says to get off his grass. Seriously, you are spouting the same old same old we've been hearing for centuries, and, it's just wrong. People haven't stopped fucking NOW, yet populations are going down. It's not widely known to the public, but there is this new thing called 'birth control', and it's available even outside of the US I hear.

Even if everyone lives who currently dies right now, today, and even if birthrates stay the same...both of which are ridiculous assumptions that have no basis in fact...it will STILL take more than 2 decades to double the current population. They are, right now, projecting the population will peak at 11 billion around 2100. Do the math yourself with respect to 50 million people who die a year (again, this is a ridiculous assumption but just to show you the math doesn't work even then) and figure out how long it would be to get to 16 billion.
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Old 12-20-2019, 01:02 PM
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That statistic does not take into account people living past 300. If that happens, we'll get there a lot sooner than 2100.
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Old 12-20-2019, 01:13 PM
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That statistic does not take into account people living past 300. If that happens, we'll get there a lot sooner than 2100.
Except it does. 50 million people die a year. It takes 160 years for that figure to accumulate 8 billion. And this assumes that NO ONE DIES DURING THAT TIME. Now, obviously, population also increases...so you have to factor that in too. That figure is 130 million. So, make that 180 million...current population increase plus no one dies. That is 61 years. The obvious flaw with this calculation is it assumes no one dies. But it ALSO shows that your 2 decades are just wrong.

And, of course, the reality is population rates are already in decline. The number of children per woman is already lowering. If you factor that in, I doubt we will ever get to 16 billion, certainly not in 20 or even 100 years. The reality is that the same dynamic that is driving down population (i.e. just the basic fact that people don't need to have 8 kids to ensure 4 survive to work the farm) will accelerate when people are living longer. Prosperity too is what's driving down those figures.

Like I said, your thinking on this is just old and outdated. The real reason we have even the increase today is really due to the gap between when technologies became wide spread for healthcare, especially those affecting infant mortality, and when the realization of that started to impact people's expectations on how many kinds they needed or should have. Once they figured out they didn't need as many kids, they basically stopped having so many, especially since they can in fact choose. All we have now is momentum and a few countries that still haven't caught up to the norm...and even that is declining as prosperity and availability of contraceptives increase.
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Old 12-20-2019, 01:30 PM
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I still think you're wrong, and extending a life span past 300 years is a bad idea, but I don't want to argue about this anymore.
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Old 12-20-2019, 03:01 PM
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This is very complicated - more than I'd figured - but some back-of-the-envelope spreadsheet work shows a human population of, as XT says, about 11B by 20 based on a leveling off of current trends.

Existing trends, and discounting deaths by age -and affiliated causes brought on by age such as dementia and other such thing (which I admit introduces a LOT of noise in the signal) shows extending lifespan leading to a human population of about 17B by 2054. That assumes current growth rates maintain (roughly a 1.018% growth per year as currently shown).

So that's something. It's not that the rate of birth would decline. It's that the rate of death would decline significantly.
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Old 12-20-2019, 03:06 PM
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I'm not sure many people would even want to extend their years beyond a certain number - i.e., 100 - unless somehow quality and happiness of life soared to such a high level that you just never got tired of living, and society were a much happier place.

Already, at age 60-80, you have so many elderly people in this world saying they are jaded and weary of living. If this hypothetical science-fiction world were as bad as ours, the years of life from 90-300 wouldn't be much fun at all.
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Old 12-20-2019, 03:09 PM
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I'm not sure many people would even want to extend their years beyond a certain number - i.e., 100 - unless somehow quality and happiness of life soared to such a high level that you just never got tired of living, and society were a much happier place.

Already, at age 60-80, you have so many elderly people in this world saying they are jaded and weary of living. If this hypothetical science-fiction world were as bad as ours, the years of life from 90-300 wouldn't be much fun at all.
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Old 12-20-2019, 04:52 PM
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I did NOT need to see Sean Connery in a speedo.
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Old 12-20-2019, 05:17 PM
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Unleashed on today's world, this process would be cause ruin. We're already hurtling towards climate disasters that will cause a refugee crisis on a level never seen before.
No, it wont. Do you seriously think that we are going to let that many peopie in with the current migrant crisis, and postulating that its going to get worse

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We would need mandatory birth control. This will not go over well. I see most futures with the wonder drug leading to major class warfare.
Its marketing, we give them the birth control and tell em its the longevity drug. Let the usual suspects steal the IP and have them sell it for pennies on the dollar.
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Old 12-20-2019, 05:26 PM
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I'm going to have to work straight through 280-300 years to have enough money to retire on.
Your 401k would be in the millions after about a hundred years of working though.
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Old 12-20-2019, 07:14 PM
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Your 401k would be in the millions after about a hundred years of working though.
I doubt very much that any retirement program can stay stable for that long a period of time.
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Old 12-20-2019, 11:17 PM
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Disagree. IME many jobs now are highly skilled to the point that you continue improving throughout your career and your previous knowledge and experience is still valued (this is the justification for incremental earnings now). So I'd say it's the other way round; it may be hard for certain people to get into particular roles when many people in that industry already have 100+ years experience.
On the flip side, most people like some variety. I think it would be incredibly common to have 6-12 careers (as we think of them now) in largely-unrelated fields.

In addition, I think that some, maybe a lot, of people would go back to college every 30 or 40 years to get another degree.
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Old 12-21-2019, 02:36 AM
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On the flip side, most people like some variety. I think it would be incredibly common to have 6-12 careers (as we think of them now) in largely-unrelated fields.

In addition, I think that some, maybe a lot, of people would go back to college every 30 or 40 years to get another degree.
Agreed.
I was mostly just arguing against the point that older people would find it hard to find work.

People 50+ right now often find it hard to change jobs because potential employers think they may have health or fitness problems, might in some cases be slow to learn new skills and, depending on the company pension scheme, might be a financial liability for much longer than they actually worked for.

But in the OP, all of this is more or less blown away, because the OP said such people would keep the physical and mental faculties of someone in their roughly 40s for their extended lifespan. In that scenario, there's not really a downside to employing someone who is 150 say, but their additional experience is definitely an upside.
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Old 12-21-2019, 04:09 AM
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If I have good reason to think my work can't really be replicated anytime soon, I would destroy my research.

If not, I'd open-source the work.
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Old 12-22-2019, 03:36 AM
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Yes, complete biological stability just as now. There may be an issue with women's ova running out but I haven't done the research.
I dunno about that.
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At birth, there are approximately 1 million eggs; and by the time of puberty, only about 300,000 remain. Of these, only 300 to 400 will be ovulated during a woman's reproductive lifetime. Fertility can drop as a woman ages due to decreasing number and quality of the remaining eggs.
The reason women run out of eggs is that the eggs age. If your elixir of vitality or whatever stops that, women would still have plenty of ova.

You could stipulate that menopause is kind of a secondary adolescence for women, so your elixir doesn't affect it (which would significantly reduce the proportion of women's lives when they can get pregnant without wanting to do so); but you'd still have to contend with freezing eggs. Even today, it's not uncommon for women to want to "keep their options open." I think harvesting and freezing some of a woman's eggs at puberty (maybe even at birth) would become almost routine. Better yet, get them all - more selection later and effective birth control right now.
  #36  
Old 12-22-2019, 06:02 AM
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So people are just going to stop fucking, is that what you're saying? Sex is a basic biological need, that's not going to stop, and a lot of that will result in pregnancies.
Please google "birth control".

Sex does not inevitably lead to babies. The majority of sex acts performed in this world are for entertainment, not procreation. Granted, if a woman was fertile for 250 years there is more opportunity for birth control failures, but that still means conception will be rare compared to episodes of sex.

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You could stipulate that menopause is kind of a secondary adolescence for women, so your elixir doesn't affect it (which would significantly reduce the proportion of women's lives when they can get pregnant without wanting to do so); but you'd still have to contend with freezing eggs. Even today, it's not uncommon for women to want to "keep their options open." I think harvesting and freezing some of a woman's eggs at puberty (maybe even at birth) would become almost routine. Better yet, get them all - more selection later and effective birth control right now.
Actually, freezing embryos seems to work better than freezing eggs. They do have the added complication that now you have another person involved with the potential kid. Also, whether frozen eggs or frozen sperm or frozen embryos, freezing does not eternally preserve them. Right now the viability of the above notably drops off over decades. If you remove a baby girl's ovaries at birth (and that's leaving aside the enormous ethical concerns of consent, surgical risks, long term effects of removing a major source of hormones, and so forth which are not trivial) then she might only have until her late 20's/early 30's to use them before they become non-viable... so, what would be the point? Even if you waited until puberty (and still ignored the ethical questions in mandatory spaying of every female human being, never mind the hormonal consequences) that still would limit her procreating options to just a few decades at best.

And why is it always the WOMEN who get surgically sterilized in these scenarios? It is MUCH easier and less risky to freeze sperm long term, and MUCH easier and less risky to remove a man's testicles than a woman's ovaries. There are cosmetic implants to remedy the cosmetic changes, and male hormones are just as easily replaced as female ones. So why does no one ever suggest doing this to the men, hmmm?

In this hypothetical reality, I suspect very few people would continue to have child after child like the Quiverfull people. People have already been limiting the number of children they have for decades. You didn't mention whether or not this process also gives amazing regenerative abilities, so I will assume it doesn't. Aging doesn't happen, but damage to the body can and does accumulate over time. In which case, repeated pregnancies mean the potential for fertility-limiting damage is still there and will render a portion of women sterile over time.

We might also see a rise in both sexes seeking surgical sterilization either after they have a couple kids or even without kids if, after decades, they decide they don't want to reproduce.

All of which leads to several other medical questions: does this just "stop aging" at the point the person gets the treatment, or is there some sort of regeneration involved? If you give this treatment to someone already 70 does it just "freeze" them at that point, or does it regenerate them back to what they were at 20?

Does this treatment cause regeneration? If one of the long-lived loses a finger will they regrow it, or is it a permanent loss? Because if there's no regeneration then surgical sterilization is forever and women are going to lose their fertility by their mid-50's at the very, very best (oldest natural conception with no medical involvement was at 56 if I recall correctly) even if their bodies keep menstruating simply because they will no longer have fertile ova.

Since you didn't mention any sort of regeneration I'm going to assume that physical damage will still accumulate over time. Even if arthritis due to aging is no longer a thing arthritis due to injury and illness would still exist, as an example. People will still have accidents leading to amputations. People will still suffer broken backs and broken necks. They'll get burns requiring skin grafts, disfiguring injuries requiring plastic surgery. They'll still have autoimmune diseases so there will be lupus and type 1 diabetics, kidney disease and cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease.

What about cancer? Factors involved with cancer include damage over time - your long-lived folks are going to have to worry about skin cancer sooner or later if they spend any time in the sun at all. OK, human lifespans are now 300-350... how common will cancer be around age 280 with all the chemical, radiation, and other sources of damage accumulating over time? No doubt it will vary - some people are more prone to cancer than others, and in the few animal species that can live 200+ years (giant tortoises, and possibly great whales) the very old don't seem cancer riddled. Of course, it could be the members of those species prone to cancer die young so we just don't see them in their elderly.

And it seems your long-lived people will still get sick - so some will die of the flu, or ebola, or staph or strep or listeria from bad deli meat or E. coli from romaine lettuce or other outbreaks or flesh-eating bacteria or MRSA.

Then there are problems like criminal assault where you might be shot or stabbed. Which sort of comes under injury, but that's not exactly an accident. War and terrorist attacks, too.

As previously mentioned, we'd probably see a certain number of suicides in people who tire of living.

Even if lifespans reach 350 that doesn't mean everyone is going to live that long. In fact, very few might between accidents, disease, and other calamities. It would be a potential to live that long, not a guarantee.
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Old 12-23-2019, 10:32 PM
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I look forward to huge lifespan increases and massive overpopulation with attendant pollution, resource depletion, and general environmental fuckoverness. That may incite humanity to leave Earth before the next mass extinction event here, and conquer the galaxy. A clean, self-sustaining, nicely-populated planet is a sitting duck for asteroids.
  #38  
Old 12-24-2019, 05:28 AM
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And why is it always the WOMEN who get surgically sterilized in these scenarios? It is MUCH easier and less risky to freeze sperm long term, and MUCH easier and less risky to remove a man's testicles than a woman's ovaries. There are cosmetic implants to remedy the cosmetic changes, and male hormones are just as easily replaced as female ones. So why does no one ever suggest doing this to the men, hmmm?
I agree, but I totally didn't expect to get an objection to birth control. (That's one of the things I like about the SDMB. It keeps you guessing.)

Anyway, I know you meant this as a rhetorical question, but there is a (non "Men are pigs") answer in this case. The OP said that people will still be able to procreate but also said women might run out of eggs, so it wasn't clear to me whether that meant people will still be able to procreate because women will continue to ovulate or if people will still be able to procreate because reproductive technology will continue to improve. For the paragraph in question, I assume the latter - in which case, eggs are the limiting factor. We don't really have to worry about sperm because men typically make them all day every day almost all their lives. (And by the way, if women continue to ovulate all their lives, freezing eggs will decline in popularity.)

However, I am going to back down a little. I don't think taking all of a woman's eggs will ever be popular (not unless science figures out a way to give women the benefits of estrogen without the inconvenience of menstruation), but some eggs even at birth definitely. And I think "routine" was probably too strong a word; I don't mean to suggest it would be mandatory or even universal, but I would expect it to be fully as popular as IVF.
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Old 12-24-2019, 05:53 AM
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I'd guess that by the time we have extended lifespans, then fertility and procreation will be managed as well. Most humans might even be born in artificial wombs, or as the result of invitro fertilisation; I'd be quite happy to see male pregnancies as well, although that's not a condition of the OP.

Maintaining a comfortable level of population would then be a matter of choice. I like to think that we could do that with relative ease, since there would be no hurry to have children, and some people would put it off indefinitely. But some people might instead attempt to max out the number of descendants they produce, and in due course these would start to affect the demographic makeup of the population.
  #40  
Old 12-28-2019, 02:06 AM
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I've been thinking a lot about a similar SF scenario and have some thoughts. And yes, I know some of these are fighting the hypothetical.

First, how do you know that your treatment will extend life by that much? You've done tests on lab animals, but those are never certain to work the same in humans. Assuming you've given it to humans, the best you can say is that it seems to prevent aging in humans and you guess it may extend life that much.

So you release it anyway and people set up clinics to administer it. Despite your claim that its cost is not outrageous, those clinics are going to charge outrageous fees anyway. You can't stop them. Take a look at all the drugs nowadays that don't cost that much to produce, but have outrageous prices. And that's for medicines that may only extend lives by a few years.

And then of course there's the requirement for this treatment ot get approval from various agencies, i.e. the FDA and equivalents in other countries. I suspect it will be difficult, if not impossible, to get it. I don't think the FDA even has protocols for testing such treatments. So these clinics will likely be set up in countries that don't have such difficult bureaucratic hinderance. That's going to be a real drag to their reputations. And of course, some clinics will be faudulent, which will further degrade their reps.

So the combination of high prices, poor rep, and remote location of clinics will mean that relatively few people will actually get the treatment.


BTW, this scenario reminds me of a real life thing going on right now. Someone came up with a treatment that will extend the telomeres in DNA. It seems to reverse signs of aging in mice but has not been tested in humans. They're setting up a test on humans in Colombia (thus avoiding the FDA) and charging the subjects of the test $1 million to participate. link
  #41  
Old 12-28-2019, 03:48 AM
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Yes, complete biological stability just as now. There may be an issue with women's ova running out but I haven't done the research.

I pulled most of this from two authors, Larry Niven and Jack McDevitt (though there's others). Niven postulates a future where people live hundreds of years and some of them grow bored and take ever greater risks for thrills to stave off boredom until killed by misadventure. McDevitt shows a world - non-human - where death has actually been defeated completely and the ensuing civilization becomes very conservative and risk averse leading to stagnation and even technological regression.
I'm unclear as to how we're going to determine birth rate. While it's true that birth rates in developed countries have decreased, that's based on women being able to have fewer kids within the 30 years or so they're fertile now, which presents benefits such as less financial hardship . If, as the OP says,
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Childhood is still roughly 15-20 years, senescence is another 10-15 years
, that would mean a woman's fertile period would be over 300 years, on average. How many would still want one-to-two children in total during that, and how many would want successive periods of raising one-two kids each time, maybe with breaks between child-raising periods? The Full Quiver folks could conceivably procreate nonstop for 300 years, or until they ran out of J names. One-Hundred-and-Eighty Kids and Counting, anyone?

Wouldn't it be impossible to determine with any degree of accuracy what the birth rate might do?
  #42  
Old 12-28-2019, 04:23 AM
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I agree, but I totally didn't expect to get an objection to birth control. (That's one of the things I like about the SDMB. It keeps you guessing.)
I don't object to birth control. I object to mandatory sterilization without the knowledge and consent of the patient (as would be the case if you operated on infants) as a method of birth control.

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We don't really have to worry about sperm because men typically make them all day every day almost all their lives.
Yes, we do have to worry. The quality of men's sperm falls off as they age, and there are problems associated with older fathers just as there are problems with older mothers.

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(And by the way, if women continue to ovulate all their lives, freezing eggs will decline in popularity.)
Maybe not. Since women do not produce eggs throughout their lives (all of a woman's eggs are formed before she is even born) they all accumulate damage over time. As so men's sperm-generating cells. Time alone increases the risks of problems in a living person whereas freezing eggs, sperm, and embryos and putting them in a protected environment will prevent environmentally-caused damage (although freezing also carries risks and effects).

There might be a trend to freeze some gametes early in life as a security measure against early loss of fertility, but retain biological fertility for some decades. People may have to come to grips with the notion that if you're going to reproduce your own genes you have to get it done in your first century.
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Old 01-02-2020, 06:32 AM
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People may have to come to grips with the notion that if you're going to reproduce your own genes you have to get it done in your first century.
What - admit defeat? Never! (just kidding)

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I don't object to birth control. I object to mandatory sterilization without the knowledge and consent of the patient (as would be the case if you operated on infants) as a method of birth control.
My "get them all" comment was a facetious reaction to everybody's tendency to ignore the downsides of birth control (one of which is that it (still!) always seems to be the woman's responsibility/fault) and the Malthusian fear-mongering in this thread (and many others), but I wouldn't have been surprised to find somebody running with it when I got back. I suppose I should have made that clearer.

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Yes, we do have to worry. The quality of men's sperm falls off as they age, and there are problems associated with older fathers just as there are problems with older mothers.
True (unless The Treatment affects men's fertility differently than women's).
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There might be a trend to freeze some gametes early in life as a security measure against early loss of fertility, but retain biological fertility for some decades.
Yes, that was my initial thought, and you're right that it could appeal just as much to men as women. Then again, I've been thinking about this...
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Originally Posted by Broomstick
Right now the viability of the above notably drops off over decades.
I don't think I can dismiss that as easily as I first thought. I do think it's technically feasible to improve cryogenics enough to freeze eggs and sperm indefinitely (cuz I'm playing the sci-fi! card), but that doesn't take into account the human side of things. When I think of all the things that can happen in a century (wars, natural disasters, fraud, bankruptcy, etc), it gives me pause. One possibility that would have more security and lower overhead (keeping a freezer plugged in for a century could get expensive) might be if somatic cells could be induced to change into gametes; stem cells would seem to be especially promising.
  #44  
Old 01-04-2020, 02:21 PM
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Hmmm... sounds like a SF story I was planning to write... one of these days... (Except in my scenario life extension is prohibitively expensive)

First, population - I think it was Freakonomics, in their discussion of birth rates and abortion, pointed out that thanks to birth control, women have the number of children they want, typically - if they accidentally start early, then they don't have children later. If we posit a medical breakthrough where moderately good healthy children are possible from 15 to 350, for both men and women - first, the birth rate drops since there is not the pressure to "hurry up, your clock is ticking". Many people may put off settling down and having kids until they hit their 100's, or 200's. Get the house paid for, travel all 7 continents, spend a month in a Tibetan monastery and a year or decade working with unfortunates in the third world. So the rate at which the population increases will not be the same as our current one since childbearing will be put off for decades or centuries. Yes, some may find it enticing to raise a new set of family members every few decades, but I suspect as many will be happy not being tied down.

That's another scenario not mentioned - yes, the first world populations will have mainly long-lived people, but the third world will be a collective of immortal elite lording it over a drudge workforce of natural life mortals. Their incentive would not be to raise the economic level of their country, as they would lose the benefit of cheap servants, plus the risk that diluting the financial pool by paying the lower classes more means they would be priced out of the rejuvenation market too.

Which brings up the equivalent first-world question. What happens to the Walmart greeters and restaurant staff of the first world? There is always a class of person that makes themselves poor. The ultimate socialist medicine would be to make this treatment available to all. If it costs the same as say, buying a new car every 5 years over 20 years - who wants to help pay that for the 10% (20%? 30%?) who cannot afford it? Certainly, the problem people - those with mental problems or addictions, who cannot make the payments, will die slowly while their peers are a buff 40 years old for centuries. (So - is there a cut-off? Once you are biologically, say, 60 years old it's too late for the treatments to save you? Gives new meaning to a "life sentence" if the prison system does not pay for these treatments) Watch for underground quacks doing back-alley half-assed rejuvenation treatments...

Depends too on the cost. If all your surplus earning are gobbled up by your 20-year treatment round, it puts a whole new spin on financial planning. Yes, once the governments and pension planners realize that there are people who can collect benefits for centuries, a whole different regime will kick in. they will pay you when your treatments begin to fail, rather than 65. Or, not at all - you've had 350 years to plan for this. What happens to investment? At a certain point, the system reverts to steady state, but for the 300-plus year adjustment, things will be different. There's already a suggestion that Japan and its stagnation may be the poster child for the coming global economy. A surge of baby boomers created the modern world, and took the best part of it and socked it away into retirement funds, chasing elusive returns from bubble to bubble (such as the recent mortgage bubble). Now, they boomers with the big retirement funds are actually retiring and cashing out. Will some investment assets become a glut on the market as everyone liquidates at the same time? Will savings actually diminish in value?

Of course, all that rejuvenation money goes somewhere. Who gets rich off that? Rejuvenation medical specialist will be a big new in-demand career.

What happens politically? Older voters are typically more conservative. But then, these voters will be most focussed on what policies mean for their access to rejuvenation. Higher taxes? no thanks. Education? There's a workforce from the last 100 years who already know how to read and write, already have job skills, ensuring the up and coming workers are ready is less of a priority. Maternity leave and benefits will disappear. Why would we pay someone to bring more people into an overcrowded world? "If you wanted to have kids, you had 100 years to plan and save for them." Health care? will we look at people who have some conditions the way we look today at whether it makes sense to treat someone already incurable and dying so they can live a few more months? If they're too sick to afford to rejuvenate in the next 20 years, why spend money on someone who will be gone in 20 to 30 years? More focus on curability of diseases and condition, not treatments to prolong mere survival.

As for jobs - at the lower level will be the people scrabbling to pay for the treatments every 20 years. They will live those lives of "quiet desperation". No time for a relationship, or kids that subtract from their ability to save. Will they go postal when they reach the deadline and realize they can't afford the treatment? If I'm going to die in 30 years, I'll go out and take as many of these lucky bastards as I can." These people will work for the same dead-end job or perhaps whatever they can find for 300 years. the well-off middle class will probably do a job for a few decades, then switch careers through boredom or lack of challenge. "I'll never be a top-notch musician after 40 years, so let's try airline pilot or investment banking."

One theory is people will be more careful - but the other theory is that some will translate the boredom into risk-taking; rock climbing, skydiving, high-speed racing along mountain roads, running with the bulls, etc.
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Old 01-04-2020, 04:46 PM
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SciFi stories have room for a little hand-waving and unobtanium. A clumsy or Mad Scientist brews up a <waves hands> biochemical glop that automagically restores and shields telomeres, effectively removing age limits. The glop is released into the world, intentionally by the MS, accidentally by the clumsy one. It spreads by <wave hands> some simple method, maybe rainfall.

Result: People notice that they stop aging. Infectious disease, accidents, and violence still take their toll, but organs stop deteriorating with age. Maybe a bit of apparent rejuvenation ensues, with muscles.

Storyline: How does humanity react? Maybe decide how you want the story to end, and work back from there. Or pick a few plot points and see what your characters do and say. What could you emphasize?

* The rich have their social tricks to stay rich indefinitely.
* Young reckless guys stay reckless longer, with higher rates of violent death.
* Wild gals remain wild a long, long, time, with tragi-comic ends.
* Old-age financial systems collapse. The non-rich must work longer.
* Antiquities markets collapse. What, THAT old stuff? How retro. <yawn>
* Populations explode, or not. Choose an entertaining option.
* Too many memories accumulate. Regular brain-flushes are recommended.
* Human Elders are now allowed on the Galactic Council.
* Invading aliens have much shorter lifespans, become pets.

Another clumsy or Mad Scientist brews and releases a self-spreading universal aphrodisiac. Now near-immortal humans are constantly aroused. Relationships tangle. Will the ending be Happy Ever After or Happy For Now?
  #46  
Old 01-04-2020, 10:10 PM
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That depends


Free immortality for all is a far cry from expensive immortality that needs regular renewal. A financial setback would have slow motion lethal implications. Iím imagining a scenario where someone pulls a Bernie Madoff and suddenly thereís a few thousand broke investors who see themselves now about to die within 30 years since they can not afford a treatment... the green card lottery becomes a much bigger deal when young third world era are vying for not just a richer life but an extra 300 prime years.

Free immortality? Realization dawns slowly. Some donít believe it. What of people who just missed the boat are too old?

Do lifestyle issues still matter? Should I be watching my diet and cholesterol? If I have a bad accident will I be in a wheelchair - or hospital bed - for 300 years?

I donít think jobs vs population is ever an issue . There are always jobs. (Like the story about how the maximum number of cars in North America was going to be limited by the number of available chauffeurs. Or the guy who analyzed how many dozen mainframes would be needed to handle the world computing needs back in the day) Look at how many jobs there are in computing which was undreamt of 70 years ago.

Jared Diamond in his latest book discusses world resources toward the end. The problem with overpopulation is there is not enough resources to keep the whole world or even part of it in a current first world lifestyle. Maybe weíll think more about sustainability when what happens 200 years from now is personal. Building cross country supersonic hyper loops instead of burning jet fuel might make more sense if we personally use that transport for 200 years; solar powered homes are a good investment even when the payback is measured in decades.

Maybe loyalty to an employer will make a comeback when you need the job for treatments; and when employers realize you will still be around in 50 or 100 years I tv they treat you well.

Building you own house will be feasible when you can start with a room or two and slowly expand as needed provided the construction method (3D printed walls etc.?) is flexible and simple. Think of those grand cathedrals that took 200 years to build. AI will validate engineering plans.
  #47  
Old 01-05-2020, 02:14 AM
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Hmmm... sounds like a SF story I was planning to write... one of these days... (Except in my scenario life extension is prohibitively expensive)
There was a short story about this by (I think) Ray Bradbury. I can't recall the name of it. There's a young couple who are in love and want to get married, but since people live hundreds of years, there's no space for them to go. They're surrounded by towering apartment buildings crammed with apartments crammed with people. In one of them, his parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-greats, etc. are all watching TV.

I wish I could remember the name of it. It's driving me crazy.
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Old 01-06-2020, 01:47 AM
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Gahan Wilson had a comic essay in National Lampoon decades ago about this. They invent an immortality treatment, but it can only work if applied before 1 year old. So all us people will slowly fade away while the world stops making adjusts for the old and slow... escalators will run at 3 times their current rate, crosswalk signs change too fast, etc.

but if there is such a treatment - as I said, the birth rate will plummet. Yes, some people will pop them out every few years, but there's no hurry to have kids if you can wait 100 or 200 years. So for the first 30 years, the population will decline precipitously as almost nobody has kids but those over, say, 60 are dropping dead as usual.

It will do wonders for society - 3/4 of all schools will close, but continuing and adult education will replace it. Taking 10 or 15 years to get a degree part-time makes sense if you have 300 years to use it.
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Old 01-06-2020, 03:32 AM
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Gahan Wilson had a comic essay in National Lampoon decades ago about this. They invent an immortality treatment, but it can only work if applied before 1 year old. So all us people will slowly fade away while the world stops making adjusts for the old and slow... escalators will run at 3 times their current rate, crosswalk signs change too fast, etc.

but if there is such a treatment - as I said, the birth rate will plummet. Yes, some people will pop them out every few years, but there's no hurry to have kids if you can wait 100 or 200 years. So for the first 30 years, the population will decline precipitously as almost nobody has kids but those over, say, 60 are dropping dead as usual.

It will do wonders for society - 3/4 of all schools will close, but continuing and adult education will replace it. Taking 10 or 15 years to get a degree part-time makes sense if you have 300 years to use it.
There may be no hurry to have kids, but the urge to procreate won't be delayed. There would be people who'd opt to wait, but how can you say with any certainty that those people would be in the majority?
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Old 01-06-2020, 01:00 PM
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There may be no hurry to have kids, but the urge to procreate won't be delayed. There would be people who'd opt to wait, but how can you say with any certainty that those people would be in the majority?
It's an educated guess. People used to have children in their late teens in the "Good Old Days". Now the mid-20's is more usual, and some people delay well into their 30's. I suspect the majority of people, given the option, would choose to have their early life experiences fist - travel, live it up, get established.

I'm also guessing along with this will come a reluctance for society to support the option to have children when it means taxes on money that could be put toward your own life extension - not to mention personal choices. All the structures in place to support the expansion of the workforce - tax deductions for dependent children, free school, day care (subsidized in the civilized world but not the USA), employer family benefits, will wither away. People will epect to be established - pay off their student debt, pay off their house mortgage, have a well-paying job - before they begin to pop out money-sucking leeches.
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