Greater boon for humanity: old-age reversal or weather control?

On orders of Pallas Athena, Queen of Olympus, Rhymer Enteprises is offering Earth either–not both–of two marvelous technologies. One is the ability to reverse the aging process; the other is the power to control the weather.

Choose the first, and RhE will make available technology based on the rejuvenation therapies described in Robert Heinlein’s Lazarus Long’s novels. These therapies are strictly scientific, not magical, in nature. They change a middle-aged or older adult to turn back the physiological clock to an earlier adult age, as far back as about 25. The physiological clock is turned back to the age you choose, and you can decide if your cosmetic appearance should match your internal one or not. In other words, if you think you were strongest and fastest at 27, but prefer the way you looked at 40 to the way you did at thaty age, you can mix and match. As a necessary side effect, the rejuvenation process cures any diseases you now suffer from, whether or not you had them at the physiological age you choose. The process is not instantaneous, and how long it takes to rejuvenate someone depends on how many years are being stripped away. Seventy-five years will take about two monthsof therapy. though not from the patient’s viewpont, as he or she will be conscious about three-quarters of the time.

The weather domination is based on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION technology. This satellite-based system allows the control of an M-type planet’s weather systems to a reasonably precise level. Want to send the California drought? The weather dominator will do it. Want to make sure Seattle only gets rain between midnight and dawn? We’re on that too. RhE will launch the satellites and keep them fueled for the next 250 years.

The Straight Dope Message Board community has been asked to decide which boon Earth is to be offered. Cast your vote.

Who’d control the tech? If I want to end the drought in California, but someone else wants to keep that drought going, which of us wins?

What happens to the aging process AFTER the reversal? Is it frozen indefinitely? Or does the person begin aging again normally from whatever age they’ve gone back to physiologically?

ETA: I’m thinking that having 90-year-olds going back to 25, even if they start aging normally again, is going to wreak some pretty severe havoc on an already-troubled Social Security system. I wonder how motivated someone who hadn’t worked in 25 years would be to learn new skills (or refresh old ones) and seek employment now that the physical limitations of age would be removed.

You start aging at a normal rate again, but you can get rejuvenated later, to some as-yet-unknown limit. Certainly at least half a dozen times. You’re probably not gonna live as long as Lazarus Long, but that’s because he aged much more slowly than normal; at 300, he looked about 40.

The rejuvenation process restores mentual acuity as well as physical vitality. It probably won’t fix long-standing bad habits, though.

I think having people not die is going to utterly destroy our society. What in the world are we going to do with all these people? Are people going to stop having babies? No, I think there will be new babies at 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, and onwards. “But it’s my right to have babies!” people will whine.

While I would like a few more years for me, I think I have to go with the weather one.

I think the weather control has the potential to be the greater boon for humanity. The ability to grow ample food for everyone is hard to resist, assuming we don’t have a problem with this power falling into the wrong hands. Hard to say what impact that would have on some geo-political situations, but I’m willing to find out.

Conversely, while individuals might generally be happier knowing their lives have been the potential to be prolonged to some great degree (everyone seems to still be susceptible to accidental death in this scenario), I’m not sure it really benefits humanity as a whole. Maybe a few great minds have more time to do good work, which would be awesome.

But I think a lot of folks would actually struggle with that more than they realize. How the hell do I save for retirement if I know I can live to be at least 200? Does that mean I have to keep working for the next 140 years? Unless I’m already rich, it might be hard to make the right financial adjustments for the extended life-expectancy. And if you’re already living in poverty, does that really offer any hope?

Maybe that’s only a problem for the immediate generation. Kids growing up with the expectation of living multiple centuries might be better able to deal with the consequences. But I do worry about overpopulation issues, too. I’m just seeing the boon.

My vote is with the weather machine.

ETA: I’m just NOT seeing the boon (wrt the reverse aging option).

Baby fighting pits, obviously.

As an abstract, pseudo-intellectual theory, weather control would probably be better for humanity.

But I want the rejuvenation. Entropy sucks.

The key word here is “humanity”. For me, as an individual, I’d much rather live hundreds of years than be able to, I dunno, get a white Christmas whenever I want. But the story is much different for humanity as whole - if you look at the number of lives lost to/damage done by severe weather events world wide, the answer is clear. Not to mention that reverse aging would massively screw up our society.

How so? In that it’s massively less than the amount of lives lost to aging and disease?

We already have really good weather prediction, and that gives us many of the benefits of control.

Meanwhile, some of us are gettin’ along in years…

Imagine a world where you are never too sick to work, and never too old to start over. Where you can work a bad job for a few years, go to school part-time, and then get a job in a field that you enjoy, where you never want to retire. Where, if a crisis wipes out your life savings, you can just shrug and say “Oh, well, I’ll do better next time.”

And I shall call it: Overpopulatia.

Much as I’d love it if there were rejuvenation technology, I think it’s pretty clear that THE biggest threat to our continued existence is climate change, so I’ve got to go with the weather dominator.

The rejuvenation machine would just cause massive over population plus it would screw up ranking in society - how do you get a promotion if the boss never retires.

Weather contoll would at least take a while to screw things up but we could maximize food and water untill populations starting warring for different reasons.

I think you may be massively underestimating the amount of suicide this would cause (which, perhaps, takes care of the overpopulation problem). The first generation of folks who are given this extended life expectancy are not automatically going to be filled with infinite patience for failure. Except for the eternal optimists, I think most people would be fairly perturbed by the idea of starting over, and they might find that too deep a depression to climb out of.

Of course, were I given the option for this version of life-extension, I’d take a shot at it.

I’d go for rejuvenation. I don’t think it would actually cause nearly the overpopulation problem people think it would; people would still die, they’d just die from accidents, violence and disease instead of old age. They’d live longer, not forever; but they’d have a much higher quality of life.

We got too darn many people already; weather control. Although we’ll probably screw that up in the end.

Human life extension would be the biggest ecological disaster since the discovery of fire.
Weather control would (undoubtably) come with unforeseen and equally disastrous side-effects.

That is my opinion as well. Can you imagine the economic let alone the environmental consequences if you gave millions of now retired people an effective age reversal treatment? Even if it worked exactly as advertised, it would still be disastrous. You would have older people locking up jobs for decades, housing and everything else at the expense of younger people. You would have to completely rethink and rebuild Social Security and Medicare very rapidly (unrealistically so) and start to implement birth controls to prevent rapid overpopulation. Every single social and government system would have to be revamped for the benefit of the old and at the expense of the young. It might work in theory if you phased it in over a long period of time but, even then, you would have to come up with a way to separate out those that get the anti-aging treatments from those that don’t and for how long. That is an ethical nightmare of its own. I assume the extremely wealthy would be among the first to get it but that introduces even more problems. Can you calculate how much money a present day billionaire can accumulate if they just invest sensibly and avoid dying for another 100 or 150 years at compound interest?

Weather control is even worse in some ways because it can be a zero-sum game or a feedback loop. Fixing that current drought in Africa may screw up the Gulf-Stream and send Western Europe into a deep freeze long-term for example. There is only so much heat the water and atmosphere can hold at any given time and altering the larger patterns will always affect other areas as well. It would be like your roommate opening the window in your bedroom during the Winter because he feels a little warm in his room down the hall.