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The Boredom Objection to Life Extension – Article by Arin Vahanian

The Boredom Objection to Life Extension – Article by Arin Vahanian

Arin Vahanian


One of the most widely used yet most baseless objections to life extension is the idea that if people had longer lifespans, they would somehow be bored, or, that they would not be motivated, since the finite amount of time each person has is what is supposed to make them more motivated. Indeed, when this objection is uttered, images of people watching hours of television every day while drinking soda, eating junk food, and being unproductive, come to mind. However, as I will demonstrate below, boredom and motivation are not related to the length of life, but rather, are based on other factors.

The reality is that there are already plenty of people who claim to be bored, or who struggle with motivation. Therefore, shortening their lives or preventing them from living longer and healthier is not likely to make them less bored or improve their motivation. In fact, it is likely to do the opposite – to result in the person becoming demoralized, and, more than likely, very depressed, knowing that their life expectancy has been decreased, that there is no hope for rejuvenation, and that the end is closer still.

Being bored or unmotivated isn’t related to the length of one’s life; it is related to a person’s mindset, thoughts, beliefs, actions, life situation, and other factors that are not related to lifespan.

I can speak for myself and say that I would do plenty of things if I had a longer lifespan, including, but not limited to, starting new hobbies, enjoying the additional time with friends, family and loved ones, performing charity work, delivering even more value to others, and more. Wouldn’t you like to have a few extra years of a healthy life so that you could spend it with the people you love, doing things you enjoy?

Life being short isn’t a good thing, just like failure isn’t a good thing, and just like going bankrupt isn’t a good thing. The difference here, though, is that if you fail, you can probably try again, just like if your business goes under, you can probably try again at some point. In those scenarios too, one could make the argument that you might learn something from the failure or bankruptcy. However, if you die, you can’t try again, and there’s nothing to learn from it. It’s all over.

Just because some people believe that a longer lifespan would result in lethargic, lackadaisical behavior in certain people, doesn’t mean we have to damn all of humanity to a short, brutish lifespan full of disease and suffering, especially in the last few years or decades of life. Therefore, even if some people waste the time that they have, this does not mean the rest of us who do cherish the time we have should have less of it available to us.

Indeed, there are more hobbies, activities, educational tools, opportunities for personal development, and forms of entertainment available to us, than ever before. Therefore, if someone is truly bored, the boredom is more than likely not related to the length of their life, but rather, the quality of their life. It seems difficult to argue that an enthusiastic, passionate, and motivated person would all of a sudden become demotivated if they had more years of a healthy life ahead of them. On the other hand, it may very well be true that an unmotivated or depressed person would not be helped by having a longer life. However, this does not mean that the longer life is the reason for their boredom. There has been much research conducted on motivation, and the research seems to suggest that motivation is driven by intrinsic factors, such as purpose and the opportunity for self-improvement, and not necessarily by the length of life. Given these factors, it would be difficult to argue that adding a few years of healthy life would suddenly make someone demotivated.

Someone who feels bored or unmotivated with the valuable gift of life is calling out for help. We should help them come to a better understanding of what it means to be alive, what it means to be human, and, if possible, help them develop a purpose and goals in life so that they feel more motivated on a daily basis. Shortening the length of their life is unlikely to help them feel less bored, or more motivated. In my view, instead of attempting to prevent progress, opponents of life extension would be better served by spending their time helping others find meaning or purpose in life.

Furthermore, imagine not conducting valuable research into longevity just because of the objection that people would be bored with a longer life. While there is really no way to quantify just how damaging this objection could be to performing research into life extension, I imagine it has prevented some progress in treating aging-related diseases. Could you imagine the ensuing outrage if our teachers, business leaders, medical professionals, and parents came out publicly and said that we should stop treating or trying to cure illnesses? Similarly, we should be outraged by simplistic arguments against life extension, especially if they are not backed up by solid evidence. And, of course, we should certainly be glad that the men and women who have dedicated their lives to improving the human condition and curing devastating illnesses did not succumb to boredom or a lack of motivation.

Let’s be clear – death does not give life meaning any more than tearing down a house gives meaning to the house. Therefore, when we hear the objection that life extension would lead to boredom and demotivation, we should call it for what it is: an insult to the sanctity of life and something to be banished for eternity, just like the plague of aging and disease.

Arin Vahanian is the Vice-Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party.

 

2021 New Year’s Message by Victor Bjoerk

2021 New Year’s Message by Victor Bjoerk

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Victor Bjoerk


2021 has arrived, and it’s time for my yearly New Year’s message!

Since we all know how the world has been affected this year, there’s no point in mentioning the virus, but quite a few things happened for me.

At the beginning of this year and spring I was living in San Francisco and working on aging at BioAge. However, BioAge had to temporarily shut down because of COVID, but this wasn’t a big deal for me since I was able to transfer to Ichor Therapeutics in Syracuse, New York, which remained operational. So I got to work at two awesome leading biotech companies in the Longevity field, where I gained a lot of specific know-how which I am very grateful for!

I returned to Europe a few weeks ago, and shortly I’ll have some more exciting things to announce that I will be working on!

So yes, a lot of lemons were handed out this year worldwide, but I felt I did a decent job at making lemonade out of them. I’m a very positive person with a grand vision of wiping out all age-related disease within the next few decades, so that everybody can live as long as they want in a 25-year old body.

Some do not have that approach, they think “Longevity” means some slight health improvement by diet/exercise. Others study some aspect of aging because they want a PhD and some academic credentials (using aging as an excuse to refer to for that); however, this causes a generalized lack of a big-picture perspective for what’s going to work.

That is not me. I robustly and consistently keep up the interest until the mission is fully accomplished. In my personal roadmap I’ve developed for impacting aging, I emphasize the transdisciplinary scientific fields that are going to produce good outcomes (that may be hidden as, e.g.,“proteomics” rather than explicitly stated as “anti-aging”).

I also put an equal weight on the “business aspect” here, since your impact won’t be that big without the correct biotech business know-how, especially as AI and robotics wipe out the lab workers. Drug development and clinical trials are complex fields with 15-20 years from initial discovery to approved product. In addition, raising capital and advocacy to the public are as important as knowing the basic biology itself.

A lot of things in history have also been grotesquely mismanaged and squandered because of predictable human error, not because of the intrinsic difficulty of the science itself. There are a lot of golden nuggets laying around the labs in the world right now, and lots of resources and techniques are at our fingertips, but how will they be combined and implemented into an individual in order to cure them from aging? And how will this cocktail of interventions that forms the ultimate cure of aging be implemented across the world just like the efforts currently underway with the COVID vaccine?

A lot of setbacks are reversible and temporary, such as a lack of money and success or whatever people feel this year has caused them; aging is profoundly more serious.

During the year I read, as usual, many hundreds of scientific papers to keep up with the aging field, and also I have several publications I’ve produced, coming out now during 2021 (unfortunately peer-review takes time). I participated in many aging conferences, including one in Curacao, which meant a week of swimming in the tropics (how enjoyable!).

So yes, I felt I did many things well despite the challenges. Of course, things could always have been done better in retrospect, but that’s what one always says.

My New Year’s celebration this year isn’t very special because of all restrictions, but I wish you all a happy new year!

I have some typical New Year’s resolutions like getting fitter (but not motivating with all gyms and pools being closed, so some coaching is required), and of course continuing with the aging mission. So I’ll leave the question now to the reader: What have you done this year, and what good do you feel you can do for next year?

Victor Bjoerk has worked for the Gerontology Research Group, the Longevity Reporter, the Fraunhofer-Institut für Zelltherapie und Immunologie, BioAge, and Ichor Therapeutics. He has promoted awareness throughout Europe of emerging biomedical research and the efforts to reverse biological aging. In his honor the U.S. Transhumanist Party organized the Victor Run 2020 Virtual Race on June 5-7, 2020.