Six Radical Life-Extension Technologies for Transhumanist Consideration
We’ve developed tech guaranteed to extend the human lifespan, but market failures and regulatory bodies stand in the way of universal access.
- CLEAN WATER This is a basic innovation. However, the marketing upside is huge. There is massive, seemingly endless demand for this tech. While on the low end it is highly at risk of being commodified, there is much profit to be made from premium versions of the product for all market segments.
- URBAN SANITATION As a greater proportion of humans live in urban environments, upgrades can greatly impact many people. Good ROI.
- SMOKELESS COOKING FACILITIES A niche tech, but stunningly effective in some markets. Positively impacts both quality and quantity of life. This last point is an important consideration in life-extension. It’s not enough to blindly build tech that keeps people technically alive for longer. We want tech that enables a good life.
- FREE ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE Critics say this isn’t one technology but an ideological mess of blurry promises. I say, look at the graphs.
- GUARANTEED MINIMUM INCOME Despite longstanding research in the arena, this remains a highly controversial procedure. Many concerns have been raised about its social side-effects and regulatory bodies continue to stand in its way. Still, we mustn’t impede progress.
- GOOD FREE EDUCATION Sure to be popular with DIY arm of transhumanist crowd. Likely to encourage a faster run up the exponential curve as more minds become more capable of reaching their full creative potential.
This list isn’t complete, of course. It’s simply six things that came to Paul Graham Raven’s mind as he considered the transhumanist argument for the moral need to research medicine to help humans live longer.
Dubious imperatives abound: for instance, if we can agree that most people would prefer to live longer, then living longer is surely a general human good, and thus withholding the technology to extend life further would then be equivalent to letting someone die before their time, right? The most ludicrous extension of this shaky argument is provided by Dr Aubrey de Grey, who had heretofore seemed to me to be one of the more reasonable minds on the transhumanist ticket. Au contraire: in de Grey’s view, the argument above extends so far that even to advise caution and regulation in the development and deployment of lifespan extension is, by way of potentially excluding all the oldest folk currently alive from living yet longer, morally equivalent to defending ethnic cleansing based on age.
Transhumanism is closely associated with graphs depicting exponential curves. Those curves drive the conviction that advances in medicine relating to prosthetics, genetic therapy, nano-technology, and other cool-sounding gear will enable extremely long, potentially limitless lifespans for people.
The massive gains in average life expectancy over the past few centuries are well-documented. Sadly, much like the rest of the future, they have not been evenly distributed. They haven’t even been evenly distributed within medical powerhouses like the United States.
The first three items of Raven’s list are so basic and near-ubiquitous in places like California that they barely register as tech at all. The final three are so controversial that regulatory bodies have stood in their way for decades despite overwhelmingly clear benefits to the individual. Progress on those fronts has been a confusion of steps forwards and back; consistent access has only truly been available to the rich and connected.
The terrifying consequence of de Grey’s argument is that current and ongoing failures to properly distribute these well-understood technologies amounts to an ethnic cleansing based on wealth and geography.
CC photo: Kansas Poetry (Patrick)