March 8, 2021•461 words
In response to @Atorko, Will Extreme Longevity Harm Human Drive?
Reading time: 2 min
I originally wrote a longer, 'raw thoughts transcribed' version for this. If you’d be happy to indulge in my unsolicited healthcare-related spouting, it's here, hidden from the main feed.
This is the shortened version. (I realize some things I shortened too much; the full version is available above for context.)
In my opinion:
On longevity (life expectancy)
The notion of extreme human longevity (life expectancy) to some extent comes from new technology and advances in medical sciences that allows us to potentially defeat what is arguably the central cause of all diseases, ageing, as well as beat non-communicable (non-infectious) diseases, now prevalent due to our ability to beat once-deadly, life expectancy-limiting infectious disease with antimicrobial medications. (Antimicrobial resistance is a can of worms I will open perhaps in the future.)
Instead, our life-expectancy limiting diseases are now non-communicable diseases and ageing. One theory for ageing has to do with malfunction in our biological protective mechanisms for genetic material repair and replication, and this cumulative damage results in ageing (and vulnerability to a bunch of non-communicable diseases to come with it).
Along with other biomedical advances, recent developments in genetic engineering may be able to supplant human ageing and and related diseases. This may stop ageing as the ultimate cause of disease and death, leading to potentially extreme human life longevity. I think this is one of the major reasons for this entering our collective attention.
On health expectancy
We should put more focus on 'health expectancy' rather than 'life expectancy'. Health I think is more an ultimate deadline than life- we can't utilise our full life if our health is compromised. We grow old and succumb to disease, chipping away at our health, inhibiting our physical and mental capabilities until we can no longer achieve our goals.
On life expectancy vs motivation
We could take a historical case study for this:
GDP per capita is ultimately a measure of productivity; productivity has to rise for GDP per capita to rise.
GDP per capita vs life expectancy (both global averages) are positively correlated across our history. Both are flat-lines until ~1800-1850. Both rise after that time period.
GDP per capita vs life expectancy of each country is correlated (logarithmically) even now.
This suggests that productivity is actually correlated with increasing life expectancy. Could they be causes of each other? I can't say. However, based on this, there's a positive outlook for productivity, even if our life and health continues to rise.
Something else to consider is the potential for intrinsic motivation (doing things for the sake of doing it) to take over, rather than extrinsic motivation (meeting deadlines to acquire a reward or avoid punishment).