Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Longer Life in the USA

The National Center for Health Statistics reports that "the age-adjusted death rate reached a record low 801.0 per 100,000 U.S. standard population. This value is 3.8 percent lower than the 2003 rate of 832.7."

This decline in death rates was so big it offset the increase in population, so the number of total deaths actually dropped by about 50,000 to 2,398,343 in 2004 from 2,448,288 recorded for 2003. Declines are rare -- the last one was in 1997 -- and this one was huge -- the biggest decline in 6 decades.

The important thought to take away from this news is the fact that we're not reaching any limits on life expectancy -- the preliminary estimate of life expectancy at birth for the total population in 2004 rose again to reach a record high of 77.9 years -- even before we've started investing seriously in projuvenation technologies. Just imagine what we can do when we support research properly!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Mugabe Forever

Glenn Reynolds says "Nobody deserves the Ceaucescu treatment more than Mugabe." Unfortunately, with the UN protecting his sovereignty and violence on tap from the Chinese, old Robert may be more likely to get the SENS treatment than the Ceaucescu treatment. Morgan Tsvangirai's mass protests could lead to a Color Revolution, or to a new Tiananmen Square. Projuvenation technologies throw in a new element of uncertainty about dictators and responses to them. Life becomes more precious when life expectancy doesn't diminish with age, but then, life under dictators becomes less tolerable when life expectancy doesn't diminish with age.

Ideally, the non-dictatorial nations will respond to raised stakes by raising them again so much that the dictatorial nations fold: national leaders become fair game in decapitation strikes authorized by the League of Free Nations. When you've got your whole life ahead of you in comfortable retirement, who will want to take a chance getting decapitated? Let's all learn to get along with each other.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Adaptists over Stasists

Ronald Bailey provides a nice description of the battle between adaptists and stasists on projuvenation technology (ht: Instapundit). Of course, Bailey is arguing in favor of projuvenation, so he doesn't mention the strongest argument the stasists have: Fidel Castro. We, like Bailey, always think in terms of extending youth for ourselves or other nice people, but once projuvenation technology reaches escape velocity, we could have the same dictator stomping the same boot on the same human face forever. Not a comforting thought.

Even if the Castro argument is stronger than the "unnatural" argument bruited by Kass, it's not dispositive. Projuvenation technology also gives the humans under dictators stronger reasons to risk their lives to change their lives -- you can stand that boot for a while, for a lifetime, even, but could you stand it forever? And escape velocity does mean you'd be young forever, forever letting that dictator tell you how to live your life. That's a pretty powerful incentive to join a revolution, even if there's a chance you might have to give your life in exchange for freedom.

Now, tenured professors, on the other hand, might just be dispositive, but we'll take that up with another post.