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              Advocacy & Research for Unlimited Lifespans


Gregory Stock

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#1 kevin

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Posted 11 December 2003 - 05:08 AM

I'm afraid it was a little premature to offer this submission. There are some extentuating issues that need to be addressed concerning copyright which will need to be worked out and Greg would also like to see a little more of the finished product before reconsidering.

#2 Bruce Klein

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Posted 14 December 2003 - 02:49 AM

I feel confident Greg will reconsider his reconsideration.

#3 Bruce Klein

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Posted 22 January 2004 - 07:30 AM

Dear Greg, gstock@ess.ucla.edu

Thanks for your participation in the ImmInst
Book Project: http://www.imminst.org/book

Happily, we've received article submissions from
numerous outstanding scientists and authors.

The goal of our eleven member editing team is to put
together the best compilation thus far on the scientific
conquest of involuntary death.

To facilitate your decision to submit, would you like to
receive more information about the layout of the book?

Bruce Klein
Chairman, ImmInst.org

#4 caliban

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Posted 22 January 2004 - 11:06 AM

Are you sure he'll understand what the actual question is?

#5 Bruce Klein

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Posted 22 January 2004 - 11:07 AM

he repled with "Sure"

I replied with a list of potential authors we have reviewed and
may add.. and await his reply.


Many of the following original submissions will appear in the book:

-Bostrom, Nick
Why Longer, Healthier Life?

-Cordeiro, Jose & Ochoa, Santiago
Religion, Science and Immortality

-Freitas, Robert
Nanomedicine, Natural Death, and the Quest for Accident-Limited Healthspans

-Geddes, Marc
An Introduction to Immortalist Morality

-Grey, Aubrey de
After the War on Aging

-Hoffman, Rudi
The affordable Immortal

-Noever, Till
The Ethics of Emortalism

-Nova, Joanne
Immortality as a Dinner Party Dazzler

-Perry, Mike
Thoughts on Immortality

-Rose, Michael
The New Immortality

-Treder, Mike
Visions of Immortality

-Van De Walker, Ray
Why Wait? Somatic Editing Now!

-Vyff, Shannon C.
Confessions of a Proselytizing Immortalist

-Wowk, Brian
Medical Time Travel: A Question of Science


Some of the following reprints may appear in the book:

-Bell, Gordon and Jim Grey
Digital Immortality

-Faloon, William
Delaying the Onset of Degenerative Disease

-Kurzweil, Ray
Human Body Version 2.0

-Minsky Marvin
Will Robots Inherit the Earth?

-More, Max
Life Extension and Overpopulation

-Phoenix, Chris
Nanotechnology and Life Extension

-West, Michael
Back to Immortality


Let me know if you have questions.


#6 caliban

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Posted 22 January 2004 - 01:46 PM

yes, I have calmed down now, thanks for asking. [tung]

In this specific case things might have been different.

But please do not make it a general policy to prejudge nor communicate ongoing editorial discussions.

#7 Bruce Klein

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Posted 22 January 2004 - 05:55 PM

Right, this is a last resort tactic used with considerable discretion.

#8 Bruce Klein

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Posted 03 March 2004 - 07:07 PM

To: Greg Stock
Subject: RE: Stock - ImmInst Book Project

Dear Greg,

The ImmInst book editing team would like to inform
potential authors of the final essay submission cut-off.

Would you like to consider submitting your essay for
inclusion in the first book?

Title: The Scientific Conquest of Death: Essays on Infinite Lifespans

Book Project Information: http://www.imminst.org/book

Bruce Klein
Chair, ImmInst.org


Glad to hear your project has come together. Please remind me ... what
essay of mine were you thinking of using? G

#9 Bruce Klein

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Posted 03 March 2004 - 07:13 PM


Would you happen to have this info handy? And please feel free to correspond with Stock this information if you'd like... either way is fine.

#10 kevin

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Posted 03 March 2004 - 07:34 PM

I've emailed Greg with a copy of the IABG talk he gave which he was considering submitting for the book before.

#11 Bruce Klein

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Posted 04 March 2004 - 12:44 AM

-----Original Message-----
From: gstock@ess [mailto:gstock@ess.ucla.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, March 03, 2004 1:02 PM
To: 'Kevin Perrott'
Subject: RE: ImmInst Book Participation Revisited - Essay enclosed

Sure, you can include this if you wish. But it would need to be properly
credited to the meeting and publication where it first appeared, and
you'd have to ask Aubrey de Gray about getting a formal permission,
though I am not sure it is actually needed.

I am very pre-occupied for the next few weeks and can't help with that
or rework the paper itself, though. Best, G
This is excellent,

I had discussed the copyright issues with Aubrey earlier and there appears
to be no problem in using it as a reprint in the book. As far as content or
reworking the paper, we will let you know what changes might be necessary
although to the best of my recollection there would be few if any, and we
can take it from there.

Thanks again for submitting Greg...

Kevin Perrott

#12 Bruce Klein

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Posted 04 March 2004 - 12:45 AM

Running Title: Planning for Demographic Change
Title: The Pitfalls of Planning for Demographic Change
Author: Gregory B. Stock
Address: Director, Program on Medicine, Technology and Society, UCLA School of Public Health, Dept. of Health Services, 760 Westwood Bl. Los Angeles, CA 90024-1759.
Phone: 310 825 9715; Fax: 413 487 7512; Email: gstock@ess.ucla.edu ; Website: http://research.medn.../pmts/Stock.htm
Key Words: Demographic change, anti-age, lifespan extension, reversing aging, retarding aging
Abstract: As we begin to understand the biology of aging, it will be ever more tempting to try to plan for the social consequences of the coming biomedical interventions in this arena. But this will remain a daunting task, because the larger consequences of the arrival of anti-aging interventions will greatly depend on the relative character and timing of the specific procedures that emerge. Three basic classes of interventions are likely: ones that slow aging in adults, ones that reverse aging in adults, and embryonic interventions that modify the overall trajectory of human aging. The consequences of each will differ significantly in the time required before noticeable demographic shifts begin to manifest in the human population, and in the social and political changes the interventions evoke. The specific societal consequences generally will arrive long before the demographic ones, and will hinge upon the technical details of the interventions themselves -- their complexity, physiological targets, modes of delivery, costs, unpleasantness, and the character and frequency of side effects.

Article: The trajectory of life is brutal. It is difficult for a youngster to go to a nursing home and fully appreciate that the frail elderly there were once as vital and full of life as he or she is. And it is even more difficult for the young to comprehend that one day they too will be as old and frail … if they are lucky enough to make it that far. Everything we love will eventually be taken from us as we grow old, our senses diminish, our friends and loved ones pass away, and finally we die.
Dealing with this truth has always been challenging, and we see several different basic approaches to the task. Some people ignore it, pretending that they will somehow be spared. This is particularly easy for the young, who haven’t begun to manifest any noticeable symptoms of decline. Others simply deny their mortality, claiming that death is not real and that their souls will live eternally, or that they will live on in their creations or in the hearts of others. Still others accept this process of decline as inevitable and natural, or they may even maintain that it is best, since death is what gives meaning to life. And finally, there are those who battle against the process, trying to escape its seeming inevitability. Ponce de Leon slogged through the jungles of Florida searching for the fountain of youth. And today, cryonicists contract to freeze their bodies (or merely their heads) in the hope of eventual resurrection by future medical science equipped with nanotechnology and other breakthrough devices.
Regardless how we face the prospect of our own eventual decline, however, in this era of breathtaking medical advances, aging is grist for a horde of charlatans peddling elixirs of vitamins and hormones. A clutter of pitches ring out on the Internet: Unleash Your Youth with Professional Strength Human Growth Hormone! Aging – Don’t accept it, turn back the clock now! But medical science has yet to bring us much in this realm. The sad truth is that what Shakespeare wrote in 1598 still applies today:
And so from hour to hour we ripe and ripe.
And then from hour to hour we rot and rot;
and thereby hangs a tale.
-- As You Like It, Act ii. Scene 7
But what if biogerontology makes real progress? What if science’s unraveling of the workings of life brings us not warmed over Ponce-de-Leon, but true breakthroughs in our understanding of aging? What if we learn to retard or even reverse key aspects of the process?
Some say this will never happen, so we should keep our eyes on the real diseases that afflict us. Others think it will happen, and feel it’s reckless not to plan for the enormous dislocations ahead.1 I maintain that breakthroughs in the biology of aging are quite plausible, but that any social planning for broad lifespan extension at this point would be nearly worthless, except for a few relatively obvious actions that would be of value anyway.
It is important to understand up front that the project to dramatically extend human life span is greatly at odds with the present goals of biogerontology, which are not to buy more life, but to condense our morbidity.2 Ostensibly, success would mean that we would live long, healthy lives, and then rapidly deteriorate like a salmon that has spawned. Initially, such a project might seem reasonable, but push it to its logical conclusion, and it would be a nightmare, profoundly at odds with our true aspirations.
Imagine how unprepared we would be to die even at 80 if we had been fit and vital until a few weeks earlier. Wrenched from our prime without ever-worsening debilities to make us disengage from the world would not only be excruciating personally, it would leave a gaping void behind. Sickness and decline are unwelcome visitors, but at least they prepare us and those around us for our departure.
If human lifespan proved immutable, of course, more health and less sickness would seem pretty good. But when push comes to shove, most people would prefer a healthier and a longer life. Our true aspiration is not compressed morbidity, but more and better years.
The real question, though, is not what we want, but what is possible – and one need go no further than the other papers in this volume to see that such possibilities are not implausible. The potential of any particular intercession to alter aging can easily be disputed, but not that medical science is following many plausible paths towards controlling key aspects of aging. So, let’s consider the likely consequences of controlling the aging process.
There can be little doubt that meaningful healthspan extension would be widely embraced if it became possible. The popularity of cosmetic surgery and nutritional supplementation attest to that. Some people, of course, insist that it would be a huge mistake to extend human lifespan. They worry that already there are too many people, that environmental problems would deepen, that life would lose its meaning, that reaching for more life would be selfish, or even that the extra years would be boring. Yet even they will sometimes whisper, “but put me on your list.”
If regenerative medicine conquered aging, the breakthrough would without question bring profound shifts in the way we live. Virtually every facet of human society would change: family relationships, educational structures, the passage of wealth and power from one generation to the next, the very shape of our institutions. Truly, the collapse of social security would be the least of our problems.
Questions and concerns about the new directions we would take are easy to find: Would anti-aging interventions fragment society, erode our values, ignite a population explosion, pit one generation against the next. But definitive answers are hared to come up with. They depend too much on unknowable details of the technology itself. Aging is multifaceted, and various aspects of it are sure to be addressed with differing success and at differing rates.
A future with the elderly having youthful bodies and ossifying brains would be vastly different from one with sharp-minded oldsters whose immune systems were failing. And both would differ completely from one in which we simply halved the pace of aging, thereby doubling our life spans.
Three distinct categories of anti-aging interventions are possible: ones that slow aging in adults, ones that reverse aging in adults, and ones that must take place in embryos (or perhaps young children) to be effective.
One obvious question about these interventions is how quickly they would shift the age distribution of our population if they became broadly available. Another question is how long it would take them to provoke meaningful social and political challenges.
Each of these intervention categories would lead to very different delays before the age-distribution of the human population would shift in a significant way. Reversing aging would have immediate, massive effects, because it would sharply reduce the numbers of frail and elderly by rejuvenating them. Retarding aging would bring a gradual shift that would take decades to affect the population’s age distribution, and even then, would merely mute the consequences of current graying by slowing the decline brought by added years. Embryonic interventions would have almost no effect on the population until 60 or 70 years after they were broadly embraced, since diseases of aging are virtually by definition reserved for the old, and it would take a long time for the first treated cohort to emerge from youth and middle age.
In contrast these differential effects, massive social and political shifts would come quickly regardless of the intervention category. That society would react strongly to effective interventions that retard or reverse aging is obvious. But effective anti-aging interventions in embryos or young children would bring a strong response as well, because the success would ignite public hopes for adult interventions. Indeed, success with anti-aging interventions even in mice would probably lead to a War on Aging as adults increasingly decided that they’d rather be part of the first generation to enjoy extended life spans than part of the last to miss out.
Once human aging was seen as potentially malleable, I suspect we might quickly come to see it not simply as a disease, but as the disease – an affliction that affects everyone, that cripples and kills as it progresses, and that might be treatable. The idea of aging as a disease is not yet mainstream, but in 2001, Temple argued that in the genomic era, we would need to view disease not as a cluster of symptoms but as a state that places individuals at increased risk of adverse consequences.3 He was thinking of preventive treatment for genomic factors that place individuals at heightened risk for various known diseases, but aging satisfies his criteria as well.
Aging is the critical underlying factor in cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, atherosclerosis, and other conditions of advancing years. Quite simply, aging is what makes us “old” and brings on these diseases. It is a diffuse, late-onset genetic disorder that we all suffer.
Any meaningful anti-aging interventions will rapidly bring large social and political consequences, but what will those consequences be? That is the crucial question for budding social planners. And the answer is, “it depends.”
One major determinant of these consequences will be cost. Any intervention or cluster of interventions will have both fixed costs, such as those for R&D and various equipment, and variable costs, outlays that are directly proportional to the number of people using the technology. These variable costs are what will most shape the implications of the technology. If the variable costs are low, for example, such as with drugs, enormous pressure will arise to provide government funding to make them available to everyone, regardless what their development costs were.
If variable costs are high, however, such as would be the case for complex ongoing, individualized procedures that are labor and equipment intensive, it would be too expensive to provide the procedures to everyone. Conflicts thus would be bound to arise over how to distribute and ration the interventions. And the more they were reserved for the wealthy, the sharper the class conflict would likely be.
Many other factors besides price will be critical as well. Our response to such technology will depend on the modality of the treatments, whether they have harsh side effects, need frequent repetition, are arduous, take long to act, are risky, must begin before a certain age, and, of course, whether they reverse or merely slow aging. Each factor will influence the public’s embrace of, and response to, the technology. The modality of intervention, for instance, will greatly influence the ability of the government to regulate the technology. Drugs would be virtually impossible to regulate even if significant risks were associated with them, whereas equipment-intensive clinical procedures might be more controllable. And we must not forget that none of these various factors will be static, since any such technology is bound to evolve over time.
Such specifics also will affect the nature of the social adjustments required by the technologies and the character of the social conflicts provoked. Daunting intergenerational conflicts might be sparked by imbalances of wealth and power. Difficulties may result from social ossification too, as more and more people become invested in stability. Revolutionary change often waits until a new generation can grab the reins of power from the previous one, and that process might be altered considerably.
Developing new visions of the human life trajectory would be challenging as well, since it is far from obvious how marriage, jobs, education, childbearing, and the other of life’s passages would be best integrated into much longer lives. New life strategies would have to evolve as they did with the arrival of birth control, the emancipation of women, or the 30-year increase in life expectancy in the developed world during the 1900s, but the shifts would not be easy ones.
The benefits from extending human life span, however, would be more than personal. William Nordhaus at Yale University estimates that half the standard-of-living increase in the United States during the past century rests upon the 30-year rise in longevity in that period.4 Today it takes decades of education and experience to teach us to handle ourselves effectively in the world, and people often are just beginning to hit their groove when they begin to tire and fade. Extending our prime even a few decades would act as a remarkable infusion of talent and energy into the world.
Without question, effective anti-aging interventions would change society in many ways, but advance preparation can’t help much, simply because there are so many possible paths before us. And I haven’t even looked at how anti-aging technology might interact with other coming technological advances outside of the life sciences. Any preparations we make today are mere guesswork, but there are a few adjustments we can and should make.
We should, for example, root out systemic social rigidities that are sensitive to demographic and longevity shifts. To have social security benefits kick in at a certain age is unnecessarily rigid. Retirement and benefits instead should be keyed to heath or performance indices. And wherever possible, choices should be placed in the hands of the individual. For example, the private social security accounts pioneered by Jose Pinera in Chile,5 and now used in nearly 20 countries is a far more robust way of supporting retirement than the social security monoliths of Western Europe and the US. With these buckling under today’s changes in family size and demographics, what would they do with real anti-aging medicine?
Even the idea of striving to extend our lives, however, is discomforting to many. The goal seems so unworthy and narcissistic. It is the nobility of self-sacrifice and the heroism of risking death for the common good that we celebrate. Reaching for longevity evokes images of cowards on the deck of the Titanic pushing aside women and children to reach the lifeboats, hypochondriacs counting their vitamins and avoiding anyone with a cough, or even vampires sucking the blood of innocents.6
But we must look more deeply at the source of our repugnance, because the context that brings extended lifespans may soon change. Today, struggling for more life involves intense self-focus, and is largely futile in any event. But meaningful breakthroughs in the biology of aging might alter this.
Taking a pill to extend our years -- an intervention vastly different from the self-starvation of caloric restriction -- would be neither selfish nor self-absorbed. It would be common sense. And if we could alter embryos or children to double their expected lifespan, the added years would not tarnish these beneficiaries any more than we’ve been tarnished by antibiotics and vaccines.
We are at the start of a new millennium, and at the end of this millennium, when future humans look back at our era, they will see it as a unique, extraordinary moment that re-shaped the meaning and trajectory of human life. Machine intelligence, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, and space exploration are among the seminal developments taking place today. But the ragged frontiers of aging will be where the real action is, because our next frontier is not space, but our own biology, and we care so much about aging and death.
Of all the things that advancing technology may bring us, the most consequential would be to roll back the limits of our own life spans. When your brain is turning to mush from Alzheimer’s or when cancer is sucking away your life, all the telecommunications, AI, and special effects in the world will seem of little consequence. We are creatures of flesh and blood, and ultimately, it is the health and vitality of this tissue that will shape our lives.
1. de Grey, A. et al. 2002. “Is human aging still mysterious enough to be left only to scientists?” Bioessays, 24(7), 667-676.
2. Partridge, L. and Gems, D. 2002. ''Mechanisms of ageing: Private or public?' Nature Reviews Genetics 3, 165-175.
3 Temple, L. et al. 2001 “Defining Disease in the Genomics Era,” Science 293: 807-808.
4. Nordhaus, W. 1999. “The Health of Nations: The contribution of improved health to living standards.” NBER Working Paper No.w8818, February 2002, National Bureau of Economic Research.
5. Pinera, J. 1995. Empowering workers :The privatization of social security in Chile. Cato Journal. v15 n2-3. Fall 1995/Winter 1996. p. 155-166
6 Stock, G. 2002. Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable Genetic Future. Page Houghton Mifflin, New York.

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