ISSN 0964-5659


The Newsletter of Longevity Books, West Towan House, Porthtowan, Truro, Cornwall TR4 8AX

Click box below for the Life Extension Foundation

Louis Epstein's tables of the oldest people.
Click here to track emerging epidemics.
Exterminate the The Norwalk "Winter Vomiting" Virus.
Click here to read the web site
Unraveling the Secrets of Human Longevity
by Dr. Leonid Gavrilov, Ph. D. and Dr. Natalia Gavrilova, Ph. D.

Join our mailing list to discuss articles and for news of web postings!
To e-mail: Click here.

Join Longevity Report's discussion list
Powered by
I use and recommend this system which bounces spam and viruses using your own and web based blacklists.
You can have a free month's trial. Click box below.

Search this site

Libertarians and Cryonics Stephen W Bridge 2
Center for Responsible Nanotechnology Board of Advisors Mike Treder 8
Fly Longevity Experiments Douglas Skrecky 10
Death Denial Dr Steve Harris 16
The Consequences of Physical Immortality Bruce Klein 17
Publication Schedule Changes John de Rivaz 24

Contents are provided for information only, under the right to free speech. Opinions are the authors' own. No professional advice is intended. If you wish others to be legally responsible for your health, life or finances, then please consult a professional regulated according to the laws of your country.

Volume 16 no 95. First published July 2003. ISSN 0964-5659.

Libertarians and Cryonics.

by Stephen W Bridge, < >

It has been enjoyable and instructive reading the arguments about political theory on CryoNet during the summer of 2003. I even think it has much to do with cryonics, although not solely for the reasons that some people have mentioned.

Perhaps the most basic conflict in human nature is the self vs. the tribe ("tribe" here meaning any group of humans with shared interests, from the family to the work group to a nation). Am I better off choosing to follow a particular group (maybe the majority, maybe not) or choosing to act independently? Even if I can recognize that I am more likely to survive or be happy or be rich (etc.) if I choose one way or the other, will I actually make that decision, or will I choose to stay with the group or act as an individual for other reasons? No matter how much we like to pretend we are totally rational, we are all subject to peer pressure, culturalisation (including various biases), the need to be accepted, hormones, brain chemicals, fuzzy reasoning, and pure contrariness.

We evolved as tribal beings, subconsciously dependent on family and tribal units, requiring a hierarchy of dominance and submission, and suspicious and fearful of other tribes. It is probably necessary that we each learn to break away from our families in some ways, and probably physiologically impossible to delete the influence of our families to any great extent. For much of human existence, the system of tribes and families was probably the most important factor in survival (both the personal survival of individuals and the survival of the species). Sometimes being a member of a particular tribe would shorten the lives of its members, but totally independent people were unlikely to meet and attract mates. So the people who did survive to pass their genes along almost certainly were part of successful tribes, and passed along that "group mentality." These are our ancestors and we cannot escape them. People with new ideas or cultural preferences different from those around them would often add strength to the group; but just as often those ideas would reduce the possibility of survival. So even good new ideas often resulted in the tribe rejecting the creative one. We cryonicists come from a long tradition of rejection.

As the concept of individuality grew, the conflicts within families and tribes no doubt grew also. And while we are no doubt far from our "primitive" ancestors in many ways, that conflict remains in us today in nearly every part of our existence, from international relations to politics on the job to conflicts between the two members of couple. Of course, we still require the "tribe" to survive as a child, since we are born unable to take care of ourselves and completely ignorant or any language or culture. At some point you may feel that you have become an independent adult, but your tribal past (both personal and species) is still part of the way your brain is organized.

I'm not interested here in questions about which of you are "morally right or wrong" or which version of libertarianism is the "right one." As in any intellectual conflict, I'm sure you all have some points on your side.

What I am interested in is how the conflict of self vs. tribe affects us as cryonicists. For people who are leaders of cryonics organizations, it is critical to remember that the conflict exists in all humans and that a large number of the complaints received by their members are rooted in that conflict. The particular mix in the cryonics community at this stage in our existence is heavily skewed toward people who place a high emphasis on individuality. This should be no surprise because only people with that mind-set are likely to be early adopters of new ideas like this, which places such importance on the value of individual lives.

And yet, no one can do cryonics effectively by himself or herself. It requires specialized knowledge and skills, a team that works together, a building, and people willing to commit themselves to caring for frozen patients for decades at minimum. And you really cannot make individual decisions about your own cryonics care while the physician is filling out your death certificate. The result is that, while cryonics organizations may be largely made of people who are more or less "libertarian" in personal nature, cryonics organizations themselves are not libertarian or even democratic. To protect the physical and financial safety of patients and staff, cryonics organizations cannot accept every individual demand, financial plan, marketing plan, etc. from every member. Decisions about the organization cannot be made by general vote of the members. Someone has to be in charge and someone has to make the decisions with the long-term survival of all members in mind.

I have often said, when I became Alcor President back in 1993, I discovered that I was not the President of an organization of 300 people. I was the President of 300 organizations of one person each, who grudgingly agreed to confederate under one name. The average cryonicist has already spent a lot of his/her life saying "No" to what other people wanted them to do -- and this doesn't stop when they join a cryonics group. And yet, they still have that need to be part of a group -- just a group that does what THEY believe to be correct. If this argument is beginning to sound circular, that's part of the conflict. Every left has a right; every in has an out.

By the way, many years ago, we had some members who insisted that Alcor should become an organization that allowed all of the members to vote for Alcor's Board of Directors. (Alcor instead has the other legally permitted kind of non-profit Board which each year elects the Directors for the following year.) I admit that I originally thought that such "democracy" was a good idea myself -- until I saw graphic evidence of what could happen.

The number one mission of Alcor and any other cryonics organization has to be to "keep the patients in suspension" - or else there is no reason to even start this tangled, complex enterprise. This requires an organizational commitment to goals that might last for centuries. One year Alcor was approached by a large, technically oriented but "cultish" group which wanted to join Alcor in one massive leap. (I will not list the name here because I don't want them finding this discussion, if that organization still exists.) The leaders of this organization were all excited about cryonics and they were getting prepared to tell their members that suspension membership with Alcor was a requirement for them. Alcor's leaders at the time (I was not yet a Director, but I was more or less an "insider" by then) seemed to be torn between the general creepiness they felt at the "requirement" part of the cult and the very large gains in Alcor finances and volunteers which would seem to be the result of more than doubling Alcor's membership at one time.

Interestingly, the decision of what to do was taken from Alcor's Directors when the cult leaders discovered that Alcor's Board of Directors was NOT elected by the membership at large. When they discovered that no amount of persuasion would cause Alcor's structure to change in that way, the cult immediately stopped all contact with Alcor and we never heard from them again. Our assumption was that meant these folks didn't have what we would have considered "good intentions" in their interest in Alcor. They may have desired our non-profit/tax-exempt status and the prospect of large trust funds a lot more than the survival of their members. I leave it to your imaginations to determine what changes might have been made in Alcor if this group had suddenly been able to elect all of their own leaders to Alcor's Board of Directors; but it certainly convinced me that Alcor could be not a democracy.

Back to the "libertarians vs. socialists" debate: Personally, I believe that no "pure" form of political philosophy is likely to be successful with any group much larger than 100 people, because it is too hard to agree on one's principles and rules with larger groups. And "agreement" is what holds such a group together. Larger groups stay together partly through various forms of coercion -- legal, social pressure, or outright force -- or they split into new groups.

I think pure libertarianism will not work in large groups because we are too dependent on being part of a tribe -- and communism and other extreme forms of socialism won't work because we have developed too much individuality. So we humans use combinations of political structure depending on what the purpose is and the level of control we can give up. There will ALWAYS be a tension between those two needs as long as we are any form of human -- and I would bet that it will last (perhaps unrecognized) long into any future where human beings have become robots or computer programs or thinking pink clouds of energy, because we will be extensions of our human origins. There will always be people or beings that will say, "My freedom is worth more than your freedom."

Most of us in reality are "pragmatists." We concede enough authority to the different tribes around us to make sure things get done and that we feel as safe and comfortable as possible, while having certain borders of personal freedom that we are unwilling to have the tribal leaders cross. The exact limits of these borders vary from person to person, no matter what they tell you. Very few of us are willing to spend years in prison in order to combat the federal income tax or willing to avoid restaurants because we do not like sales taxes. We may feel these taxes violate our principles and even the U.S. Constitution, and we may spend significant effort to protest them in various ways. Some of us may attempt to push those borders of personal freedom farther out and some have succeeded in important ways. But we also want to have comfortable, productive and pleasurable lives, which is hard to do when large numbers of people are deeply annoyed with you and trying to put you into prison. So we compromise.

Cryonics is no different. Most of us don't want the combination of tedium and tension, broken several times a year by the outright terror and overwhelming personal responsibility of attempting to save someone's life in the face of apparent death. So we contract with a cryonics organization to do that for us -- and hope we have chosen one that has found enough competent people who CAN handle that tension and terror. Once we have given the future saving of our lives over to this organization, we then feel the necessity to assert our individuality within that organization in as many ways as possible. This is perfectly normal, if quite grating to those people in charge. It takes a strong leader to say, "Yes, in an ideal world, your suggestion would have great merit; but the strength of the organization as a whole and the future protection of the patients -- which, by the way, will probably include YOU and ME -- require that every member fit within the legal and financial parameters we have established." And it requires strong individuals to recognize that the tension between tribe and individual exists and to set their personal borders at a level that allows their organization to save their lives and get them into the future. No one who is buried or cremated will ever get to make a personal decision again.

Maybe there are "no Atheists in foxholes," but there are certainly no libertarians in caskets.

So when I was Alcor President, "pragmatism" was my guiding principle. What would achieve our goals of preserving our patients and saving further lives in the future, including our own? Now, pragmatism isn't a very glorious philosophy, if it can be a philosophy at all; and it's hard to write a book about it, or even a short essay like this. Pragmatism in Alcor's context, especially in planning our move from California to Arizona, meant being open and friendly to the press, following all of the arcane and aggravating laws and regulations we found, and getting along with local government officials, no matter what party they were or what we thought of government regulations in general. Being human beings themselves, most government officials whether elected or appointed are simply trying to protect their jobs and occasionally to do public service. They tend to do a lot more public service for members of the public they are friendly with than with members of the public who are always fighting with them.

To protect our patients and to make sure we could do business in Arizona we made the acquaintance of the Mayor of Scottsdale, the Maricopa County coroner, a couple of County Commissioners, the Scottsdale police and fire departments, the State Funeral Board, the State Health Department, the Chamber of Commerce, the Attorney General's Office, and some faculty members at the University of Arizona School of Medicine. Some we made friends with and with some we just earned respect. On the occasions when that didn't work, we made friends with groups or people that could protect us from the officials who didn't like us. And we made sure to have a very good attorney.

From my point of view, it worked. We didn't go to court once and we have had generally calm and professional relationships with all of the officials in Arizona. We make it look like we are part of the same tribes as everyone else, even when our motivations may be MUCH different. The members in suspension are part of a temporary tribe that they chose. They will be able to choose their political philosophies again when they are revived. For now, it is up to us to keep giving them that chance.

Immortality may await us. Don't let your principles or political philosophy kill you first. "Compromise" is a dirty word only to those who are already lying to themselves about the compromises they make every day for survival. That person you are "yelling at" in your arguments on Cryonet may be the exact person responsible for your survival someday, and his political philosophy won't matter -- only his commitment to the principles of the temporary tribe of cryonicists which you have joined.

Steve Bridge

Alcor President 1993-1997 (only listed to show my background for writing this, and not speaking for Alcor today.)

Sidebar comments

I had some other interesting stories that didn't fit into my main discussion, but I thought these were worth sharing.

I enjoyed the discussion of different forms of libertarianism. I hadn't heard about libertarian socialism before, for instance. I would also point out that in my limited experience (I've never been to a Libertarian Party meeting, although I have been to several "libertarian" parties) even American libertarians are of many different sub-species.

First, I would point out that many American libertarians and Libertarians are reasonable people, sincere about increasing liberty for everyone, willing to listen to the opinions of others, and cooperative in group settings. But there are other variations.

There are the Constitutional libertarians who take the U.S. Constitution as the Ten Commandments, inviolate and carved in stone -- where it suits them. Often they are also strong-jawed American nationalists (they prefer "patriots") who don't need to believe that personal liberty should extend to whomever the U.S. is bombing at the moment or to any American citizen who might disagree with them

There are Libertarian Party members who always vote Republican because, they tell me, the Democrat leaders are "evil" and want to take all of their freedoms. I personally fail to see that one set of politicians is much more evil than another, although there are certainly differences between individual politicians. They all wish to restrict some freedoms and increase others, depending on what their religion tells them. Of course, for most politicians, their real religion is "getting elected the next time," so these issues can blow with the prevailing winds.

In my opinion, part of the reason that some Libertarians vote Republican is that some Republic politicians and some conservative talk-show hosts insist that they are really libertarians -- which often simply means they want the freedom to make as much money as possible without personal accountability and still maintain the right to tell other people they are not moral enough or Christian enough or heterosexual enough. (Not to give Democrat Party politicians a free pass on the issue of labels; but they tend to avoid the word "libertarian" and hide their true intent behind different labels.)

Some self-labelled libertarians have a narrow, self-focussed interest in being able to take illegal drugs or engage in unrestricted sex or whatever they want to do that other people don't want them to do. Often they are quite unconcerned if others have more liberty or not.

There are also people for whom 99% of their "libertarianism" is bound up in the 2nd Amendment. I recall one fellow that a Libertarian (capital letter intentional) friend introduced me to as "another libertarian." This guy gave me a tense lecture on the 2nd Amendment, all the while twirling a long knife between his fingers, making small stabbing motions in the air to emphasize his points, and warning me of the deadly consequences of attempting to take this knife or any gun from his possession. I concluded that this fellow was simply using the name of "libertarian" as a cover for his desire to have weapons in order to intimidate others. I have met several similar people since.

Several of the above could also be lumped in a category I have often referred to as "Nazi-Libertarians." They want to have total freedom themselves yet have the power to deny that freedom of choice to those who would not make their same choices. Their true motto should be "I am free to do anything I believe in, and YOU are free to do anything I believe in." (Read that carefully, and then ask yourself how often you have been guilty of the same. It is an easy trap to fall into.)

Then there was the "libertarian" in Riverside, California who wanted a ride from me but refused to wear seat belts solely because the government required him to. I replied that there were good practical reasons for him to wear the seat belt, and that I would not give him a ride in my car if he refused to buckle up -- not because I cared about the government requirement, but because I did not wish him to become a loose missile in my car if we had a wreck. I already had two friends with severe injuries from their unbelted passengers. Furthermore, I said, if he insisted on simply doing the opposite of what the government told him to do, with no thought of his own, he was as firmly under the control of the government as those who always went along. He put on the seat belt.

Now, some of my friends would say, "But, Steve, someone calling himself a libertarian doesn't make him one." And I would reply, True, but if we insist on labels like "libertarian," "Republican," "socialist", or even "cryonicist" as a shortcut to accurately defining what we really believe and as a mask to hide our own perfectly human inconsistencies, then we have to be prepared for others to wear those labels also. And any label is defined for the public by those who wear it the most loudly.

Which leads to a most interesting question for CryoNet: Who is going to define "cryonicist" to the public? Those interested in the science and technology of the idea; those with a real desire to save lives; those with the urge to see the future themselves -- or those who want to use cryonics only to get rich or to destroy religion or to become a big fish in a small pond or to push irrational personal immortality schemes that somehow look like cryonics? In real life, unfortunately, the answer will be "all of the above."

Part of the reasons we do cryonics publicity is to gain new members. But a lot of it is to make sure that WE committed cryonicists are the ones defining the terms, not the swindlers or nut-cases that have often been called "cryonicists" and not the "ethicists", "journalists" or sportswriters (of all people) who feel they must define us in terms they can deal with.

Steve Bridge

Again, writing for himself and not speaking for Alcor or any other organization

Center for Responsible Nanotechnology
Forms Board of Advisors

by Mike Treder < >

Taking a major step forward, the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN) has established a Board of Advisors, including several well-known names. The first six members of CRN s Board of Advisors are Jos Luis Cordeiro, Eric Drexler, Jerry Glenn, Lisa Hopper, Doug Mulhall, and Rosa Wang. More advisors will be added in the near future, as CRN identifies and engages leaders in government, business, and civil society who share a vision of nanotechnology being widely used for productive and beneficial purposes, with malicious uses limited by effective administration of the technology.

We are proud to welcome such accomplished and respected figures to our Board, says Mike Treder, Executive Director of CRN. It s a great beginning. We aim to continue building a well-rounded Board, with additional experts in fields beyond nanotechnology, such as economics, philosophy, sociology, ecology, and politics. We re committed to a globally representative mix, with members from all major world regions.

Jos Luis Cordeiro is President of the Sociedad Mundial del Futuro Venezuela, and author of The Great Taboo. An engineer and economist with expertise in global affairs, he is Director of the Club of Rome (Venezuela), and an international advisor to several companies and organizations. As Director of the Association of Venezuelan Exporters (AVEX), he has participated in the negotiations of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

K. Eric Drexler, Founder and Chairman of the Foresight Institute, is a researcher concerned with emerging technologies and their consequences for the future. In the mid 1980s, he introduced the term 'nanotechnology' to describe atomically precise molecular manufacturing systems and their products. His research ranges from computational modeling of molecular machines to engineering analysis of molecular manufacturing systems and their potential products. Author of Engines of Creation and Nanosystems, and co-author of Unbounding the Future, he lectures widely on molecular nanotechnology, its development, and its implications for the human future.

Jerome C. Glenn is the Executive Director for the American Council for the United Nations University, where he co-founded and directs the Millennium Project on global futures research. He has 30 years experience in futures research with governments, corporations, and international organizations working for the Committee for the Future, Hudson Institute, Future Options Room, Millennium Project, and as an independent consultant. He has written over 90 articles and authored, edited, or co-authored eight books on the future.

Lisa Hopper is President and Founder of World Care, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising consciousness in the education, health, environmental, and community service arenas. World Care converts surplus into valuable resources for relief efforts throughout the world, creating opportunities for those who are less fortunate by providing the necessary supplies.

Douglas Mulhall, author of Our Molecular Future, is a leading figure in global environmentalism. He has participated in designing, building, and operating water recycling and flood control facilities in China and Brazil, in cooperation with the European Commission and multinational companies. A former Managing Director of the Hamburg Environmental Institute, he is cofounder and director of O Instituto Ambiental, the first South American institute to specialize in wastewater recycling.

Rosa Wang is founder and principal of, which offers financial and strategic advisory to non-profits. In addition, she serves as consultant for Ashoka Innovators for the Public, a non-profit organization dedicated to the profession of social entrepreneurship. Rosa has extensive experience in finance and economic policy based in North America and Asia, and her past employers include Dresdner RCM Global Investors, Lehman Brothers, and the Federal Reserve Bank of NY.

Since its formation in late 2002, CRN has attracted significant notice for taking a strong stance on the risks of unregulated molecular nanotechnology, and the need for a coordinated international program of development. CRN s founders, Executive Director Mike Treder and Director of Research Chris Phoenix, believe that the humanitarian potential of nanotechnology is enormous, but so also is the potential for misuse. Their mission is to raise awareness of the issues presented by nanotechnology: the benefits and dangers, and the possibilities for responsible use.

The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology is headquartered in New York. CRN is an affiliate of World Care, an international, non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization. For more information on CRN, see

Fly Longevity Experiments 88-95

by Douglas Skrecky <>

This is the 88'th update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 19.9 C during this run. Estimated maximal longevity using the formula (363 - T*11.2) is 140 days.

Here I test NAD and niacin at doses higher than those used in run #85, with null results.

I also tried retesting rice protein, both new and old batches. Previous results in run #56 suggest rice protein is active in prolonging fly lifespan mostly in the absence of citric acid, which had since become a standard addition, since this acid keeps the fly food "fresh" and thereby increases fly lifespan. Unfortunately I added a little extra water in the current run, in the mistaken belief that the protein might exert a dehydrating effect. Instead the surface of the fly food became slightly sticky, which past experience has warned me is not a good thing for fly longevity. In the presence of citric acid, the rice protein was slightly detrimental, due I believe to this excess moisture. In the absence of citric acid, I once again notice a puzzling benefit. Although at acid pH, absorption of protein is known to be reduced, I suspect the real reason citric acid counters rice protein, is that the acid pH destroys the active ingrediant(s) in rice protein.

Run #88


Percent Survival on Day

37 43 48 53 60 67 72 77 82 89 95 101 106
control 68 64 41 36 32 14 9 0 - - - - -
NAD 10 mg 33 33 27 20 13 13 0 - - - - - -
niacin 100 mg 32 26 26 26 11 5 0 - - - - - -
niacin 200 mg 26 22 13 9 9 4 0 - - - - - -
rice protein, old 1 tsp 47 41 29 18 12 6 0 - - - - - -
rice protein, new 1 tsp 40 35 20 20 15 5 0 - - - - - -
rice protein, new 2 tsp 30 25 25 25 15 5 0 - - - - - -
-no citric acid control 36 36 29 21 7 7 0 - - - - - -
-rice protein, old 1 tsp 50 50 45 40 35 25 20 20 15 5 5 5 0
-rice protein, new 1 tsp 20 20 20 7 13 13 13 7 7 0 - - -
-rice protein, new 2 tsp 31 15 15 8 8 8 8 8 0 - - - -

This is the 89th update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 19.8 C during this run. Estimated maximal longevity using the formula (363 - T*11.2) is 141 days.

Here I repeat run #75, which examined the effect of fly number per bottle on longevity. That experiment found that longevity was best with fly numbers below 10, though this result was not statistically significant. The current run suggests that the previous result was due to chance.

The 13 fly bottle has set a new record for "control" maximum longevity, beating the previous record of 93 days set back in run #39.

Run #89


Percent Survival on Day

13 19 26 32 37 43 48 53 60 67 72 77 82 89 95 101
24 flies 96 96 96 96 92 92 88 88 67 50 21 17 13 0 - -
13 flies 92 92 85 85 77 77 69 62 46 38 38 31 31 15 8 0
11 flies 100 100 82 73 64 64 55 55 18 18 18 9 0 - - -
11 flies 100 100 100 100 100 100 91 73 55 45 27 18 18 0 - -
9 flies 100 89 89 89 78 67 67 67 44 44 33 22 11 0 - -
4 flies 75 75 50 50 50 50 25 0 - - - - - - - -

This is the 90th update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 20.2 C during this run. Estimated maximal longevity using the formula (363 - T*11.2) is 137 days. In run #85 annatto 1/4 tsp appears to be offering some benefit.

Run #90


Percent Survival on Day

34 41 48 53 58 63 69 75 81 86 91 97
control 88 88 63 63 38 38 13 13 0 - - -
annatto 1/16 tsp 69 54 38 38 23 8 8 8 0 - - -
"" +riboflavin 100 mg 100 100 88 88 63 63 50 13 0 - - -
pomegranate paste tsp 77 77 69 54 46 38 8 8 8 0 - -
pomegranate paste 1 tsp 58 50 25 17 17 17 17 8 8 8 8 0
rice protein 1 tsp 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 0 - - - -
no citric +rice protein 1tsp 33 33 17 17 17 0 - - - - - -
strawberry extract tsp 82 73 55 55 36 36 36 0 - - - -
strawberry extract 1 tsp 59 53 29 18 18 18 18 6 0 - - -

Since annatto toxicity is known to be mediated by riboflavin depletion, I decided to try adding riboflavin to annatto, to see if longevity was improved. When this run was started I did not yet know from run #85 that 1/16 tsp was an ineffective dosage for annatto. However riboflavin did appear to improve matters, afterall in this run. Pomegranate paste 1/2 tsp set a record maximum longevity of 124 days in run #87. Here the results are comparitively quite disappointing, although a higher dosage of 1 tsp did push maximum longevity in this run up to 91 days. The effect of aging of the pomegranate paste itself will need to be looked into, as the bottle of paste used in this experiment was an old one. I gave rice protein yet another try, but unfortunately again added extra water, which again made the fly food rather "wet". However the removal of citric acid once again improved the results. Strawberry extract did well in run #87, but proved to be a dud in the present experiment.

This is the 91st update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 20.5 C during this run. Estimated maximal longevity using the formula (363 - T*11.2) is 133 days.

This run tested various sources of water, plus I also tried a last can of grass jelly (so I didn't have to drink it), and some skim milk.

At first glance, and contrary to previous results, grass jelly did not exert any significant benefit this time. However take a look at the results on day 77.

Skim milk started well, but may have been harmful with regards to late life mortality. Neither distilled water, nor Perrier offered any benefit over tap water.

Run #91


Percent Survival on Day

20 25 32 39 44 49 54 60 66 72 77 82 88 94 99
tap water (control 1) 87 80 80 80 80 67 67 47 40 40 20 13 7 0 -
tap water (control 2) 93 93 93 87 87 80 73 60 33 33 20 13 0 - -
grass jelly 71 65 65 59 53 53 53 47 41 35 35 17 6 0 -
milk, skim 100 100 91 91 91 45 27 18 9 0 - - - - -
distilled water 1 67 67 67 67 53 40 33 20 7 7 7 7 0 - -
distilled water 2 83 75 75 75 67 67 50 25 17 8 8 0 - - -
Perrier 1 88 88 50 63 50 38 25 13 13 13 13 0 - - -
Perrier 2 79 79 71 64 64 50 50 43 21 14 7 7 7 7 0

This is the 92nd update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 20.7 C during this run. Estimated maximal longevity using the formula (363 - T*11.2) is 131 days.

In the carob 1/2 tsp bottle some flies retained the ability to fly after all the flies in the other bottles were dead. This raises the interesting possibility that although carob might not inhibit viral mediated mortality, it might inhibit motor neuron degeneration. Alternatively, this result might be due to chance.

Run #92


Percent Survival on Day

9 14 21 28 33 38 43 49 55 61 66 71 77 83 88 93
control 92 92 92 92 77 77 69 62 54 31 23 15 0 - - -
carob 1/8 tsp 94 88 88 82 71 47 47 47 23 17 17 6 0 - - -
carob tsp 87 80 80 80 67 67 67 53 23 20 20 20 20 13 7 0
chromium HVP 0.5 mg 75 75 69 69 69 63 50 50 31 25 19 6 0 - - -
chromium HVP 2 mg 85 55 50 40 40 15 15 10 5 5 5 5 0 - - -
hops 1/8 tsp 77 62 54 54 54 54 46 31 23 15 0 - - - - -
hops tsp 88 69 69 69 69 50 50 50 38 25 25 0 - - - -

This is the 93'rd update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 20.6 C during this run. Estimated maximal longevity using the formula (363 - T*11.2) is 132 days.

In this run oxymol, and sour cherry syrups look somewhat interesting, while rosewater appears to be toxic.

Run #93


Percent Survival on Day

3 10 17 22 27 32 38 44 50 55 60 66 72 77
control 100 83 75 67 58 50 42 38 25 21 8 0 - -
oxymol syrup 1/4 tsp 100 87 70 67 63 60 47 30 23 17 17 0 - -
oxymol syrup 1 tsp 100 92 79 79 79 79 71 58 54 38 29 17 4 0
rosewater 20% 100 73 41 36 23 18 14 5 5 5 0 - - -
rosewater 100% 100 57 24 19 19 19 19 14 0 - - - - -
sour cherry syrup 1/4 tsp 95 90 71 71 62 52 43 33 24 14 5 5 0 -
sour cherry syrup 1 tsp 100 86 82 68 68 68 64 50 45 32 23 14 14 0

This is the 94'th update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 20.6 C during this run. Estimated maximal longevity using the formula (363 - T*11.2) is 132 days.

Not much of interest this run, unless you count diet pepsi. It is possible that the aspartame in this product might be slightly toxic at high enough dosages.

Run #94


Percent Survival on Day

3 10 17 22 27 32 38 44 50 55 60 66 72 77
control 100 80 65 55 55 55 50 50 35 20 15 5 5 0
duong gui le 1/8 tsp 100 96 83 78 78 70 65 48 43 30 22 9 4 0
duong gui le tsp 100 82 68 64 59 45 45 32 18 18 18 5 0 -
pepsi 100 75 67 58 58 58 50 50 50 42 33 17 17 0
pepsi, diet 100 63 56 56 38 32 25 13 13 13 13 0 - -
selenium(yeast) 25 mcg 100 77 55 45 42 42 39 29 23 13 6 0 - -
selenium(yeast) 100 mcg 100 84 68 68 68 63 58 37 32 21 16 5 0 -

This is the 95th update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 21.0 C during this run. Estimated maximal longevity using the formula (363 - T*11.2) is 128 days.

Here I examine the effect of breeding bottle age on mortality. When older bottles are used as a source of flies, I've noticed mortality tends to be higher. This could be due solely to the fact that there would tend to be a greater percentage of old flies in an older bottle. However it might also be partly due to increased viral load, which would also tend to increase mortality rates.

To control for older flies, I vacuumed one 37 day old breeding bottle, and one 56 day old breeding bottle, 17 days before the start of this experiment. All flies in these two bottles, therefore will be no more than 17 days old at the start of this experiment.

A second 56 day old breeding bottle was left alone, so as to provide a full range of fly ages. I suspect older flies are more diseased than younger flies, so their retention may indirectly increase viral load in the younger flies as well. If this is the case, then not only average longevity in flies from this bottle would be reduced, but also maximum longevity might also be reduced as increased viral load kills off the younger flies a little earlier.

Under pathogen free "laboratory" conditions most flies live close to their maximum lifespan, which is estimated at 128 days for this experiment. My own experiments rarely see this limit being tested, due to the fact that my flies are not pathogen free. Although late in some of my experiments I do see some flies losing the ability to fly, due to age-associated motor neuron degeneration, I believe the bulk of my flies die from viral infections, rather than from cardio-respiratory arrest due to extremely advanced age.

Three conditions are each tested three times each. First condition is the breeding bottle being 37 days old, and being vacuumed 17 days before the experiment. Second condition is a 56 day old breeding bottle, vacuumed 17 days before the experiment. Finally the third condition is a 56 day old breeding bottle, used as is.

From the results from the current experiment I make three conclusions.

#1: Something besides extreme old age is killing off most flies in my experiments. The oldest fly here could not be older than 98 days (17 days + 82 days -1). (I assume it is viral infections that account for this reduced longevity.)

#2: Breeding bottle age has no significant effect on either average or maximum longevity after the older flies are eliminated.

#3: Inclusion of older flies may increase mortality in younger flies, which may sometimes result in a further reduced maximum lifespan.

It is ironic that except for those suffering from Huntington's disease virtually no humans die from the motor neuron disease that ultimately limits maximum fly longevity. Pathogen free flies do not provide a appropriate model for age-associated human mortality. Conversely flies exposed to viral infections do provide a model, as infections do account for some deaths in aged human populations.

However it still would be very interesting to find some flies that live beyond their estimated maximum lifespan, since not only would motor neuron degeneration have to significantly delayed in these animals, but resistance to illness would also have to be greatly increased. Thus far, this has not happened in any of my experiments.

Run #95


Percent Survival on Day

11 16 21 26 32 38 44 49 54 60 66 71 76 82
<17 days (37 day bottle) 100 95 95 89 84 47 42 32 21 0 - - - -
<17 days (37 day bottle) 100 96 88 77 65 58 46 42 31 12 4 0 - -
<17 days (37 day bottle) 93 90 83 79 69 55 41 31 21 3 3 0 - -
<17 days (56 day bottle) 100 100 93 89 67 59 48 37 30 15 7 4 4 0
<17 days (56 day bottle) 96 92 79 75 67 58 54 50 46 37 17 0 - -
<17 days (56 day bottle) 91 91 83 78 74 70 52 48 30 13 0 - - -
56 day old bottle 85 85 60 55 35 25 20 15 5 0 - - - -
56 day old bottle 83 78 61 57 48 39 26 26 22 13 4 4 0 -
56 day old bottle 82 79 68 68 46 25 25 14 11 0 - - - -

Death Denial

by Dr Steve Harris, MD < >

Becker's Denial of Death doesn't mention cryonics. But I think it does indeed have a lot of wisdom for why the cryonics idea doesn't do well in the marketplace of ideas. [click here for this title if you live in the UK.]

I can't give you a full synopsis of this complex and interesting book, but Becker's message is essentially that Freud should have stopped for emphasis when he noted that every human eventually comes up against the problem of the reality of human existence. Which reality is that we thinking creatures are basically organic tubes infesting a ball of mud in the middle of nowhere, doomed to stuff food into one end of ourselves while crap comes out the other, until all too soon we each rot, fall apart, and are obliterated. Nor is there anything any of us can do about this really, really bad situation, also known as the human condition.

Faced with this situation, nearly all humans reject it, as being too horrible to contemplate. That is a primal psychological problem and primal solution-- the latter much more primal than even Freud (who had a lot of his own denial systems working) was prepared to admit. Freud went on to postulate that people have an instinct for death as a good thing. Becker says baloney. He thinks Freud's pupil Otto Rank came nearer the truth (that our instinct is purely for life and death-rejection for ourselves), and Becker spends much time in the book deciphering Rank for the average reader.

Becker would probably say that cryonics is rejected automatically by the average person, because cryonics is materialistic and naturalistic. It thus simply forces anybody who really thinks seriously about it, to renew his or her acknowledgement of the reality of the actual human condition, for long enough to consider cryonics as a possible long-shot escape from it. And that is a damn hard thing to do. It takes serious mental fortitude to get through a couple of weeks of cryonics signup, in which you need to consider your precious body as no more than a fancy and animated pile of atoms which is probably without a separate immaterial "soul," and then go on from there, through every variation of what to do with the thing after your heart and your consciousness stop, and your mind is reduced to a nonfunctional damaged and degraded hunk of software, stuck somewhere on a 20 cm rapidly deteriorating ball of meat.

Becker would probably have said that cryonics itself is just one more way of mentally denying the human condition, because in the end, cryonicists really cannot stand to face up to the full reality of what our situation really is, either. And I think Becker, right or wrong about the workability of cryonics, would still have been onto something there as regards why cryonicists practice cryonics.

Becker said that _The Denial of Death_ was his first mature work, and it does mark his Nietzschean slaying of the dragons of all of his own formal educational props and student illusions. Alas, two years after completing the book, at about the age of 50, Becker was dead of cancer that he hadn't known he had, at the time of writing. So it goes. That's the human condition again, but we can at least admire the man for facing up to an unpleasant truth for a little while, before he himself disappeared from our little dust mote, and was gone. And before he left us with this gem.

So why do cryonicists freeze themselves? Because we have given in and admitted to ourselves our organic plight, and we have decided to take a long-shot gamble as regards a science-based way out of the problem. We have done this by placing our faith on the hoped-for medical and technical abilities of people who haven't been born yet. Do we admit to ourselves how long a long-shot it all really is? Generally, no. Thus, Becker is correct. He is a psychiatrist who has transcended his teachers, and no fool as regards human psychology. It is my opinion that a reading of the very readable Becker will not be wasted on anybody who is seriously looking for the truth of this matter. If any on this list there be.

The Consequences of Physical Immortality

by Bruce Klein < >

Bruce J. Klein, founder of the Immortality Institute < > answers questions by 'Kharin' from the Virus Forums. Topics covered:

Overpopulation, resource scarcity, economic consequences, accelerating change, and the Singularity.

QUESTION 1. How well do you feel are infinite lifespans matched to finite environmental resources? Given popular resistance to the most basic forms of genetic modification, can we rely on science and technology to keep pace with expanding lifespans?

In short, Yes. I think we can keep pace with population growth and we can steward environmental resources successfully. Chiefly because we've already been successful thus far. Looking forward, because of greater fine tuning and skill at the manipulation of matter, we will only improve.

Creativity and ingenuity are infinite in capacity. So long as we have something to do and are alive, there will always be problems to solve and better ways of solving them. As humans strive for a better life, this drive will propel technology and requisite efficiency gains further into the future.

Granted, this doesn't preclude the possibility of some catastrophic or unforeseen external or internal event happening. Life, of course, has been devastated on numerous occasions by asteroid impacts and we seem to have the dangerous urge to blow each other up. Yet, the 'engine' of creation, as the Eric Drexler's says it, continues to hum along. And as Ray Kurzweil rightly points out, it's all happening at an accelerating rate.

Yet, social resistance to change is a constant. There will always be some degree of resistance because of our evolutionary heritage. Our ancestors were successful reproducers not because they took great risks. They were successful on the whole because they were risk averse. Thus, evolution has selected for humans who were somewhat resistant to change but not totally closed to opportunity. Once the benefits are made obvious, resistance turns quickly to support.

Remember the clamouring over 'test tube babies'? In the early 1970's, nearly all bioethicists warned against in vitro fertilization (IVF) and 80% of the American public opposed test-tube babies. Today, over 100,000 babies exist - 200,000 worldwide, from IVF. And now about 80% of Americans support IVF.

QUESTION 2. In the event that finite resources and infinite lifespans conflict with one another, to what extent is there likely to be a trade-off between increasing lifespans and increasing birthrates? Can we rely on the European pattern of falling birthrates and increasing lifespans being repeated elsewhere?

Well, this question implies that there is a inherent 'finite resource' problem. I tend to disagree. As alluded to in the first response, as long as humans seek a better life, creativity and innovation will necessitate and result in more efficiencies and greater degrees of fine tuning. This will lead us to even more innovation, creation and efficiencies. Pretty much what we see now, just more of it.

Extrapolate the pattern of improvement towards some possible conclusion, and one can make some pretty far out predictions. One is that we'll eventually have control over every atom in the universe. Moravec, Tipler, Perry and others have postulated these futures, but I'll just say here that I believe it is theoretically possible. I would also like to note that I believe we'll experience a 'Singularity' from this process. But that's another topic.

Also, while answering this question I happened upon the following quote from a U.S. News article by Jerry Taylor, a resource specialist at the free-market Cato Institute.:

'While it is counterintuitive to many people, natural resources are not fixed and finite; they are created by mankind, not by Mother Nature. Since resources are a function of human knowledge, and our stock of knowledge has increased over time, it should come as no surprise that the stock of physical resources has also been expanding.'[1]

Taylor goes on to give examples from the oil industry, but I believe his overall assessment is correct and applicable to all areas of human achievement.

In answer to your question about birth rates, first of all, humans may not always want to have children, or at least at such a fast and furious clip. If people knew they were to live for hundreds even thousands of years in good health, the drive to have children would certainly decline.

Importantly, the introduction of the birth control pill in the 60's has given women a choice and gives us a hint at what's to come. If not specifically because of increased lifespan in the past few centuries, but surely a contributing factor, women are choosing to have fewer children later in life. Also the children they are having are for the most part surviving. This is a big advance over the past many children died before their first birthday. Today, the need to have many children to ensure that at least some will survive is no longer necessary.

Overall the trend looks promising, especially in the lesser developed countries where we see a rise in the standard of living because of free market expansion. Chiefly powered by a growing entrepreneurial drive, goods are now being produced more cheaply and productivity gains are being realized as centralized governments tend to sell their monopolies businesses and assets to the private sector.

Economist Fredrick Hayek said it best in The Road To Serfdom:

Only since industrial freedom opened the path to the free use of new knowledge, only since everything could be tried - if somebody could be found to back it at his own risk -- has science made the great strides which in the last 150 years have changed the face of the world. The result of this growth surpassed all expectations. Wherever the barriers to the Gee exercise of human ingenuity were removed, man became rapidly able to satisfy ever-widening ranges of desire.[2]

QUESTION 3. How much of a problem is access to the technologies that are the 'gateway' to immortality, given the likely expense? In particular, won't economic inequality always bar access for certain sections of the population? And in areas like Europe and Canada with state funded health services what is the likelihood of them even being offered?

There will always be differing degrees of quality in service and accessibility to health care. Providing advanced health care services is an expensive business and we're starting to see some strain on the system as we grow older and live longer. However, the goal should not to achieve some sort of perfect parity, rather we should work for a balance. We should allow the system to work to improve itself. We should allow for competition, not impose overbearing regulation. Granted, a certain amount of regulation is needed, but the balance is always safer on the side of less regulation, especially in the long run.

But more specifically to the question of 'gateway' technologies and immortality; looking to examples in the past as a guide can be helpful. While, automobiles were only for the rich at the turn of the century; today, most Americans of legal driving age have a car. I believe health and longevity care to be no different. Having access to health and life extension technologies will be a universal want, because of this, the cost on a per person basis will drop with demand. Free market forces are powerful and work, just as they have worked with other technologies (i.e. cars, televisions, computers, you name it).

QUESTION 3.1 Finally, inequality and social instability have always been closely linked and some have predicted that technologies like genetic modification may lead to social unrest. How much of a concern is this?

As suggested above, a free market economy with few restrictions will allow human innovation to help with the dispersal of wanted goods. Social unrest in the past was largely due to overburdening regulations by governments. Large corporate monopolies are a worrisome possibility as well. I would not count out a scenario where one biotech company could posses the elixir for immortality. But the chances are slim for a couple of reasons.

a) The problem of aging is a complex one. The disease of aging it's a multifaceted intercellular problem. No one genetic, hormone, or stem cell therapy could possibly solve the problems of aging. So, no one company would likely have enough resources and manpower to corner the market.

b) The current system of government is sensitive to monopoly power (i.e. Microsoft) and would quickly conspire, especially with public support, to break up any life extension monopolies.

QUESITON 4. Cryonics seems to be a key theme for the immortality institute. However, this is a controversial area. In particular, it is argued that not only are suspension procedures not meaningful currently and that current cryonics facilities are therefore essentially identical to Sutton Hoo or the Pyramids: elaborate tombs constructed with a false expectation of an afterlife. Is this a fair view, and if so do you feel such facilities damage the work of the Immortality Institute?

Not at all. Cryonics is a cornerstone in the foundation of the modern immortalists' movement. Cryonics is a legitimate, tangible manifestation of the human desire for continuance.

There is nothing wrong with cryonics from my point of view. There is justifiable concern, however, for its effectiveness. For instance, there is a point after death where cellular damage is just to overwhelming and cryonics would be useless. Some have speculated just two hours, maybe more. I'm not sure. But, as a safety net, nothing is better than cryonics at the moment. As Ralph Merkle once said: "Would I rather be in the control group, or the experimental group?" [3]

Also, cryonics is important for bringing the debate about immortality to a larger audience. When the Ted William's story hit, it was in my impression that it was an overall good. It gave us a common starting point, a common person or face to associate with the idea. It has raised important questions as to why someone would want to preserve their body after death.

QUESITON 5. Another issue is that even with nanotechnology to repair tissue damage; suspensions may remain, since the charge fields used to store memory decay as entropy sets in during cryonic preservation, so that any re-animation would be of a being devoid of memory, and by extension personality. How significant an issue do you think this really is?

The most powerful argument for the success of cryonics is that almost all molecular decay stops if suspended in liquid nitrogen.

If preserved as soon after death as possible, the tissues, the brain cells, the information that makes up the mind, if held at liquid nitrogen temperature, which is -196 degrees Centigrade, will last for thousands, possibly millions of years. So, if humans haven't found a solution by this time, it's probably safe to assume that something very bad has happened and concerns for any cryonics patient will parish as well.

QUESTION 6. Nanotechnology and genetics both seem important themes for the Institute, but both are very politically sensitive areas. Realistically, surely political and legal changes will always be one step ahead of scientific changes? Will these technologies survive regulation? How much of a problem is it that advances in fields like cloning may be left to countries like China?

Actually, politics and law seem notoriously to fall behind the times when it comes to advanced technologies. Only after public outrage or perhaps a sensational episodes do we seem to enact promotive or prohibitive legislation (i.e Raelians).

There is little legislation controlling the really important technologies. The internet, a profoundly important and is still untaxed as an example. Artificial intelligence research is largely ignored by politicians, but it's impact will be enormous. There has been no public outcry to ban a potential 'Hal', except from the likes of Bill Joy and a few others. AI represents much more of a threat or benefit to humans than cloning ever could.

QUESTION 7. John Wyndham suggested [in the novel The Trouble with Lichen - also available as a radio drama -ed] that short term lifespans lead to short-term perspectives - how would we expect our conception of the world and ourselves to change with expanded lifespans? One consequence of immortality might well be stasis, that it is the waxing and waning of the generations that brings change and progress, for example. Wouldn't even Einstein or Shakespeare run out of ideas eventually?

I don't think Einstein could have ever run out of ideas. Did you know, Einstein was still working on a unified theory in the last day so of his life in 1955? We still haven't found a unified theory nearly 50 years later. So, would we expect Einstein, if he were still alive, to simply stop asking questions? Let's say he succeeded in solving all the problems of the universe. Wouldn't this lack of problems to solve be a problem itself? And would Einstein just give up at this point and cease in finding an answer? Maybe if he was physically tired, that'd be plausible, but if he had solved all problems, he would have also solved the problem of being tired as well.

Fittingly, Hans Moravec writes in his prelude to his book Mind Children [4]:

A mind would require many modifications to operate effectively after being rescued from the limitations of a mortal body. Natural human mentality is tuned for a life span's progression from impressionable plasticity to self-assured rigidity, and thus is unpromising material for immortality. It would have to be reprogrammed for continual adaptability to be long viable. Whereas a transient mortal organism can leave the task of adaptation to the external process of mutation and natural selection, a mind that aspired to immortality, whether it traces its beginnings to a mortal human being or is a completely artificial creation, must be prepared to adapt constantly from the inside. [H. Moravec Mind Children 1988]

I agree with Moravec to some degree. Biological minds are at a huge disadvantage to change and self-improvement. It takes 10 to 26 years of expensive education for humans to become informed enough to be of benefit to our society. While, a computer can learn (download) a new skill in minutes.

Will a biological mind be incapable of living forever? I don't know for sure, it doesn't seem impossible though. I could envision some people feeling more comfortable keeping their biological bodies. Yet they'd probably need nanobots residing within them and their brains to fix oxidation damage and averting Alzheimer's disease and cancer and many other problems. And there's also the risk associated with walking around in a delicate biologic bag. I certainly wouldn't opt for biological immortality especially if given a chance to live in more durable substrate.

Steven Pinker was once asked about the possible number of sentences that could be structured. He said:

I think they're literally infinite, in the mathematicians' sense that there is an infinite number of numbers. Of course, there isn't any room in the universe to store an infinite number of numbers, or an infinite number of sentences, but we can infer that in principle the number is infinite. [5]

While Pinker may not exactly satisfy the question of running out of ideas, the fact that there are an infinite number of potentialities is a promising fact.

John Harris at a 2002 lecture for the International Longevity Center once said:

"many people, perhaps most, would be prepared to endure the long, dark teatime of the soul, or its equivalent, in exchange for permanent remission of the death sentence that we are currently forced to live with. Indeed, there is much evidence both from literature and in the literature, the scientific literature, that suggests that many people are willing to trade off quality of life for longevity. From the pact of Faust, celebrated by writers from Marlowe to Goethe, to Bram Stoker's vampires, to choices made by cancer patients with terminal diagnoses, the evidence is very strong that people want extra lifetime even at substantial cost in terms of pain, quality of life and even when the outcomes are highly uncertain." [6]

QUESTION 8 "The Virus Community" describes itself as a means of attaining immortality without resorting to mystical delusions, largely referring to memetic immortality. How compatible is this with the institute's idea of immortality?

Right, as Mike Perry, author 'Forever For All', said, "Immortality is mathematical, not mystical," [7]

I hope I'm not reading the question incorrectly, but the Immortality Institute is focussed on the 'physical' side of immortality not necessarily 'memetic' immortality. I'd much rather be unknown and live forever, rather than be famous and only live fore a few decades.

As I understand Meme:

MEME: (pron. `meem') A contagious information pattern that replicates by symbiotically infecting human minds and altering their behaviour, causing them to propagate the pattern. (Term coined by Richard Dawkins, by analogy with "gene".) Individual slogans, catch-phrases, melodies, icons, inventions, and fashions are typical memes. An idea or information pattern is not a meme until it causes someone to replicate it, to repeat it to someone else. All transmitted knowledge is memetic. [8]

QUESTION 8.1 Would immortals feel the same need to propagate their memes without the need to bequeath them to future generations?

The Immortality Institute's mission is "to conquer the blight of involuntary death"[8]. Bequeathing and propagating memes, unless of course it's the idea that living forever is a potential good, is not necessarily our main focus. Our goal is to be the best forum for discussion and repository of information about immortality on the web.

QUESTION 9. To what extent would someone be the same person after living for hundreds of years? Do you envisage a limit to our capacity for self re-invention?

No, there's no limit as far as I can tell. We're different by the second, by the day, by the year without detrimental effect. Some of us even get better with time. Others get worse. But who's to judge really? It's really a choice that should be left up to the individual. If they decide that they've had enough life, that's fine. It's their choice. No organization should have the power to keep anyone alive against their will. However, organization should have the freedom to offer information and suggestions on how to live longer.

QUESTION 10. The entire idea of evolution is the continual adaptation of organisms to their environment. Doesn't immortality run the risk of leaving us progressively more poorly adapted to a changing environment?

Evolution is painfully slow and brutal. On the other hand, we have information technology, biotechnology, and now nanotechnology which offers a more humane alternative. I believe transhumanism is a natural progression on our evolutionary road grater complexity and greater intelligence and understanding of the world.

Think of it. We are humans creating technology of the physical world around us to improve our lives in that physical world. Is that inherently bad? Should we not try to improve our lives? How far do we go in either direction? Can we just stop where we are now and say fine this is 'Enough' as Mckibben would suggest:

It is clear that these revolutionary technologies are being driven by people with immortality, or something very near it, on their minds. In genetic engineering circles, much talk in the last year has centred on the promise of longer lives. As Danny Hillis, a computer scientist, says, "I'm as fond of my body as anyone, but if I can be 200 with a body of silicon, I'll take it." One odd thing is that it is precisely this same class of thinkers -- hyper-rationalist scientists, who have long sneered at religion as the refuge of the weak -- who can't face the fact of their own mortality. But clearly their own discomfort with mortality goes so deep that they will risk not only the dangers that come with genetic engineering, but even the loss of meaning that will attend this post-human future.[10]

QUESTION 11. Would not a society run by four hundred year olds become extremely conservative? For example, would Jefferson have been able to deal with gay rights? Would Lord Palmerston have been able to make decisions on contraception?

Jefferson was president for two terms, mainly in gratitude to Washington's example. All presidents, except for Franklin D. Roosevelt, followed this example. The 22nd amendment made it law.

A society run by stodgy, inept 400 year olds would reflect badly on the underlying system not necessarily the individuals running the system. I would hope that over time there would be safe mechanisms in place to replace bad leaders with good ones. Much like what we have today with our non-violent presidential elections and in extreme cases impeachment.

I believe that longer life is an overall good for society. Acquired knowledge is gained by individuals and thus retained for more years in tangible form. Knowledge can be passed on to younger generations in books, while at the same time retained in it's primary source.

Life is much better by most measures since we've started to live longer. So long as we keep the free market system in balance and government corruption to a minimum, the system can take care of itself.

QUESTION 12. The question of immortality raises questions about predicting our future development. For example, the development of AI to assist with nanotechnology. Assuming that the AI is self-adaptive and evolutionary (and has greater capability than humans), would not the imposition of constraints as envisaged by Eliezer's Friendly AI theory be interpreted as a means of subjugation, thereby creating precisely the grounds for breaking the constraint? What are the prospects for immortality as set against the prospect of an AI Sapiens at odds with the Neanderthals?

The question of AI is an important one. Our success or failure in designing a self improving program will likely decide the future of humans and possible all life on earth. I agree with Eliezer's Friendliness theory. We must get it right the first time.

The question of subjugation and constraints is wrapped up in the discussion of creating AI. There is much contention here about what is moral and ethical. I contend however that's AI development is inevitable and it's imperative that we find some solution that will keep us all alive. We will create greater than human intelligence, or die trying.

As for immortality and AI, I would speculate that a successfully created Friendly AI would bear in mind the wants of humans. I would also speculate that the greatest of all human wants is the desire to stay alive.


1. July 17, 2003 article from U.S. News, with an answer by Jerry Taylor, a resource specialist at the free-market Cato Institute.

2. Fredrick Hayek said it best in 'The Road To Serfdom'


4. H. Moravec 'Mind Children' 1988 page 5

5. Pinker:

6. John Harris SEPTEMBER 24, 2002 hosted by the International Longevity Center (ILC) New York

7. Perry:

8. Meme:

9. Immortality Institute's Mission Statement:

10. McKibben:

Longevity Report Publication Schedule

by John de Rivaz

"Publish when full" rather than "fill in order to publish".

Longevity Report is older than the world wide web. It was originally produced with a spirit duplicator, then an ink duplicator. It was quickly upgraded to offset litho printing in which format most issues appeared until A3 photocopying became cheap enough to use. Once it became a web based newsletter, the few remaining print subscribers were served using an A3 colour inkjet printer. Now the bulk of the readership ( as measured by the subscribers to the Yahoo Group email list ) are Internet based.

As most of the issues were retained in electronic format, it has been possible to publish all back issues on the Web. This appears to be unique amongst paper publications covering cryonics.

The subject of Life Extension has also been covered by Longevity Report. However readers are advised to look at the Life Extension Foundation's web site (click on banner at the top of every web issue of Longevity Report) for their amazing coverage of the latest protocols for almost every medical condition known to afflict mankind. Even if you don't buy your supplements from them, this site has all the information you need to know. Also, if you need to seek the advice of a health professional they will tell you. If, when consuming a supplement, you need to have professional monitoring of body function they will tell you, unlike many other supplement companies who just sell you the supplement. The site includes list of "Life extension doctors" all over the world - doctors who are familiar with their ideas.

Originally Longevity Report articles were sought from readers, but in the age of the Internet most are "farmed" from mailing lists and newsgroups, after the permission of the author had been sought.

It appears that the chief function of the newsletter has become to bring to the attention of readers certain types of article that they may have otherwise missed or skipped over whilst "surfing the net". Therefore it is considered appropriate now to abandon the shackles of time and "publish when full" as opposed to "fill up in order to publish". Hopefully this will enable the newsletter to retain its focus. The publication date will be the date of the event, rather than when it was predicted to happen, so this issue is "July" instead of "June".

Click arrow to get back to main contents page.