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Archive for the ‘Life extension’ tag

Jul 4, 2020

Common Sense by Thomas Paine, with Life Extension Correlations

Posted by in categories: government, health, life extension, philosophy, scientific freedom, strategy

Before the Revolutionary war in North America, a movement in favor of establishing independence paved the way. Common Sense, written by the political activist and philosopher Thomas Paine, became a central part of it. In this paper I go over some of its points while making correlations with the movement for indefinite life extension.

The people of America’s 13 colonies weren’t in agreement on how to move forward with their disputes with Great Britain. Like Thomas Paine wrote, “The mind of the multitude is left at random, and seeing no fixed object before them, they pursue such as fancy or opinion starts.” Common Sense fixed the object of independence, rather than reconciliation with tyranny, in enough minds to help make it happen.

True freedom is about much more than things like the ability to sail the open seas or be independent from the authority of kings – it is about access to all constructive opportunities, of which there may be an infinite number, and to which there are still innumerable barriers. Every day asks us whether we want to put in work to break more of the barriers around us, and every day we either reconcile with the conventions of laissezfaire or continue the struggle for freedom.

Movements have broken many bonds over the decades and centuries. What was once a world overrun with crushing suppressions is now manageable and improving in many countries on numerous fronts. We need that “fixed object” that Paine was talking about so we can open the frontiers of industrialized peoples next most pressing freedom. That object is time, the walls of defined lifespans must come down. Nothing is more absolutely enslaving than <125 year death sentences for all, and the times are ripe and ready to take it on. The world works with and engineers biology in many ways now and gets better at it faster as the toolbox of biotechnology continues to deepen. Biological mastery is in the cards if we play them.

Paine wrote, ”O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia, and Africa, have long expelled her—Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.” In that style I would write, “O ye that love life! Ye that dare oppose, not only the symptoms of mortal afflictions, but the roots, stand forth! Every spot of the world is overrun with death. Life hath been hunted round the globe. Tradition and religion have long expelled her—politics regards her like a stranger, and trend setters have given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for this survivors blood that fights on through us.”

How many injustices should we accept? How much lack of freedom should we endure? ”There are injuries which nature cannot forgive; she would cease to be nature if she did. […] The robber, and the murderer, would often escape unpunished, did not the injuries which our tempers sustain, provoke us into justice.” I often say that anger for death is there for the same reason that pain is there when touching a hot stove — it is your body prompting you to take corrective measures to end the pain. We ought endure such misfortunes when we must and take action against them when we can.

The time for life extension is now because the tools and insights are here, and also because as Paine says, “When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember, that virtue is not hereditary.” You know that the people in your life deserve to live, you understand the importance of working to get this done now, but our grandchildren might not. Humanity cannot afford to pass the buck off into the darkness. I may believe that posterity will be roughly as virtuous as us, but I’m not a prophet. Dark times tend to sweep in on their own schedules.

It is our duty to get this job done. “[N]othing can settle our affairs so expeditiously as an open and determined declaration for independance.” The Declaration of Independence was written after Common Sense, mainly by Thomas Jefferson. A life extension version of it might look something like this:


Declaration of Independence from Death

We hold this truth to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by life with certain unalienable rights, that chief among them is life itself, that is, freedom from incurring the injustice of a defined lifespan. To secure this right, science is practiced among people, deriving its just power from the purest form of the pursuit for answers, for the lifting of the veils of ignorance that hold us back from true freedom. Whenever anything becomes destructive of this end, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new practices, laying its foundation on principles and organizing its power in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their survival. The history of death is a history of repeated horrors and atrocities. Let the facts be submitted to a candid world.

Every person who dies misses out on what very well may be an infinity of incredible wonders and opportunities. This is stiflingly enormous opportunity cost. People lose their freedom, memories, goals, thoughts, themselves; others lose them; all of humanity and the universe loses them, and nothing in the universe compares to a human. The all-around suffering that death causes to the individuals it kills and the people around them is staggering and endlessly traumatic, causing stress and damage on countless levels of every part of life and society. The death process is degrading and undignified, humiliating people for decades as it reduces them to feebleness, senility and dust. Death deprives people of the ability to know what is going on in this mysterious dimension we all find ourselves in here, what we ultimately are and why we are here. It steals away our chance to know what marvels and wonders exist in the expanses of the great unknown, our ability to experience pleasures we haven’t yet, our ability to know what it’s like to experience the fulfillment of all of our goals, and the chance to work for and live in an existence of negligible or perhaps even non-existent fallacy.

We, the freedom loving members of humanity, from all around the globe, of all cultures and creeds, solemnly declare, that we are, and of right ought to be free from death in the form of defined lifespans. To this end we mutually pledge to each other our fortunes and our sacred honor.



The customs of conventions, our current mainstream traditions, are against us, and will be so, until, by a thorough awakening for independence from death, our oldest and most sacred right, takes its rightful and long overdue place among the ranks of other indispensable rights. “The custom of all courts is against us, and will be so, until, by an independance, we take rank with other nations.”

“Wherefore, if they have not virtue enough to be Whigs, they ought to have prudence enough to wish for Independance.” People do not need to want to live for thousands of years in order to want independence from death, they need only want their own freedom to choose what course they may, and the same for their friends and families. Some people don’t want to be forced to live for thousands of years, and some people don’t want to be forced to die before the age of 125. Currently, however, only the people who might choose to die at the age of 50 have the freedom to make that choice. With unlimited lifespans, we can all be free. This is about eradicating deaths tyranny, not death, in the same way that the American revolutionaries worked to break the stranglehold of tyranny that Great Britain held over them, not stop every slight and fight they might have post-independence.

“We fight neither for revenge nor conquest; […] we are not insulting the world with our fleets and armies, nor ravaging the globe for plunder.” Our war is even more dignified. It is removal of a tyranny and the installation of one of the greatest freedoms of all, all without a shedding of blood.

“[L]et a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other.” The ‘law as King’ is superior to ‘humans as Kings’ because people collectively form laws with some amount of oversight of each other’s input. “Law” as the foundation, however, can still tend to be quite arbitrary. Life is what rules us, living, the chance to do people things in a universe of endless opportunities. Let life wear the crown and guide us along our path to true freedom. “The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind.” The cause of expanding our frontiers and abilities, of expanding life, is in great measure the greatest cause of them all.

Jun 12, 2020

DARPA, Biotech, and Human Enhancement — ideaXme — Dr. Eric Van Gieson — Biological Technologies Office (BTO) Epigenetic CHaracterization and Observation (ECHO) Program — Ira Pastor

Posted by in categories: aging, bioengineering, biotech/medical, defense, DNA, genetics, government, health, life extension, military

Jun 2, 2020

Annihilation of all Yardsticks — essay on Wittgenstein’s thoughts about certainty

Posted by in categories: aging, evolution, futurism, health, human trajectories, life extension, mathematics, philosophy, robotics/AI

How do we know what to do in life? How do we know where to go, where to start, where we are, what it’s all made of, why it matters? Why don’t we know? Can we know? Why am I alive? What is alive? Why is this place here? What is going on?

In his collection of papers and notes posthumously published as a book in 1969, titled On Certainty, Ludwig Wittgenstein writes, “How does someone judge which is his right and which his left hand?” We are certain that we know, but we really don’t know the answer. “At the foundation of well-founded belief lies belief that is not founded.” He serendipitously illustrated his point from beyond the grave when he wrote: “‘But is there then no objective truth? Isn’t it true, or false, that someone has been on the moon?’ If we are thinking within our system, then it is certain that no one has ever been on the moon. Not merely is nothing of the sort ever seriously reported to us by reasonable people, but our whole system of physics forbids us to believe it.“ We only have the ability to examine a minuscule fraction of the information available in the big picture of it all. We cannot escape uncertainty yet, even though we routinely pretend that we have.

The book talks about “language games”. It’s a concept that Wittgenstein developed earlier in his life to explain how people inherit and subconsciously create unspoken rules of communication that gloss over or emphasize certain words and ideas. He writes, “It’s not a matter of [philosopher G.E.] Moore’s knowing that there’s a hand there, but rather we should not understand him if he were to say ‘Of course I may be wrong about this.’ ” We don’t say we know that our religious, political or even sports affiliations are true, the assumptions are built right into our languaging. What better example is there than the wide-eyed sports fan who is unquestionably convinced that their random group of players is the best that there ever was and will be? Many of them are not bluffing, their language game has programmed them. The word structure that they know will not allow them to see it any other way. People’s various language games assume what they want, often from habit, usually based on subconscious tradition.

“Suppose now I say ‘I’m incapable of being wrong about this: that is a book’ while I point to an object. What would a mistake here be like? And have I any clear idea of it?” There are fake books, tricks are played, there are mind altering substances, coincidences happen, there could be a secret society of magicians controlling public perceptions, or our world could be some kind of solipsistic melting pot of dreams and hallucinations. We could list things like these all day. There are simpler examples for common situations as well, like, somebody might be unquestionably convinced they are seeing a magazine when it is a zine, or a cow when it is in fact a bull. It’s also pretty common for people to think that they know a person made a mistake that they did not actually make. Consider that the way the future is headed, there is a good chance we will all have 3d printers that run on practically free energy and make everything out of basic materials like sand and vegetation, be free to travel around the universe with access to trillions of planets, and so forth. In that reality, theme planets are all but inevitable. There will be planets for specific ecological niches and time periods. People will be able to set up Plato’s Cave, Truman Show style planets, and countless other scenarios. Being that this seems so inevitable (read The Singularity is Near if you are not convinced), why would we assume that we are not in a scenario like that right now?

What happens though, is if we were to take the groundlessness of surety into account in our day to day communication, we wouldn’t be able to say anything. It seems we might almost be cornered into adopting language games. “This game proves its worth. That may be the cause of its being played, but it is not the ground.” The temptation to stay locked into them is almost irresistible, especially the hereditary ones. “[W]ould it be unthinkable that I should stay in the saddle however much the facts bucked?” It isn’t unthinkable because the entire purpose of the game is to ride unreasonable broncos and we have been training since we were born. Wittgenstein goes on to ponder, “Certain events would [put] me into a position in which I could not go on with the old language-game any further. In which I was torn away from the sureness of the game. Indeed, doesn’t it seem obvious that the possibility of a language-game is conditioned by certain facts?” It’s possible but usually very difficult because safeguards and defense mechanisms are built into them too. When a person does something detrimental, “it is what it is” — when evidence bucks, faith grips tighter — another team might have won the super bowl, but their quarterback threw for more yards in the season.

There are a lot of incompatible language games being played around the world. If you tell a person embedded in another one that they are wrong, it’s almost as if they cannot know it because if they were to consider that they should doubt parts of it, it would open the door to the slippery slope leading to the “annihilation of all yardsticks”, and it is difficult, maybe nearly impossible, to live in a world without them. “If something happened calculated to make me doubtful of my own name, there would certainly also be something that made the grounds of these doubts themselves seem doubtful, and I could therefore decide to retain my old belief.” In order to take action, you have to make decisions, and in order to make decisions, some of the patterns in your mind need to win out over the others. If there aren’t any execute commands in the code, then the code is lifeless and goes nowhere.

Does this mean that we have to permit some unsubstantiated assertions? All of them? Do we have the right to dismiss any of them? If it turns out to be true that there is no foundation for knowledge or contemplation, then how could we draw such a line? I think a lot of it comes down to what I talk about in terms of how much we are willing to bet at a given time, and the use of words like “seems”. “We just do not see how very specialized the use of ‘I know’ is. For ‘I know’ seems to describe a state of affairs which guarantees what is known, guarantees it as a fact. One always forgets the expression ‘I thought I knew’ “.
It’s not that we know, it’s that certain things look very likely to us from our current perspective, and we all know that our perspectives have changed, and therefore that more of them will likely change as well. We should learn to expect this, and if we are honest with ourselves, be proactive about it. I believe that is the common language game we can all play. It is like we are trying to play blackjack with people who are trying to play poker, war, concentration and rummy with us. If we all played poker, our individual bets would still range in scale depending on our hands at any given time but we would all be playing a compatible game.

When it comes to the concept of “seems”, I have found that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of alternatives, which sometimes makes it difficult to talk in terms of it in a stylistically appropriate way. Being that people are prone to asserting the uncertain so pervasively, it makes sense that we might end up with so few words for expressing variations and shades of doubt. Wittgenstein uses a variety of phrasing throughout the book that give us some ideas on how we might expand it. I pulled many of them together and summed them up:

“Suppose I replaced Moore’s ‘I know’ by ‘I am of the unshakeable conviction’?”
“It stands fast for me and many others…”
‘That’s how it is — rely upon it.’
“I learned it years and years ago”
“I am sure it is so.“
“is an irreversible belief.“
“it gives us a right to assume it.”
“Suppose it were forbidden to say ‘I know’ and only allowed to say ‘I believe I know’?”
“excludes a certain kind of failure”
“I can hardly be mistaken”
“That is the truth — so far as a human being can know it.“

That is not to say that every communication should necessarily be tentative. One of the main conclusions that Wittgenstein reaches is that our beliefs can be justified, but not certain. “[…] I find it quite correct for someone to say ‘Rubbish!’ and so brush aside the attempt to confuse him with doubts at bedrock, — nevertheless, I hold it to be incorrect if he seeks to defend himself (using, e.g., the words ‘I know’).” I think of that in terms of calculated risk. Sometimes you have to remove the language of doubt in order to favor the patterns in life that seem most important. That, though, is less like certainty and more like leadership. All confidence is either bluff or ignorance. If we have calculated the potential value in bluffing our certainty, that is one thing, but to do it blindly, unknowingly, is another.

Wittgenstein talks about how if existential certainty is there to be found, it would probably be in a form similar to a mathematical proposition and proof. “If the proposition 12×12=144 is exempt from doubt, then so too must non-mathematical propositions be.” “If” being a key word there. He reminds us that it seems as though they cannot be certain either but goes out on a short limb to humor that they are. In that process he makes what I find to be one of the most profound and rather Godel-esque insights of the book: ”there ought to be a proposition that is just as certain, and deals with the process of this calculation, but isn’t itself mathematical. I am thinking of such a proposition as: ‘The multiplication 12×12, when carried out by people who know how to calculate, will in the great majority of cases give the result 144.’ Nobody will contest this proposition, and naturally it is not a mathematical one.” That might be a key to extinguishing existential angst and establishing the foundation of common meaning.

It is true that the universe might be infinite and that even if it isn’t, the work to reach certainty might still end up being like trying to reach zero by continuously dividing by half, always inching closer, impossible to reach. In the meantime, we wait in suspense as patterns wind their way through the chaos like armies meandering through mine fields. Certainty is no more than the soldiers out ahead who haven’t been blown up yet, standing in the middle of the field with a universe of unknown mines ahead. Some evolutionary lineages successfully walk on for hundreds of millions of years before they are blown up and consumed by the blur. What choice do we have, what else might we do, use patterns we don’t understand or that are wrong more of the time? We don’t know if we will make it or not. Maybe it is too difficult. Maybe it will take a hundred million additional years. Maybe we are in the home stretch and artificial intelligence of the near future is the calculator of existential proofs. We just don’t know.

We don’t know how long it might take to get a better grip on the nature of certainty, and death is barreling down on us, hence the movement for indefinite life extension. It is tragic to be uncertain about everything, which includes our own wants and needs, when the stakes are so high. It is tragic to live and die as a captive in a dark basement. Earth is that basement and our lifespans are the walls. Some people don’t see that, like captives of Plato’s cave.

As things stand, the best we can do is be willing to make educated bets at any given time. The only thing we know for sure is that we don’t know anything for sure. We don’t even know if we don’t know. That is good news though, therein sneaks the foundation that begins to unravel the absurd. If the only thing we know is that nothing makes sense until we know, and that by working to figure stuff out, we could end up knowing, that small patch of philosophical ground in the quicksands of uncertainty becomes the launchpad upon which we begin stringing lines of certainty together. Anything else would be illogical, against our nature, detrimental to our fitness. Standing on this platform is a stage in our evolutionary trajectory.

“We all believe that it isn’t possible to get to the moon; but there might be people who believe that that is possible and that it sometimes happens. We say: these people do not know a lot that we know. And, let them be never so sure of their belief — they are wrong and we know it. If we compare our system of knowledge with theirs then theirs is evidently the poorer one by far.”

Feb 10, 2020

Ms. Suzanne Somers — Actress, Author, Singer, Businesswoman, Anti-Aging Advocate — Helping to spread the word about healthy longevity and emerging anti-aging technologies to millions — ideaXme — Ira Pastor

Posted by in categories: aging, biotech/medical, business, entertainment, genetics, health, life extension, Ray Kurzweil, science, sex

Feb 8, 2020

Ireland — World’s First “Age Friendly” Country by World Health Organization (WHO) Network — Catherine McGuigan, National Program Lead, Age Friendly Ireland — ideaXme — Ira Pastor

Posted by in categories: aging, bioengineering, biotech/medical, economics, finance, genetics, geopolitics, governance, health, life extension

Jan 31, 2020

Genomics and BioPharma Pioneer!! — Dr. William Haseltine — Biologist, entrepreneur and philanthropist, now focusing on the issues of healthcare costs, dementia care, and aging — ideaXme — Ira Pastor

Posted by in categories: aging, bioengineering, biological, biotech/medical, business, DNA, genetics, life extension, posthumanism, transhumanism

Jan 31, 2020

From Blood to Bone (and Back)! — Dr. Rhonda Prisby — University of Texas, Arlington — Fascinating ossification research in the Bone Vascular and Micro-Circulation Laboratory — ideaXme — Ira Pastor

Posted by in categories: aging, bioengineering, biological, biotech/medical, DNA, genetics, health, life extension, science, transhumanism

Dec 18, 2019

$125 Million For Longevity! — George MacGinnis, Healthy Ageing Challenge Director, UKRI — Government Ageing Society Grand Challenge — ideaXme — Ira Pastor

Posted by in categories: aging, bioengineering, biotech/medical, government, health, life extension, neuroscience, posthumanism, science, transhumanism

Dec 10, 2019

Beneficial Viruses and the Human Virome — ideaXme — Dr. Jack Stapleton, MD, — University of Iowa College of Medicine — Ira Pastor

Posted by in categories: aging, bioengineering, biotech/medical, DNA, genetics, health, science, transhumanism

Nov 23, 2019

Transhumanism and Spirituality — Villanova University’s Dr. / Sister Ilia Delio, OSF PhD. — ideaXme — Ira Pastor

Posted by in categories: aging, cryonics, cyborgs, DNA, futurism, health, life extension, posthumanism, singularity, transhumanism
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