S. Jay Olshansky - Can Science Extend Human Life?
Posted: 10 September 2010 05:01 PM   [ Ignore ]
Administrator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  170
Joined  2009-06-02

At a recent conference in Lake Tahoe, demographer S. Jay Olshansky presented a roomful of technologists with an exciting prospect. Through a concerted scientific attack on the problem of aging, he suggested, we might be able to extend human life by as much as 7 years on average.

Olshansky’s strategy is not simply to keep battling individual diseases, like cancer, in isolation. Rather, it’s to go after the underlying process that brings on those diseases to begin with.

The field of aging has long been beset by questionable claims—by hucksters try to sell us the fountain of youth. By contrast, Olshansky suggests there may be a modest, but scientifically attainable, version of human life extension that would benefit us all. On this episode of Point of Inquiry, he discusses how it might be possible, and what a world in which we all live significantly longer would look like.

S. Jay Olshansky is a Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His work focuses on estimating the upper limits to human longevity and pursuing the scientific means to slow aging in people.  Dr. Olshansky is the author, with Bruce Carnes, of The Quest for Immortality: Science at the Frontiers of Aging.

http://www.pointofinquiry.org/s_jay_olshansky_can_science_extend_human_life/

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 September 2010 06:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3063
Joined  2010-04-26

I think the real question is should it?

 Signature 

“In the end nature is horrific and teaches us nothing.” -Mutual of Omicron

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2010 01:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1406
Joined  2010-04-22

Should it?

Science already has extended our lives through medical and sanitation advances.  Why not add another tool?

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2010 01:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  4
Joined  2010-09-11

Seriously, how can you talk about slowing down aging and not address overpopulation? If we can significantly slow down aging or even stop it, that is going to be disastrous.  We only have finite resources on this planet and I don’t want everyone or a massive underclass living in extreme poverty just to extend life. We already have too much poverty as it is.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2010 02:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  4
Joined  2010-09-11

Just thinking about it, I’m getting more and more pissed off. Isn’t Chris Mooney supposed to be an environmentalist? How much more damage is an overpopulated earth going to do to our environment? He seriously dropped the ball in this interview.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2010 04:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1406
Joined  2010-04-22
blahface - 11 September 2010 01:45 PM

Seriously, how can you talk about slowing down aging and not address overpopulation? If we can significantly slow down aging or even stop it, that is going to be disastrous.  We only have finite resources on this planet and I don’t want everyone or a massive underclass living in extreme poverty just to extend life. We already have too much poverty as it is.

Your argument makes no moral sense.  Are you saying that they should deliberately withhold technology that can better peoples’ lives, as a form of population control???

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 September 2010 04:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6125
Joined  2009-02-26
TromboneAndrew - 11 September 2010 04:40 PM
blahface - 11 September 2010 01:45 PM

Seriously, how can you talk about slowing down aging and not address overpopulation? If we can significantly slow down aging or even stop it, that is going to be disastrous.  We only have finite resources on this planet and I don’t want everyone or a massive underclass living in extreme poverty just to extend life. We already have too much poverty as it is.

Your argument makes no moral sense.  Are you saying that they should deliberately withhold technology that can better peoples’ lives, as a form of population control???

You are right, this is probably the greatest moral dilemma we face. If overcrowding becomes a fact, then there will be natural consequences. Thus, while we will be able to extend life, the competition for food and space will create a natural limiting condition and we may be faced with war, disease, or other man-made calamities which may kill people by the millions, until a sustainable balance is again established. “Survival of the fittest” is a real natural law and natural laws are not easy to circumvent. This is why Hawking mentioned that eventually we (just a few of us) shall need to go off-planet, to insure the survival of mankind itself.

[ Edited: 15 September 2010 09:59 AM by Write4U ]
 Signature 

Art is the creation of that which evokes an emotional response, leading to thoughts of the noblest kind.
W4U

Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 September 2010 03:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2423
Joined  2007-09-03

Doug’s comment in another thread got me thinking of the quote “He’s dead, Jim”

[ Edited: 18 September 2010 04:23 PM by Jackson ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 September 2010 04:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2423
Joined  2007-09-03
Dead Monky - 10 September 2010 06:58 PM

I think the real question is should it?

I finished the podcast this week—the emphasis is not on immortality, but on improving the quality of life a great deal and extending it a little.

Part of the argument makes a lot of sense if they succeed—preventive medicine before people have all the end-of-life ailments.  I’m not entirely sure how it would work in practice - but he is taking examples of people who live to 90-100 and are active physically and mentally until the end.

I don’t think this increases the burden on humanity and if they are healthy it arguably decreases it (although you’d need to work this out to be sure—maybe it just postpones the same expense?)

I had recently read that having a parent who is a centarian makes it 9x more likely that you will be one, and having a sibling makes it 18x. Chris Mooney was talking about something related to this (twins?)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 September 2010 02:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1406
Joined  2010-04-22

Also of note is that the birthrate generally goes down in countries that have populations with better physical health.

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 September 2010 07:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29
TromboneAndrew - 19 September 2010 02:43 AM

Also of note is that the birthrate generally goes down in countries that have populations with better physical health.

Birth rate is going down in all countries except for Kazakhstan.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 September 2010 10:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3063
Joined  2010-04-26

What’s interesting about all these life extending techniques, is none of them seem to do much for senescence.  While people tend to live longer, they still get older.  They still break down and need more drugs and more medical help to actually maintain their longer lives.

At least, as far as I’ve seen.

 Signature 

“In the end nature is horrific and teaches us nothing.” -Mutual of Omicron

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 September 2010 02:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2423
Joined  2007-09-03
Dead Monky - 20 September 2010 10:48 AM

What’s interesting about all these life extending techniques, is none of them seem to do much for senescence.  While people tend to live longer, they still get older.  They still break down and need more drugs and more medical help to actually maintain their longer lives.

At least, as far as I’ve seen.

In the last 6 months there has been some frightening stuff out about the link between obesity and Alzheimer’s.
If that is true, then reducing obesity would help in more than one way.

http://www.nia.nih.gov/ResearchInformation/ExtramuralPrograms/NeuroscienceOfAging/NNA_Conferences/obesity.htm

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 September 2010 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3063
Joined  2010-04-26

Being obese pretty much screws up everything in your body in one way or another.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it did effect Alzheimer’s.

 Signature 

“In the end nature is horrific and teaches us nothing.” -Mutual of Omicron

Profile