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uziq
Member
+461|2750
dilbert reminds me of those balding middle-aged dads who make a ruckus in the high-school football stands. wracked by anxieties of their fading masculinity and past vigours, living them out vicariously through the travails of the on-pitch quarterbacks. full of fantasies about gun ownership, 'saving' a mass shooting situation, 'showing them' what 'they're made of' (whoever 'they' are, normally minorities), and, of course, here encouraging young, able-bodied men with their lives ahead of them to go and fight in foreign follies. it's the manly thing to do! take it from a CAD nerd who lives at home.

Last edited by uziq (2022-01-13 05:39:24)

unnamednewbie13
Moderator
+1,975|6070|USA

re: americans and our lawns

A judge told a 72-year-old man who has cancer that he 'should be ashamed' of himself after he said he was too weak to keep up with his lawn
https://www.insider.com/judge-berates-c … 8YVFxdJkbE

video: https://twitter.com/59dallas/status/1481227341401628672

Last edited by unnamednewbie13 (2022-01-13 11:07:01)

Larssen
Member
+90|1186
Simple article but worth a read, interview with George Church published three years ago:

https://www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/harvar … n=true#app

Oh and the genetically modified pig heart transplanted to a person he briefly mentioned? It happened a few days ago.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-59944889

Might be one of the most interesting people I've read about of late. In light of the pandemic that happened since the interview above it's really hopeful someone's actually thinking of eliminating all viruses and considers it entirely possible too. If anyone knows it's this guy, 500+ co-authored papers. Holy.

Last edited by Larssen (2022-01-15 11:47:06)

uziq
Member
+461|2750
really tired of out-there geneticists talking about 'age reversal'. a regular feature at cambridge has been beating this drum for decades.
https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/features … in-decline

it's the fountain of eternal youth or el dorado in scientific garb. not going to happen, probably ever. things have to die: it's essential for adaptation, new mutations, and for the future fitness of the species. we don't need 130 year olds with failing cognition and perfect cardio health. the whole western cultural approach to ageing and death is itself pathological imo, and nowhere more so than in america.

the pig heart thing is neat, but the bigger revolution in modern medicine/genetics generally is CRISPR cas-9.

500+ co-authored papers
not that dramatic in STEM publishing. especially professors in senior positions or chairs at major research universities/research centres. they get a co-author credit on most of their PhD/grad students projects.

Last edited by uziq (2022-01-15 11:51:25)

Larssen
Member
+90|1186
Aubrey de Grey is indeed the pop-sci guy who keeps talking about immortality and we've all heard his arguments by now. Backed up by nothing. Whilst solliciting ungodly amounts of money from too-rich people for his 'research' that never really ends. I don't even know what his output is really.

Church is of a far different calibre. Here's a guy who helped initiate the human genome project, and who's team has produced real results in labs halting & reversing many age-related degredation processes in mice. Currently running trials with dogs. His team has also converted human skin cells to stem cells to brain cells. (as you can read in the article) It's the stuff of actual sci-fi.

Last edited by Larssen (2022-01-15 11:57:24)

uziq
Member
+461|2750
just what we need - a planet of 10 billion and counting and then humans decide to stop ageing.

the stuff of sci-fi, suuuure. most sci-if published thesedays is dystopian.
Larssen
Member
+90|1186
If we can deal with alzheimer and rejuvenate people's bodies I don't see the problem
uziq
Member
+461|2750
we have already recently discovered a very likely link between the causes of alzheimer's and degenerative neurological conditions like MS and things like early infection with mono. that seems to me a much more philosophically wise line of inquiry rather than 'hey, let's live forever'.

ultimately, as with the deep implications of gene editing, this raises philosophical and meta-scientific questions beyond the narrow purview of 'disinterested' research. ok: so we are slowly addressing the 7 or half-dozen or so chemical-biological processes that lead to apoptosis and cell death. maybe one day we'll have addressed them all. but ... WHY? why would anyone want to live for 200 years? this comes down to ethical questions and the examination of a whole worldview.

a few of my close relatives wasted away with dementia. their end-of-life quality was mulch. would i like to see a cure for dementia? well, of course, based on the prima facie alleviation of suffering. but what are all those 90+ year olds going to do, gifted with deliverance from degenerative illness? they're not going to work. they're not going to be physically active. they're not going to be cognitively able to drive cars or lead independent lives.

for all of our fancy gene editing, we still don't understand 5% of how the brain works. we still can't regenerate neurons or glia after they have been damaged or wasted away. something is going to contribute to senile people's deaths, if it isn't the late-stage encroaching fog of alzheimer's.

a much more important, and much more uncomfortable, much more realistic, much less 'sci-fi' and altogether more depressing topic of conversation, which won't command glossy write-ups of praise and wide-eyed enthusiasm in scientific magazines or broadsheet newspapers, is the topic of quality of life. western culture has this default assumption that living forever is Good and Desirable. is it?
Larssen
Member
+90|1186
My argument would be that we have a very pressing need to research and if possible reverse age related degradation, and the argument is neatly summed up in the link you provided:

Professor Brown is author of the popular science book, The Living End: The Future of Death, Ageing and Immortality, in which he explores how the decline of acute death by infections, starvation, violence and heart attack has allowed people to reach extreme old age but ushered in disability, dementia and degenerative disease with profound consequences for the self and society.
That cost to society is expressed in the pressure on healthcare systems and in social security payouts to pensioners. The best example would be Japan. The cost of pensioner care has gone from about 6% of the state budget in the 80s-90s to a projected 28% by 2025.

I don't think messing with the genetics to improve our minds and bodies at old age will make us immortal or halt death indefinitely, but that it will surely make the journey to the end more comfortable and useful. As it stands there's people alive today who stopped working at about 60, and have remained more or less useless to society for more than 30 years. To a terrible personal and collective cost.

Last edited by Larssen (2022-01-15 12:17:15)

uziq
Member
+461|2750
that's very strange and circuitous reasoning.

better medicine has lead to much extended lives - so now degenerative illness is a growing burden on society.

therefore let's fix degenerative illness and 'reverse' ageing? for what? to kick the giant demographic bomb down the alley a bit and wait for the next complication of perverting nature in this way?

just think, once we've alleviated the 'burden' on the healthcare system placed on it by 90 year olds with dementia, we'll have to think about the even bigger burden of people expecting a pension until they've 130.
Larssen
Member
+90|1186
The idea is that if people stay healthy longer, they can also work and contribute longer. Could do away with retirement altogether.

It sounds ridiculous but if this Church guy has managed to improve reaction speed and reverse muscle degredation in mice, there's no argument to think it would be impossible in people. Someone will get this done within the next 100 years. Probably way sooner than that.

Last edited by Larssen (2022-01-15 12:25:32)

uziq
Member
+461|2750
oh well thank god for this guy. now i can work until i'm 90.

Could do away with retirement altogether.
talk about utopia! and here's me mentioning hoary old cliches like 'ethics' and 'the value of life'. thanks to science we may never have to retire from work!!!

and by then the masters-of-the-universe gene editing scientists will probably have devised much better euthanasia methods too!

it seems to me that the 'upper limits' on human life contrived by nature over many long millenia of evolution seem ... eh, prudent and wise. i don't want to artificially gift humans another 30-40% of life. i'd rather we focus on making life more meaningful and high-quality in our allotted time here on this Earth. and you're still not addressing any of the wider implications of these de-ageing technologies, such as: What the fuck is the planet going to do with 10 billion people who are all living on average 1.5x as long?

Last edited by uziq (2022-01-15 12:35:52)

Larssen
Member
+90|1186
I assume life will just be paced differently. Now, you work until you're physically and mentally unable to continue. Everyone's relieved to see the 65 year old move on to the pensioner lifestyle. You'll then wait around until your body literally gives out, which can take anywhere from another 20 to 40 years.

What's the point in that? Where's the value in life there? Personally I prefer just euthanising my way out at that point.
uziq
Member
+461|2750
euthanasia is available now for people who don't want to suffer degenerative illnesses and long senescence.

there's a qualitative difference imo in medicine tackling causes of avoidable death ("he died at 30 from tubercolosis; alas we didn't understand germs and had no vaccines", "he perished from a cut sustained in the wilderness, which became infected and progressed to sepsis") and us engineering our way out of senility and old-age degeneration. the massive increase in the incidence of denegerative illnesses - chief among them so many cancers - is precisely the sign that we are already stretching out our 'natural' ordained durations to a very taut, thin string.

society isn't set-up to deal with vastly ageing populations. and being able-bodied until 90 is a very different proposition to being able-minded. we are likely never going to be able to regenerate the brain. it's just an order of magnitude more complex a problem. people are still going to get senile and cognitively degrade. so, great, grandpa gets a healthy ticker and spry joints until he's 130. he's still going to have the mental age of an 8 year old.
Larssen
Member
+90|1186
I think the ethics around gene modification and its possible implications for longevity and health present a much easier discussion than dealing with our aging population problem in terms of accepting death.

I personally am all for more people opting to go the euthanasia route, it's a great thing that we've had the sense to legalise this and it's also becoming a more accepted way out. Nonetheless, a large part of the population firmly holds the belief that you should wait until you croak of 'natural causes'. The discussion about accepting death will then turn to the question of when it would be alright or ethical to stop treatment of a degrading elderly person. Or god forbid euthanising one of those far developed alzheimer patients. Who's going to write the rules on this? Who will decide? & that discussion is bound to be a shit-show too.

Fact is that by 2050 or so more than a third of the population in the west is projected to be over the age of 65-70. Our society will be incapable of dealing with that. Even if we had enough money and can pay for all the needs, healthcare capacity will not be able to cope with that huge amount of elderly. Too few nurses, too few elderly care professionals, too few doctors. So dealing with their underlying ailments and hopefully reversing the degeneration may go a very long way.

And neural degredation, while complicated, is also not irreversible it seems. Improving the reaction speed and memory of mice through genetic therapy implies cognitive changes, that could be applied to people too.
uziq
Member
+461|2750
i remain deeply, deeply skeptical.
Larssen
Member
+90|1186
Whatever the case, the amount of progress the field of gene research has made since mapping the human genome is astounding, one of the results being the mRNA vaccine class. Another the pig heart transplant above. If it can be done for hearts, it can be done for all internal organs. If we can turn skin cells to stem cells and into something else - all of it indicates it's very much possible to alter at will most things about the human body.

The brain I'm sure will take the longest by far, but there's no reason to assume that puzzle won't be cracked sometime either. Chances are you and I might both live to see it, or at least see some developments in genetic therapy that would make your jaw drop and which will vastly improve quality of life and perhaps/probably longevity too.

Wanting to postpone or eliminate death is in our nature. Everyone is rationally and emotionally afraid of death - we're fundamentally hardwired to fear it. Loss also affects us deeply. While people may point to the folly of historical figures turning to all sorts of weird treatments to preserve their lives, the quest to reverse aging, to eliminate disease or eliminate death itself will never end. If our unbelievable progress as a species in the last 100 years is anything to go by, I reckon at some point in the not too distant future people will get very close to actually achieving this. Or at least as close to it as humanly possible.

Last edited by Larssen (2022-01-15 13:17:05)

uziq
Member
+461|2750
your scientific triumphalism sounds a bad note. we are in the era of human-made mass extinction and seemingly insuperable climate change. the last thing we need is blanket celebration of unlocking pandora’s box.

we’ve had gene editing tools for the last 5 years or so. i keep mentioning CRISPR. why are you suddenly singing hymns of praise now?
Larssen
Member
+90|1186
Among all the gloom that a pandemic and climate change double whammy present, it's a bit of good news that there's positive change underway.

I don't really see it in terms of a pandora's box.
uziq
Member
+461|2750
gene editing is precisely a pandora’s box. for every life-saving heart surgery there’s a chinese billionaire’s designer baby. countries and research bodies with far less scruples than western medicine also have this tech.
Larssen
Member
+90|1186
It's one thing to reverse or alleviate existing damage, another to entirely modify someone's physical/mental traits. In any case it requires access to highly specialised equipment and people, and probably falls right in with the concept of nuclear weapons development. i.e. something that cannot go unnoticed from the public at large and will require debate at a national level.

This is kind of the sci-fi realm, but if we can prevent serious birth defects at some point I would consider it unethical not to. i.e. born blindness, deafness, missing fingers - that sort of stuff. 'Enhancement' is a different topic and something that would need to be and probably will be closely regulated.

Last edited by Larssen (2022-01-15 14:07:51)

uziq
Member
+461|2750
there are labs in china already doing this stuff.

why do you think american bodies were funding gain of function research in chinese labs? it’s all part of the same shadow research economy - a laxer framework of regulation and less thorny questions asked about ethics.

likening crispr gene editing to nuclear bomb development yeah, you don’t need a manhattan project sized budget to mess about with proteins. and some rogue chinese scientist making genetically modified babies or messing around with foetuses doesn’t quite have the same global importance as someone developing a superweapon that could flatten cities. really dumb comparison.

a south korean scientist, called ‘the pride of korea’ a few years ago, was disgraced recently when it turned out he falsified a bunch of his results. but like certain chinese figureheads, he was pushing the envelope on human cloning. you better believe we are opening pandora’s box.

Last edited by uziq (2022-01-15 14:31:14)

Larssen
Member
+90|1186
the editing technique is easy enough to employ and available to everyone. But editing a human embryo and knowing exactly which gene to swap in order to achieve the desired result is something else. Not a manhattan project, but you'll need a facility and people (more than one) who know what they're doing.
uziq
Member
+461|2750
… which precisely already exists in china and has done for years.
unnamednewbie13
Moderator
+1,975|6070|USA

I was reading about the ethics of designer baby stuff years ago. I should catch up. IMO it's one thing to address serious disease and disorder, quite another entirely to treat reproduction like a video game character creator. "Create-a-Sim" IRL version.

It's supposed to be "ok" to have disorders, but people are going to want that stuff out of their lives, including the people with disorders, who have been told it's alright because it's incurable. Lots of posts out there from people with autism fed up with their autism and would probably prefer to have that cut out of their lives if it'd been possible.

It seems rather inevitable, labs in countries not committed to any international/law built around this stuff, to service the rich. The rich themselves, lobbying for protections.

Not least in the far future when we have a better handle on these sciences, we'll need to address things like extinction debt and detrimental physiological and psychiatric issues with off-world colonists, either on space stations or far-flung worlds, for the survival of the colony. Into the sci-fi.

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