December 04, 2007

Thou shall die early

I am an optimist. I think that in a not distant future the clerics will have no political prerogatives in Iran or in Spain. But I have my low moments. A book review in Nature has thrown me down one of those. I fear that the clerics will simply be replaced by the bioethicists.

Faced with the prospect of further increases in our longevity, Judy Illes says "no no, wait a minute."
Although seemingly worthy, there are problems ahead [...]

At what age should life-prolonging measures begin — in utero, when development of the nervous system peaks in the mid-20s, or much later? What would become of natural rhythms in wisdom and folk psychology, and how will the roles of elders be redefined? [...]

Will people be able to step off the immortality train when they are ready? Will suicide increase if we move life expectancy into the hundreds? We cannot remove longevity like a pair of spectacles. And abuse is reported by 1–10% of old people surveyed, mostly directed against women. If society shows increasingly scant regard for centenarians, how will it treat people of 1,000 years old?

Let's not throw away today for tomorrow.

"[M]y interest was piqued by the diverse ways in which [...] respectful and caring community systems can be realized." Judy Illes.

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