Viser arkivet for stikkord life

What is the meaning of life?

What is the meaning of life? The right thing to do? The right choice? And so on, are questions that bother many, and rightly so.

I realized just now that I have thought about this problem quite extensively for 7 years, and would like to share my current thinking on the subject.

Extending life is the only thing I have been unable to argue against as the right thing to do.
Finding “the best stuff” or “the right stuff” and experiencing “the best stuff” or “the right stuff” can always be argued against. But if one extends life enough, at some point you can do it all. You may have to extend life for a decade every decade for a trillion decades, putting off old age by ten years every ten years, but sooner or later you have extended life enough.
At that point you can have all property, and you can do everything that is to do. And by extending life so much you cheat, because by proxy you do the right thing, the perfect thing, the meaningful thing, the meaning of life, sooner or later. Its just a matter of time before you do it, you don’t even have to know what the meaning of life is to be sure you will one day fulfill the meaning of life, even though you can pass the moment not knowing it was the meaning of life moment.

This is a feature no other option has. There’s no guarantee the right thing to own, the right house or the right car, exists today, it may exist a thousand years from now. Same goes for the right thing to DO. It may be something that will not be possible for another million years. And how much does that suck? Knowing the meaning of life could exist a million years from now, or a billion years ago, and that all the time I have to do the meaning of life- if there is a meaning of life -is 81 years.
That sucks. But luckily I stumbled upon a tiny fact; It is scientifically feasible to reverse age within yours and my lifetime if we put a few billion dollars worldwide into it annually.
Age is not coupled to growth, so don’t worry, you won’t become younger than your 25-30 year old self. But you will have the cancer and stroke risk of a healthy fetus. How is not as complicated as you would think, its no small feat of engineering, but its far from impossible. There are only 7 types of accumulating factors that lead to aging as it occurs from age 25 onwards (the main changer before that is growth, not aging). If you then remove all those accumulated things every now and again, you reset age to zero (while not resetting growth to zero, so you’re 25 with perfect tight skin and a perfectly working brain, even if you were born 150 years ago). Read the book Ending Aging by Aubrey de Grey, PhD, if you wish to know more. And send e-mails and letters to the government about putting rejuvenation biotechnology on the agenda with a billion dollars annual budget (foryngelse bioteknologi in Norwegian).

Aging and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Is underfunding of research into the aging process against the European Convention on Human Rights?

The European Convention on Human Rights reads as follows:
SECTION I
RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS ARTICLE 2
Right to life
1. Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.

2. Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this Article when it results from the use of force which is no more than absolutely necessary:
(a) in defence of any person from unlawful violence;
(b) in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;
( c ) in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection.

Age related disease daily deprive life from over 100 000 people worldwide.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_causes_of_death_by_rate

Are these deaths caused intentionally by not funding research into the aging process? All the arguments against funding research on the aging process are irrelevant to this discussion, as they are not mentioned in the second part of Article 2 of ECHR.

Is life adequately protected by law? The law of most nations protect rather well against war, which only accounts for 0.3% of annual deaths in 2002. See list of causes by death by rate link. But the law of most nations protect extremely poorly against cardiovascular disease, infectious and parasitic diseases, ischemic heart disease, cancers and stroke, which account for 29.34%, 23.04%, 12.64%, 12.49% and 9.66% of annual deaths in 2002 respectively.

It could be relevant to this discussion that Article 13 reads:
Right to an effective remedy.
Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in this Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.

Here is the European Convention on Human Rights in its full, from the European Court of Human Rights website: http://www.echr.coe.int/NR/rdonlyres/D5CC24A7-DC13-4318-B457-5C9014916D7A/0/Convention_ENG.pdf

To summarise: Is life protected by law? Are people being deprived of life intentionally? (Intentional inaction/action)
What do you think?

This survey finds that 79% of Americans wish that life-extending treatments should be given to all who want them. This implies they also want us to develop life-extending treatments for those who want them.

Short about life-extending treatments: Aging is not to be mistaken as growth, they are two separate things that both change the body. But growth stops when the body is fully-grown (around 25 years for humans). At which point aging becomes the sole changing force of the body. Aging can be described as decay, like a boat that slowly fills with seawater due to imperfections in the hull. All you need to do to turn back aging a bit is to remove some of the seawater in the boat. It still fills slowly, but as long as you bail fast enough you can have a low chance of sinking for quite some time. There are only 7 types of decay. A guesstimate for how expensive it is to develop life extending treatments (that extend life substantially, by decades), puts it at around what the human genome project cost. So in todays money 5.5 billion NOK annually for 15-20 years. See the book Ending Aging by Aubrey de Grey, PhD, for a thorough walkthrough of strategies for how to develop these treatments. If you work in the Norwegian government, ask the Norwegian ministry of Health to borrow a copy, I have made sure they have eight. But really if those don’t work, its just a matter of trying other strategies. 5.5 billion Norwegian Kroners annually gets a lot of research. When the human genome project was started many experts did not think it was possible, because none of the technology they needed, existed. But today, 8 years after they had mapped the first human genome completely, a human genome can be read for only 35 000 NOK. Much of biotech research is done with computers and machines.

I think life is inadequately protected by law, and that inaction daily deprives 100 000 people who die of what we call “natural causes”. Article 2 does not add that people can be deprived of life from “natural causes” either. No doubt because certain states would argue that “natural causes” include a vast amount of unethical things.
Click the button at the top of this website that says “SENS Foundation”.

What is consciousness?

The conscious mind is something philosophy have struggled with for a long time, but today it is solved conceptually because of an understanding of neuroscience. I do not know of a source where it says what it actually is, therefore I must write one myself.

Consciousness consist of a few needs to qualify as consciousness. To be conscious of self, that is you can move your arm, sense it as your body and mind doing the moving, and to determine a reaction accordingly. And most will also demand consciousness needs the ability to compare past events with current events and project what the future might hold. On some level or another.

To be conscious of self is something apes, dogs, humans and a vast amount of other species show strong signs of doing. We don’t punch an apple when we reach to grab it, the brain determine the intent to grab the apple, the brain determines how we need to move from comparing past events to current events, but more importantly by projecting how the future will be without further intervention, and then the brain projects what have to happen for us to successfully grab the apple. The brain then determines how much the arm has to move, signals muscles to move, the brain senses the actions of the muscles moving the arm, the eyes and other senses see how far the arm has come on its journey towards the apple, the brain compares it to past events and projects what will happen in the future with this trajectory of movement, and determines to change the speed at which the muscles move the arm. This is repeated several times, but seeing as humans generally only see about 24 frames per second, humans probably don’t go above 24 such cycles most of the time, though one cycle is probably a tad more complex than this example (Only in number of actions, as there are 85 billion neurons, so there can be trillions of firing actions in a single cycle). I will refer to each such cycle that happens in 1/24 of a second as “1 cycle” down the line.

Clearly consciousness is something that is common. Consciousness of self in the traditional sense, as in “I can think”, does not exist. It is merely an extension of the previously explained cycles, but with more sensory input sources, and more ability for comparing and contrasting, and last but not least, more ability to selectively choose what is and is not relevant to remember down the road.
For example, chess grand masters use the perhaps 1 cycle long reaction of a well-trained skier or fencer, and knows the optimal thing to do instantly. Those that are not good at skiing or chess, or not good at fencing, will have to compare and contrast with very few relevant past events, and subsequently a very low ability to project what will happen in the future with and without intervention, and especially bad at projecting what the body needs to do to get a positive future outcome. For example, a bad fencer or skier might know immediately that something bad will happen, like getting struck by a sword or falling down, and might even in spite of little experience be able to project which body part it will impact and how he will fall down on the skis, but it will be almost impossible to successfully determine how to react in a way that stops the impact of the sword, or which stops him from falling down while skiing. This can be shown in any number of ways in any number of species. Practice makes perfect, and just as you don’t remember every stone in the road, but lets say faces, a bee or mouse will only remember something relevant to its survival, like the smell of other mice, color of flowers with nectar, but it will forget most everything else, not because it does not have the capacity to remember, but because much of what the brain does is to forget unimportant things, things that have not improved chances of survival for any individual mice, bees or humans that remembered those things (it is about efficiency, life naturally evolve to not spend energy on that which costs more than it gives in survival ability, bees only do what bees do to survive, they don’t have board-room meetings or vacation days. In the case of humans such things have flourished because it did not decrease survival in later decades).

How this becomes more complex is for example by adding a sense that senses past negative outcomes, or more specifically, the actions that lead to negative outcomes. Then it is far more likely that you will not repeat an action that lead to a negative outcome twice, even if the action can be relevant in many scenarios. So if an action leads to a negative outcome in one scenario, you are hesitant to perform that action even if it is a rationally sound action in another scenario. So if betting on red at the tables in Las Vegas lost you a lot of money, you might be hesitant to choose a red car for no particular rational, intelligent reason. We observe this every day, when we choose one brand of shoes over another it is not unlikely it is because we irrationally hesitate to choose the other options because of memories from our past. We have an opposite sense, or perhaps it is considered the same sense, which sense what actions that lead to positive outcomes. But seeing as positive outcomes is slightly more difficult to sense, simply doing a thing today, and if you are here tomorrow, that thing you did today might be perceived as a good act more often than is healthy for us. So for example, if you ski at an early age, chances are higher that you will ski again in your life, even after accounting for variables that affect the statistics like having skis or living near snow. Even though skiing in itself give very little positive outcomes, from an evolutionary psychology perspective, simply doing something and not dieing will in some cases be more positive than negative. My hypothesis on the matter is that many species have evolved some form of actions that increase psychological well-being (skiing and many other physical activities make the brain release lots of reward-chemicals and subsequently increases what we define as happiness, and happiness is shown to increase level of activity, which means it helped the species with happiness to survive by making them have a high level of activity which made them happy which made them have a high level of activity). And familiar routines might be part of that, so that is likely much of the reason why you for example drink coffee, tea, neither or both, when you do and not when you don’t.

In consciousness there is often the “we can talk and communicate ideas” argument. But it is also an expansion of the cycles in the third paragraph. We say things that brought positive outcomes before, hesitate to say things that brought negative outcomes before. That is why we avoid certain words and use of language, like curses and certain subjects like tabus, and also why we often use certain words like greetings and subjects like the weather, that almost never give a negative outcome. The only difference in an ape doing this, by avoiding falling off a tree or avoiding to make the alpha male aggressive, and a human doing this, by avoiding to fall on the ice and to avoid making the boss aggressive, is only in that the language we use is different. As apes and many other animals have the larrings to form sounds like human language, they lack that genetic trait in their brains, to group feelings, images, groups of images, as remembered sounds, so they have far more reliance on body-language (though humans have more body language) and think by feelings, pictures and some sound, instead of words. For example, when they see a fruit, their favorite fruit, they probably have the ability to think “that is a good feeling, I must take it before someone else”, only it does it more in images and feelings than sounds of words (many, not all, humans think sounds, in the form of words, as well as pictures and sound like notes and noise). The ape also has the ability to think how it can get that fruit from its current location, where it must go, climb, who it must not alert etc.
The gorilla Koko could also communicate ideas, for example, it tried to claim it was its pet cat that ripped a sink off the wall. So it is apparent gorillas can lie too, which is far more complex than simply communicating a concept.
By the way, grouping feelings, actions, scenarios etc as sounds, what we call language, has a genetic basis in humans because we at some point began to make slightly less offspring if we had less ability to communicate, not because we’re somehow special or smarter, but simply because we were lucky some cultural phenomenon took hold many thousands of years ago.

Speaking of cultural phenomenon. Some use culture as evidence for consciousness, but young apes play, and cling to their mothers when their mothers gather food, that’s education. The apes spend much effort finding food, that is a job. Some look for dangers while others look for food, then they switch, that’s an economy (though not capitalistic I know, perhaps a bit communistic even). Give them several million more years to evolve, and they might think they’re the center of the universe as well, because that is after all how it looks to your perspective everywhere you stand.

To summarize, consciousness is a simple concept, a simple causal physical line of reactions, but its results are complex and you can probably continue to add angles to it for a thousand years. Like fractal mathematics, extremely simple, but if you let it run its course millions of generations it will form an image of borderline infinite complexity. But given the efficiency of life, since inefficient have a tendency to have a worse survival rate than what is slightly more efficient, it will never gain the kind of complexity we often believe about ourselves. Unless it is artificially imposed. In the future, we will make ourselves so intelligent and genetically superior to apes as we like to think we are today. But until then, we must realize why we avoid some things and seek other things. Like trying not to think about for example aging. If we thought about dieing every day, and talked about dieing, and what can be done to stop it, then politicians would not treat health nearly as a taboo. Scientists have working theories on how to stop almost 98% of the causes of death (2.84% of deaths in 2002 were intentional, war, violence, suicide, etc), and working theories on how to begin to stop aging as we know it from existing.

But even I, who often know exactly why I find some things uncomfortable, find it uncomfortable to mention life extension to those older than myself, those with less life left than myself. Because if I somehow make them snap out of the delusion that they have a soul that will live forever after they are dead, they might go bananas (and arguably ironically sometimes realizing ones own mortality leads to becoming suicidal, which I have close to zero understanding of thus far). I have not managed to find a way to make it ethically right to do such a thing. So that leaves my consciousness to trying to get politicians (most older than me) to focus on life extension, without making them realize they are mortal beings without souls or some form of eternal life after the bank account is empty.

Is it right to produce offspring with finite lives?

We currently have the theoretical know-how and technology to extend life drastically (like 50% longer lives in genetically above-average cases), and can within a century conceivably eliminate about 95% of the global causes of death. Is it then ethical to produce offspring before this practically infinite lifespan becomes the norm? The ethical thing for the species is that the species survive, you’d think, but no dinosaur suffers because the dinosaurs are not producing offspring anymore. The individual dinosaurs did however suffer when they all died of one cause or another. Thus, it is unethical to allow the individuals to die, even if it means we will not produce new offspring to continue the species, because individuals that don’t exist yet, can not suffer from not existing.

PS: I could have made this as long as complex as a peer-reviewed paper, but it frankly does not need that many words.
PPS: This argument does not take into account anything else than the suffering of dieing. It can be argued that it is ethical to produce offspring if that offspring experiences more good than bad, but the definition of what good and bad is and all that would require many words and is not relevant at this time, to the argument I am trying to make.

NAV is there to NOT distribute money?

The Norwegian welfare system is elegant in its stupidity. Much of the employees in the welfare office believe they are there, getting paid with tax-payers money, so that they can prevent people from getting money, that they get paid to NOT hand out money. But perhaps they are correct, perhaps it is better to not hand out too much money. Lets:

1. Fire all “NAV”-employees and save the wages they would get.
2. Give the doctors and psychiatrists the ability to decide if you should have sick-pay.
3. Get the employers to tell people without work what they have to do, what they have to learn, to get a job in the employer’s corporation.
4. Tax the corporations 1% on profit extra if unemployment is 1%, 2% tax if the unemployment is 2% etc, and use that money to pay the unemployed.

PS: I would also:
5: Top income tax bracket 3 at 950 000 NOK per year and up, at 18%.
6: Spend the money from top income tax bracket 3 on medical research to extend life.

So you think you do not want to live forever?

Everything we do, we do to live longer than if we did not do those things. We bite off pieces of vegetables and meat and cut it into crumbs with our teeth, then we apply enzymes to it (spit) that start to disolve for example starch into sugar. We hunted to live weeks longer, we planted wheat to live a year longer, now today, we get an education over decades, to get a job that will provide food and therefore survival for half a century. We avoid things that are usually bad for our health (bad smells, sights, sounds, liquids and real danger). We try to not become un-sanitized, and clean ourselves when we fail at that task, we clean our teeth and hair to improve health. Even having a pet increases life-expectancy. Pretty much anything you do, makes you live longer than if you did not do it.

So when Aubrey de Grey or someone else speaks of replacing cells in your body and rejuvenating the ones that can not be replaced (like braincells), don’t make the mistake of asking “why would anyone want to live for a thousand years?”, because you already want to live longer, and when you have lived longer, you will want to live even longer, and when you have lived even longer, you will want to live even longer than that. The only reason old people don’t appear to want to live much longer (and say they don’t want to live longer), is because they become unable to do all those things that make them live longer (mostly on a cellular level, the cells stop doing their job as well because they aren’t being replaced by brand new cells as well as before).
The problem however, is that not you nor I have a gene that makes us fear dieing of cardiovascular diseases which 29% of people die from, or cancer which 12,49% die from. And without feeling fear of something, how does one avoid it? Well, by thinking about it differently, to find a reason good enough for you to bother exercising, eating less and doing whatever science has shown makes us live longest. It is the same for qutting smoking, those that do for health reeasons usually make it and usually make it without help, those that do because of other worse reasons rarely make it. The reason has to be good enough for the individual to stick with it.
It also helps to do the easy stuff that will increase health, like donating money to medical research, and donating processing-power to medical research, and heating your home with processing-power for medical research, doing ten push ups, biking/running around the house once or twice as fast as possible, eating one less burger by not going into a fast-food place this month, eating one more slice of bread instead of snacks, taking up an active hobby like gardening (grow some healthy potatoes or other vegetables), heat the greenhouse with processing-power for medical research, put up solar panels and heat the barbecue-area with processing-power for medical research. When some of that is done, getting someone else to donate money and/or processing-power to medical research and to get them to heat their house with processing-power to medical research, get someone to get an education in medical research, tell people you want to live longer now that you already live best which will perhaps also make them want to live longer.

Personally, the donating processing power to medical research and getting others to do it as well is what I’m most excited about. Just a computer here and a computer there, running a program on the 99% of the processor capacity we don’t use and a few minutes of internet time every night. Every computer can do so many calculations in a year it is measured with 14 zeros. Just one CPU core can model 4 to 10 molecules every day, thats 1460 to 3650 molecules every year, and a cheap 5 000 kroner computer today can have 8 CPU cores, that’s 32 to 80 molecules per day, 11 680 to 29 200 each year, and a video-card can do ten to a hundred times more work (ten to a hundred times more complex molecules more often than thousands of small molecules).

So go forth, and accept the fact that you want to live forever, let the entertainers worry about how to keep us entertained that long.

PS: Medical research program for all computers: http://docking.cis.udel.edu/ and here is a medical research program for those who have “nvidia” high-end video cards: http://www.gpugrid.net/

Irrational intelligence.

We are all irrational, no exceptions. What varies is how we are irrational, and what we are irrational about. Before we act rational despite [insert reason for not choosing the rational option], in every case, we can not call ourselves an intelligent species.

We smoke tobacco despite the fact that it will shorten our lives. We drive fast despite the fact that it will on average shorten our lives. We drink and eat unhealthily despite the fact that it will shorten our lives with as much as 40 years. We do not stop climate-change, despite the fact that it will kill humans. We do not map the asteroids and meteors in the solar-system despite the fact that asteroids and meteors hit earth every day and time and time again kills entire species. We do not put as much effort into curing disease as we are able to despite that disease kills 155 000 people a day. We do not care about long-term thinking despite it always biting us (see drought in USA, floods, deforestation, climate change etc, when it is not a problem we don’t care and when it becomes a problem we can only throw money at it to try to fix it, which rarely works). We do not donate as much processing-power as possible to medical research projects like folding@home and GPUgrid despite the fact that it will statistically extend our lives by atleast days no matter how bad your computer is. I could go on forever, but I am not rational enough to bother mentioning more examples despite the fact that it will extend my life to convince more people that reads this to install folding@home or BOINC programs to donate their computers processing-power to medical research. My irrational reason for not mentioning more examples is that I assume you will likely not be rational enough to do something that only shows clear return on investment half a century from now (because I too have problems sticking to only doing things that make me live a longer and healthier life than the alternative actions).

The next divide. The yoke of short lifespans.

All throughout history society has been divided into those who has more than enough to survive, and those that dont have more than enough to survive. The next divide can make this old wealth-divide far less prominent in well-regulated nations (for example nations with free healthcare). But it can also make the wealth-divide even more prominent if the correct laws are not in place.
The next divide will be age. Les mer…

More life, not more money.

To make as much money as possible we have to study alot in school and do well on tests so that we get a good résumé and a well-paying job. We need to invest our money wisely, buy low and sell high, and the perhaps most important thing is to waste the least amount of money possible, on things that do not give a good return on investment. There are books, businesses, schools, DVDs, music, television shows and a thousand other things that all have information on how to make money.
How bizarre is it then that the amount of information about how to live long is so dwarfed by the amount of information about how to make money? The scientific area of how to be healthy and live long is littered with myths and norms about what is good and what is bad, what makes us healthy and what makes us unhealthy, and what makes us live long lives and what makes us live short lives. Don’t get me wrong, the scientific area of how to make money is also subject of many myths and norms that are rarely questioned, but there is no myth that says it is inevitable that one becomes poor, there is however a myth that say death is inevitable. Therefore, we accept however long we will live with our current lifestyle, but we do not accept however much money we will make with our current lifestyle.

So, I have decided to give the secret to infinite money-making in the hopes that our blind chase for money will make us chase down practically infinite lifespans through technology. If you make a medicine or regiment of medicines that make someone live long enough for you to make another medicine or regiment of medicines that again boosts their life with enough time for your next medicine or treatment regiment to be finished, you can keep them alive indefinetly. Now, how is this a money-making machine you ask? Consider how much money you can make from someone that signs a contract that is legally binding for an infinite number of years, when your product is to keep them alive and healthy for an infinite number of years, so that they can work and pay for an infinite number of years. Every single piece of information will have an infinite amount of time in which it gives a return on investment, which by definition will be infinite. It also happens to be such that it is not an infinite number of cells in a human body so it is not an infinite amount of investment that is needed, at some point, inevitably, no more investment is needed to keep the customer healthy and alive. This is actually something that will happen relatively quickly, just consider the rate at which computer power doubles (every two years or so), which makes computational biology advance twice as fast every two years or so. Genetic research is largely computational and is a large part of life-extension research, other areas of life-extension research is also largely computational. Thus it is largely accepted in the life-extension field that in a houndred years or so the human lifespan will be so long that life-extension knowledge progress faster than the aging process, thus making people in practice, immortal (not bullet-proof or anything like that, just too healthy to die of any virus or illness). The trick is to make it happen soon enough for as many as possible to use the knowledge, soon enough for you that read this to live forever. Speeding up the time when we become practically immortal by a single year would mean you have saved millions of people that would otherwise have died. And death by “natural causes” is not pretty, its most often painfull, takes a long time, and often it involves stuff coming out at both ends and more often than not it is lonely. It is no coincidence that many people want to die before they actually die. But this is where we should use logic. I know I am scared of death because I know exactly how terrified I am of heights, even though my genes tell me not to worry about death by “Natural causes”. And logically I know I should asume I will be as scared of death by natural causes as I am of falling to my death from a great height. It is only my genes that make me feel like death many decades into the future is less of a threat than an immediate threat (like a lion entering the room, which makes us do whatever it takes to survive). We should use logic to tell ourselves to do whatever it takes to survive death by “natural causes”.
If we are half as intelligent as we like to say we are we will stop ignoring death by “natural causes” with the promise of eternal life in heaven, and instead put our money and time and effort into something with tangible bennefits (to use a money-making term).

I’d much rather want to be young, healthy and to live forever with a crappy job with a low paygrade than live for a centillion years with a trillion dollars in annual income. Because the difference between infinite and X is allways infinite. I hope you choose the first choice the next time you come across someone or something that wants to grant you only one wish. More importantly I hope you spend your money and time and effort in extending your life with proven methods, and that you do whatever you can to speed up the life-extension train, so that it gets here as quick as possible.