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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).
We subsidize that which give a tax income in the future. More specifically in this case we subsidize making children because more population provides more tax income.
This is a practice that provides diminishing returns. I will explain how.
Things scale up differently. For example, weight of a bone scales up as a volume (X*Y*Z), but the strength of a bone scales up as a surface (X*Y), because the strength of a bone is that of the cross-section of the bone, but the weight is that of a three-dimensional structure of bone-molecules.
Similar differences in scaling up exist in society. More importantly for our case, how the infrastructure and population scales up.
The population scales up in an exponential curve. And there’s really not much to limit growth in industrialized countries, not taking future housing and infrastructure into account.
The work-ability of the population does not increase exponentially at the same time as the population. Each new child has to grow for X number of years before the child can join the workforce. So While you can double population in 7 years, if you did so, you would have at least 50% of the population consisting of 1-7 year old children that can’t join the work-force for another 10 or so years.
Infrastructure also has problems with scale. Road-networks gain capacity as a function of area used, with slight diminishing returns due to an increasing number of stops and traffic-lights etc. Electricity grids gain capacity as a function of area of the cross-section of the connection between the consumer and producer. Water and sewage gain capacity as a function of height from source to destination as well as pipe cross-section area.
Buildings also do not scale linearly. So as population increases housing becomes more and more expensive at an increasing rate, not even counting psychological market forces, and hospitals become exponentially more expensive to build and run as they grow in height and area.
If how all these things scale up are put on a chart it is easy to spot the cause of many of the problems we have today. Algorithms can also be used to calculate optimal population growth/stagnation/decline. There may be conditions in which a declining or stagnating population provides an improvement in the potential tax-income-growth/tax-expenditure-growth ratio (I say potential to indicate that this tax income/expenditure growth is only based on population growth, infrastructure growth, etc, not tax law or actual welfare expenditure).
The country with the highest potential tax income growth to potential tax expenditure growth ratio is the country that can increase the quality of life of its citizens most in a set time period.
Another emerging series of technologies together termed Rejuvenation Biotechnology will allow scaling up of the lifespans of populations with drastic consequences. It is a competitor to subsidizing children to ensure future tax income.
Children costs 20 years of growth and education and tax cuts to parents, and then start at the bottom in pay-scale. If however a 60 year old person is made to be 40 years old, that person will have the paycheck of a 60 year old and tax-expense of a 40 year old. This may sound far-fetched, but it does not require reversing growth or spinning the planet backwards. Because growth stops at around age 25, the only thing that changes the body after that is accumulation of 7 types of damage. One substance that accumulates over time is 7-Ketocholesterol, it accumulates in the cells and eventually makes the cell-processes not function properly like they do when you are young. All that is required to “reverse age” is all else being equal to remove some of that 7-Ketocholesterol. No understanding of the underlying system that made the 7-Ketocholesterol is needed, and no intervention in how the body actually works is needed. It is like removing rust on a car to make it usable for another ten years, instead of going into all the expenditure of making a new one.
This also does not have the increased tax expenditure from all the things that must be scaled up when scaling up population by childbirth.
Over the next hundred years Rejuvenation Biotechnology will become the main way that governments assures and predicts future tax income. The fools who do not will die of 7-Ketocholesterol and leave the world to the new superpowers: The nations that successfully controls the health of their population can have the most welfare, lowest taxes, best business incentives, largest and most modern army, all at once.
Any nation (even poor ones) that implement Rejuvenation Biotechnology will outclass the best possible nation that does not implement Rejuvenation Biotechnology.
For more information about Rejuvenation Biotechnology, read the book Ending Aging, by Aubrey de Grey, PhD. And click the bar at the top of the screen and donate to Sens Research Foundation, who are in the process of developing a way to remove 7-Ketocholesterol from humans safely.
EDIT 02 August 17:14. Changed a piece to better convey the point without an inaccuracy in how populations scale. The new section reads as follows:
The population scales up in an exponential curve. And there’s really not much to limit growth in industrialized countries, not taking future housing and infrastructure into account.
The work-ability of the population does not increase exponentially at the same time as the population.
I woke up this morning and had four healthy slices of whole-wheat bread and a cup of green tea. I sat down to try to think up a letter that convinces the Norwegian government that substantial funding of rejuvenation biotechnology is feasible, desirable and not deferable until a later time. But my mind kept wandering.
You see, I think the only worthwhile use of my life is to extend my life as much as possible. It is the hunter-gatherer of today, instead of hunting and gathering to live another month, I lobby and exercise to live another hundred years, preferably even more.
My mind then kept wandering into what I might live to experience if I just managed to get one more person to donate to Sens Research Foundation. I already know that if I live as long as current medicine allow, I will live to be about 80-85 years, if I am of average health. This means I will live to see the year 2070-2075.
As this timeline of predicted events will tell you, that means I will almost live to see the world population reach 10 billion, which is predicted to occur in 2083.
I thought, what if I got a thousand people from now and until 2030 to donate monthly to Sens Research Foundation? Would I then live to see the world house 10 billion people? What if I did even better, could I possibly see near light-speed travel which Arthur C. Clarke thought would occur in 2095? Will I see a trans-atlantic railway? Will I see a mile-high skyscraper? Will I be able to go to Mars if I just do a little bit more than I normally would to extend my life? If I stand in a street-corner every afternoon telling people to support rejuvenation biotechnology, will I then be able to live to see humans make first contact with alien civilizations? If I get a million other people to also clamour for rejuvenation biotechnology, will I then be able to live so long in my current configuration that I can go skiing in another solar-system?
I concluded that I will redouble my efforts in extending my life, and the first order of business is to not buy a new phone and continue to use my 7 year old K810i, instead I will donate to the cause of rejuvenation biotechnology, and buy a couple extra Ending Aging books, and send them to various political parties inscribed “pass it on after a week” on the title page.
What about you, what would you like to live to see?
Support Sens Research Foundation by clicking the bar at the top of this website. And read the book “Ending Aging” by Aubrey de Grey, PhD. That book explains the difference between the growth that make you change until you are about 25, and aging, which makes you decay hence forth. But not only that, he explains a very feasible way of how scientists with realistic amounts of funding can repair and rejuvenate your decayed body, so you can potentially live forever as you were when you were about 25 years old.
By the way, there really is no other way of saying it, but you don’t know what aging is, we all think we do, but we don’t, its a biological process that accumulates 7 types of decay/damage, and if you repair that decay/damage, you reverse your biological age. That does not reverse your growth, so you don’t become a fetus if your biological age is reversed. And crucially, its not about slowing down how the complex biological process makes 7 types of decay/damage, that would lead to dangerous side-effects, it is about repairing the decay/damage after it has occurred. That is far easier. And does not impact the complex biology that is our body. Any fool can remove rust, but not everyone can make stainless steel, as it were. If we spent 1% of government budget on rejuvenation biotechnology we would in 20 years be able to remove the pension system, and your children would no longer blame you for their shorter-than-need-be lives.
You can always have the bad-assest car if you outlive the ones who have a bad-ass car now.
There is what I know I know, what I know I don’t know, but what people in high places must ask themselves is: What knowledge do I need but don’t I know I don’t know? Because that is where the problem lay. Politicians are all certain they know enough to perform the task of fixing their nation’s economy, but there may exist knowledge that is necessary to fix their nation’s economy which they don’t know they don’t know.
There are tasks where:
-You know enough to perform the task sufficiently well.
-You don’t know enough to perform the task sufficiently well.
But they are indistinguishable from each other, because you have things you don’t know you don’t know, so any number of the things you don’t don’t you don’t know can be a piece of knowledge you need to perform the task.
So as a rule of thumb, always assume you don’t know enough to perform the task sufficiently well.
If you are an economist it just means what you don’t know is not likely to be grouped in the economy curriculum, its in behavioral psychology or neuroscience or boolean algebra for all you know. There are people that have devoted their lives to thinking about one particular problem, and for all you know they thought about the problem you’re trying to solve.
Finding some of the things you don’t know you don’t know, but that you need to know, takes a long time, I suggest you hire someone for that.
There are many theories that try to explain observed economic phenomenons, but this I posit is a more accurate one.
Intro: There’s many theories about how to improve the economy. But to improve something it must be defined first. If I want more of something, I need to know what it is I must produce. To improve health we define health, to improve color we define color, to improve something we define what is an improvement. Here I will define what economy is and subsequently begin the path of discussing how to improve it.
Economy is needs being met. In a good economy the value of needs being met per capita is high. To better economy more value worth of needs per capita needs to be met. Needs are defined as that which a person is willing to give needs to receive. For example, a wheat farmer does not need wheat himself, but is willing to give wheat, which are needs to others, in order to have his own needs fulfilled. Needs change hands from A to B, AND simultaneously B to A, in all transactions except theft and slavery. Even when A donate money to B, B provides A with a need, otherwise A would not hand over need-currency to B. I’ll let psychologists discuss what need B provides to A, but we can be sure there is a need B provides to A. How many needs a person can have has an upper limit, for those wishing to calculate this new definition. It is limited due to limited hours in every life. But the number of needs a person can have has a lower limit, because certain needs must be met to keep the person physically and psychologically healthy. Time must be a part of the calculation, an economy can not just be defined as good based on the best millisecond that year. So the unit of economy will be the value of needs met on average per capita per day. Additional needs have value in inverse proportion to how many needs are met. You meet the most important needs first, so by definition those after that are less important and less valuable. One can argue about where in value the line to “luxuries” lay. Need number one will have 1/1 value, need number two will have 1/2 value, need number three has 1/3 value need number four will have 1/4 value, together the value of these needs met will be 1/1+1/2+1/3+1/4 = 25/12 (2.083333…). Work out Value of Needs Met (VNM) by the rule 1/n. Though different ones can exist, like 10/n or similar ones which treats the first few needs as essential to life. This value of needs explains much behavior very accurately. But more additions to the equation can be made to increase accuracy and model more situations. The total value of needs met per capita is abbreviated as VNM per capita (Value of Needs Met).
The problems in today’s financial crisis has arisen from a collapse in high-value NM (Needs Met) while low-value needs are still being met. The financial stimulus packages have largely only been intended to increase the amount of low-value needs being met (not low value in the sense of GDP).
The healthy economies in the world are always the ones that have the highest value of needs being met, and due to the value of the first few needs it is a practical impossibility to have a high VNM without the first few needs being consistently met for more or less all of the inhabitants.
There is a phenomenon in economics. If you need something, and do not have the means to make it, the easiest way to get it is to offer need-currency to get it. If you need low unemployment you only have to offer need-currency and those that can start businesses and hire people will take your need-currency and turn it into what they need. I need to live as long as possible through rejuvenation biotechnology, since I do not have the skill or wealth to make that happen myself I need only offer need-currency, and others will make it happen for me. They will do this because they need something else, and to get what they need they need need-currency. For me to get need-currency to buy my needs I must make things others need. I could try to make people need what I need by arguing they need it also, and make them produce what I need that way, but that’s more difficult and frankly like starting in the wrong end.
The value of needs is more or less inversely proportional to their GDP value (High-value needs are small portions of GDP, low-value needs have large portions of GDP).
Therefore government should be the main supplier of the highest value needs because the high-value needs have so low GDP-value, and such a high value to the health of the economy. Without the high-value needs that only make up a few percents of GDP, the rest of the GDP no longer happens. An unchanging predictable cost of high-value needs from state owned monopolies is less risky than privatized supply of these high-value needs. To prevent times of surplus production in financial decline these high-value needs should be paid through taxes by ability, and given to everyone who needs them. For example healthcare, dental care, pension, roads, indoor plumbing (water and sewage), electricity (enough to heat food and home and cool food in refrigerators, and some lights, entertainment (TV/computer)), information (library, TV, radio, internet), education, food, clothes, a home (apartment with paint on the walls, air-tight windows and doors, some furniture, no mold or water damage or pests etc). Each in moderation of course, not lobsters for food or a walk-in closet of tailored suits. In times of declining GDP the taxes must go up in order to continue the delivery of high-value needs without going into debt, simple arithmetic say the least VNM is lost by taxing the rich more than the poor. Debt works as a tool to get the needs of tomorrow met today, and provide a negative sum benefit for the loan taker, but the short lifetime of the individual loan taker must be taken into account in accurate modelling efforts, because people take loans as if getting something now and paying more later is better than saving now, getting interest on interest, and getting the thing later without loans. This behavior should never be reflected by governments, governments should act better than individuals would. The government and its people is timeless, and thus do not benefit from loans, but instead benefit from saving up and then buying it.
PS: Needs are not defined as physical objects. Needs can be anything people are willing to give needs to get. Be that words of praise from someone, or a car.
PPS: I will probably fill in more details later. For now I think its important to put this bit out there, as it holds the main concept. Note that I do not suggest rationality has anything to do with economy. If the fifth need a human meets is a car and the sixth is a boat then that was what was fifth and sixth most valuable needs to that brain at that time due to genes, experiences and circumstances. It does not mean a car is always a more rational need to meet than a boat, or that a car is a more rational need than a boat in such a circumstance, with such genes, and with such experiences. Rationality can not be the basis of an economic theory to explain observed economic behavior, because rationality has yet to be observed in any species (we call this and that rational, but if we were irrational, we would call lots of things rational, the two possibilities, rational and irrational, is indistinguishable from each other, until we define rationality so well we have it as a feature in our laptops (same as with free will, before we define free will so well we have it as a feature in our laptops, free will has yet to be observed)).
PPPS: This theory reflects the well-recognized fact that an economy with 99% employment is likely to be more healthy than an economy with 98% employment. Because the first is likely to have a better VNM (total average per capita Value of needs met). And it shows us how to improve the economy directly with a better effect than interest rate adjustments and tax cuts. The way to improve the VNM is simply by taxing low-value high cost products and services (luxury cars, airplanes, liquor, tobacco, etc), and use the money to hire people and equipment to produce high value low cost products and services (healthcare, education, public buildings, bureaucrats, research, waste disposal, recycling, laws and regulations to protect the people and wildlife and enforcement agents to enforce those laws and regulations, etc).
Bureaucrats are under-estimated in terms of value for money. When you have enough bureaucrats its difficult to cheat the government out of tax dollars by for example putting road projects across your own land or to award the contract to a friend’s construction company. And with enough bureaucrats its difficult to build things that aren’t needed, like new highways that end up being empty, new airports that have to close down a few years after opening, and some nations upgrade military bases that are closed down after few years. All because not enough people had to sign off on it, and not enough questions had to be answered well, and not enough forms had to be filled out.
The atmosphere is getting better at absorbing heat, and also better at transporting heat. This leads to the cold places getting much warmer, the warm places getting somewhat warmer, but also makes it possible for colder temperatures in the warm and temperate areas. Here is why.
Consider a small line of the atmosphere from the equator to the north pole. Imagine it like a steel wire on a classroom globe. Now look at it with an infrared camera. If you touch the wire at the equator you heat up that point the most, but the wire absorbs heat and transports heat. So the wire quickly begins to glow from the equator to the north pole, but only very slightly at the north pole because some of the heat is emitted out of each portion of the wire. Now, consider what would happen if the wire was made from something that was better at absorbing and conducting heat. More of the heat from your finger would be absorbed, making the equator warmer, but the wire would transport more of the energy from the equator to the north pole, so the equator would only increase slightly in temperature, while the north pole increase very much in temperature. This is what we have today. Greenhouse gases not only makes the atmosphere better at absorbing energy from the sun, greenhouse gases also make the atmosphere better at transporting energy from the warm to the cold. So the poles heat up a lot, while the equator only heat up a little bit. But the problem is, an atmosphere is not like a straight wire from the equator to the pole at all times, if it were, we’d probably be fine from a little global warming. The wire twists and turns, sometimes it can go weeks without touching the poles, equally, the wire from the poles can go weeks without touching the equator. So when we have these spirals of atmospheric “wire”, the temperate places can transport its heat to the cold places, but not get new heat from the equator. Leading to a cold wave. And a temperate place can for a while not be able to transport heat away to cold places, but still receiving more heat from the sun and the warm places, this is a heat wave.
Global warming is guaranteed to make both cold waves and heat waves more dangerous. The more heat-conducting atmosphere can more quickly transfer much of the heat from a temperate area to a cold area and if the temperate area does not regain heat from warmer areas at all times at sufficient levels, a cold wave will occur. And increasing the conductance of heat, ie, the speed at which heat travel from warm to cold areas, will greatly (perhaps exponentially) increase the amount of times heat can not be replenished as fast as it is transported to colder areas. It will also greatly increase the amount of times (perhaps exponentially) heat can not be transported away at the same rate it is received, leading to heat waves.
If global warming only made the atmosphere a better conductor of heat, not a better at absorbing heat, we would still be in a heap of trouble. Put the two together, both better at absorbing and conducting heat, and it will quickly run out of control.
We can stop climate change. But its being hampered by a curious phenomena. No, not money or powerful evil people. But imperfect fear sense.
The budget of every nation reflects the human species’ ability to fear. Imminent death like tigers and terrorists get a lot of the budget because we have a genetically based ability to fear that. What really kills the most by numbers however, aging, disease, asteroids, super-volcanoes, climate change, is not very genetically rooted in our fear-ability. If only we lived in a world where humans could fear the stuff in direct accordance with how dangerous it is, we would have a perfect world if that world was run by fear mongering politicians. But our ability to fear is not perfect. I’m way more scared of heights than cardiovascular disease, even though I’m more than twenty times more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than falling (and most falling accidents are of hip fractures on old people, so really aging kills in that case).
E-mail your governing body and say they must stop worrying so much about what humans fear, and worry more about what humans ought to fear. Like aging, disease, climate change, pollution, sustainable food production, the long term future etc. They were chosen by the people to do the stuff the people CAN NOT do (protect against asteroids and typhoid fever (see water sanitation history)), if the politicians then do what the people CAN do (protect against tigers and terrorists), then the people has no reason to hire politicians anymore.