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Paul Krugman: Billionaires Shouldn't Live Forever


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#1
starspawn0

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https://www.nytimes....llionaires.html

That's really going to stir things up:


No, life extension for a privileged few is, by its nature, a socially destructive technology, and the time has come to ban it. Take the evergarchs off their treatments, so that they start aging like everyone else, and don’t let anyone else get started. Prosecute anyone who tries to evade the ban, which shouldn’t be hard to determine: Billionaires may sometimes manage to hide their assets, but they can’t hide failure to age.


Vitalik Buterin is hoppin' mad about it:

https://twitter.com/...057956235907072
 

I'm normally not one to enthusiastically go for emotive moralistic language when criticizing things, but banning life-saving technology.... is literally state-backed murder. Fortunately these people would just move to countries that respect their right to life.


I guess this is probably more "politics of the future", though the fact that it's about life extension made me think "science and technology of the future".
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#2
Erowind

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Banning life extension is the wrong move and should be opposed. However, all life extension should be made available through public healthcare and if only billionaires can afford the treatments it should be banned until the cost is brought down to humane levels. There really don't need to be extremes on either end here. People advocating either a full permanent ban or complete "market" control over price are at best unreasonable and uninformed and at worst genuinely evil. 


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#3
Jakob

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Banning life extension is the wrong move and should be opposed. However, all life extension should be made available through public healthcare and if only billionaires can afford the treatments it should be banned until the cost is brought down to humane levels. There really don't need to be extremes on either end here. People advocating either a full permanent ban or complete "market" control over price are at best unreasonable and uninformed and at worst genuinely evil. 

You and Paul Shitman are genuinely evil and want people to suffer and die out of pure jealousy.



#4
funkervogt

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Paul Krugman shouldn't live forever.

#5
Omosoap

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Forgive my ignorance, but wouldn't the first people to receive life extension, be investing in a very risky endeavor, the consequences of which are unknown? I think by the time its price was lowered, that's when it would truly be as safe as they could make it, plus, who knows if living a long time will turn out to be everything we dream of? Maybe it will be a curse to some. Like if you are rich but suffered from child abuse, you might live long but have to live with those memories etc and actually feel more tortured from it as a result. Besides living long for billionaires might actually make them care about Earth more, because a. they are not gonna die, so the environment getting ugly and terrible might actually be more unpleasant for them, and b. they might get a trip to the moon and realize how small we as humans are, and realize everything they thought was important really isnt.



#6
Alislaws

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I mean, its pretty safe to say that if there massive inequalities on life extension for an extended period society would likely collapse, so I can see why people are wary of the idea of only billionaires living forever. 

 

In the USA with their general inability to do anything through the public sector, it may look like they either need to ban it, or introduce universal healthcare, but they'd probably just introduce universal healthcare rather than force the billionaires to move, or have a revolution or civil war. 

 

In most developed countries billionaires will get the treatments first, and within a decade or so it will be available to all on public healthcare. 

 

Indefinite lifespans actually solve the fundamental paradox of public healthcare*. So the moment it is proved to be possible, every public health system in the world will start investing in it. 

 

*The paradox is that the better you are at keeping people healthy, the older they get. The older they get the more medical intervention is needed to keep them healthy so as the health service improves the costs per person increase, pretty much forever. It is therefore impossible to ever have "enough" budget for a healthcare system.

 

In a system where (to simplify) everyone is effectively 30 years old forever, the medical cost of people is constant, not endlessly increasing, so your budget can just be proportional to  population. With current realities the demand for healthcare spending will increase forever.  



#7
starspawn0

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The only reason it would be super-expensive would be patents and/or intellectual property.  It's inconceivable that it would require millions of dollars worth of labor or exotic materials for a treatment.  But, yeah, if a company came up with a genuine aging cure, they would charge a fortune for it.  In fact, they would charge enough to bankrupt some of the lower-range billionaires, leaving only the Bill Gates's and Jeff Bezos's as the people who could afford it.

 

Patent laws could always be rewritten.

 

....

 

I suspect if people knew life-extension would cost a fortune, they would become stingier, worried they might not be able to afford the treatments, if they gave too much.  It could have a large negative effect on society.



#8
Alislaws

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One thing about life extension, it gives you lots of time to pay back debts! If the USA refused to switch to universal healthcare (even with the fact that it has suddenly become much more practical) I could see a situation where most are more or less permanently in debt for their life extension treatments.

 

If you need rejuvenation treatments to make you young again, you would buy them like a mortgage, (except if you failed to pay this mortgage, you'd keep your house and just be left to die of old age.) and pay it back over the next few decades before getting another treatment. 

 

Rich people would all be between 20 and 30.

Middle class people would get up to 40 or maybe 50.

Poorer people would maybe get to 60 before being reset to 20 again. 

 

If you need constant medications or treatments to prevent aging, then they'd just cost a huge chunk of the average income. 

 

Its very unlikely that only billionaires could afford it though. Selling something 100 times for  $2 billion doesn't make nearly as much money as selling something 300 million times for $10,000*, given that demand will basically equal "everyone who can remotely afford the product" the only way it would stay expensive is if the costs were genuinely very high. 

 

*the optimal process is to sell it 100 times for $2billion, and then use that money to bring the cost down steadily, until you have sold it to 300million at somewhere between $10,000 and $2 billion. 

 

EDIT: To be clear, the only reason it would be for billionaires only, is if the manufacturers decided deliberately that they didn't want any riffraff getting any and deliberately kept the price high so poor people would die of old age, which is why it would result in revolution.


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#9
Erowind

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Banning life extension is the wrong move and should be opposed. However, all life extension should be made available through public healthcare and if only billionaires can afford the treatments it should be banned until the cost is brought down to humane levels. There really don't need to be extremes on either end here. People advocating either a full permanent ban or complete "market" control over price are at best unreasonable and uninformed and at worst genuinely evil.

You and Paul Shitman are genuinely evil and want people to suffer and die out of pure jealousy.
That's not what I said and you know it. Don't put words in my mouth. It's entirely a choice. They can choose not to be hyperrich/help bring the price down. I have no sympathy for aristocrats. It's got nothing to do with jealously either. I don't want to be rich or powerful. I want everyone to live good lives to their fullest potential including myself and you.

#10
Cloned

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The idea of extending life is a dead end, because the structure of the brain is not designed for an endless influx of information.

We need time to time to reset the system.
The only feasible way to achieve true immortality is to clone ourselves.


#11
Alislaws

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The idea of extending life is a dead end, because the structure of the brain is not designed for an endless influx of information.

We need time to time to reset the system. 
The only feasible way to achieve true immortality is to clone ourselves. 
  • How can anyone have studied the effect on a healthy young brain of existing for 120+years when we can't currently prevent aging of the brain?
  • Why couldn't you just reset the brain into its growth/loss phases from childhood from time to time? 
  • This is just nonsense, cloning yourself does not achieve immortality, it only achieves an identical twin. Unless you copy the contents of the brain (or do a brain transplant), in which case you have exactly the same problem with "endless information". Also mind uploading would still work.


#12
Cloned

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  • Why couldn't you just reset the brain into its growth/loss phases from childhood from time to time? 
  • This is just nonsense, cloning yourself does not achieve immortality, it only achieves an identical twin. Unless ...

Rebooting the brain will cause loss of memory and personality. And a small detail - we do not know how to do it, and, most likely, it is impossible.
Human cloning, on the other hand, is almost here. The advantages of this method are a completely new body and a new brain, which will allow us to try new options in a new life.

Rejuvenation is a temporary solution - but it has nothing to do with immortality. You may die of illness or an accident. Then what?



#13
caltrek

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Yes, I think this thread seems more oriented to the cultural questions raised as opposed to a discussion of the science.

 

I think banning billionaires from pursuing life-extension technology is not the right answer.  Rather, we should be questioning how such elites gain such huge collections of wealth in the first pace. There are simply too many rules and regulations taken as "fair" that in fact support the concentration of wealth by the few at the expense of the many. 

 

Take regulations of monopolies. Laws were passed around the turn of the 19th to the 20th century to restrict the power of monopolies.  Conservative courts overturned these laws, and instead allowed them to be used to undermine the organization of unions. This was not part of the original legislative intent.

 

While such issues go far beyond the scope of this thread as presented, in my mind it is hard to address the issue  in isolation from these other factors.


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#14
Alislaws

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  • Why couldn't you just reset the brain into its growth/loss phases from childhood from time to time? 
  • This is just nonsense, cloning yourself does not achieve immortality, it only achieves an identical twin. Unless ...

Rebooting the brain will cause loss of memory and personality. And a small detail - we do not know how to do it, and, most likely, it is impossible.
Human cloning, on the other hand, is almost here. The advantages of this method are a completely new body and a new brain, which will allow us to try new options in a new life.

Rejuvenation is a temporary solution - but it has nothing to do with immortality. You may die of illness or an accident. Then what?

 

I... are you trolling? I admit putting your brain into a childhood style regeneration could result in shifts in personality, but how would cloning yourself and raising a totally new human be somehow less​ of a loss of continuity than your brain culling some underused connections?

 

And obviously I was referring to biological immortality, not literal invulnerability to death. I should of course have said:
 

 

"This is just nonsense, cloning yourself does not achieve negligible senescence over unlimited time periods it just produces a new person while you get old and die as normal"

 

 

Is this clearer?



#15
Cloned

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"This is just nonsense, cloning yourself ...  just produces a new person while you get old and die as normal"

 

Is this clearer?

 

Clear enough to understand at what point you are wrong.
Your concept of personality is flawed. As individuals, we are dynamic systems that aren't fixed at any point. What makes us who we are? Memories? No, memories are not important. 
Our unique stem cells are the only important ones. Everything else is replaceable.
We die when not a single stem cell remains functional.

P.S.
Cloning must be done after the death of the donor to avoid duplication.

 



#16
Alislaws

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couple of quick things you might want to research, our genetics change over time due to environmental factors, so by your logic you would be constantly becoming completely different people throughout your life (or if you consider dna to be fixed for your life for some reason, then identical twins are the same person)

 

Anyway, we're definitely not going to agree on this, so i'm done here, but I will of course read anny responses you make to the above. 

 

 

P.S. No! Your ​concept of personality is flawed!  :cheese:


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#17
Cloned

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Does your DNA change? The cells in our bodies are continually acquiring DNA mutations, but mostly they occur in the 'junk' DNA that has no known function. Even when a mutation occurs in a gene, it usually either doesn't change the effect of the gene or it is a gene that is not needed in that particular cell.

 

If you freeze stem cells - there will be no changes.
Even if the DNA mutates, it changes nothing. 

Your DNA makes you unique
And more than 99.9% of our DNA sequence is the same. But the few differences between us (all 1.4 million of them!) are enough to make each one of us unique. On average, a human gene will have 1-3 bases that differ from person to person.

 

Now we need to define the concept of "The same." The only valid method for recognizing a person is
1. DNA analysis.The same cells - the same person.
This is the main characteristic.
Then we need to add three more factors:

2. Your legal status.

3. How do you define yourself.
4. How the society defines you.
----------------------------------------
If all four factors are intact - then the person is "The same".

 



#18
Alislaws

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Yeah, still not convinced sorry. 

 

As I see it there's no rational way to consider a clone of someone with entirely different life experiences to be the same original person, but to also consider identical twins to be entirely different people, its a completely arbitrary distinction you're making. Either identical twins and clones are one person, or identical twins and clones are different people.

 

Its like claiming two cars built on the exact same design are somehow the same car, they're the same model of car, but there are two cars there. 

 

So yeah I don't really see any way for you to convince me otherwise without going into a lot ​of detail on your underlying philosophy which would be off topic in a thread about billionaires being forbidden from using life extension technology. If you have any links or books about this approach to defining the self I'd be interested in reading them though as I don't think I've heard of this before.



#19
Cloned

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 I don't really see any way for you to convince me otherwise without going into a lot ​of detail on your underlying philosophy which would be off topic in a thread about billionaires being forbidden from using life extension technology. 

Agree, We need a new thread in which we will explore aspects of personality perception.

. The Concept of 'The Self' in Western and Eastern Traditions.
The term 'self' refers to an individual human being, along with their body, mind, and in some cases, the concept of a 'soul'.
The western view of the 'enduring self' refers to the notion that “you are the same person you were earlier in your life.

 

https://japaesthetic...ern-traditions/


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#20
moderate_ai

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This issue really isn't far removed from inheritance enriching their children, and the solution is the same. The price of life extension has a tax imposed at a rate proportional to your net worth.

 

I cannot believe inheritances aren't taxed in many places. You work hard for your money, it gets taxed. You get a windfall you didn't work for, it's tax free. It does my head in. It appears to reflect the will of the majority though, so in that sense, for inheritance and life extension alike - you get the outcome you deserve. If people insist on no taxes that target passing on of wealth, then they will have to live with unlimited accrual of wealth at the top.


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