Significant Innovation against Cancer

Tenovus Scotland, an organization that funds junior scientists, has apparently scored a winner with the use of genes to directly attack cancer without trashing healthy nearby cells.

This is MUCH more important than it sounds — and it sounds great.  As previously stated, the aging process appears at rock bottom to be a defense against cancer.  It’s more complicated than that, of course — junk accumulates (some of it, oddly, glows in the dark), but anything that can be done to simply smack down cancer the way an HIV+ patient currently goes “wake up, take pills, drink coffee, continue with life,” is a serious step forwards in the greatest battle of all  — to stop the constant carnage of aging-related accidents and the continuous loss of human expertise and relationships that is entailed.

And that affects everything

  • Triple the human lifespan, and we can go to the stars — with today’s engineering technology (and today’s engineers!).
  • Long-term thinking and planning:  I have a friend in Arkansas who says it really takes about forty years for people to figure life out.  I can’t argue — she’s got common sense coming out of her pores.   Would you buy a shit-quality chipboard house, if you thought you might be living in it for eighty years?  Or would you save up to build something that’ll actually last?
  • Arts and Culture:  we work in order to survive.  We play for human enjoyment and enlightenment.  As Brian Sutton-Smith so famously said, “the opposite of play isn’t work: it’s depression.”  If humans can live long enough to amass the capital needed to engage in constructive and meaningful activity, and political ramifications don’t stop them, they will.  After all, a quarter of peoples’ income goes to taxes… but the next 20-50% goes directly to simply taking up space.  Pay off a mortgage while you’re still healthy enough to do things, and everybody around you benefits.
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4 Comments

  1. drteine

     /  April 28, 2010

    I’m not entirely sure doubling or tripling our lifespan is a good thing. I agree with you on the experience thing, but if you have to earn a living/postpone retirement for that long, you effectively stifle upward mobility for the young. Imagine being in an entry-level position for 20 years because you have to wait for someone literally to die before you can get promoted.

    Still, no one wants to hear the clanking chains of their mortality – so indeed an impressive breakthrough, but the implications for society by living longer have yet to be really addressed. Of course…treatments like this may only go to the top 1% of society that can afford them, and so that may be the societal outlet/solution to my concern above.

    Reply
  2. Cancer cures will be widespread. One-shot longevity drugs, otoh, will indeed start at the top, and probably wind up being something like a mortgage payment — LOTS of toxic social effects if not handled correctly.

    With the population spike resulting, demands for goods and services would be through the roof — there’s still be an upper reach to the growth limit, because women would still tend (tend) to max out after a bit… but that environment would indeed favor entrepreneurs, etc. “IBM disease” would become much more prevalent.

    On the other hand, there’d be so much retraining required that seniority and age would also start to decouple. Working your way up the ladder in the corporate world is already, for the most part, a bygone thing except in academic and certain specific fields.

    Reply
  3. drteine

     /  April 30, 2010

    I disagree on the top of the ladder issue in the corporate world is most certainly not a bygone thing. Once you’re at the top making that much money – you want to keep it. And to ensure you continue to make that much money at the top – you keep everyone else repressed or at fixed lower wages.
    No – industry is just as cut-throat/political as it always was, perhaps more so in an effort for people to just keep their jobs.

    As for the retraining angle – perhaps that shakes some things loose, but I suspect instead you’ll get a lot more age discrimination lawsuits.

    Ultimately I agree with you about your first points – lots of toxic effects if not handled correctly and I’m not so confident that people will be smart about dealing with the problems in a proactive manner.

    Reply
  4. Andrew Reyna

     /  May 3, 2010

    Age is associated to correlate directly with wisdom, the older you get the smarter/wise you become. The reason behind this is the experience of change. Add that to the massive acceleration of change in the most recent generations, and we should be getting wiser/smarter quicker. Coupled with this new longevity, we should be see an exponential increase in the quality of human beings, meaning much much better decisions and hopefully an increase in morality. You don’t see anyone questioning Master Yoda.

    Reply

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