Wednesday, January 19th, 2000

YOU ARE CURRENTLY SEEING BLOG POSTS IN PROPER CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. While in this mode, the links at the bottom and top of each page are not correctly labeled. However, the left pointing arrow always advances forward in time, and the right pointing arrow retreats.

Living in the real world instead of a fictional universe

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

This is something of an aside, but as there seems to be a lull now before Flyss and Stattera start their next project, I thought I might take the opportunity to get on my soapbox.

As you may know, I’ve been dialoging with members of the SENS foundation, the major science-based life extension organization dedicated to achieving indefinite lifespan, and I must say it has been a disappointing experience. Here on, we live in the real world, where people have emotions, desires and passions, can be selfish and erratic and may lash out under stress. People associated with the SENS foundation, in contrast, seems to live in an alternate fictional universe where everyone is rational and nice, and all problems can be solved without pain. (Or, at least, without pain to anyone other than inferior people.)

They remind me considerably of some engineering students I knew in college who pretty much thought the world would be made a perfect place if only everyone would behave more like engineers. Not that these engineers behaved any better or more rationally than anyone else.  They were fully as arrogant, self-centered and inclined to getting drunk as my fellow mathematicians, or my friends in the English department for that matter. It was just that they truly believed that they were rational beings, and that everyone in the world ought to be too.

That seems to be the SENS foundation in a nutshell. (continued in my next post.) — Stephen

On the SENS foundation, continued

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

As I mentioned in my last post, as I’ve gotten to know the SENS foundation better, I’ve been dismayed by their simplistic view of things. They seem to live in a fictional universe.

My position is that life extension is coming AND that it will cause many problems. I’m in favor of life extension AND I’m in favor of looking at the problems  it will create with open eyes. But members of the foundation (with the luminous exception of Aubrey de Grey) seem to be infected with the belief that everything is just fine.

They display a profound lack of awareness of history (the world began the day before yesterday), of psychology (people are mostly rational, except for those inferior people who aren’t), of politics (countries will decide to do the right thing AND the citizens of those countries will behave in lockstep) and of economics (since there is plenty of food there won’t be famines), and seem to work within a set of ideas so simplistic as to be irresponsible.

As I digested their aggressive brand of naiveté I found myself thinking thoughts more characteristic of my deceased friend Glenn than of myself: What if they are not truly as uninformed, as irresponsibly naive as they appear? What if, instead they actually intend to discredit the anti-aging movement by representing it so badly?

In my next post, I will turn to Aubrey de Grey himself. — Stephen

On Aubrey de Grey

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

In my last post, I continued my discussion of the SENSF (the leading scientific force for physical immortality), in particular my disappointment with the level of discourse present in their community. In that post, I mentioned that Aubrey de Grey, the moving force of SENS, is somewhat different.

But his difference may be as much of a problem as it is a benefit. It is this subject that I will begin to discuss here.

Aubrey de Grey is clearly a genius.  But he also plays the genius, and at least allows if not actively encourages guru-worship among his followers. Cults of person like these are inherently problematic.  One adverse consequence is that his ideas, such as the seven elements of SENS, are taken as doctrinal truths. While such fixation on the words of the master is de rigueur for religions and cults, it is only an obstacle to scientific progress.

It also typically damages the master a swell, swelling his ego and making him think of himself as universal rather than a particular genius.  Something of the kind seems to have happened to Aubrey de Grey, for has he turned to pronouncing on subjects where he is not only markedly less than a genius, he is little more than a talker.

For example: I have recently been thinking about one particular consequence of life extension, that it will inevitably lead to the end of children (or, at least, their conversion to rarities in a world of immortal adults.) To me, this has huge emotional consequences for humanity. (I hope to explore these consequences in a piece of fiction.) When I mentioned this subject on the SENSF site, I received such edifying responses as, “Nonsense, the world can support a hundred billion people easily, but anyway we’ll go to other planets or dimensions,” or, conversely, “Countries that still have children will just starve, and it will serve them right.”

As it happens, when it comes to this subject de Grey operates at a somewhat  higher level than his community. In this published article, he bluntly admits the premise. I quote:

The choice that humanity will face once aging has become optional is, therefore, every bit as stark as those who raise overpopulation as an objection to curing aging claim it is. We will have to choose between a high death rate or a low birth rate – it’s as simple as that.

This is bracingly forthcoming!

However, from there, his argument takes a downward turn, culminating in a conclusion that, while grand in tone, is pure sophistry in content. (continued in my next post) — Stephen

SENSF passed the test

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

As I mentioned in my preceding post, we had an unexpected opportunity to test whether the True Immortals are reading our blog, and found evidence that they are not. As an additional consequence of this, I believe we can safely state that the SENS foundation is not infiltrated by True Immortals.

I had previously posted an egregious series of attacks on the SENSF. I now apologize for doing so. Though I don’t disagree with absolutely everything I wrote, I certainly went overboard. But I did so with a purpose: that of drawing the attention of SENSF members. Were there any True Immortals involved with the foundation, they certainly would have become aware of this blog. Therefore, I think we can now be confident that SENS is run by mortals alone.

My next post will be very long. Not only will I provide confirming evidence for the statements made here, I shall reveal a number of important facts we have kept secret until now, and that answer, or suggest answers to, a number of vital questions.  — Stephen