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francopoli  ·  786 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Aging, polls, and life extension: Why don’t Americans want to live longer?

Part of the problem with immortality is that old people need to die so that society can progress and get better. I did a lot of thought on what to reply besides the snark below, but my reasoning is something along the lines of this: Black Americans did not get out of Jim Crow and legal segregation until the people profiting off those systems started to die off in the 1960's. Gay people were not treated as human beings until the bigots got old and started to die off. Irish did not become an acceptable group of people in the US until enough of the old WASPs died and they became a big enough voting block to get Kennedy elected.

Think about toe societal norms and customs of 100 years ago. Now think of those folks running everything. It's bad enough that this presidential campaign is the last grasp of the Baby Boomers to mess up the country for four more years, imagine if there were 30 more years of them healthy and hearty enough to keep control of Congress. 100 years ago there were no airplanes, no computers, barely fax machines, no electricity outside the bigger cities, no vaccines, no antibiotics.

It would be nice if we could all live to be a healthy 100 years old, and that world is coming. I think we will be better for it when we have the institutional memories of people who were alive five generations ago. There is a significant value in having older people around to help out with raising the kids which is why multi-generational households are a thing. But... what if living to 200 was a normal expected thing? What would that do to the birth rate? When creative types hit their 40's they tend to stop innovating; Nobel Prize winners tend to be in their 40's and the ones who win the prize later in life get it for work they did when they were much younger. If there are mostly 'old' people in a society, and that tanks the birth rate, what happens to our scientific and technical innovation? What do we as a society do when 100 year old women, otherwise perfectly healthy and able, now want to start having kids? It is bad enough that the Octomom was able to have fertility treatments, and that there are women in their 60's giving birth. Oldest verifiable mother was almost 67 and yes, that was via IVF.

This is a question that starts an avalanche of ethical minefields that most people are not even thinking of. And as health gets better, as medical technology advances and as we start living longer lives we as a society are going to have to deal with a way of life that is completely not natural.