Immortal dictators: Is there a downside to life-extending technologies?


Suppose there was a country ruled by an evil dictator. Further, suppose the entire world was plagued by a terrible disease affecting 100% of the population. The disease isn’t infectious, but it is congenital. It progresses extremely slowly over the course of several decades, but it eventually ends up severely impairing one’s quality of life, and it is always fatal; it’ll take its own sweet time to kill a patient, but it always will, and it isn’t going to be fun.

If it was suggested that a cure for this disease should not be developed so that we could be sure the aforementioned dictator will eventually pass away, would you agree? Would your answer change if you lived in that country?

The moral of the story is always the same. Can a disruptive technology have negative consequences? Yes, it can. However, we must keep a cool head and analyze available data to establish the likelihood of any side effects, weigh their magnitude against that of the expected benefits, and conversely, assess and compare the pros and cons of not developing the technology. Equally importantly, we must keep in mind that since no one is a clairvoyant, we’ll figure it out as we go, like we’ve always done.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Why Eradicating Age-related Diseases is Unlikely to Create Immortal Dictators