Chapter 6. "Health and recovery"
Chapter 6. "Health and recovery" is the title of the sixth Chapter in the book Transcending Politics by David Wood.
"On the face of things, the field of healthcare poses a stern challenge to the technoprogressive vision that I am championing. In countries all around the world, costs of healthcare are rocketing. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and dementia are consuming huge resources. National budgets are facing crises under the resulting strains and stresses.
To give one example, Simon Stevens, the CEO of Britain’s NHS (National Health Service), has spoken out on several occasions about the growing financial burden of chronic diseases.
...In January 2018, stirred to action by a series of fraught experiences in their hospitals over the ongoing winter period, a group of highly experienced healthcare professionals wrote a public letter to Theresa May, the British Prime Minister...Meanwhile, in the United States, debt arising from medical fees is the number one cause for people to become bankrupt."
Technology is not enough
In principle, technology ought to be reversing these expenditure trends. Innovative technology has the potential to automate aspects of medical treatment, to provide timely early warnings of ill health, and to deliver targeted new therapies that are more effective than previous treatments.
The growing cost of healthcare fly in opposition to a techno-optimistic assumption which is often heard, namely that prices for medical treatment will inevitably fall overtime. This is assumption sees medical costs as being bound, in due course, to follow the pattern trail-blazed by consumer electronics product categories… But this trend of dramatic cost reductions exists alongside other trends which point in an opposite direction.
Steering technology for better healthcare
Despite negative trends such as your Eroom’s Law, I believe technology does have the potential to leapfrog over the exponential complexities of both human biological interactions and healthcare industry dynamics. However, this outcome will require active steering of technological capability.
Tackling root causes
Some of history's most important healthcare initiatives involved tackling root causes which had, until that time, been only poorly understood.
It's time to mention the single most important and root cause of ill health. It's aging. Aging kills more people than smoking. It kills more people than obesity or air pollution. It kills far more people than industrial accidents, terrorism, warfare, and violent crime.
The longevity dividend
I've used the term “paradigm shift” to refer to the adoption of the programme to abolishing aging. A paradigm is a set of ideas and concepts that mutually reinforce and support each other. Here are some aspects of existing, mainstream paradigm, which can be called “accepting aging”...
Investing in rejuvenation
It’s one thing to calculate the possible financial upside from a project, such as extending healthy longevity. But what about the cost of this project? Might the costs exceed the benefits? I claim that's very unlikely. Here's the overall assessment by Kevin Murphy and Robert Topel, whose research I mentioned in the previous section...
Becoming better than well
The abolition of aging is only one of a number of related “super health” initiatives that technology is making possible. The short summary is that we cannot simply say, “we'll all be living longer and healthier, but everything else will be basically the same as before”. The same engines of technological progress that will enable the abolition of aging will, in parallel, enable other profound changes in human nature. These changes will result in humans who not only live longer but are much smarter, much stronger, and much more capable.
- Buy the Book
- For convenience of readers, this page lists all the endnotes from Transcending Politics, in easily clickable form.
- “Get serious about obesity or bankrupt the NHS – Simon Stevens” https://www.england.nhs.uk/2014/09/serious-about-obesity/
- “Dear Prime Minister: Final Letter” https://www.scribd.com/document/368914596/Final-Letter
- “This is the No. 1 reason Americans file for bankruptcy” https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2017/05/05/this-is-the-no-1-reason-americans-file-for-bankruptcy/101148136/
- Transpoltica Offical Homepage https://transpolitica.org/
- “The Value of Health and Longevity” https://web.archive.org/web/20061018172529/http://www.econ.yale.edu/seminars/labor/lap04-05/topel032505.pdf