Lifespans Are Long Enough

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Lifespans Are Long Enough was a 1 hour 40 major life extension debate held on the 8th of February 2016.



Ian Ground - Philosopher & Lecturer, University of Newcastle

Paul Root Wolpe - Director, Emory Center for Ethics

  • Radical life extension would lead to overpopulation and depletion of resources.
  • Scientific resources are better spent curing known diseases and improving existing quality of life.
  • Radical life extension is at odds with the natural and cultural process of life and death.


Aubrey de Grey - Chief Science Officer & Co-Founder, SENS Research Foundation

Brian Kennedy - CEO & President, Buck Institute for Research on Aging

  • Radical life extension is simply the next step in scientific and medical progress.
  • Anti-aging technology prevents the suffering of old age and age-related disease.
  • Longer lifespans increase an individual's ability to contribute wealth to society.

Aubrey de Grey comments against transhumanism

At one point in the debate Aubrey made some comments which could be interpreted as dissociating himself from the transhumanist movement:[1]

John Donvan: ... I think the question is what's the difference between supporting technology's treatments that will help people live long enough, you won't kill them at 120. What's the difference between supporting all of that apparatus, all of those efforts on individual diseases , versus making a concerted effort to stop aging for its own sake ?
Paul Root Wolpe: I answered it twice, but I can't seem to get this word into people's minds . It's intention. My argument is against an intention.
John Donvan:Okay.
Paul Root Wolpe:The intention to live longer for the sake of living longer
John Donvan: Okay . Let me stop you. Is that your intention, Aubrey de Grey?
Aubrey de Grey: Absolutely not
John Donvan: Well, what is your intention ?
Aubrey de Grey: My intention is to stay healthy as long as possible and to reap the benefits of that in terms of longevity.
John Donvan: Okay
Aubrey de Grey: Longevity is the side effect.
John Donvan: No I don't see the difference between those two things .
John Donvan: I'm having difficulty making that distinction. I am not that smart. But you're saying there isn't one ?
Aubrey de Grey: There is not one. What Paul is saying he's saying is actually what we're saying.
Aubrey de Grey: What Paul and Ian are actually saying though, is not what we're saying . What Paul and Ian are actually doing is raising concerns about problems in society, inequality of access, no narrative arcs, redesign, things like that . And --
John Donvan: Why do you dismiss the narrative arc ?
Aubrey de Grey: I’m not dismissing them. I'm saying that these are reasonable things to raise but that if one raises them then the only honest approach is, as I said in my original remarks, to weigh the risk of those things happening and the severity of those potential problems against the severity of the problem we have today of not having brought the diseases and disabilities of aging under control.
John Donvan: Okay . I want to let your opponents respond. Right after that I want to start going to questions . I just want to remind you how it works so that you'll be ready to go . Raise your hands . I'll call on you . A microphone will be brought to you . Hold it close to your -- about this far away from your mouth . Tell us your name . If you're with a news organization we'd appreciate it if you would tell us that . Ask your question in 30 seconds . Make it tight and terse and on point. Response from this side . Ian Ground .
Ian Ground: I'm pleased to hear the last part that Aubrey said, because it sounded to me like a public disavow of the immortalists and the transhumanists who follow him .
Aubrey de Grey: I have actually -- that's right . I've actually said . I was actually the first recipient of something called the H.G. Wells award for outstanding contributions to transhumanism, which was awarded to me by someone --
John Donvan: You got that.
Aubrey de Grey: Yeah.
Aubrey de Grey: That was like 2004 or '05, something like that . I was awarded it by someone who is going to be taking part in one of these debates a few weeks from now actually . And in my acceptance speech I had to admit that I was rather embarrassed because I didn't think of myself as a transhumanist, even back then. So, never believe what you see in the papers .
John Donvan: All right .
Ian Ground: I'd like to tell the rest of the people on the internet that.

Event on YouTube

External links