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The Rational Argumentator Accepts Litecoin Donations – Post by G. Stolyarov II

The Rational Argumentator Accepts Litecoin Donations – Post by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
June 28, 2014
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Litecoin_LogoI am pleased to announce that The Rational Argumentator now accepts Litecoin donations, in addition to the previously accepted Bitcoin and Dogecoin donations. This development is in accord with TRA’s welcoming stance toward all cryptocurrencies and support for innovative approaches to creating truly decentralized media of exchange and stores of value.

You can donate Litecoin to The Rational Argumentator using the following donation address (also found in the “Cryptocurrency Donations” section of the sidebar of TRA’s interface): LbmbsP92kruVoAEcWD29PL1cQUnNdjhqzR

Those Critical of Indefinite Life Extension Fear Life – Article by Eric Schulke and Wioletta Karkucińska

Those Critical of Indefinite Life Extension Fear Life – Article by Eric Schulke and Wioletta Karkucińska

The New Renaissance Hat
Eric Schulke and Wioletta Karkucińska
March 23, 2014
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What a repugnant, disdainful, knee-jerk flippancy to flop out of one’s mouth to mock anybody for being afraid of death.

If death doesn’t arouse fear, then what is fear?

We know what fear is. It’s having the sense to understand the level of loss that something imposes upon a person. It’s a no-brainer to understand that life provides value that would diminish to an extensive level if it were to be lost.

Let’s make this even clearer by spelling out what the dictionary tells us about fear.

fear

verb \ˈfir\

: to be afraid of (something or someone)

: to expect or worry about (something bad or unpleasant)

: to be afraid and worried

a :  an unpleasant often strong thought caused by anticipation or awareness of danger

b (1) :  an instance of this (2) :  a state marked by this

:  anxious concern :  solicitude

:  reason for alarm :  danger

I don’t have the courage to be robbed or run over; nor should I, or anyone. I have the emotional maturity to understand what my fear is telling me and to equip myself with the courage to join in on the assault on the terrible beast of aging. Watching incredible things unfold in the universe and world, seeing that it is all just the tip of an inconceivably large iceberg, and then seeing that it will be arbitrarily terminated in another of endless, terrible, horrific events for all involved, is alarming. It should concern you that you are standing on the deck of this great star-ship called Earth, and that you might fall off. You should be able to be aware of, and anticipate danger that is ahead. Your stake in the universe is at stake. Your DNA crawled out of your mother’s womb, drove a spike into the universe, asserting a claim in this realm, and death comes along like a miscreant walking up to a land-claim stake, and rips it out and throws it in the river.

“What are you, afraid of death?” They say.

“Don’t be a coward.”

“Because you’re too cowardly to accept death, the rest of us have to help you with your stupid little excursions?”

It’s as though they are saying, “What are you, afraid of cancer? You sissy, your mother and brother have cancer? So what? Don’t act like a wimp. Cancer is what happens. People live, people get cancer. Don’t accept the ice cream and the music if you’re going to whine about the cancer, it’s part of the package. If I could lift a finger to stop people from dying, then I wouldn’t do it.”

Or, it’s like that jerk that you know urging people to walk into woods where there are predators with humans as prey.

“Come on man, walk forty miles through the jungle there. Don’t worry about the lions, mosquitoes, and rhinos. You’ll get through fine, just goooo.” What terrible advice, and what a terrible kind of advice to condone and not discourage!

They are like the trash-talkers on the rodeo machine, where a round of people sit at a teeter-tottering table in the middle of a bull pen while they play cards and talk smack to each other for not continuing to sit in the bull’s eye of imminent death.

Pretending to be fearless in the face of death isn’t some form of heroism. It isn’t reasonable or courageous. It is quite the opposite. It is taking the easy way out.

What’s more is, that although being afraid is a sensible, logical part of it, the overriding part of it is that most of the people that I talk to that want to live long into the future, do it first and foremost because of their love for life. Most of the people that I know have been thwamped over the head with passion bugs of various kinds by flipping over galactic rocks like philosophy stones, quantum particles, history books and science boulders.

Fighting death has been for ages treated as a battle destined to be lost. How many times, when faced with a loss of a loved one, have we heard “Well, that’s the way of life”? How can one NOT notice the bitter irony and hypocrisy of that statement? How can death EVER be called an element of life, something to accept? It’s the very OPPOSITE of life, NOT part of it, and it is high time we should start seeing it as such. Let the blinders fall from our eyes, once and for all.

We appreciate our opportunity. We appreciate the rarity of humanity and the mind-blowing mysteries we have the privilege to continue to be submersed in. We understand that culture and tradition do not govern the big picture of what it means to exist here.

What it means to exist here is that we are the rare opportunities to know existence. What kind of extremely rare miracle would spring out of the mud after eons of nothingness and then declare that fleeting, flippant, empty cultural traditions of intellectually straitjacketed ancestors of itself are the best dictates for how it should face the big picture of the rapidly unfolding, multifaceted, and to-be-unfettered dreams-come-true (multi?)universe? Would you say that your grandmother’s old typewriter manual is the best guide for figuring out how to fix and program your computer?

What kind of jaw-dropping, paradigm-quaking miracle would spring out of the mud, find science and technology, industry and physics, communications superhighways and knowledge warehouses at the ends of high-speed trails, and all the rest – in many cases at its disposal or within reach of it – and then decide that the best thing for this miracle of the universe to do would be to return to the mud? I can’t tell you how disappointing it is to realize that many of our fellow human beings still think that. It’s also hard to understand exactly how they could think that in a world that emphasizes the value in good, positive critical thinking. They know better than that.

Accepting death is in fact choosing it. In the face of recent discoveries and progress in science, medicine, technology – it is a matter of choice.

Some people will smugly respond with the assertion that quality is obviously better than quantity. They say that acquiring more happiness now in exchange for taking away their chance to live for continued decades and centuries, is not irresponsible and wrong.

To them we say, our ancestors toiled and struggled through untold and long-lasting hardships to deliver their progeny, you, here to where you are so you can have the opportunities and the ever-brighter futures the generations of your ancestors hoped for, worked for, and achieved. You and your opportunities are their achievement, and I urge you to keep in mind thoughts of not wanting to let them down. You don’t live it up now and then throw away the chance your ancestors gave you. Your job is to survive first, and build empires later. You accept the tough times so that you may continue to earn opportunities to work to build more and more goodness into your life – be that through the completion of more dreams, the building up of more enterprises, the satiation of more curiosity, the fulfillment of more adventure, etc. The tough times help you to savor the good times more. When the ship is on choppy seas and might go down, you hold on tight and work twice as hard. Our ancestors didn’t raise us to throw in the towel. As far as I have ever seen, modern-day Homo sapiens did not evolve with a gene for quitting.

You are set for all the challenges that fighting for life brings. Let’s repeat it – death really is the easy way out. You fall asleep; you get a bullet; cancer kills you; some choose suicide; some accept aging and its effects as an inexorable given. The hard truth here that we should be prepared to acknowledge is: accepting death is the true cowardice, no matter the circumstances. Fighting it and choosing life is the true courage.

Critics of indefinite life extension, don’t put on a snide, condescending face and tell me that you aren’t afraid of death, because you are, too.

By your own knee-jerk flippancy, reactionary admission, you are also afraid of life. You’re afraid of death, and you’re afraid of life. You say, right to us, all the time, that you don’t want to bear to deal with the drastic changes, you don’t want to live without all your friends and family around, you don’t want to live with war still being a reality anywhere. You can’t stand all the jerks and the dangerous people, and rich people, or tyrants, controlling you for one decade longer than a traditional lifespan. The thought of it makes you want to jump into your grave right now to get away from this big, bad, scary life.

You, my friend, are afraid of life. Living scares you. You think of life and you cower. You see the challenges of life and you’re too scared to face them. You wouldn’t dare form and join teams and initiatives to meet those challenges on the intellectual combat fields of dialectics and action. You don’t have what it takes. Life isn’t for you. It’s not your thing. So love your death, fear your life. Do that if that’s what you want.

I am afraid of death. It scares me to think of losing my life. I value my life. I have no shame in that. That is the reasonable thing to do. What I have shame for is that anybody would think that being afraid of death might possibly be something to mock.

You mock us for being afraid of death. We are afraid of death; it’s a logical and positive thing to be afraid in the face of it. It reminds a person to take action against danger. It’s your being afraid of life that is to be mocked. So stand up and tell us how afraid you are of living. We promise not to look upon you with too much shame, and we promise to lend you a hand if you need help crossing over to the land of reason.

We once thought the Earth was flat or that all planets revolved around Earth. Many people who have threatened to disrupt tradition and the ways things have been at given times in the world’s history, have faced persecution and shunning for their discoveries. The life of helping move the world forward was hard because the work didn’t often ride forward in a parade of activism and public cheer and action. It would ride forward one hard-fought campaign at a time, one shovel-full at a time, at the hands of small groups of dedicated people working hard to ring the bell of freedom at each new level as humanity continued to expand out into the big picture of the universe and existence. They kept their minds fine-tuned and well-oiled with awareness and focus on what it means to be alive, gathered information, moved humanity forward in various ways, and proved the huge number of skeptics wrong. Life must have felt like hell for them, but they held on and won.

They chose to be courageous in their LIVES. Are you ready to open your mind and face some difficulties in the struggle for life? Would you rather fall asleep and miss out on miracles or stay wide awake and live them?

Eric Schulke was a director at LongeCity during 2009-2013. He has also been an activist with the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension and other causes for over 13 years.

Wioletta Karkucińska is an author and longevity activist in Warsaw, Poland.

Cryptocurrencies as a Single Pool of Wealth – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Cryptocurrencies as a Single Pool of Wealth – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Mr. Stolyarov offers economic thoughts as to the purchasing power of decentralized electronic currencies, such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Dogecoin.

When considering the real purchasing power of the new cryptocurrencies, we should be looking not at Bitcoin in isolation, but at the combined pool of all cryptocurrencies in existence. In a world of many cryptocurrencies and the possibility of the creation of new cryptocurrencies, a single Bitcoin will purchase less than it could have purchased in a world where Bitcoin was the only possible cryptocurrency.

References

– “Cryptocurrencies as a Single Pool of Wealth: Thoughts on the Purchasing Power of Decentralized Electronic Money” – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

– Donations to Mr. Stolyarov via The Rational Argumentator:
Bitcoin – 1J2W6fK4oSgd6s1jYr2qv5WL8rtXpGRXfP
Dogecoin – DCgcDZnTAhoPPkTtNGNrWwwxZ9t5etZqUs

– “2013: Year Of The Bitcoin” – Kitco News – Forbes Magazine – December 10, 2013
– “Bitcoin” – Wikipedia
– “Litecoin” – Wikipedia
– “Namecoin” – Wikipedia
– “Peercoin” – Wikipedia
– “Dogecoin” – Wikipedia
– “Tulip mania” – Wikipedia
– “Moore’s Law” – Wikipedia

The Theory of Money and Credit (1912) – Ludwig von Mises

The Rational Argumentator Now Accepts Dogecoin Donations

The Rational Argumentator Now Accepts Dogecoin Donations

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
January 20, 2014
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I am pleased to announce that, in addition to accepting Bitcoin donations, The Rational Argumentator now also accepts donations in Dogecoin, the world’s first meme-based cryptocurrency. This broadening of donation options is motivated by the desire to encourage the further evolution of decentralized media of exchange, and also by the fact that Dogecoin is presently easier to mine than Bitcoin, thereby facilitating easier entry into the cryptocurrency arena for those who wish to mine rather than purchase cryptocurrencies. Besides, as I pointed out in my recent and fast-spreading article, “Cryptocurrencies as a Single Pool of Wealth”, the purchasing power of Bitcoin and all other similar cryptocurrencies is closely connected, as long as there is free exchange among the cryptocurrencies.

You can donate using the code on the sidebar widget. Here are the donation codes for both Bitcoin and Dogecoin, for your convenience.

Bitcoin: 1J2W6fK4oSgd6s1jYr2qv5WL8rtXpGRXfP

Dogecoin: DCgcDZnTAhoPPkTtNGNrWwwxZ9t5etZqUs

Much cryptocurrency of either kind will be appreciated.

Dogecoin_logo

Cryptocurrencies as a Single Pool of Wealth: Thoughts on the Purchasing Power of Decentralized Electronic Money – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Cryptocurrencies as a Single Pool of Wealth: Thoughts on the Purchasing Power of Decentralized Electronic Money – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
January 12, 2014
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The recent meteoric rise in the dollar price of Bitcoin – from around $12 at the beginning of 2013 to several peaks above $1000 at the end – has brought widespread attention to the prospects for and future of cryptocurrencies. I have no material stake in Bitcoin (although I do accept donations), and this article will not attempt to predict whether the current price of Bitcoin signifies mostly lasting value or a bubble akin to the Dutch tulip mania of the 1630s. Instead of speculation about any particular price level, I hope here to establish a principle pertaining to the purchasing power of cryptocurrencies in general, since Bitcoin is no longer the only one.

Although Bitcoin, developed in 2009 by the pseudonymous Satoshi Namakoto, has the distinction and advantage of having been the first cryptocurrency to gain widespread adoption, others, such as Litecoin (2011), Namecoin (2011), Peercoin (2012), and even Dogecoin (2013) – the first cryptocurrency based on an Internet meme – have followed suit. Many of these cryptocurrencies’ fundamental elements are similar. Litecoin’s algorithm is nearly identical to Bitcoin (with the major difference being the fourfold increase in the rate of block processing and transaction confirmation), and the Dogecoin algorithm is the same as that of Litecoin. The premise behind each cryptocurrency is a built-in deflation; the rate of production slows with time, and only 21 million Bitcoins could ever be “mined” electronically. The limit for the total pool of Litecoins is 84 million, whereas the total Dogecoins in circulation will approach an asymptote of 100 billion.

Bitcoin-coins Namecoin_Coin Dogecoin_logoLitecoin_Logo

The deflationary mechanism of each cryptocurrency is admirable; it is an attempt to preserve real purchasing power. With fiat paper money printed by an out-of-control central bank, an increase in the number and denomination of papers (or their electronic equivalents) circulating in the economy will not increase material prosperity or the abundance of real goods; it will only raise the prices of goods in terms of fiat-money quantities. Ludwig von Mises, in his 1912 Theory of Money and Credit, outlined the redistributive effects  of inflation; those who get the new money first (typically politically connected cronies and the institutions they control) will gain in real purchasing power, while those to whom the new money spreads last will lose. Cryptocurrencies are independent of any central issuer (although different organizations administer the technical protocols of each cryptocurrency) and so are not vulnerable to such redistributive inflationary pressures induced by political considerations. This is the principal advantage of cryptocurrencies over any fiat currency issued by a governmental or quasi-governmental central bank. Moreover, the real expenditure of resources (computer hardware and electricity) for mining cryptocurrencies provides a built-in scarcity that further restricts the possibility of inflation.

Yet there is another element to consider. Virtually any major cryptocurrency can be exchanged freely for any other (with some inevitable but minor transaction costs and spreads) as well as for national fiat currencies (with higher transaction costs in both time and money). For instance, on January 12, 2014, one Bitcoin could trade for approximately $850, while one Litecoin could trade for approximately $25, implying an exchange rate of 34 Litecoins per Bitcoin. Due to the similarity in the technical specifications of each cryptocurrency (similar algorithms, similar built-in scarcity, ability to be mined by the same computer hardware, and similar decentralized, distributed generation), any cryptocurrency could theoretically serve an identical function to any other. (The one caveat to this principle is that any future cryptocurrency algorithm that offers increased security from theft could crowd out the others if enough market participants come to recognize it as offering more reliable protection against hackers and fraudsters than the current Bitcoin algorithm and Bitcoin-oriented services do.)  Moreover, any individual or organization with sufficient resources and determination could initiate a new cryptocurrency, much as Billy Markus initiated Dogecoin in part with the intent to provide an amusing reaction to the Bitcoin price crash in early December 2013.

This free entry into the cryptocurrency-creation market, combined with the essential similarity of all cryptocurrencies to date and the ability to readily exchange any one for any other, suggests that we should not be considering the purchasing power of Bitcoin in isolation. Rather, we should view all cryptocurrencies combined as a single pool of wealth. The total purchasing power of this pool of cryptocurrencies in general would depend on a multitude of real factors, including the demand among the general public for an alternative to governmental fiat currencies and the ease with which cryptocurrencies facilitate otherwise cumbersome or infeasible financial transactions. In other words, the properties of cryptocurrencies as stores of value and media of exchange would ultimately determine how much they could purchase, and the activities of arbitrageurs among the cryptocurrencies would tend to produce exchange rates that mirror the relative volumes of each cryptocurrency in existence. For instance, if we make the simplifying assumption that the functional properties of Bitcoin and Litecoin are identical for the practical purposes of users, then the exchange rate between Bitcoins and Litecoins should asymptotically approach 1 Bitcoin to 4 Litecoins, since this will be the ultimate ratio of the number of units of these cryptocurrencies. Of course, at any given time, the true ratio will vary, because each cryptocurrency was initiated at a different time, each has a different amount of computer hardware devoted to mining it, and none has come close to approaching its asymptotic volume.

 What implication does this insight have for the purchasing power of Bitcoin? In a world of many cryptocurrencies and the possibility of the creation of new cryptocurrencies, a single Bitcoin will purchase less than it could have purchased in a world where Bitcoin was the only possible cryptocurrency.  The degree of this effect depends on how many cryptocurrencies are in existence. This, in turn, depends on how many new cryptocurrency models or creative tweaks to existing cryptocurrency models are originated – since it is reasonable to posit that users will have little motive to switch from a more established cryptocurrency to a completely identical but less established cryptocurrency, all other things being equal. If new cryptocurrencies are originated with greater rapidity than the increase in the real purchasing power of cryptocurrencies in total, inflation may become a problem in the cryptocurrency world. The real bulwark against cryptocurrency inflation, then, is not the theoretical upper limit on any particular cryptocurrency’s volume, but rather the practical limitations on the amount of hardware that can be devoted to mining all cryptocurrencies combined. Will the scarcity of mining effort, in spite of future exponential advances in computer processing power in accordance with Moore’s Law, sufficiently restrain the inflationary pressures arising from human creativity in the cryptocurrency arena? Only time will tell.

Evolution Has No Moral Value; Life Extension Does – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Evolution Has No Moral Value; Life Extension Does – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Mr. Stolyarov responds to two statements by Michael Garfield and makes the case that evolution should not be pursued as a moral goal in itself; rather, the survival and increased longevity of every individual should be pursued, since our rationality, technology, and moral compass allow us to transcend the cruelty of primeval natural selection.

Mr. Stolyarov also refutes the allegation that older people somehow necessarily become resigned to or accepting of their own death. He presents counterexamples of individuals who lived past the age of 80 and who wished to continue living indefinitely.

See Benjamin Franklin’s thoughts on scientific progress and life extension: “The rapid progress true science now makes occasions my regretting sometimes that I was born too soon. It is impossible to imagine the height to which may be carried, in a thousand years, the power of man over matter. We may, perhaps, deprive large masses of their gravity, and give them absolute levity, for the sake of easy transport. Agriculture may diminish its labor and double its produce: all diseases may by sure means be prevented or cured (not excepting even that of old age,) and our lives lengthened at pleasure, even beyond the antediluvian standard. Oh that moral science were in as fair a way of improvement, that men would cease to be wolves to one another, and that human beings would at length learn what they now improperly call humanity.”

References
– “Life as the Origin and Basis of Morality” – Video Series by G. Stolyarov II – Part 1 and Part 2
– “Eliminating Death – Part 1 – Death as Waste” – Video by G. Stolyarov II
– “World’s Oldest Man Wants To Live Forever” – WayOdd
– “Robert Ettinger” – Wikipedia

Paradoxes, Not Contradictions – Post by G. Stolyarov II

Paradoxes, Not Contradictions – Post by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
September 10, 2013
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I am personally fond of Ayn Rand’s identification of certain matters as “paradoxes, but not contradictions”. In my view, contradictions do not exist in reality, though there may be elements that are difficult to reconcile mentally because of incomplete information or preliminary errors in one’s perception of existence.

A paradox arises when a person’s initial intuitions do not appear to hold. This means that either the initial intuitions are wrong, or one’s information is incomplete. For instance, the famous “water-diamond paradox” of Classical economics was an inability to explain why the price of water, which is essential for life, was so much lower than the price of diamonds, which, at the time, only had uses in jewelry and decoration. The 1871 Marginalist Revolution (a development independently arrived at by Carl Menger, Leon Walras, and William Stanley Jevons) resolved the paradox by explaining a key fact about human valuation that the Classical economists had missed – namely, that a person does not evaluate the entire stock of a given good, but only considers particular quantities of goods at the margin. So the paradox was resolved in an entirely rational, non-contradictory manner, by demonstrating that the abundance of water has enabled its life-sustaining uses to be fulfilled for most individuals, while the relative scarcity of diamonds means that, for most consumers, any diamond they obtain would be put to the highest-valued purpose they would find for a diamond.
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I see the progress of human civilization as, in part, consisting of the increasing resolution of paradoxes. While, of course, it is possible that new paradoxes would arise as the old ones are resolved, these paradoxes arise on the boundaries of the new intellectual territory that is yet to be fathomed and incorporated into the domain of human mastery. Paradoxes, mysteries, and unresolved questions occur on the outermost edges of human advancement at any given time. As the edges expand, old mysteries and paradoxes are solved and new ones may arise in territory that was previously completely unexplored. In this sense, encountering a paradox can be seen as a challenge – a call to resolve the quandary and thereby score gains for human progress. As a meliorist who sees no limits to the potential of human reason and technology, I think that all questions are ultimately answerable and all paradoxes are solvable, given enough time, effort, and proper means. Sometimes the resolution of a paradox requires highly creative, unorthodox, and unprecedented thinking – which must transcend conventional dichotomies and posited antagonisms in order to arrive at a new understanding.

Responses to an Inquiry on Ethics, Human Purpose, and the Future of Humanity – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Responses to an Inquiry on Ethics, Human Purpose, and the Future of Humanity – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
September 5, 2013
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A recent philosophical exchange with reader Elu Sive on TRA’s “About Mr. Stolyarov” page was sufficiently interesting and constructive that I have decided to post it here for a general audience. Elu Sive raised ten points of view and requested my feedback, which I subsequently provided. Here, I will cite each of the points and my response.

Elu Sive Point 1: “There is an objective reality.”

My Response: I agree in full.

Elu Sive Point 2: “The purpose of democracy is mainly a means of fighting corruption and promoting the interests of the people as opposed to those in power. It is not a valid method to select the correct answer among alternatives and should never be used as such.”

My Response: I agree. The will of the majority does not determine truth, nor does it necessarily coincide with good policy. Moreover, most decisions should be left up to individuals to implement, so long as such implementation can be done non-coercively. Democracy is only useful in the highly limited context where conflicts of preference are unavoidable and necessarily involve some people’s preferences being overridden. For instance, if only one person can be the neighborhood sheriff, then it makes sense to put the issue to a majority vote. However, even then, the powers of the neighborhood sheriff should be highly limited to the protection of individual rights, and not their violation.

Elu Sive Point 3: “Science is the best method we have for evaluating what is true and not.”

My Response: I agree, especially when science is defined broadly to include logic and mathematics. More generally, rational inquiry based on real-world observation and logical deduction therefrom is the best method we have for evaluating what is true and not.

Elu Sive Point 4: “Our human existence is only meaningful in our social contexts, to our selves and to future generations (our existence is not meaningful in universal or spiritual fashion).”

My Response: Here I disagree. Our existence is meaningful per se and as the antecedent to all meaning and value. My video series “Life as the Basis of Morality” (see Part 1 and Part 2) explains my reasoning. I agree with Ayn Rand’s statement: “I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction.”

Elu Sive Point 5: “We should place a greater emphasis on our social context and future generations than on our selves. We should favor altruism over self-reliance.”

My Response: Here I also disagree. While I advocate considering the future and taking a longer-term view of one’s actions, as well as considering one’s impact on the world and on others, all of this should be done to promote one’s own enlightened, rational self-interest, particularly in the continuation of one’s own life and flourishing. Each individual is, by nature, best suited to promote his own well-being. In promoting his own well-being, the individual should be concerned about the well-being of others and should seek ways to exchange values with others to promote mutual flourishing. Complete autarky is impossible and undesirable; we can gain great values and improve our lives tremendously by interacting with others. However, each individual’s moral self-reliance – in the sense of thinking for oneself, acting out of one’s own initiative, and valuing one’s own productive work and independence from subjugation to the arbitrary dictates of others – is paramount for creating a world where human flourishing is maximized to the extent possible.

Elu Sive Point 6: “What classifies as common good depends on circumstances and must be continuously re-evaluated.”

My Response: What is good for people does depend on the specific context, but it is still rooted in objective requirements of human survival and flourishing. As a simple example, there are some items that can give our bodies energy if we consume them, while there are others that would poison us. The objective requirements of human survival and flourishing depend on the laws of nature, which are universally valid, though their applicability will differ based on the context. The correct answer in a given situation is like the correct choice of tool for constructing a building; it depends on what part you are working on, with what materials, in what setting, and for what goal (in terms of the values you are trying to realize). Multiple answers will be good enough for a particular problem, but some answers are clearly superior to others in achieving human survival and flourishing. That being said, it is important to continually use one’s rational faculty to evaluate the soundness of possible approaches on a case-by-case basis.

Elu Sive Point 7: “Our social context is only meaningful in the long-term context of supporting and improving human civilization, or a possible post-human civilization.”

My Response: I agree with the goal of improving human and possibly post-human civilization (though I prefer the term “transhuman”, since I think that technological transformations will amplify and supplement our humanity, enabling us to transcend existing limitations, rather than take our humanity away). I think that human societal interactions can serve multiple valuable purposes both in the immediate term and in the long term. In the immediate term, it is certainly good that grocery stores exist in one’s vicinity to enable one to obtain food and other conveniences. The shorter-term interactions, as long as they are compatible with long-term perspectives and values, can certainly be of value as well.

Elu Sive Point 8: “The defining character of our age as judged by future civilization will be: short-shortsightedness and extreme individualism.”

My Response: I agree that there is considerable short-sightedness in our era, though it is probably less than in previous eras, when the average human lifespan was several times shorter than today. The extreme individualism, though, is not a phenomenon that I observe. I see all too many people bound by thoughtless traditions and norms, while refusing to think about matters on principle (instead of being attached to the concrete institutions and thought patterns that are fed to them by “opinion leaders” and the surrounding culture). The true individualist, who takes charge of his own life and is willing to engage in innovative thinking which transforms the world, is quite rare still. If asked to characterize our era, I would describe it as a time when the knowledge to solve many of the world’s problems is already available and accessible, but the willpower to solve these problems and overcome the constraints of obsolete institutions is lacking. I also see our era as characterized by a race between accelerating technological progress and increasingly outrageous authoritarian intervention.

Elu Sive Point 9: “We should practice future-oriented altruism: just as we care for others in our immediate vicinity in order to create a better life for everyone, we should care for our [descendants] as predecessors have, or we wish them to have had.”

My Response: I agree that we should look forward into the future and consider how life would be then, and how our current actions would affect future living conditions. I do not think that our focus should solely be on future beings, though. I hope to personally see a better future, and to structure my actions to maximize my chances. I am, though, happy to have been born into a world where the many generations of humans before me have already created an infrastructure of knowledge and capital to enable a relatively comfortable way of life. The great challenge of our time is to secure our lives against the still-omnipresent forces of ruin, death, and decay.

Elu Sive Point 10: “We should aim to replace humanity with post-human beings, remedied from most of the flaws that plague the human psyche and physiology today and in the past.”

My Response: I agree with remedying existing human flaws and transcending human limitations, with the important caveat that I consider such actions to be consistent with and to amplify humanity. Importantly, I think that we ourselves should be the beneficiaries of these improvements, through new medical treatments and augmentations (especially radical life extension), as well as the eventual integration of biological and non-biological components.

Longevity’s Bottleneck May Be Funding, But Funding’s Bottleneck is Advocacy – Article by Franco Cortese

Longevity’s Bottleneck May Be Funding, But Funding’s Bottleneck is Advocacy – Article by Franco Cortese

The New Renaissance Hat
Franco Cortese
August 21, 2013
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When asked what the biggest bottleneck for Radical or Indefinite Longevity is, most thinkers say funding. Some say the biggest bottleneck is breakthroughs and others say it’s our way of approaching the problem (i.e., that many are seeking healthy life extension, a.k.a. “aging gracefully”, instead of more comprehensive methods of indefinite life extension), but the majority seem to feel that what is really needed is adequate funding to plug away at developing and experimentally verifying the various, sometimes mutually exclusive technologies and methodologies that have already been proposed. I claim that Radical Longevity’s biggest bottleneck is not funding, but advocacy.
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This is because the final objective of increased funding for Radical Longevity and Life Extension research can be more effectively and efficiently achieved through public advocacy for Radical Life Extension than it can by direct funding or direct research, per unit of time or effort. Research and development obviously still need to be done, but an increase in researchers needs an increase in funding, and an increase in funding needs an increase in the public perception of RLE’s feasibility and desirability.
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There is no definitive timespan that it will take to achieve indefinitely extended life. How long it takes to achieve Radical Longevity is determined by how hard we work at it and how much effort we put into it. More effort means that it will be achieved sooner. And by and large, an increase in effort can be best achieved by an increase in funding, and an increase in funding can be best achieved by an increase in public advocacy. You will likely accelerate the development of Indefinitely Extended Life, per unit of time or effort, by advocating the desirability, ethicality, and technical feasibility of longer life than you will by doing direct research, or by working towards the objective of directly contributing funds to RLE projects and research initiatives.

In order to get funding, we need to demonstrate with explicit clarity just how much we want it, and that we can do so while minimizing potentially negative societal repercussions like overpopulation. We must do our best to vehemently invalidate the Deathist clichés that promulgate the sentiment that Life Extension is dangerous or unethical. It needn’t be either, nor is it necessarily likely to be either.

Some think that spending one’s time deliberating the potential issues that could result from greatly increased lifespans and the ways in which we could mitigate or negate them won’t make a difference until greatly increased lifespans are actually achieved. I disagree. While any potentially negative repercussions of RLE (like overpopulation) aren’t going to happen until RLE is achieved, offering solution paradigms and ways in which we could negate or mitigate such negative repercussions decreases the time we have to wait for it by increasing the degree with which the wider public feels it to be desirable, and that it can very well be done safely and ethically. Those who are against radical life extension are against it either because they think it is infeasible (in which case being “against” it may be too strong a descriptor) or because they have qualms relating to its ethicality or its safety. More people openly advocating against it would mean a higher public perception of its undesirability. Whether RLE is eventually achieved via private industry or via government-subsidized research initiatives, we need to create the public perception that it is widely desired before either government or industry will take notice.

The sentiment that that the best thing we can do is simply live healthily and wait until progress is made seems to be fairly common as well. People have the feeling that researchers are working on it, that it will happen if it can happen, and that waiting until progress is made is the best course to take. Such lethargy will not help Radical Longevity in any way. How long we have to wait for RLE is a function of how much effort we put into it. And in this article I argue that how much funding and attention RLE receives is by and large a function of how widespread the public perception of its feasibility and desirability is.

This isn’t simply about our individual desire to live longer. It might be easier to hold the sentiment that we should just wait it out until it happens if we only consider its impact on the scale of our own individual lives. Such a sentiment may also be aided by the view that greatly longer lives would be a mere advantage, nice but unnecessary. I don’t think this is the case. I argue that the technological eradication of involuntary death is a moral imperative if there ever was one. If how long we have to wait until RLE is achieved depends on how vehemently we demand it and on how hard we work to create the public perception that longer life is widely longed-for, then to what extent are 100,000 lives lost potentially needlessly every day while we wait on our hands? One million people will die a wasteful and involuntary death in the next 10 days: one million real lives. This puts the Deathist charges of inethicality in a ghostly new light. If advocating the desirability, feasibility, and radical ethicality of RLE can hasten its implementation by even a mere 10 days, then one million lives that would have otherwise been lost will have been saved by the efforts of RLE advocates, researchers and fiscal supporters. Seen in this way, working toward RLE may very well be the most ethical and humanitarian way you could spend your time, in terms of the number of lives saved and/or the amount of suffering prevented.

This is a contemporary problem that we can have a direct impact on. People intuitively assume that we won’t achieve indefinitely extended life until far in the future. This makes them conflate any lives saved by indefinitely extended lifespans with lives yet to come into existence. This makes them see involuntary death as a problem of the future, rather than a problem of today. But more people than I’ve ever known will die tomorrow, from causes that are physically possible to obviate and ameliorate – indeed, from causes that we have potential and conceptual solutions for today.
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I have attempted to show in this article that advocating RLE should be considered as “working toward it” to as great an extent as directly funding it or performing direct research on it is considered as “working toward it”. Advocacy has greater potential to increase its widespread desirability than direct work or funding does, and increasing both its desirability and the public perception of its desirability has more potential to generate increased funding and research-attention for RLE than direct funding or research does. Advocacy thus has the potential to contribute to the arrival of RLE and hasten its implementation just as much, if not more so (as I have attempted to argue in this article), than practical research or direct funding does. This should motivate people to help create the momentous momentum we need to really get the ball rolling. To be an RLE advocate is to be an RLE worker. Involuntary death from age-associated, physically remediable causes is the largest source of death, destruction, and suffering today.  Don’t you want to help prevent the most widespread source of death and of suffering in existence today?  Don’t you want to help mitigate the most pressing moral concern not only of today, but of the entirety of human history – namely physically remediable involuntary death?

Then advocate the technological eradication of involuntary death. Advocate the technical feasibility, extreme desirability, and blatant ethicality of indefinitely extending life. Death is a cataclysm. We need not sanctify the seemingly inevitable any longer. We need not tell ourselves that death is somehow a good thing, or something we can do nothing about, in order to live with the “fact” of it any longer. Soon it won’t be fact of life. Soon it will be artifact of history. Life may not be ipso facto valuable according to some philosophies of value – but life is a necessary precondition for any sort of value whatsoever. Death is dumb, dummy! An incontrovertible waste convertible into nothing! A negative-sum blight! So if you want to contribute to the problems of today, if you want to help your fellow man today, then stand proud and shout loud, “Doom to Arbitrary Duty and Death to  Arbitrary Death!” at every crowd cowed by the seeming necessity of death.

Franco Cortese is an editor for Transhumanity.net, as well as one of its most frequent contributors.  He has also published articles and essays on Immortal Life and The Rational Argumentator. He contributed 4 essays and 7 debate responses to the digital anthology Human Destiny is to Eliminate Death: Essays, Rants and Arguments About Immortality.

Franco is an Advisor for Lifeboat Foundation (on its Futurists Board and its Life Extension Board) and contributes regularly to its blog.