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FAQ About Aging

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This FAQ is designed to answer frequently asked questions about aging.

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The Problem of Aging

What does it mean to "defeat aging?"
To "defeat aging" means giving people the choice of avoiding suffering from and dying of aging through the use of medical technology.
Why should aging be defeated?
Aging should be defeated, because it inflicts the most suffering and death compared to all other causes combined. Learn more at the "Aging: Humanity's Biggest Problem" page.

The Aging Process

What causes aging?
Aging is caused by the accumulation of damage in the human body which eventually leads to age-related disease and ultimately death. Learn more at the "Aging and How to Defeat It" page.
How can aging be defeated?
Medical therapies designed to repair the damage caused by aging should be able to maintain the body in a youthful and healthy state indefinitely. Learn more at the "Aging and How to Defeat It" page.
What kind of damage accumulates in the body during aging?
Aging damage can be classified into the following seven major categories: cell loss, mutations in the cell's nucleus, mutations in the cell's mitochondria, death-resistant cells, tissue stiffening, junk outside cells, and junk inside cells. Learn more at the "Aging and How to Defeat It" page.
What about other aging damage such as shortened telomeres and DNA mutations in the cell's nucleus (the kind that does not lead to cancer)?
It is controversial whether this kind of damage significantly contributes to age-related disease. If this turns out to be true, this kind of damage will need to be repaired as well. Learn more at the "Aging and How to Defeat It" page.

Concerns About Defeating Aging

Won't the defeat of aging produce even bigger problems than it would solve?
Concerns about the effects of defeating aging are legitimate but do not outweigh the merits of saving so many lives and alleviating so much suffering—especially given the fact that there are foreseeable solutions for each of these concerns. Besides the short solutions offered below, more detailed explanations regarding most of these concerns are available on the following pages:

Societal Concerns

Wouldn't overpopulation become much worse?
Even if everyone stopped dying of aging today, the population would not double soon. Since people would still be born at the same rate they are now, it would take at least a generation for overpopulation to become much worse. In that time, people might adapt to longer lifespans by having fewer children. However, if the rate of procreation does not automatically adjust enough to prevent runaway population growth, then as population increases, there will be growing pressure on society to deal with the problem. Society could adopt policies that encourage its citizens to have on average one child per family.
Wouldn't only the rich benefit?
There are several possibilities for a broad and fair distribution of the therapies that would defeat aging. As with many new technologies, the rich may benefit first, but the rest of society will eventually gain the same benefits. Alternatively, society might choose to subsidize these therapies just as it subsidizes public education because of the enormous advantages that society would gain in adopting therapies that defeat aging as quickly as possible (such as saving trillions of dollars per year for health care provided in the last year of aging victims' lives).
Since people will become very old, wouldn't cultural evolution stagnate resulting in much less innovation?
Since older people would be just as healthy as younger people and would also have much more experience to draw upon, older people might actually become even more creative and innovative than younger people.
If old people will not die of aging, wouldn't they bankrupt the health care and pension systems?
Since older people would be just as healthy as younger people, there would be no need for a pension system, and health care costs would be the same for the old as for the young.
Wouldn't dictators live forever?
Other methods of "regime change" exist such as assassination, coup d'état, invasion, and the spread of democracy. Almost all dictatorships do not end due to the natural death of the dictator anyway; there is always a new dictator waiting to take over.

Priority Concerns

Aren't there more urgent problems facing the world like environmental degradation, poverty, starvation, and violence?
While the world has many problems worthy of attention, the problem of aging must take priority because it causes the most suffering and death of all other causes combined.
Shouldn't we become better people first?
What better way to become better people than to eliminate the biggest source of suffering and death? Also, with so much life at stake after the defeat of aging, it is likely that people would become much more motivated to reduce risks from longer-term threats such as environmental degradation and violence.

Medical Concerns

If people lived significantly longer lives, wouldn't they just suffer from more disease, decrepitude, and dementia?
Since older people would be just as healthy as younger people, they would not suffer from chronic health problems no matter how long they would live.
Shouldn't we focus on the quality of life rather than on the length of life?
Since defeating aging would make older people just as healthy as younger people, longer lives would be a welcome side effect.
Even with a youthful body, wouldn't the brain still age?
The defeat of aging would rejuvenate the brain as well as the rest of the body.

Personal Concerns

Isn't it true that we would not afford to retire and would have to work all of the time?
Some people might choose to work all of their lives, but others would be able to retire either permanently or semi-permanently by living off savings and investments just as some do today.
With so much time available, wouldn't we lack the motivation to excel?
Since people will have much more time to excel, it is likely that they will do more than they can do now rather than less.
With so much more life at stake, wouldn't we avoid everything that is fun but risky?
Instead of avoiding fun but risky activities, people might significantly reduce or eliminate their risks just as they continue to reduce the risk of dying in car accidents today.
Wouldn't living for too long become boring?
Since even repetitive activities such as eating good food or engaging in a favorite sport rarely get boring, boredom cannot become a permanent problem, and the normal process of forgetting might also motivate people to engage in activities that they performed before.
Wouldn't we forget so much of our past that we would not be the same people?
Since people forget most of what they experience, there is no reason to think that this would become a much bigger issue with longer lives.
Since I am already old, isn't it true that I do not have any chance of benefiting?
Even if you are too old, defeating aging would benefit the younger members of your family and your younger friends—not to mention the 100,000 people that could be saved if you help bring the defeat of aging closer by even a single day.

Philosophical Concerns

Isn't life already long enough?
Since older people would be just as healthy as younger people, there is no reason to think that they would not want to live longer than they do now. If for some reason some would choose not to live longer, they would be able to make that choice, but they should also have the choice of continuing to live.
Isn't it "playing god" and unnatural to defeat aging?
Since almost everyone that raises this concern "plays god" all the time by inventing and using "unnatural" technology to combat natural diseases and disasters, it is arbitrary to single out the defeat of aging as a special case.
Wouldn't life become meaningless without the stages of life that a person goes through during the aging process?
This is a personal value judgment and would not be an issue anyway since using aging-defeating therapies would be voluntary just as any medical technology that maintains health is today.
Wouldn't we be denying future generations the right to be born?
Since everyone that is not pregnant all of the time denies people that might otherwise exist the "right to be born" every day and no one is worried about this, there is no reason to apply a double standard to the consequences of defeating aging. Hypothetical people do not have a right to exist and should certainly not restrict the right of real people to avoid the suffering and death that aging brings.

Taking Action Against Aging

Why are so many people not interested in doing more to defeat aging?
Few people are interested in defeating aging simply because it has not been possible to do much about aging until recently. Learn more at the "Aging: Humanity's Biggest Problem" page.
How can I take action against aging?
There are many ways to help defeat aging such as donating, volunteering, raising awareness, and in other ways. Learn more at the "Take Action" page.