Debate on radical life extension

One of the Foresight Challenges is “Improving Health and Longevity”, which we take to be a positive goal for nanotechnology and biotech. Not everyone sees it that way, as we find in a recent online debate over at Cato’s online forum called Cato Unbound:

Each month, Cato Unbound will present an essay on a big-picture topic by one of the world’s leading thinkers. The ideas in that essay will then be tested by the comments and criticism of equally eminent thinkers, each of whom will respond to the month’s lead essay and then to one another. The idea is to create a hub for wide-ranging, open-ended conversation, where ideas will be advanced, challenged, and refined in public view.

For the current issue, dated December, “one of the world’s leading thinkers” was Aubrey de Grey, and his lead essay attracted both opposition and support:

Lead Essay
» Old People Are People Too: Why It Is Our Duty to Fight Aging to the Death by Aubrey de Grey

Reaction Essays
» Ageless Mortals by Diana Schaub
» Do We Need Death? by Ronald Bailey
» Nature Knew What It Was Doing by Daniel Callahan

The Conversation
» Long Live the Unreasonable Man by Aubrey de Grey
» Making Death Optional by Ronald Bailey
» Eros and Thanatos by Diana Schaub

Related @ Cato
» Pro-Life [pdf] by David Boaz comments on this debate from the pro-longevity view, and points out that in some cases the differences of opinion reflect a “true clash of fundamental values”, or even “a deep moral chasm between us”. Let’s hope this disagreement doesn’t lead to (yet more) delays in longevity research, whether nanotech or biotech-based. —Christine

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