Thursday, June 24, 2021

Low Interest in X is not Necessarily a Desire for -X


That may not seem like something I need to point out, but it's actually been at the back of my mind for weeks, beginning with a Facebook invitation to a group titled something along the lines of "Favorite Excuses for Wanting to Die."

Finding that invitation ... well, disturbing if not intriguing ... I went to have a look at the group. It was basically a collection point of "excuses" people interested in life extension hear from people who aren't really interested in it.

Now, to be clear, I'm not completely un-interested in life extension. I don't consider it a bad thing. I'm even willing to take minimal, convenient, low-time-consumption measures toward it if I happen to notice them and they aren't completely off-axis to how I otherwise choose to live.

I know some people who spend, or have obviously spent, a lot of time thinking about life extension, researching life extension, and modifying their lifestyles in ways they expect (or at least hope) to result in longer lifespan. And that's absolutely fine. I wish them well. I hope what they do works, both for them and for others who notice that it works and adopt it.

For me, it's a matter of (very roughly) expected investment versus expected benefit.

Let's look at a couple of extreme possibilities.

One is that I spend 20 minutes researching the subject and discover that I can easily and cheaply extend my life indefinitely.

The other is that I can spend 16 hours a day, for 20 years, researching the subject and die well before average lifespan anyway.

Obviously, I'd take the first deal if it was a sure thing. Obviously, I'd reject the second deal if that one was a sure thing.

Neither is a sure thing. The latter strikes me as a lot closer to a sure thing than the former, but it isn't one either. The likelihoods are mostly somewhere toward the latter end.

I don't spend a lot of time researching and attempting to implement life extension for the same reasons I don't spend a lot of time researching and attempting to implement quantum computing.

One of those reasons is that while I find quantum computing mildly interesting, it's not something I find so interesting that I'd rather be doing that than, say, reading a good novel or attending a good concert or any of a bazillion other things.

Another is that I know that a lot of people who are a lot more interested in quantum computing than me are working on the problem, and that there's a greater likelihood that they'll deliver a consumer-priced quantum computer (or some particular benefits of quantum computing that I can use) than that I would do so even if I committed myself fully to the project.

It's my opinion that if significant life extension is achievable in the near term, there's a much better likelihood that someone else will develop a pill I can buy in bulk at Sam's Club, or a shot I can get at my doctor's office, or even a somewhat inconvenient but not terribly painful life extension method that's openly available to me, than that I would develop any of those things myself.

And I'm happy to let them do that while I do the things I'm more interested in. If they succeed, I benefit. If they don't, well, what was going to happen anyway happens anyway.

I don't particularly want to die, although I expect I probably will at some point. What I want is to live the way I like living until I do die, instead of spending a lot of time trying not to


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