All answers in short

Sometimes, answering appropriately to objections to rejuvenation or indefinite lifespans requires quite a bit of writing, and I tend to write even more than necessary. Some of you may be content with a short, straight-to-the-point answer, or would like a brief introduction before reading a longer discussion, hence I created this page. You will find all objections to rejuvenation and their answers in brief, accompanied by links to Rejuvenaction‘s as well as LEAF’s full answer. (For those who don’t know, LEAF is the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation.) Some full answers might be unavailable (yet), here or on LEAF, in which case the relevant link will be greyed out. I’ll update the links as soon as new full answers become available. Also, different objections on this list may be dealt with within the same article on LEAF, so don’t be surprised if you end up on a page that was linked to another objection.

contradiction

This icon indicates that an objection is incompatible with another one; i.e., they contradict each other. I think it may be useful to have this information available at a glance, especially for advocacy/debate purposes. (Image credit: Wikipedia user Rugby471.)

Jump to objection:


Ageing has its good sides.

Nope. You’re not thinking of biological ageing; you’re thinking of chronological ageing. The latter is just the passing of time, while the former is a process of degradation of your body that only brings misery and disease. All the good things of old age—such as experience and accomplishment—come from what you’ve done with your life when you still were young and healthy. As time goes by, you may become more experienced, skilled, wise, and you might have done more good things, and this is why older people can be more accomplished than others. This, however, is a possible consequence of chronological ageing, not biological ageing. Being sick doesn’t help much with anything.

Read Rejuvenaction’s full answer leafLEAF’s answer unavailable
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Living longer in a decrepit body would be bad.

It would be for sure! That’s not what rejuvenation is about. Rejuvenation is about your body feeling, looking, and functioning exactly as when you were a young adult, no matter how chronologically old you may be. There is no way to achieve a much longer lifespan than our current one unless we can keep our health state always at youthful levels. So, if you’re a quality-before-quantity person, rest assured: In this case, you can’t have quantity without quality.

Read Rejuvenaction’s full answer leafLEAF’s answer unavailable
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Ageing is natural. Rejuvenation is not.

Not all that is natural is good for you, and not all that is not natural is bad for you. Clothes, flats, computers, vaccines, medicines in general, all not natural, but they’re very good for you and we use them all time. On the other hand, the flu, malaria, cancer, being eaten alive by a shark, an asteroid impact, are as natural as anything can possibly be, but they’re really bad for you and we generally try to avoid them. So, whether or not ageing and rejuvenation are natural doesn’t matter.

Read Rejuvenaction’s full answer leafRead LEAF’s full answer
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Tyrants would live forever.

First: If a country is oppressed by a tyrant, the smart thing to do is not to wait until the tyrant dies of old age; tyrants need to be overthrown. Second: Rejuvenation doesn’t make you immortal. Tyrants wouldn’t get age-related diseases, but they could still be shot in the head. Third: If we didn’t develop rejuvenation, tyrants would be granted to die of old age if not of anything else, but so would every other person on the planet, present and future. Having everyone get sick and die for the sake of ensuring the death of a few rotten apples seems a bit of an overkill.

Read Rejuvenaction’s full answer leafRead LEAF’s full answer
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We wouldn’t be able to pay the pensions.

Quite the opposite. Rejuvenated people would not need pensions in the same way as today, because they’d be always young, biologically speaking, no matter how chronologically old they may be, and so they could work just fine at any age. Perhaps they would need to take a sabbatical of a few years every few decades, but they would not need a pension for the rest of their life after they hit a certain age. With rejuvenation, people can work in a field for say 30 years, then take a leave of only a few years (during which they either get money from the State or live off their own savings), and eventually go back to work and producing wealth, perhaps in a different field if they like, for a few more decades. Repeat. No for-life pensions needed any more.

contradiction

Incompatible with: Only for the rich. If rejuvenation has caused an unsustainable spike in the number of retired people, then it can’t be something only the rich can afford, because there aren’t that many rich people. (This scenario is not realistic, because rejuvenated people don’t need to retire indefinitely.)

Read Rejuvenaction’s full answer leafLEAF’s answer unavailable
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Rejuvenation would cause overpopulation.

The most important thing to notice is that the only way to avoid overpopulation is decreasing birth rates. Anything above the fertility replacement level will cause population to grow, even if we don’t develop rejuvenation. A relatively small (30%) reduction of the birth rates would compensate for the ‘lack’ of age-related deaths.
In terms of space, we have room for plenty more people, and before we really run out of it, it’ll be centuries, at which point we probably won’t be stuck on Earth any more. Moving toward more efficient energy and food production systems and other technologies (fusion, GMOs, lab-grown food, 3D-printing) will allow us to produce more with less, causing smaller environmental impact.
Morally speaking, this objection is unacceptable, because its implication is that the right to life of already existing people is less important than the right to life of potential people who de facto don’t even exist yet.

contradiction

Incompatible with: Only for the rich. If rejuvenation has led to overpopulation, then it can’t be something only the rich can afford, because rich people aren’t enough in number to cause overpopulation through their progeny alone.

Read Rejuvenaction’s full answer leafRead LEAF’s full answer
(See also Lack of resources)
^ Jump back to the objection list ^

The future looks too grim to wish for a longer life.

Actually, if you look at the data, you’ll see that the world has been improving constantly in the past decades—even centuries, in some cases—and in several respects. The trend is positive, and while this doesn’t mean that the world is already perfect or that it certainly will be such, there’s every reason for optimism. However, even if the future was grim, being sick and decrepit would certainly not make it any better. More importantly, what if the world ends up being better than you think? Are you ready to regret the decision not to develop rejuvenation in that case?

Read Rejuvenaction’s full answer leafLEAF’s answer unavailable
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Rejuvenation would change our concept of family.

It would indeed, and for the better. Instead of having sick and fragile grandparents that need looking after, we would have healthy and energetic grandparents that are able to look after themselves and can help out their kids without being a burden. Families wouldn’t be torn apart by death any more (in principle, at least—nobody would be immortal) and would be able to be together for as long as they wish.

Read Rejuvenaction’s full answer leafLEAF’s answer unavailable
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Rejuvenation would cause cultural stagnation.

Open-mindedness can be learnt. Not all old people are stubborn, arrogant naysayers. Fostering change by letting old people suffer and die is inhumane, doesn’t take into account those old people who are more open-minded than many young ones, and neglects the fact that open-mindedness is largely a matter of brain plasticity, which may well be restored back to youthful levels by comprehensive rejuvenation.

contradiction

Incompatible with: Only for the rich. Stagnation might conceivably occur only if there are too many old people, therefore rejuvenation couldn’t be only for the few rich people in existence.

Read Rejuvenaction’s full answer leafRead LEAF’s full answer
^ Jump back to the objection list ^

Rejuvenation would be only for the rich.

All new technologies start off expensive, but they generally become cheaper as the technologies themselves become more refined and easier to implement. Besides, it is reasonably to expect that the State would subsidise wholly or partly people’s rejuvenation, for a simple reason. At the moment, once a person hits retirement age, the State loses tons of money on three fronts: The person’s pension, the wealth the person no longer produces (because they’re not working), and the useless geriatric treatments to help the person cope with their increasingly bad health. However, for each person, the State would have to pay for rejuvenation treatments only once every few decades, putting an end to pointless geriatrics expenses, dramatically reducing (if not eliminating altogether) the need for pensions, and having more people producing wealth for longer—except for a longer holiday here and there, everyoung people are always able to work.

contradiction

Incompatible with: Pensions, Overpopulation, It would be forced on people, Cultural stagnation. If rejuvenation is so expensive that only the rich can afford it, then it won’t influence the pension system. Rich people don’t need a pension, and people who need a pension don’t—in this hypothetical scenario—get rejuvenation. Likewise, if rejuvenation is only for the rich, then it can’t cause overpopulation because the number of rich people isn’t high enough to allow them to overpopulate the world with their progeny. Additionally, rejuvenation can’t be both only for the rich and forced on people who don’t want it. Finally, if rejuvenation is so expensive that only the rich can afford it, there is no way it can produce a sufficiently high number of old farts to cause stagnation.

Read Rejuvenaction’s full answer leafRead LEAF’s full answer
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Older generations should make room for the young.

That’s a nice way of saying that we don’t care for the life of older people as much as we do for younger people’s, which is rather barbaric. Also, are we sure younger generations need room? People who already are here, or are about to be brought into the world, would certainly benefit from the presence of their elderly more than they would from their absence; people who are not even in the making yet are nothing short of imaginary people, so why would they be more important than people who are already alive?

Read Rejuvenaction’s full answer leafLEAF’s answer unavailable
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There are more urgent issues.

The idea that the suffering and death of 100.000 people everyday—and, more generally, of every person who’s ever lived—is not an urgent matter is highly questionable, but assuming for the sake of the argument this is so, nothing prevents us from tackling more than one issue at a time. We don’t need to wait until starvation is eradicated before we start working on world peace, or on a vaccine for HIV. We have sufficient people and resources to work on more than one problem simultaneously, which is what we’ve been doing since day 1. Besides, issues of this magnitude often interact with each other and solving one world problem can and does have a positive effect on the others.

Read Rejuvenaction’s full answer leafLEAF’s answer unavailable
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Rejuvenation would be forced on people.

People have the right to refuse any treatment already today. Besides, if you don’t want rejuvenation to be developed because you’re afraid it would be forced on you, you should take into account that not developing rejuvenation forces ageing onto those who do not want it. Developing rejuvenation allows everyone to choose what they want for themselves.

contradiction

Incompatible with: Only for the rich. Rejuvenation can’t at the same time be forced onto those who don’t want it and be only for a few rich ones.

Read Rejuvenaction’s full answer leafLEAF’s answer unavailable
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Rejuvenation would be too expensive to create.

Rejuvenation would prevent a staggering number of crippling diseases from ever manifesting, while at the moment all people in the world will have to endure, and eventually die of, at least some of them. Whatever the cost of developing rejuvenation is, is irrelevant in the face of the benefits, just like in the case of any other health or planetary crisis.

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Rejuvenation won’t happen within my lifetime.

Maybe not, but you increase your chances of making the cut if you help out in any way you can. If everyone reasoned like that, no one would do anything at all to make rejuvenation happen, and it would indeed never happen. Besides, even if you won’t make it, other people dear to you (and other people in general), such as your children, might make it. Aren’t their lives worth the effort? Also note that this isn’t really an objection to rejuvenation, but rather an excuse to put once again the problem out of your mind.

Read Rejuvenaction’s full answer leafLEAF’s answer unavailable
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I don’t want to live forever.

Don’t worry—you won’t. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you will die at any point. Living forever is technically impossible because at no point in time will you have lived for an infinite amount of time, no matter how long you’ve lived. If at any point you get tired of life and you’re sure that you wish to die, suicide is the safest and most painless option. You understand that not developing rejuvenation because some people don’t want to live for too long is a bit unfair, because it would force to die all those people who do want to live for a very long time. They don’t force you to live longer than you wish, you don’t force them to live a shorter time than they want. Seems fair enough, right?

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Living forever would be boring.

What do you do each time you’re bored? Do you entertain suicide, or do you look for something interesting to do? If you’re afraid that you’ll eventually run out of things to do, you can relax. A few centuries wouldn’t even come close being enough to try all there is to try at the present time, and on top of that, new things are created/discovered all the time. Do you think people who lived in 1600 would be right to think that there’d be nothing new to do in the 21st century?

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Death gives meaning to life.

No, it doesn’t. Things don’t mean anything per se. Meaning only exists when an external observer attributes it to things; your life becomes meaningful when you fill it with things that are meaningful for you (i.e., things to which you give meaning), and whether or not your life is endless is entirely irrelevant. (Except that, when you die, your life ends, so any meaning it may have had is gone with it.) If you’re thinking that you can’t appreciate something without its opposite (e.g., life without death, health without disease, pleasure without pain), does this mean that you need to have had cancer before you can appreciate not having it, and thus we should not prevent cancer?

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If you don’t die, you can’t reach God.

This is a problem only for believers, but it is easily solved. If you believe in an almighty god, then it can take your life whenever it’ll decide the time has come. Rejuvenation is not intended to challenge your god, but it is intended to reduce people’s suffering, which is something deities generally appreciate.

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Living ‘forever’ would cause extreme risk aversion.

This objection has the important implication that, if today we take any risk at all, it is because we know we don’t have but a handful of decades left to live at best. This is not true, because we would hardly take a risk whose payoff was too low and whose chance of happening too high. Would you go downtown for a dinner with friends, if you knew a terrorist attack had just struck your town? Probably not, because you’d be afraid that there might be more attacks, and reasonably so. Your chances of dying or being injured could be quite high. Would you change your mind if you knew you had left to live 20, 40, 60, 80, or infinitely many more years? Again, probably not, because it is simply not a risk worth taking. However, if you knew for a fact that your risk of death was for some reason higher at home than downtown, you’d probably get out, terrorists or not.

Conversely, if you lived in a safe place during peacetime, would you go out for a dinner with your friends? Your risk of death is very low in this case—not zero, but so very low that there is no reason why you shouldn’t go. However long you have left to live doesn’t change the chance of the risk, so it should not play a role in your decision. (It does change the expected loss in terms of your remaining years of life, but as long as the chance of any loss happening is negligible, it doesn’t really matter.)

Sensible people would base their decision to take risks on the magnitude of the risk and its benefits, not on largely unrelated factors such as remaining lifespan. Insensible people can be taught. 😉

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