Rejuvenation would be only for the rich

Some people are worried that rejuvenation might be a privilege accorded only to the rich. It’s okay to be concerned that this might happen, because if enough people are concerned about it, it’s more likely that we will actually do what it takes prevent this from happening. However, some people aren’t just concerned about it; they are argue that, to forestall the risk that rejuvenation may be something only few can afford, it should be never developed in the first place. This is an extremely flawed line of reasoning, for several reasons.

  1. It’s an all-or-none reasoning.
    Yes, I do agree that it would be best if all people had full access to state-of-the-art medical technology as soon as this was available; however, even if only some had access to rejuvenation (or any other type of treatment), it would still be better than nothing, for two reasons:

    1. Saving some people’s lives is better than saving no one’s life, just like curing only some is better than curing none. A lot of people freak out at the thought of these ‘some’ being rich people, because apparently, in our collective imagination, all rich people are evil incarnate and don’t deserve anything but our contempt. Rich people are people too, and I don’t see any reason why they would all (if any) deserve to become sicker with age and eventually die (nor do I know who would have the right to sanction this). Human rights are for all humans, poor and rich, and opposing the creation of something to prevent it from becoming a rich-only exclusive isn’t particularly humanitarian, neither toward the rich, nor toward the poor. (See below, point 4.)
    2. As long a technology does not exist, no one stands a chance of ever benefiting from it, poor or rich. However, if it does exist, the chances that it will one day be available to everyone are higher. Unfortunately, as things stand in this rather debatable economic system, it is to be expected that richer people will be more able to afford better goods and services before poorer people, but this does not necessarily imply that it will always be like this, and ultimately it makes not for a valid objection. For anyone out there arguing that we should first somehow make sure that equality and equity are shared and respected values everywhere, and only then create new technologies for people to benefit: I hate to break it you, but this neither possible, nor sensible. It is not possible because you can’t be sure that a given good will be handed out to everyone before it actually is handed out to everyone (let alone before it is created); it is not sensible because, according to this logic, we should pause progress until we’ve built a ‘perfect’ society. Meanwhile, people will keep suffering and dying. Not to mention all those technologies (or goods, or services, or rights) that already do exist, but are not available to everyone yet. What do we do? Take them away from those who already have them until we’ve somehow made sure everyone else can have them too?
  2. Any inequality of access will likely be short-lived
    Remember that rejuvenation isn’t a whim. It’s not like going to the spa, or getting a beauty or cosmetic treatment. Rejuvenation therapies are a series of life-saving treatments preventing you from ever developing any of the diseases of old age that eventually kill you. It’s something your doctor would prescribe when the time came, and it is not at all far-fetched to expect rejuvenation to be subsidised partly or wholly by the State (for reasons explained at the bottom of this article), or at the very least by one’s health insurance.
  3. It’s unreasonable to expect rejuvenation to be super-expensive forever
    All new technologies start off expensive, but they generally become more affordable as time goes by. (Genome sequencing is a good example: Its cost went from hundreds of millions of dollars to less than 1000$ in 15 years.) The dreaded ‘Big Pharma’ would likely have a much larger revenue if it managed to reduce rejuvenation therapies prices to generally affordable levels and have the whole world as their clientele rather than just a few people. Besides, what we’re witnessing today with senescent cells clearance, for example, is that several start-ups (rather than big, powerful pharmaceutical companies) are creating competing technologies, and competition generally leads to lower prices.
  4. Not developing rejuvenation doesn’t help anyone, let alone the poor
    If you support the idea of not developing rejuvenation thinking that you’re doing the poor a favour—sorry, but you’re not. If rejuvenation was never created to begin with, nothing would change for people who couldn’t afford it anyway. Either way they weren’t going to get it, and your campaigning against rejuvenation didn’t make their lives any better. Closing the rich-poor gap by making the rich worse off (for example, by not creating stuff that might make their lives better) doesn’t help the poor. If you’re a person in the developed world, you probably experience typical guilty trips toward poor people every now and again—you feel bad about having a number of benefits that the poor can’t even dream of, and you’d rather not make the list longer (for example, by adding rejuvenation to it), so that you won’t have yet another thing to feel guilty for. But that’s all you’re accomplishing—you’re appeasing your conscience, but you’re not actually helping the poor. Possibly, you’re also venting your subconscious hatred for ‘the rich’—’Take that, Mark Zuckerberg! No rejuvenation for you! How does that feel?’—but again, that accomplishes nothing really useful or beneficial for anyone.

The bottom line is: Are you worried that rejuvenation might be just a privilege of the rich? Fine, but:

  • It is not a reason not to develop rejuvenation
  • It might happen, but it’s more likely that States will step in and pay for their citizen’s rejuvenation (in short, because it would be more convenient for States to pay for your rejuvenation once in a while and have you back to working and producing wealth rather than pay you a pension to do nothing for 20+ years)
  • Prices are likely to go down with time
  • Spreading awareness about the arrival of these technologies and advocating for the importance of ensuring their widespread access as soon as possible (like SENS Research Foundation does) would be a much more effective way to prevent the inequality of access you’re concerned about than opposing rejuvenation. Will you or nil you, this technology will probably be created anyway, so everyone’s best bet is to push to have it as widely available as possible already now when it’s still in the making.
leafOnly for the rich answered on LEAF
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