Saturday, March 12, 2016

Unrealistic technological optimism inhibits technological progress

"A regenerative medicine specialist has called for a crackdown on the increasing number of doctors offering unproven stem cell treatments, as skepticism about the practice threatens a potentially groundbreaking clinical study."

Another newspaper story describes the details:

These headlines speak for themselves. Premature application of breakthrough medical technology can result in legal complications that may slow down the research. If the research area is discredited by premature application, future funding for the area may become more limited. 

Unfortunately, this same dynamic is seen in the life-extension area. In particular, cryonics has been promoted for a long time as a potential method to extend life. However, those in favor of a truly scientific approach feel that current methods discredit serious researchers

Kenneth Hayworth comments:
A rush to human application may sound humanitarian, but I believe it will only result in further delaying the eventual, inevitable embracing of cryonics (and other methods of brain preservation) by mainstream science and medicine. Simply put, rushing to human application will, in my opinion, only result in many more lives lost over the long run.


  1. While stem cells hold great promise, with hopes they could some day be harnessed to create replacement organs and cure such conditions as Parkinson's disease, macular degeneration-related blindness, diabetes and spinal cord injuries, the guidelines also caution researchers against "hyping" their results to the media and public.

  2. Q: Has the first person to eventually live to their 200th birthday already been born?
    A: No, probably not — and, in fact, this question is almost beside the point. The primary goal of scientists like Olshansky who study longevity is not to extend life, per se; it’s more about extending the healthy years of a person’s life. He writes:

    The idea that the first person to live to 150 or 200 or 1,000 or 10,000 years has already being born is hype cooked up by some who want to advocate for radical life extension. All of these numbers are made up out of thin air — they’re designed to get the attention of the media, and frankly, this makes it more difficult to get funding for aging science because funders have no interest in creating a new set of challenges that would come with people living for hundreds or thousands of years. Keep in mind that life extension is not the primary goal of aging science; health extension is the primary goal.