Might immortality lead to extinction?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Dinosaur, Sep 3, 2018.

  1. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    If humans were immortal except for accidental death or disease, might it lead to extinctions? A very low birth rate might not make up for deaths due to accidents or disease.

    Unless the birth rate was very low, we would run out of resources or have sociological problems due to over crowding. Note that overcrowding tends to cause various problems.

    With a very low birth rate, lack of genetic variety might have adverse consequences.
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  3. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

    I guess my previous response to this ddin't make it.

    It was, "Have you seen any elves recently?"

    Edit: Or did you start more than one thread?
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  5. gamelord Registered Senior Member

    The solution would be, better condoms, or temporary, reversible sterilization.

    I think immortality is very possible. The main cause of aging is due to lower STEM cells, lower sex hormones, and DNA degradation.
    Hormones can be taken. STEM cell production can be increased. And gene therapy can repair and alter DNA.
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  7. Jake Arave Ethologist Registered Senior Member

    Without getting too much into detail, pretty much every assertion made here is false or at a minimum has no supporting evidence. It’s intellectually dishonest to make a false claim in this manner — so for the sake of objectivity let’s just name some of the factors we hypothesize to be related to aging:

    Genomic instability (mutations accumulated in nuclear DNA and mtDNA)

    Telomere attrition

    Epigenetic alterations (DNA Methylation)

    Loss or lack of proteostasis (folding of proteins)

    Deregulated nutrient sensing (this one is a little beyond the scope, but feel free to message me or do your own research)

    Cellular senescence (no longer dividing cells in certain tissues to prevent cancer proliferation)

    Stem exhaustion (caused by a a mixture of all listed factors and more currently unknown)

    So there are a mixture of programmed factors, as well as damage related factors that are responsible for aging — to what ends they play into each other and how they are interconnected is still unknown in most cases. We can’t be sure if these programmed factors can be changed, and if they can the consequences surrounding changing them. It’s also unknown whether the damage related factors could be affected by changing programmed factors.

    It’s intellectually dishonest to make the assertion that immortality is possible — as there is no evidence to support this. More over, likening all damage factors to “degredation” is also dishonest, because we can’t possibly understand all the ways that cells are impacted by their environments. We frankly don’t even know enough about programmed aging to begin to understand damage processes.
  8. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Google "Henrietta Lacks."
  9. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Some Neo-Luddite cultures would probably reject an Extropian trend of upgraded offspring being incrementally introduced and enhanced over generations until eventually arriving at a post-cyborg slash post-biological, "humanoid" population. So the lingering presence of the former would prevent complete extinction of the original, mortal species. As well as any later modified variations of people adding to that which might similarly resist (at a certain stage) the complete ascent to technological apotheosis (even though they'd still be longer-lived than the unmodified stock).

    However, there's the issue of whether the self-engineered "gods" of that future would sport an ethics which tolerated a lingering remnant of such somatic eccentrics and sapient inferiors. Like today's tourists taking a horse and carriage ride, could they still enjoy or appreciate vintage and archaic novelties, wherein their own non-genetic ancestors were the retrospective curios?

    Before civilization even enters a deep transhuman phase in earnest, attaining post-scarcity would probably be crucial to world stability. But the population should still seek to radically reduce itself, and the actual "Eloi" resulting from such an idle lifestyle and "adult daycare" shift would instead have to be less into constant, orgiastic mating -- more asexual in behavior. The already reclusive inclinations of Generation-Z, in terms of physical or face-to-face interactions and extended virginity, might be a gradual, flimsy step along that line (à la The Naked Sun).

  10. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    There seems to be a few missing steps in the logic:

    Why would there be a low birth rate? The obvious answer is to keep the population steady, since people are living virtually forever. That being the case, how could it be too low? If people are dying a little faster, then you can just ... have more babies.

    Virtually all definitions of immortaity assume we don't die of disease.

    Frankly - if not for accidents and disease - we are already immortal.

    Right, so the birth rate need only be low enough to offset overcrowding.

    In other words - the nutshell answer to your opening post is:

    Don't lower the birth rate to the point where population is dwindling, let alone going extinct.
  11. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Professor Emeritus Albert Bartlett explains what would happen if people were to become immortal or even doubled the average life expectancy.
    It isn't pretty. In fact it is mankind's greatest dillemma. And it is real!!

  12. Jake Arave Ethologist Registered Senior Member

    Not trying to stir the pot, but if you can't differentiate the entire body of human cells and bacterium from HeLa cancer cells — the entire concept might be lost on you.
    (In addition, the degradation of HeLa cells over time and replications has been key to the observation of damage related factors on cell growth and function)
  13. billvon Valued Senior Member

    You said "It’s intellectually dishonest to make the assertion that immortality is possible — as there is no evidence to support this." An immortal human cell line is certainly evidence to support the concept that immortality is possible.
  14. Jake Arave Ethologist Registered Senior Member

    It's not though — there's some serious defining of the term immortality needing done here. Human immortality cannot be expressed by a single (cancerous) cell line. It's intellectually dishonest, because focusing on a factor like HeLa cells while ignoring the overwhelming amount of externalities that impact cell cycles across an entire human body. It's also ignoring the externalities that have always affected and continue to affect HeLa cells, which rapidly degrade through multiple cycles of growth (which is a damage feature, completely ignored in the assertion made by the earlier poster claiming immortality is possible.) HeLa cells are essentially excludable evidence because they do provide so much data to the contrary of true biological immortality. Does it support the concept of immortality? It could, though I'm not convinced that it does.
  15. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Certainly true. There's a LOT more to do.

    But it is evidence that it is possible for human cells to live (specifically, to avoid senescence due to telomere erosion) forever.
    Which was my point.
    It certainly supports the concept of an immortal human cell line - which is a first step out of a great many.

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