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Aging Is a Disease; Treat It Like One 625

theodp writes "In a letter to Sergey Brin, Maria Konovalenko urges the Google founder to pursue his interest in the topics of aging and longevity. 'Defeating or simply slowing down aging,' writes Konovalenko, 'is the most useful thing that can be done for all the people on the planet.' Calling for research into longevity gene therapy, extending lifespan pharmacologically, and studying close species that differ significantly in lifespan, Konovalenko says 'it is crucial to make numerous medical organizations recognize aging as a disease. If medical organizations were to recognize aging as a disease, it could significantly accelerate progress in studying its underlying mechanisms and the development of interventions to slow its progress and to reduce age-related pathologies. The prevailing regard for aging as a "natural process" rather than a disease or disease-predisposing condition is a major obstacle to development and testing of legitimate anti-aging treatments. This is the largest market in the world, since 100% of the population in every country suffers from aging.'"
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Aging Is a Disease; Treat It Like One

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  • Re:Missing a step (Score:4, Informative)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @06:55PM (#44589265)

    No need to worry, it's highly doubtful that the peasants will be invited, this is most likely supposed to be a toy for the rich and famous.

    Just 'cause it's possible doesn't mean that we'll get it.

  • by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @07:37PM (#44589729)

    There is an enormously strong anticorrelation between lifespan and reproduction. Where are birthrates highest? Places like Nigeria, Somalia, Uganda, and other such places. Where are they lowest? Places like Japan and Germany, where women both have access to roles in society other than babymakers and where they can expect to live long, healthy lives.

    I bet if the average Somali woman could look forward to a century of fulfilling life she'd have fewer kids.

  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @07:43PM (#44589805)

    Well, not quite. If we could bring all the nations on the planet down to zero population growth *today*, we'd still be looking at somewhere around a 9 billion person peak mid-century just because of generational lag. If we managed to cut that in half to one child/woman we'd still keep growing for a fair bit - we keep adding new people, and the elders keep living longer.

    Current Birth rate: 19 /1000/year = 1.9%
    Current Death Rate 8.4/1000/year = 0.84%
    Current Net population growth rate = 1.06%

    Even if we sterilized everyone tomorrow the death rate is still only .84% - that is a survival rate of 99.16%/year so in fifty years (2+ generations?) the cumulative survival rate would be 0.9916^50 = 0.5, or 3.5 billion people.

    If we instead aimed for half of steady-state - a birth rate of 0.84%/2 = 0.42% then the "net survival rate" = 99.58%, for a cumulative 50-year rate of 0.9958^50 = 81%, or 5.7 billion

    And just for sanity-checking sake, if we do nothing we get 1.0106^50 = 1.69%, or 11.9 billion people, which is about in line with the worst-case forecasts.

    Of course that's just a very rough "back of the napkin" calculation, but I think it illustrates the challenges we face on this front.

  • Re:That's so sad. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @09:19PM (#44590495)
    I think neural network algorithms give some insight here - they start off very flexible and prone to "leaping to conclusions", but gradually grow more stable, then become so fixed in their ways that they almost completely ignore inputs. If people didn't grow old and die, we'd turn into a society of stodgy, inflexible people lacking dreams and unwilling to compromise over anything. We'd probably end up killing each other over stupid things like Coke vs Pepsi. Aging and dying is the way the species keeps its innovative edge - by systematically eliminating individuals whose neural nets have become too inflexible, so make way for younger people who are willing to try and risk new things.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay