The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

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The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-04-24 05:05pm



CCP Grey uploaded a new video, a telling of The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant. The text of which can also be found here.

Moral of the story: Research into stopping aging and death need to be given serious consideration.

What do you think of this fable? A few commentators noted the story is not told right, and that the dragon wouldn't be killed, only chained, and only the poor or non-powerful would be fed while the rich enjoy a dragon-free life.

What are your thoughts on both the little morality tale, and the implications of the story?
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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by mr friendly guy » 2018-04-24 11:53pm

Strangely enough I got the dragon as an analogy for either a force of nature or divinity, and the message I got is science fuck yeah, or more specifically science can overcome these things.
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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by Eulogy » 2018-05-22 01:09am

Fuck aging and growing decrepit. Fuck those who want to stop science from fucking aging and growing decrepit. Fuck yeah science.
FaxModem1 wrote:
2018-04-24 05:05pm
A few commentators noted the story is not told right, and that the dragon wouldn't be killed, only chained, and only the poor or non-powerful would be fed while the rich enjoy a dragon-free life.
The rich would be overwhelmed by the poor and made into ground chuck for the dragon if they tried to do that. Killing the dragon is the only plausible outcome here.
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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by Guardsman Bass » 2018-05-22 01:52am

I'm in agreement with Eulogy. I'm extremely skeptical that any massive triumph over aging that was only available to the rich would be politically sustainable.
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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by Formless » 2018-05-22 03:07pm

Would anyone mind summarizing the fable for those of us who don't want to watch a video about it? I can generally read faster than most presenters can narrate.
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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by TheFeniX » 2018-05-22 03:41pm

A link to the text is in the OP. It's a long read that repeats itself a bit too much:

1. Big dragon want eat many humans. Give humans or it ravages more humans. Humans can't hurt dragon, they tried everything.
2. We give humans, dragon gets bigger, needs more humans. Economy and society change to support dragon's Soylet Green habit.
3. Smart people figure out how to kill dragon.
4. People are afraid to anger dragon but try any way. Some people think it's our fate to be eaten by Dragon.
5. Humans kill dragon.
6. Something something we should spend more money into anti-aging research.

It's one long metaphor that we shouldn't look at death as a given but should work to fight it at all costs, seemingly written to explain the concept to people with very few braincells to rub together.

It ignores a keypoint in that humans are more than capable of dealing with acceptable loses such as age, cancer, disease, or people just dieing for stupid shit, but we also don't deal really well with outside influences fucking with us. When it comes to animals, certain select members of a species might pick off some humans and make a game out of it, humans WILL however drop the fucking hammer.

Even with humans, we're willing to accept that thousands of our own will murder, rape, rob, etc "our own" and just kind of not worry too much because it isn't happening to us, but if <not us> takes a swing at us, we tend to react extremely punitively if we have the means to do so. 9/11 obviously is the example here.

Humans would literally be doing nothing but looking for ways to slaughter the dragon and/or hanging those in charge high for continuing to placate said dragon. Look how poorly humans look upon collaborators even if a perfect valid excuse was "they would have murdered me otherwise." And there's no rationalizing it when they're shipping tens off thousands of people to their death each day. Right or wrong, humans make distinctions between something like "I saw a homeless man I knew was sick and dieing and I did nothing" vs "I saw a sick a dieing homeless man, so I put him out of his misery."

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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by Formless » 2018-05-22 04:45pm

Wow, it sounds like whoever wrote that metaphor is a philosophical incompetent. :roll: Its one thing to put research into slowing aging, but there is a vast gap between increasing longevity and inventing immortality. The aging process can be slowed, but its a delusion to ever think immortality is achievable. The very physics of the universe ensures we will all eventually die in one way or another. At some point you just have to learn how to deal with it. There is a reason Buddhism focuses so much on meditation, because it empowers you to change your locus of control from just the external world to your internal mental world where a lot of these anxieties actually stem from. Ultimately, there are like four or six fundamental realities of existence that will always be a source of anxiety for people, and death is probably the most obvious among them. What I think the writer should understand is that before you die (and you will die; live with it), you want to also focus at least some of your time, effort, attention, and money into dealing with the other five existential issues: responsibility/freedom, meaning (or meaninglessness), isolation, identity, and happiness/suffering. Is a long (or even eternal) life necessarily worth living if you are eternally bored? In pain? Lonely? Without purpose? Uncertain of how you fit in as everything you know changes utterly? I bet not. Focusing only on the conquest of death leads to a kind of nihilism. There are some philsophical problems the scientific method can't solve, sadly. Identify, yes, but not answer.

We are instinctively averse to dying, but life has to be worth living too.
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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by Civil War Man » 2018-05-23 12:07pm

The whole idea of killing the dragon comes down to one basic question. It is the question of the gourmet versus the gourmand. If you had to choose between one or the other, would you rather have more, or would you rather have better? The real answer is that everyone wants both, but that is not necessarily feasible. There is also no universal answer. A starving person would obviously prefer more, while someone who is not hungry would prefer better. With the villagers in the parable, when they accepted the dragon's demands, they focused their energy on improving the quality of their shorter lives. When they mobilized to slay the dragon, all of their energy was instead devoted entirely to increasing the quantity of life they had. The most perverse part of the parable is the end. When they finally slay the dragon, the king laments that they did not do it sooner, viewing the decision to pursue better life over simply more life to be a mistake that they never should have made.

Beyond that, the biggest problem with this parable is one briefly touched upon by Formless. Suppose we do manage to somehow conquer death. What then? Increasing our lifespans does not produce infinite resources, or put an end to entropy. At minimum, birthrates would have to fall, maybe even all but cease entirely, to prevent overwhelming the environment. Humanity would become a static species in a dynamic world. Then what would happen when a new disease pops up, or an existing one mutates to become more lethal or jump species to humanity?

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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-05-23 02:51pm

TheFeniX wrote:
2018-05-22 03:41pm
A link to the text is in the OP. It's a long read that repeats itself a bit too much:

1. Big dragon want eat many humans. Give humans or it ravages more humans. Humans can't hurt dragon, they tried everything.
2. We give humans, dragon gets bigger, needs more humans. Economy and society change to support dragon's Soylet Green habit.
3. Smart people figure out how to kill dragon.
4. People are afraid to anger dragon but try any way. Some people think it's our fate to be eaten by Dragon.
5. Humans kill dragon.
6. Something something we should spend more money into anti-aging research.

It's one long metaphor that we shouldn't look at death as a given but should work to fight it at all costs, seemingly written to explain the concept to people with very few braincells to rub together.

It ignores a keypoint in that humans are more than capable of dealing with acceptable loses such as age, cancer, disease, or people just dieing for stupid shit, but we also don't deal really well with outside influences fucking with us...
Okay, see, that sounds like exactly the point such a fable would be trying to make. Which is: Hey, why are we willing to spend ten billion dollars to put down a terrorist who kills fifty people a year, but not willing to spend ten billion dollars to put down preventable car accidents that kill fifty thousand people a year? Isn't that kind of silly? Why do we resign ourselves to suffering when we could try to end it?

And by turning the literal problems of aging and cancer and whatnot into the metaphorical problem of this big quasi-anthropomorphic thing that kills people, you bypass that seemingly irrational response.
Humans would literally be doing nothing but looking for ways to slaughter the dragon and/or hanging those in charge high for continuing to placate said dragon. Look how poorly humans look upon collaborators even if a perfect valid excuse was "they would have murdered me otherwise." And there's no rationalizing it when they're shipping tens off thousands of people to their death each day. Right or wrong, humans make distinctions between something like "I saw a homeless man I knew was sick and dieing and I did nothing" vs "I saw a sick a dieing homeless man, so I put him out of his misery."
See that's the point, humans are like that, and consequently we're potentially ignoring or shrugging off ways to better our lives, for dumbass reasons.
Formless wrote:
2018-05-22 04:45pm
Wow, it sounds like whoever wrote that metaphor is a philosophical incompetent. :roll: Its one thing to put research into slowing aging, but there is a vast gap between increasing longevity and inventing immortality. The aging process can be slowed, but its a delusion to ever think immortality is achievable. The very physics of the universe ensures we will all eventually die in one way or another. At some point you just have to learn how to deal with it. There is a reason Buddhism focuses so much on meditation, because it empowers you to change your locus of control from just the external world to your internal mental world where a lot of these anxieties actually stem from. Ultimately, there are like four or six fundamental realities of existence that will always be a source of anxiety for people, and death is probably the most obvious among them. What I think the writer should understand is that before you die (and you will die; live with it), you want to also focus at least some of your time, effort, attention, and money into dealing with the other five existential issues: responsibility/freedom, meaning (or meaninglessness), isolation, identity, and happiness/suffering. Is a long (or even eternal) life necessarily worth living if you are eternally bored? In pain? Lonely? Without purpose? Uncertain of how you fit in as everything you know changes utterly? I bet not. Focusing only on the conquest of death leads to a kind of nihilism. There are some philsophical problems the scientific method can't solve, sadly. Identify, yes, but not answer.

We are instinctively averse to dying, but life has to be worth living too.
At the same time, aging sucks and it would be kind of awesome if we could eliminate or greatly reduce it as a problem.
Civil War Man wrote:
2018-05-23 12:07pm
The whole idea of killing the dragon comes down to one basic question. It is the question of the gourmet versus the gourmand. If you had to choose between one or the other, would you rather have more, or would you rather have better?
Is a life where people are afraid of being randomly eaten by dragons inherently higher-quality than one in which people aren't getting eaten by dragons? I mean, either this reduces to an argument for taking all the disabled and elderly people out and shooting them to save resources for those of us with higher quality of life, or this doesn't really hang together well.

Removing a direct threat to your existence, rather than ignoring it and living a "short life but a merry one" before it catches up to you, isn't normally considered as some kind of philosophically burdensome tradeoff.

It's like, almost no one would want to halve the human lifespan in order to concentrate our resources on enjoying our twenties and thirties, then dying at forty like salarians from Mass Effect. With that in mind, why wouldn't we want to double them, assuming it doesn't just mean decades upon decades of crippling old age?
Beyond that, the biggest problem with this parable is one briefly touched upon by Formless. Suppose we do manage to somehow conquer death. What then? Increasing our lifespans does not produce infinite resources, or put an end to entropy. At minimum, birthrates would have to fall, maybe even all but cease entirely, to prevent overwhelming the environment. Humanity would become a static species in a dynamic world. Then what would happen when a new disease pops up, or an existing one mutates to become more lethal or jump species to humanity?
I fail to see why we'd be worse off in this scenario than if people were dying all the time and the same thing happened. A population whose command of bioscience and other things is so advanced that it can effectively eliminate death (as opposed to, say, just giving everyone a lifespan of 300 years or something) won't have much trouble with much lesser problems.
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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by Formless » 2018-05-23 04:37pm

Simon, the problem with the metaphor is that the dragon is written to appear on the surface to be an analogy for the agents of death, but on closer inspection it clearly stands in for death itself. Note the part where the villagers come to believe it is their fate to be eaten? Its clearly intended to mock our belief that it is our fate to die. Except it is our fate to die. We know there are hard physical limits on how long you can live, and there are probably even harder limits on biology. I've seen many techbros and transhumanists talk about anti-aging research as if it could lead to life indefinite. But the closest any animal in the real world gets to that are jellyfish, whose cells can regenerate an indefinite number of times. We do not know if those cellular mechanisms can simply be ported into a vertebrate without causing cancer (and they likely can't). There are some salamanders that also have impressive regenerative abilities and long lives, but likewise a salamander and a human are very different species even though we are both vertibrates. Even if we could import those regenerative genes, we also don't know how it would fuck with the central nervous system, which jellyfish don't even have. It could cause memories to be overwritten over time, effectively causing a different kind of death. Death of the mind. Or death of the identity. You never go demented, but you simply become a different person than you were born as. That person doesn't really enjoy the benefits of indefinite life because 200 years later they no longer identify with the person they once were. Philosophically speaking, is that not a kind of death?

Besides, conservation of energy and Entropy must both be obeyed, so eventually even those jellyfish will find their demise. It may be as far off in the future as the day the sun expands and boils off the oceans, but it will happen. But lets talk practicalities. We almost certainly can't just port jellyfish genes into humans. Or shark genes, as some sharks can live 400 years. The technology isn't there, the animals are probably too far removed from us on the tree of evolution, and we don't know if they are even compatible with our most basic cellular biology. More feasible is to look at the longest lived vertebrates on land, tortoises. The average tortoise species lives anywhere from 80 years (which is on par with humans) to 150 years. The world record holder lived to 226 years, but since the runner up only lived to 188 we can disregard it as an outlier. If we can allow people to live that long, that will certainly change society but it hardly qualifies as defeating death. Again, though, that's just prolonging life. Certainly it appears laudible on the surface and I don't think I would turn up a chance to live to 130. But you will likely still experience many side effects of ageing regardless, since a lot of it is the accumulation of scar tissue from injuries ranging from big to so small you didn't notice the injury but certainly notice ten years later that you seem older somehow. Attention must be paid to the quality of life.

Now, it should be realized that another problem with the metaphor is that in real life, we are constantly researching medicines that can increase the average lifespan or increase the quality of life for the elderly. Anti-aging technology is just a part of that existing trend, making the purpose of the metaphor rather moot. The thing is, the actual researchers know better than to say that they are aiming to achieve immortality because that just isn't happening. If we can even make the medicines needed to allow people to live to 100 consistently let alone longer than that, the impacts on society would be so huge as to be impossible to fully anticipate. But one thing those technologies don't promise is that we will be making life actually better for people. Just longer. You don't want to create a society full of old people who are miserable and just want to die, but still have twenty years of life left in them. It can be painful to be around such a person. I know because that has become my grandmother's lot in life. She turned 90 just this year, and we doubt she will make it till her next birthday because she doesn't want to and hardly eats. In contrast, my grandfather on my other side of the family died at 91, and he was quite fit and enjoying himself right up until the end. The family was surprised when it happened, although we never asked for an autopsy so we still don't know how it happened. It might jst be his heart, which had been operated on twenty years prior, just finall gave out while he was sleeping. He was planning on doing volunteer work the next day, which was very meaningful to him as a retiree. My point is, between the two of them I would clearly prefer to be taken suddenly like my grandfather and be enjoying life until the very end than to be dying in slow motion like my grandmother and bitter at the world. I think its obvious that most people would.
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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by LaCroix » 2018-05-23 04:58pm

Formless wrote:
2018-05-23 04:37pm
It could cause memories to be overwritten over time, effectively causing a different kind of death. Death of the mind. Or death of the identity. You never go demented, but you simply become a different person than you were born as. That person doesn't really enjoy the benefits of indefinite life because 200 years later they no longer identify with the person they once were. Philosophically speaking, is that not a kind of death?
This is a quite nonsensical argument, even worse than the "we should rather live short, meaningful lives than long meaningful ones - because long lives can not be as meaningful as short ones, because I say so. Also, true immortality is impossible becasue the universe will die, so we shouldn't even try", one.

Life is change. I am not the person I was when I was born, or the person I was as a 5 year old. I am not even the same person I was when I was a 30 year old, and I certainly expect not to be the same identical person in a couple of years time. Just briefly examining my past, I can find at least 5 very different versions of "me".

Even our memories of past events are never static, but constantly are getting revised and rewritten by our mind whenever we access them. And since our memories are what makes us "US", how can we stay the same, then?

If you want to go even further, there is an agument that I won't even be the same person tomorrow morning, for "I" am only the result a biological machine that operates off the last set of memories before I fell asleep, which pretends to be the same entity.
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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by Civil War Man » 2018-05-23 05:07pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-05-23 02:51pm
Is a life where people are afraid of being randomly eaten by dragons inherently higher-quality than one in which people aren't getting eaten by dragons? I mean, either this reduces to an argument for taking all the disabled and elderly people out and shooting them to save resources for those of us with higher quality of life, or this doesn't really hang together well.
And the counter-argument reduces to an argument that being a near-vegetable confined to a hospital bed forever is a preferable fate to dying young.
Removing a direct threat to your existence, rather than ignoring it and living a "short life but a merry one" before it catches up to you, isn't normally considered as some kind of philosophically burdensome tradeoff.

It's like, almost no one would want to halve the human lifespan in order to concentrate our resources on enjoying our twenties and thirties, then dying at forty like salarians from Mass Effect. With that in mind, why wouldn't we want to double them, assuming it doesn't just mean decades upon decades of crippling old age?
Who says anything about ignoring threats to existence? The point is that there is a legitimate argument to be made that living longer becomes a burden if you are unable to enjoy that extra time. How long constitutes "a good run" will vary from person to person. There are people out there who would be fine with dying at forty, if their 50s onward promised to be completely joyless.
I fail to see why we'd be worse off in this scenario than if people were dying all the time and the same thing happened. A population whose command of bioscience and other things is so advanced that it can effectively eliminate death (as opposed to, say, just giving everyone a lifespan of 300 years or something) won't have much trouble with much lesser problems.
Low birthrates increase the chance of a plague or disaster resulting in extinction. Fewer births means a lower chance of adapting or developing a natural immunity through evolution. And even if they cure the hypothetical plague through their impeccable command of science, unless they do it before anyone gets killed, it's going to take them longer to replenish their numbers, which puts them at greater risk when the next plague or disaster hits.

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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by Formless » 2018-05-23 05:16pm

LaCroix, its not nonsensical. You are just misunderstanding me. I know our memories change over time, but that wasn't what I was talking about. On one occasion when the topic came up (I believe it was either on Gizmodo or i09; one of their editors is a huge techbro transhumanist and likes to talk about this kind of thing whenever the opportunity arises), I read a biologist they interviewed speculate that some hypothetical regenerative treatments based on these animals might cause amnesia or other or other neurological disruptions. The neurons of the brain do regrow and regenerate over time, but very slowly. If that slow pace of neuro-regeneration is critical to how the mind functions, then its not something we should fuck with for very practical reasons if not philosophical ones.

Though yes, there are philosophical questions about identity and change that we ought to be aware of. I believe I brought that up already. It just wasn't what I was talking about in that instance.
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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-05-23 10:38pm

I mean, any singular, specific way of prolonging life may have problems. That doesn't mean there's some deep-seated conceptual flaw in the entire desire to push back death. Or to reduce death to an unusual misfortune that rarely occurs in a typical person's year-to-year experience. Or to reduce death to some kind of shared 'eventual' fate that might overtake us along with the universe or the Sun or some other great overwhelming thing. But which doesn't just randomly overtake us one by one because our evolution-designed bodies weren't really intended to keep going past about the age of forty, and seldom make it to more than double the warranty lifespan.

There is no intrinsic, deep-seated philosophical truth embedded specifically in the fact that the human body's warranty expires at forty and the breakdowns just keep accumulating past that point.
Civil War Man wrote:
2018-05-23 05:07pm
Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-05-23 02:51pm
Is a life where people are afraid of being randomly eaten by dragons inherently higher-quality than one in which people aren't getting eaten by dragons? I mean, either this reduces to an argument for taking all the disabled and elderly people out and shooting them to save resources for those of us with higher quality of life, or this doesn't really hang together well.
And the counter-argument reduces to an argument that being a near-vegetable confined to a hospital bed forever is a preferable fate to dying young.
You're missing the implication of the fork argument

Either the argument for "shorter and more meaningful is consistently better" reduces to absurdity, or it doesn't hang together well. I had not thought I'd have to explain the extremely obvious implication that, given that it doesn't reduce to absurdity... It doesn't hang together well. The simple hole in it is that, well, shorter lives aren't necessarily more meaningful. Longer ones aren't necessarily less meaningful. All else being equal, maximizing the meaningfulness of our lives is desirable- cue advice to "live your best life" and so on. But then, a lot of that advice overlaps with the advice we give people to maximize their longevity, and/or the span of years they can live out at a high quality of life: exercise, stay mentally active, engage with friends.

Very few old people seem to think that having lived a long time as such has deprived their life of meaning. If they feel like their life is meaningless or a burden, it's generally because of, well, old age itself- because of the deaths of their friends and loved ones and the rapid onset of a great many diseases.

If the biological problems of aging were largely conquered and people only died by violence, accident, or extreme misfortune (or, to take things to an even greater extreme, only when they actually got tired of life, not when some piddling tyro not even on their first century decides they would)... Well, we don't know exactly how long people would choose to live, but all indications are that they'd happily live a lot longer than we do and still think their lives were every bit as meaningful as if they'd been tragically cut short in their eighties or nineties by congestive heart failure.
Removing a direct threat to your existence, rather than ignoring it and living a "short life but a merry one" before it catches up to you, isn't normally considered as some kind of philosophically burdensome tradeoff.

It's like, almost no one would want to halve the human lifespan in order to concentrate our resources on enjoying our twenties and thirties, then dying at forty like salarians from Mass Effect. With that in mind, why wouldn't we want to double them, assuming it doesn't just mean decades upon decades of crippling old age?
Who says anything about ignoring threats to existence? The point is that there is a legitimate argument to be made that living longer becomes a burden if you are unable to enjoy that extra time. How long constitutes "a good run" will vary from person to person. There are people out there who would be fine with dying at forty, if their 50s onward promised to be completely joyless.
Under no realistic scenario could we plausibly overcome death and aging in any meaningful sense, without providing the opportunity for rich and meaningful living in the latter part of that long span of years.

If your mental model of "beat aging" is "everyone spends fifty years as a brain-dead vegetable on a maze of life support systems because we're too stubborn to let them expire even when they're long gone," then your mental model bears absolutely no resemblance to the aspirations of any of the people working on or desiring to work on the problem. And should not be used as a ruler by which to measure their aspirations and criticize them.
I fail to see why we'd be worse off in this scenario than if people were dying all the time and the same thing happened. A population whose command of bioscience and other things is so advanced that it can effectively eliminate death (as opposed to, say, just giving everyone a lifespan of 300 years or something) won't have much trouble with much lesser problems.
Low birthrates increase the chance of a plague or disaster resulting in extinction.
Only for absurdly extensive disasters or plagues, of unprecedented scope in human history when scaled with the means available for humans to deal with them. If your plan is "but what if a plague hits and kills 99.99% of the population and the remaining immortals don't repopulate the Earth fast enough and go extinct," then you've tipped so far over into whataboutism and what-ifs that there's nothing to be done for your concerns... but I no longer feel much obligation to assuage them.

I mean, by contrast, what if our natural reluctance to modify our bodies to resist various entropic processes, recover from injuries, restore themselves, and resist diseases results in a plague that might have only killed 50% of us instead killing 99.99% of us, and then the remaining very-mortals are all so enfeebled that there aren't enough adults to care for the children and humanity goes extinct?

Anyone can do this; it's pointless to argue against a course of action by constructing a purely hypothetical just-so story in which it doesn't pan out.
Fewer births means a lower chance of adapting or developing a natural immunity through evolution.
Any acute biological hazard that has the potential to kill most or all humans in a short span of time isn't one we're going to evolve an immunity to by breeding rapidly. We might breed immunity to a chronic disease that kept coming back for dozens of generations, but how ghastly would the human future have to be for such a disease to keep killing large chunks of the human population for dozens of generations without us finding some cure or preventative measure?
And even if they cure the hypothetical plague through their impeccable command of science, unless they do it before anyone gets killed, it's going to take them longer to replenish their numbers, which puts them at greater risk when the next plague or disaster hits.
If low birth rates are a response to dense population and low death rates, why would birth rates remain low in an underpopulated world? People aren't brainless animals; they are capable of rationally deciding to have more or fewer children depending on circumstances.
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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by TheFeniX » 2018-05-24 01:23am

Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-05-23 02:51pm
Okay, see, that sounds like exactly the point such a fable would be trying to make. Which is: Hey, why are we willing to spend ten billion dollars to put down a terrorist who kills fifty people a year, but not willing to spend ten billion dollars to put down preventable car accidents that kill fifty thousand people a year? Isn't that kind of silly? Why do we resign ourselves to suffering when we could try to end it?
Because we're dumb monkeys? You're also arguing a point of intent. Our bodies might be designed to die, but they don't choose (like an intelligent being does) to make us die. The dragon chooses to eat us. The Terrorist chooses to kill us. The dumbass speeding or drinking or yapping on his cell phone doesn't intend to plow into a bus full on nuns and kill them all.

Humans value intent pretty highly.
And by turning the literal problems of aging and cancer and whatnot into the metaphorical problem of this big quasi-anthropomorphic thing that kills people, you bypass that seemingly irrational response.
A better example might be a plague that continually comes around to fuck with us. There's no intent, but it's a different story than dieing, which pretty much every living thing does. I think lobsters are effectively immortal, but they are also delicious.

Living things die. So it's a lot easier to accept that than "HIV is killing millions a year." Humans spend billions fighting diseases. We've wipe out many of them. Things like Ebola making a comeback is news. And there IS research into anti-aging and it could work. Just because you won't die of old age doesn't mean people won't die of cancer, infection, injury, or any other number of things. Mortality will never leave the human race outside some kind of brain upload bullshit and those people wouldn't really be humans either way.

But humans don't retool our entire economy to fight the death, as a concept, for good reason: we have other shit to worry about as well. Like killing each other for stupid reasons.
See that's the point, humans are like that, and consequently we're potentially ignoring or shrugging off ways to better our lives, for dumbass reasons.
The problem is that line of thinking has positives. So, while I agree with you, I don't know how we can selectively chose to turn it off. Or more to the point, I can. I know I can, I've do it all the time. But there's a whole lot of people, people who vote, people with money, people with power, who can't or choose not to think that way.

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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-05-24 02:41am

TheFeniX wrote:
2018-05-24 01:23am
Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-05-23 02:51pm
Okay, see, that sounds like exactly the point such a fable would be trying to make. Which is: Hey, why are we willing to spend ten billion dollars to put down a terrorist who kills fifty people a year, but not willing to spend ten billion dollars to put down preventable car accidents that kill fifty thousand people a year? Isn't that kind of silly? Why do we resign ourselves to suffering when we could try to end it?
Because we're dumb monkeys? You're also arguing a point of intent. Our bodies might be designed to die, but they don't choose (like an intelligent being does) to make us die. The dragon chooses to eat us. The Terrorist chooses to kill us. The dumbass speeding or drinking or yapping on his cell phone doesn't intend to plow into a bus full on nuns and kill them all.

Humans value intent pretty highly.
See, I get that.

What I'm saying is, yes this is a true fact about human psychology. But deliberately anthropomorphizing (or dragon-opomorphizing) a nonsentient abstract conceptual threat as a way of pointing out "if all these people were being intentionally killed instead of by accident, you wouldn't put up with this shit, you'd act and consider it worthwhile to do so, so why NOT act anyway?"

Saying "uh, duh, humans don't do that because human psychology!" is missing the point, which is to actually, y'know, directly contact the humans in question and try to persuade them that it would be logical to do things differently, by encouraging them to think about the situation differently.
See that's the point, humans are like that, and consequently we're potentially ignoring or shrugging off ways to better our lives, for dumbass reasons.
The problem is that line of thinking has positives. So, while I agree with you, I don't know how we can selectively chose to turn it off. Or more to the point, I can. I know I can, I've do it all the time. But there's a whole lot of people, people who vote, people with money, people with power, who can't or choose not to think that way.
Sure fine, but that's no reason to go all Lou Ferrigno on someone's ass for trying to encourage humans to be flexible or approach problems differently, or at least consider approaching them differently. It's like "yes, we know people are weird about this, so we're trying to address it and encourage people to think outside the box so they might learn to choose whether or not to be weird about this."

A noble concept.
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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by K. A. Pital » 2018-05-24 04:01pm

Guardsman Bass wrote:
2018-05-22 01:52am
I'm in agreement with Eulogy. I'm extremely skeptical that any massive triumph over aging that was only available to the rich would be politically sustainable.
Looool... I'm sorry. But it's beyond naive. Check out the price of medicine that lets the rich extend their lives now, and think how many people in the world can afford it. :lol: Then think how many could afford the same in the future.
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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by Zixinus » 2018-05-24 05:34pm

Isn't there already anti-aging research being done? Is it underfunded or not taken seriously enough, or are there large groups of people that seriously think that they are somehow less fated to die than most of humanity has?
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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-05-25 08:31am

Zixinus wrote:
2018-05-24 05:34pm
Isn't there already anti-aging research being done? Is it underfunded or not taken seriously enough, or are there large groups of people that seriously think that they are somehow less fated to die than most of humanity has?
I think it comes down to "there are people who think this should be a higher priority than it is."
K. A. Pital wrote:
2018-05-24 04:01pm
Guardsman Bass wrote:
2018-05-22 01:52am
I'm in agreement with Eulogy. I'm extremely skeptical that any massive triumph over aging that was only available to the rich would be politically sustainable.
Looool... I'm sorry. But it's beyond naive. Check out the price of medicine that lets the rich extend their lives now, and think how many people in the world can afford it. :lol: Then think how many could afford the same in the future.
Let us differentiate life extension from life expectancy increase; they're not the same thing even though ultimately you can no longer get the second without the first.

Life expectancy increase just means reducing the risk of dying due to one cause or another. We have lots of ways to extend human life expectancy, compared to the default condition of "Iron Age peasant with no sanitation or medical care." Many of these ways are available to nearly all humans, even in the undeveloped world. Some of them are available more or less only in nations that have attained various levels of development. Some of the most extreme ones are so expensive and difficult to provide (heart transplants, exotic medications) that they cannot be available to all and are in effect 'rationed' by high prices... but these tend to have relatively marginal effects.

The thing is, life expectancy increase has already moved well past the point of diminishing returns, where being richer doesn't help much. You don't have to be at all rich to live to seventy, and frankly if you took care of your health you don't need to be rich to live to eighty (though it helps). Conversely, being rich is absolutely not going to be enough to guarantee that you live to ninety or even a hundred.

The reason the masses aren't demanding that this 'technology' go into mass production is that there is no 'technology' you can buy that automatically grants you another ten or twenty years of life, let alone fifty, a hundred, or more. There is no cure for aging or senility. None of the holy grails of the anti-aging dream exist yet.

So using present conditions to extrapolate what would happen in those future conditions isn't necessarily going to work.
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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by K. A. Pital » 2018-05-25 03:41pm

Zixinus wrote:
2018-05-24 05:34pm
Isn't there already anti-aging research being done? Is it underfunded or not taken seriously enough, or are there large groups of people that seriously think that they are somehow less fated to die than most of humanity has?
Peter Thiel and lots of Silicon Valley "We don't wanna DIE!" folks? Ray Kurzweil? :lol:
Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-05-25 08:31am
The thing is, life expectancy increase has already moved well past the point of diminishing returns, where being richer doesn't help much.
The devil is in the details. Being richer helps to be guaranteed to get the best care. Whether it will significantly prolong the life or not is still partially up to chance, but you get the best odds from day one. Excluding genes, of course, but the motherfucking rich are also on a full-speed train to Gattaca there.
Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-05-25 08:31am
The reason the masses aren't demanding that this 'technology' go into mass production is that there is no 'technology' you can buy that automatically grants you another ten or twenty years of life, let alone fifty, a hundred, or more.
Your chances of early death from cancer or other diseases which can be discovered by extensive, and expensive, preventive screening, are diminishing relative to wealth. The more you have, the less likely such a death is.
Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-05-25 08:31am
So using present conditions to extrapolate what would happen in those future conditions isn't necessarily going to work.
True; we've never faced an elite that had life-extending technologies. But naive ideas "they'll just make it cheap" are completely unfounded.
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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-05-27 05:01pm

The thing is, every technology is available in limited numbers before it becomes available in great quantity. This is in the nature of technology, and has to do with the material character of manufactured objects, not with social organization. There was a time when steel knives or bottles were rare commodities that only the elite could afford in quantity. Now? Not so much. We're up to our eyeballs in the things.

It would be difficult if not impossible to develop a medical treatment that works reliably, and make it available to everyone in the world, without a significant transition period during which it is available to only some. Medical treatments generally require vast amounts of skilled labor to perform, labor that is often simply unavailable in many places. But at the same time, a technique that is never implemented can never be put into mass production, can never be improved, and can never spread widely.

As such, I find it impossible to categorically oppose advances in medical science on the grounds that the rich will be the early adopters. Because to rule thusly is to rule out any improvement in medical science for anyone else. I believe that there are better ways for the masses to ensure their fair access to the fruits of modern science, than to ban those fruits and cut off their collective nose to spite their collective face.
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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by Zixinus » 2018-05-28 12:55pm

The danger isn't that the rich adopt it first. It's also logical that the rich adopt something very expensive first as they have the most resources to spare for something new. This isn't limited to high-tech technology. That's how we have socks. That's how we have horses you can ride on.

The real danger is that the rich keep it to themselves, that they turn it into a privilege. They can do that by simply keeping the price up. But frankly, the argument is moot because no such technology exists yet and getting outraged over a crime that hasn't happened yet.
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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by K. A. Pital » 2018-05-28 03:06pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-05-27 05:01pm
The thing is, every technology is available in limited numbers before it becomes available in great quantity.
That is true. But you still don't see personal rockets, except for the ultra-rich.
Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-05-27 05:01pm
As such, I find it impossible to categorically oppose advances in medical science on the grounds that the rich will be the early adopters.
This is a utilitarian logic, which may carry a great deal of sense. It has its hidden dangers, however. If there is no equalizer between the rich and the poor, the power disparity also becomes infinite, and grotesque, much like shown in Altered Carbon where people damage their own bodies for the entertainment of an immortal oligarch clique.
Zixinus wrote:That's how we have horses you can ride on.
Funny example. The nomads were often dispossessed historical phenomena, but they had horses. A horse as capital, as means of production, is tied with the development of class societies in the feudal and early capitalist period. Its status as luxury now is also a result of our society's structure. Natural resources are now scarce, and most humans live in cities, so horse-keeping costs made it a luxury. Although originally it may have been accessible to non-propertied classes.

If this curve of adoption (totally inaccessible - widely accessible - only accessible for the rich) happens to vital future medtech, we're very fucked
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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by Zixinus » 2018-05-29 07:28am

Its status as luxury now is also a result of our society's structure. Natural resources are now scarce, and most humans live in cities, so horse-keeping costs made it a luxury.
No, what made it a luxury are the superiority of cars and industrial machines that made the horse obsolete and thus unnecessary. Before their spread, horses were more widespread but hardly cheap (a horse as a large animal with special needs and equipment is going to be inherently non-cheap). Except for certain, increasingly rare terrains, there is no need to use a horse in the developed world. Even people that own horses use cars to get to their horses. Any application for a horse can be archived better by other means, including therapy animals. Hence keeping horses is pointless except as a hobby, which is why they're a luxury. Hungary's entire horse population pretty much subsists on hobbyists and sports, as far as I can tell. Under such circumstances, it is not at all surprising that keeping a horse is a luxury, especially if you live in a city (an environment most unsuitable for a horse).

*I do not know what the picture would look like in less developed countries where cars would be more expensive but horses are still widespread, like Mongolia.
If this curve of adoption (totally inaccessible - widely accessible - only accessible for the rich) happens to vital future medtech, we're very fucked
But why would it happen like this?
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Re: The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-05-29 11:42am

Nomads also weren't using personal resources to maintain their horses, riding equipment and doctoring aside-- they were feeding their horses off the land wherever they were for the most part. That isn't available to the vast majority of horse owners today; you have to either have a large enough property for your horses to have sufficient pasturage, or feed them with grain/hay.
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