Via InstaPundit, the new Futurisms blog from The New Atlantis is providing some live and in-depth coverage of the Singularity Summit with surprisingly restrained snark for an organization that takes such pride in its association with Leon Kass. Of course, the snark does come through from time to time, along with what appears to be genuine puzzlement over the tone of much of the audience reaction to certain ideas. Here’s a snippet:
A questioner asks what the FDA has to say about this, since they don’t recognize aging as a disease (yet). Benford calls on David Rose to answer the question. Rose says the FDA is regulating health, but he says “everyone in this room is going to hell in a handbasket, not because of one or two genetic diseases,” but because we’re getting uniformly worse through aging. And that, he says, is what they’re trying to stop. Scattered but voracious applause and cheering. It’s that same phenomenon again â€” this weird rally attitude of yeah, you tell ‘em! Who is it that they think they’re sticking it to? Or what?
Gosh, I can’t imagine. Maybe it’s people who, upon seriously examining radical life extension, immediately start looking for ways to “help in forming the sort of public opinion that will be necessary to stave off some of these developments.” Or maybe it’s those who describe the inevitability of aging in poetic, if not romanticized terms…
This drama of growing old, passing down, and passing on is hardly new. It has always been at the heart of the human lifecycle, recognized by the wise men and women of every age
…and who put the blame for increases in dementia (and the increased fear of the possibility thereof that many suffer from as they age) squarely where it belongs — medical progress:
The rising prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in old age only makes these questions about the trajectory of life more acute. Besides the normal fear of senescence and death, many people are horrified at the thought of ending their lives only after a long period not just of physical frailty and disability but also of mental incapacitation, impaired memory, diminished awareness, loss of modesty and self-control, distortion of personality and temperament, inability to recognize friends and loved ones, and general dullness and enfeeblement of inner life. It seems a cruel irony that the very medical advances that have kept many of us reasonably healthy into a ripe old age have, by the same token, exposed us to the ravages of incurable and progressive dementia, and to the prospect that our life’s drama may well end with an extended final act marked by a gradual descent into mindlessness.
You can see how the New Atlantis gang might have a hard time connecting the dots, here. They have achieved such a lofty moral, spiritual, and intellectual state that they have a difficult time even imagining that the positions they routinely take on issues — being manifestly and self-evidently correct — could be seriously opposed by anyone, much less in a vocal and enthusiastic way.