Nick Bostrom’s Posts

Why We Need a War on Aging

Based on presentation given at 2009 World Economic Forum in the Live Long and Prosper session, January 28, 2009 by Professor Julian Savulescu.

  1. There is no normal human life span, or if there is, it was very short.

Life-expectancy for the ancient Romans was circa 23 years; today the average life-expectancy in the world is circa 64 years.

For the past 150 years, best-performance life-expectancy (i.e. life-expectancy in the country where it is highest) has increased at a very steady rate of 3 months per year.

  1. Aging is the biggest cause of death and misery in humanity.

100 000 people die per day from age-related causes.  150 000 people die per day in total. Cardiovascular disease (strongly age-related) is emerging as the biggest cause of death in the developing world.

  1. Progress is possible

The goal should be to extend the HEALTHY, PRODUCTIVE lifespan, not to just keep people alive longer on respirators or in old people's homes. This is embodied in the concept not of life span but “health span”.  The easiest way to do this is to prolong healthy life not attempt to compress morbidity

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Brain Boosting and Cheating in Exams: Four Responses

A report by the Academy of Medical Sciences looking at different aspects of drug use and mental health has identified a growing trend for off-label use of drugs intended for the treatment of diseases including narcolepsy, ADHD and Alzheimer’s. The use of such drugs by a healthy individual can improve memory, alertness and concentration. While the report does not condemn the practice, it raises a number of potential concerns over safety, and fairness. Professor Les Iversen, report co-author, highlighted concerns that the use of enhancement in exams would unfairly advantage wealthier students, and suggested that the use of such drugs could be considered cheating. The report recommends that legislation is prepared to tackle the misuse of such drugs, including the potential for urine testing in schools and universities.

Below are responses from Julian Savulescu, Nick Bostrom, Anders Sandberg and Mark Sheehan on the effects of cognitive enhancing drugs, and the issue of cheating

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