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posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday January 13 2015, @04:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the ought-to-be-enough-for-anybody dept.

The Guardian has an interesting article on the current quest sweeping Silicon Valley to disrupt death and the $1m prize challenging scientists to “hack the code of life” and push human lifespan past its apparent maximum of about 120 years. Hedge Fund Manager Joon Yun's Palo Alto Longevity Prize, which 15 scientific teams have so far entered, will be awarded in the first instance for restoring vitality and extending lifespan in mice by 50%:

Billionaires and companies are bullish about what they can achieve. In September 2013 Google announced the creation of Calico, short for the California Life Company. Its mission is to reverse engineer the biology that controls lifespan and “devise interventions that enable people to lead longer and healthier lives”. Though much mystery surrounds the new biotech company, it seems to be looking in part to develop age-defying drugs. In April 2014 it recruited Cynthia Kenyon, a scientist acclaimed for work that included genetically engineering roundworms to live up to six times longer than normal, and who has spoken of dreaming of applying her discoveries to people. “Calico has the money to do almost anything it wants,” says Tom Johnson, an earlier pioneer of the field now at the University of Colorado who was the first to find a genetic effect on longevity in a worm.

Why might tech zillionaires choose to fund life extension research? Three reasons reckons Patrick McCray, a historian of modern technology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. First, if you had that much money wouldn’t you want to live longer to enjoy it? Then there is money to be made in them there hills. But last, and what he thinks is the heart of the matter, is ideology. If your business and social world is oriented around the premise of “disruptive technologies”, what could be more disruptive than slowing down or “defeating” ageing? “Coupled to this is the idea that if you have made your billions in an industrial sector that is based on precise careful control of 0s and 1s, why not imagine you could extend this to the control of atoms and molecules?,” he says.

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  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday January 15 2015, @05:42PM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 15 2015, @05:42PM (#135178) Journal

    OMFG somebody who actually believes the "job creators" myth!

    You appear even more ignorant now.

    BTW I'm only too happy to back mine up with citations and figures because its not exactly a secret.

    Your citations and figures are deeply in error because the rich never pay the top margin tax rate - not then, not now. Having said that, it is worth noting that both Reagan and Clinton eras probably resulted in a modest increase in the real top marginal tax rate due to the elimination of complex tax loopholes and other simplifications of the tax code.

    and the rest is hoarded in offshore accounts and tax dodges

    Again, you are ignoring the effects of inflation. If I were a billionaire hoarding my billion dollars over the period 1973-2013, it will have dropped in value by just over 80%. Instead, real world wealthy people greatly increased their wealth. They did so by investing the great majority of it rather than "hoarding" it.

    But I can wallpaper this page with facts and figures all day

    Erroneous "facts and figures" are completely irrelevant. Reasoned argument goes a lot further with me.

    Here's the problems with your arguments as I see them. First, you completely miss the dominant economic problem for the US and the rest of the developed world, labor competition from the rest of the world. Because the supply of labor increased dramatically due to the ability to ship goods from anywhere in the world, labor has less pricing power in the developed world than it used to have. Capital on the other hand is an input that hasn't changed all that much. So the end result is that people in the developed world who generate their wealth via labor have a tougher time than if they generate their wealth via capital. This situation obviously favors wealthy people.

    Second, there are natural ways for wealth to move from the wealthy to those who are not. Three in particular are employment, purchase of luxury goods, and charity. While charities currently run relatively unimpeded (though there are the occasional threats to close the "loophole" of tax deductible charity donation), the other two have been massively interfered with. The developed world has tossed all sorts of constraints and costs on top of employing people (and unpopular industries which used to employ a lot of people). It should come as no surprise that this has discouraged employment and the transfer of wealth from the wealthy to the rest of society. Instead this wealth is transferred [] to the rest of the world.

    Why should we punitively tax the wealthy? I think we should rather fix what we broke in our developed world societies. Similarly, we should accept that labor value is going to continue to decline for a few decades rather than stick it to the wealthy for a problem they didn't create and don't have much to do with.