Eliminating aging also has the potential for strong negative long-term effects.
Agreed. One way you can frame what I’m saying is that I’m putting forward a neutral thesis: anti-aging could have big effects. I’m not necessarily saying they would be good (though personally I think they would be).
Even if you didn’t want aging to be cured, it still seems worth thinking about it because if it were inevitable, then preparing for a future where aging is cured is better than not preparing.
Another potentially major downside is the stagnation of research. If Kuhn is to be believed, a large part of scientific progress comes not from individuals changing their minds, but from outdated paradigms being displaced by more effective ones.
I think this is real, and my understanding is that empirical research supports this. But the theories I have read also assume a normal aging process. It is quite probable that bad ideas stay alive mostly because the proponents are too old to change their mind. I know for a fact that researchers in their early 20s change their mind quite a lot, and so a cure to aging would also mean more of that.
I know for a fact that researchers in their early 20s change their mind quite a lot, and so a cure to aging would also mean more of that.
As I wrote here, I think this could be due (in part) to biases accumulated by being in a field (and being alive) longer, not necessarily (just) brain aging. I’d guess that more neuroplasticity or neurogenesis is better than less, but I don’t think it’s the whole problem. You’d need people to lose strong connections, to “forget” more often.
Also, people’s brains up until their mid 20s are still developing and pruning connections.
There are some scientists who roamed around and never really crystallized (famous examples being Freeman Dyson and Francis Crick)
George Church is over 60 and I’ve heard some people refer to him as a “child”, given that he seems to not strongly identify with strongly held beliefs or connections (he’s also not especially attached to a certain identity). I talked to him—he cares more about regeneration/rejuvenation—or maintaining the continuity of consciousness and the basic gist of his personality/mode of being than about maintaining specific memories (regeneration/rejuvenation research may ultimately come down to replacing old parts of your brain or identity with new untrained tissue—this is where developmental biology/SCRB becomes especially relevant). In fact, he’s unironically bullish about anti-aging therapies coming in his lifetime
I think this could be due (in part) to biases accumulated by being in a field (and being alive) longer, not necessarily (just) brain aging.
I’m not convinced there is actually that much of a difference between long-term crystallization of habits and natural aging. I’m not qualified to say this with any sort of confidence. It’s also worth being cautious about confidently predicting the effects of something like this in either direction.