Daniel_Eth comments on On funding medical research - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Daniel_Eth 17 February 2018 02:55:32AM 0 points [-]

As long as we're talking about medical research from an EA perspective, I think we should consider funding therapies for reversing aging itself. In terms of scale, aging undoubtedly is by far the largest (100,000 people die from age-related diseases every single day, not to mention the psychological toll that aging causes). Aging is also quite neglected - very few researchers focus on trying to reverse it. Tractability is of course a concern here, but I think this point is a bit nuanced. Achieving a full and total cure for aging would clearly be quite hard. But what about a partial cure? What about a therapy that made 70 year olds feel and act like they were 50, and with an additional 20 years of life expectancy? Such a treatment may be much more tractable. At least a large part of aging seems to be due to several common mechanisms (such as DNA damage, accumulation of senescent cells, etc), and reversing some of these mechanisms (such as by restoring DNA, clearing the body of senescent cells, etc) might allow for such a treatment. Even the journal Nature (one of the 2 most prestigious science journals in the world) had a recent piece saying as much: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-01668-0

If anyone is interesting in funding research toward curing aging, the SENS Foundation (http://www.sens.org) is arguably your best bet.

Comment author: MichaelPlant 20 February 2018 09:41:35AM 1 point [-]

unsure why this was downvoted. I assume because many EAs think X-risk is a better bet than aging research. That would be a reason to disagree with a comment, but not to downvote, which is snarky. I upvoted for balance.

Comment author: MichaelStJules 26 February 2018 02:39:17AM 0 points [-]

I'm not sure I'd put it only on X-risk people. My understanding is that disease burden and DALYs are calculated using as a reference the highest life expectancy of any country by gender, which was previously Japanese women (now South Korean women?), and somewhere between 80 and 90 years. This means that deaths after this reference life expectancy simply don't count towards disease burden at all. I'd like to hypothesize that this and some of the downvotes may be due to what I suspect is a common intuition (perhaps not common in EA; I don't know): everyone ought to have an overall good life with a decent lifespan, i.e. "fair innings".

This "fair innings" might be part of why EAs are generally more concerned with global health and poverty than anti-aging. Maybe the stronger evidence for specific poverty/health interventions explains this better, though.

Mostly guesses on my part, of course.