Open Lifespan and the economy of time, part 2: resources might be scarce, except human lifetime

In the first post of this series I introduced my study applying, connecting concepts in the Marxian tradition to my problem and programme, that of Open Lifespan. Also I referenced the texts, I’ve been using. More often than, not, this investigation will lead to showing philosophical differences from this tradition, but expressed with the vocabulary of this tradition. The content of the current post has been sharped that way.

Summary of study

The rough summary of these notes: Open Healthspan as a Service (Product) completely re-defines production as an activity by re-producing, re-generating indefinitely Open Lifespan bodies, including that of Open Healthspan workers providing this very services. This service leaves no space for alienation anymore. No objectification of labour, no externalisation of work -> no alienation. An Open Life society, equipped with Open Healthspan as the main service product implements the real economy of time by exclusively producing additional healthy human lifetime. It neutralises the logic of capital but not killing it off with a revolution or anything. Just makes it redundant by making abundance in only one dimension by default, that of biological human lives. Leaves scarcity in other dimensions as it is.

Open Lifespan Possible World

Here we consider Open Life as a possible world, where Open Healthspan Technologies are developed and accessible enough that all people can choose to go through continuous interventions to counteract the biological aging process and have a fixed, small but nonzero mortality rate due to external causes of death.

Open Lifespan is open-ended, indefinite healthy lifespan, ‘Open Life’ is a life lived with Open Lifespan. Open Lifespan is based on Open Healthspan a technological possibility to counteract ongoing biological aging processes in the human body, to keep age-associated functional decline and increasing mortality continuously at bay.

While an open-ended, indefinite life is mortal, it is not essentially bounded or infinite. It is what it is: indefinite. It is uncertain, as we just don’t know how far biomedical science and technology can push human lifespan. Just because we don’t know the bounds, it does not mean it is boundless and we can still die in any minute due to external circumstances, giving us a non-zero probability of dying any day, just like in our current, all-too-familiar Closed Lifespan. Open Lifespan defined this way is sandwiched between our current, mortal and naturally capped Closed Lifespan and the imagined and biomedically impossible scenario called Immortality constructed with infinite lifespan, defying death and defying reality once and for all. This latter point of view, called ‘sub specie aeternitatis’ has strong backings within the classical philosophical tradition.

Open Life can refer to an individual life looked from a personal standpoint. But it can refer to an alternative, counterfactual possible world where all (most) people have Open Lifespan, so an Open Life Society

Concepts, abbreviations used below: 

Open Lifespan (OL) Citizen: citizens living in an OL society.

Open Healthspan (OH) Worker: OL citizens working in the core OH industry of OL society.

Scarcity and abundance: Marx’s solution vs Open Lifespan

Scarcity as a problem arises when there’s more demand for a particular resource/product/service (~goods) than the available/accessible amount of the particular resource/product/service. Keep in mind that this is a relative concept of scarcity where demand is relativised to the available amount of the particular good, and not an absolute one, focusing only to the quantity available. According to one solution by Marx, socialism and its underlying centralised time economy can only be guaranteed by continuous overproduction of goods. Time and time allocation is so crucial for the Marxian system, more on this in another part of this study, but also it is assumed to be a fixed amount both in the day-centric, operational sense of time, as in a day consists of only 24 hours, and in the sense of human lifespan, the amount of time, bounded by ‘natural’ necessities. So Marx’s solution is that everything can be overproduced, and all resources and goods can be made abundant, except human lifetime. In short, Marx assumes, that although life is short for humans, but everything else can be made abundant and then the best possible society can be built up. Ideal, utopistic elements are abound in a sense of too many resource variables assumed to be maximalised relatively compared to needs, alongside with the a heavy, essentialist anthropological package concerning human nature, more on this in yet another post.

As opposed to this, the Open Lifespan scenario only considers one variable, that of the length of human lifespan and makes it indefinitely abundant. It is not an absolute abundance though, not immortality and infinite amount of time as explained above, but a relative one. This is because lifespan is something people have quite an indefinitely large demand of. I don’t need to go deeply psychological to assume, that when people are asked to consider their expected ends, they want to just squeeze more out of their lives on Earth. And not just healthy people, but even terminally sick people, unless in endless pain or disability, want just more days to be able to stay agents, capable of activities. What is assumed then in Open Lifespan, is a freed up variable for human lifespan, a truly open one, and this corresponds to our indefinite demand to the the content of this variable. But no other explicit assumptions are made for other resources besides what a sufficiently advanced biomedical Open Healthspan technology assumes to be at hand. This means potential scarcity in other resources.

On the other hand, this scenario is just an upper limiting case possible world scenario of an already existing trajectory, that of the increase of human life expectancy, mainly extending late life. (Yes, there might be external setbacks, like a pandemic, but there’s enough long term data, covering centuries showing the trend.) And this kind of change, relating to increasing lifespan is always incremental, never ever like a jump as you cannot make time just jump and fast-forward decades. You are not going to have 200 year old people around for at least another 150 years or so.

And our question is then methodological asking which is the more utopistic, idealistic scenario out of these 2 contrasted here? Which is closer to this world, you think? Which one is more relevant to understand where our current world is heading?

  1. The one assuming multidimensional abundance or the one extending just one dimension based on the deep understanding of scientific/technological possibilities.
  2. The one requiring a total overthrow of the existing social, economical, political system, a revolution leading to the establishment of a new system overnight or the one that cannot ever be put in place overnight and definitely not with a total overthrow of existing societal systems, but one that builds upon acceleration of existing biomedical, scientific and technological trends, yet does not – necessarily – rely on revolution in the social sense?