Imagining Life Beyond Current Life Span study published in Innovation in Aging

In What is it like to be 572 year old? Self-imagining Open Lifespan; part 1, slides from 2017 I mentioned a philosophical thought experiment I thought up to have a device to exercise and test intuitions related to Open Lifespan from an individual point of view.

When I checked psychological research looking into distant self-simulation I’ve found that this philosophical idea can be exploited as a psychological tool. My favourite orienting academic paper was Turning I into me: Imagining your future self. So I contacted the first author, Professor C. Neil Macrae, out of the blue, who then connected me to the last author. The last author, now assistant professor of psychology, Brittany Tausen, then took the idea and turned it into a professional project: surveys were conducted including 700+ people enough for 3 different studies looking at different angles. We had a pretty good manuscript within ~3-4 months calculating from the birth of the idea itself, and that was early 2018. Next comes 2 years of painful peer-review experience at different journals, but eventually persistence, professionalism and innovation won, so here’s the paper, published in Innovation in Aging, and you can read it as free access!!!

The Mental Landscape of Imagining Life Beyond the Current Life Span: Implications for Construal and Self-Continuity

and here’s Translational Significance

The dialectics of Lifespan: Closed, Immortal, Open

A more descriptive, but alas longer, title would be: The dialectics of Lifespan: Mortal Closed, Infinite Immortal, Mortal Open.


In what follows I present an intentionally dialectical thought process of mine. Although it’s my first such explicit attempt, it’s been in the making for a while, so first does not mean immature or naive [1].

My philosophical education and willingness prepared me to express myself using the techniques and manners of analytical philosophy. But it also gave me plenty exposure to other traditions of philosophy. Dialectics has a pretty ancient, and as such, dignified, ancestry within Western-style philosophy, starting explicitly with Plato’s version of back-and-forth dialogue between usually Socrates and his partners in dialogue. In this post the main concern is a dialectic process extracted from Hegel by more contemporary philosophers of the analytical school.

By introducing a dialectical process concerning how our human lifespan can be considered in 3 different ways what I aim to gain are the following 3 features evoking reactions from the readers: 

  • Heuristic as an epistemological a-ha experience: by showing Open Lifespan through the lens of other, contradicting or opposing concepts
  • Existential Reality Check on what’s possible and feasible.
  • Political Message to instigate turning the Existential Reality check into a political expression by providing some of the heuristic.

What is not aimed here is to use the dialectical process as a distinctive method, as opposed to default analytical tools, and as having its own explanatory import. I believe that all dialectical processes present in philosophy, can be expressed in simple analytical means, devoid of this extra clothing, even if it means a reinterpretation of the ingredient concepts. On the other hand, I don’t claim, and stay neutral, whether all analytically presented concepts or arguments can be turned into dialectical processes.

Continue reading “The dialectics of Lifespan: Closed, Immortal, Open”

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. Continue reading “Open Lifespan and the economy of time, part 2: resources might be scarce, except human lifetime”

Open Lifespan and the economy of time, part 1: introduction, literature

(Observing) History is funny, in the horror movie sense of funny. Something’s funny going on, either as an external or an internal observation, sensation or impression. This is the second sense of funny, the strange, the odd, the weird. This is not the first sense of funny, the humorous one. The second sense of funny turns full creepy at the time of a crisis. In the current world situation we know exactly what causes this funny feeling, a pandemic that endangers our lives, livelihood, values and default societal structures in yet unknowns ways besides the known ones.

History-making, or changing the course of history by humans on the other hand, is not particularly funny, but can derivatively be, in both senses, when observed from the outside. Making history is … hard, in the first place. But, it can still be simple if the historical problem’s particularity suggest a fix, the universality of which can be recognised along that particular dimension. I believe that the proper reaction to the coronavirus pandemic is conceptually simple, but practically it’s not easy. Simple, but not easy.

In brief, the Coronavirus pandemic is the single most important practical argument I’ve ever seen emerging, to develop a robust healthy longevity technology protecting people of all ages & put that into the centre of human society and politics. In the pages of this book blog, I’ve worked out several such arguments myself but philosophical depth pales in comparison to this single actual biological reason. In my number one professional life, as the Founder of an aging/longevity startup I now work on a combined COVID-19 and immunosenescence targeted proteomics molecular test. Connecting biological survival to healthy longevity.

Apologies for this detour. It does not seem to me a detour anyway, but a way of showing the connection to what follows.

The bulk manuscript notes of the following project has been compiled together during fall/winter season of 2019. Last time I worked on this more seriously was in this January, when I could still afford that in the evenings, as my secret pet philosophy sub-project. It had ~2 readers so far, coming from the specific philosophical tradition, the texts of which my text is using. For many it might seem esoteric, because of the concepts and references. Am just going ahead and break it into parts to be able to share it here and make on-the-fly corrections, addendums, re-writes, logical re-grouping to lighten it up.

Here it goes. Continue reading “Open Lifespan and the economy of time, part 1: introduction, literature”

Correspondence with Graham Oppy on mathematical difference between infinite & indefinitely long lifespans; part 3

For the initial email exchange please see: Correspondence with Graham Oppy on mathematical difference between infinite & indefinitely long lifespans; part 1

For second email exchange please see: Correspondence with Graham Oppy on mathematical difference between infinite & indefinitely long lifespans; part 2

Email #5, 24th of February, 2020

Hi Graham,

the difference between indefinite and infinite lifespan I want to grab mathematically is this, conceptually framing it: if one is treated with what I call Open Healthspan Technology, all of the known internal ageing related caused of death is prevented, but this does not mean that there won’t be unknown ones emerging that might kill people off, and it certainly does not mean any external causes of death (all of your wipe-our scenarios and much more) will be eliminated, so this means indefinite lifespan with a daily non-zero mortality rate.

As opposed to this scenario, infinite lifespan is what I call immortality means a zero mortality rate on a daily basis, so practical invincibility that applies to all known ways to death (internal and external) that now can be avoided. And here we can include all of your wipe-our scenarios too. Continue reading “Correspondence with Graham Oppy on mathematical difference between infinite & indefinitely long lifespans; part 3”

Correspondence with Graham Oppy on mathematical difference between infinite & indefinitely long lifespans; part 2

For the initial email exchange please see: Correspondence with Graham Oppy on mathematical difference between infinite & indefinitely long lifespans; part 1

Email #3, 24th of February, 2020

Hi Graham,
thanks, I’m blown away by the breadth of this argument, and the finite list assumption on strong upper bound ‘wipe-out’ events of humanity’s existence make sense. I need to think a bit more on exactly what kind of mathematical argument is this, seems familiar from analysis, some middle value kind of argument maintaining existence but not showing unicity of an opportunity, but am running ahead of myself.
However, my question is really framed with an individual human being in mind, and assumes a technology that eliminates all internal aging-related (very distal and not proxy) causes of death and assumes only non-zero chance of dying every day (every minute, every second,…) from external causes. Continue reading “Correspondence with Graham Oppy on mathematical difference between infinite & indefinitely long lifespans; part 2”

Correspondence with Graham Oppy on mathematical difference between infinite & indefinitely long lifespans; part 1

Email #1, 8th of February, 2020

Dear Professor Oppy,
Attila Csordas here, aging/longevity biologist and philosopher, based in Cambridge, UK. My philosophical work concentrates on the philosophy of indefinite longevity, the upper limit, still possible scenario of biomedical life extension technologies, with a non-zero mortality rate. ‘Indefinite’ here capture the possibility of technology providing indefinitely long lives but also capture (epistemologically) our current scientific understanding (or better the lack of) of being genuinely uncertain about how far we are able to push human lifespan with technology. Just because we know no bounds here, it does not mean this that there are no bounds. This formulation is new and am working on a book on it, called Open Lifespan However still majority of people are stuck with the term immortality and its connotations when thinking about this, both pro and contra, so am looking for ways and examples to phrase indefinity and indefiniteness helping me clearly to distantiate it from infinity. Continue reading “Correspondence with Graham Oppy on mathematical difference between infinite & indefinitely long lifespans; part 1”

Aging is agings: towards a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 4, Success criteria

In the first part of this study, Aging is agings: towards a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 1, definition a new definition of biological aging(s) was introduced.

In the second part Aging is agings: towards a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 2, Explication we argued why the ‘need and must’ to come up with a consensus definition and that there’s strong reasons it should be a so called explicative definition a la Carnap.

In the third part, Aging is agings: a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 3, Recursion we explained what recursion means in the proposed definition and how it is structured further. Also we have added one modification to the proposed definitions, that is now the following:

‘Biological aging is agings underneath, the result of multiple, separate, diverse, interconnected, but malleable processes, eventually compromising normal functions of the organism at different rates and at all levels.’

Today we connect the second, explicative and third, recursive parts by going back to the 4 criteria Carnap lists for a  – good, or at least functional – scientific explicatum to meet: 

i., similarity to the explicandum, 

ii., exactness to introduce the explicatum ‘into a well-connected system of scientific concepts’,

iii., fruitfulness to be useful in formulating empirical laws or logical theorems, I take this feature roughly the same as scientific ‘utility’, ‘applicability’ or ‘productivity’,

iv., simplicity as simple as possible and allowed by the above 3 criteria.

In what follows I fill in the blanks in the separate rows of the success criteria column concerning the proposed recursive solution and will also add 2 additional criteria, that of flexibility and formal correctness. Continue reading “Aging is agings: towards a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 4, Success criteria”

Agings: the irreducible plurality of aging

The focus of our investigation here has always been on biological aging. In our recursive definition attempt the main suggestion is that out of the irreducible plurality of diverse but interconnected biological aging processes operating on the molecular, cellular and other sub-organismal levels, organismal, individual level biological aging can be understood and interventions can be designed against it.

But we need a step back here and acknowledge a more fundamental irreducible plurality of the aging concept, a sort of global version of the local plurality of biological aging , namely that the default aging concept has been used in several different meanings already. This global plurality comes first as aging usually presents itself in different variants depending on the domain we are talking about it.

We can talk about aging of living things but we can also talk about aging of non-living objects, natural (planets, rivers) or human-made (cars, houses, pipes).

Within living, biological organisms we usually talk about species level specific aging, out of which human aging is our default version, not surprisingly.

Within human or human-related aging we have many versions, some of them I captured in the figure below, and biological aging, the one with medical consequences is only one of them.

At the core of all aging concepts is chronological aging, the passage of time, that can be registered, measured. Since our mode of existence is temporal (spatiotemporal) everything we do, experience and observe has a temporal aspect, an aspect that gives rise to all of our possible aging concepts.

Some domains or subjects of human activity are relatively atemporal, here a good example is mathematics Continue reading “Agings: the irreducible plurality of aging”

The ladder of causation in aging

Starting a series related to causation and aging, this being part 1. Don’t expect super-systematic explication, more like inter-linked fragments.

My October, 2019 Philosophy PhD Seminar talk at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest had a twin-focus, one on a recursive definition of biological aging, the second on causation in aging. The two questions are conceptually interconnected at a level of figuring out whether the hallmark processes used to define biological aging can be considered necessary or sufficient causes of the overall biological aging process. My understanding of causation has been profoundly influenced by Judea Pearl & Dana Mackenzie’s The Book of Why and in general by Pearl’s causal inference handling technique, one source being Bayesian networks, another source being counterfactual probabilities amongst others. As a biologist am already indebted to a different Bayesian analysis method and as an analytically trained I’ve been using counterfactual type of analysis all the time, being at the core of thought experimentation. To my surprise, I’ve also managed to attract the attention of Judea Pearl himself on Twitter to the problematics and need for a proper causal analysis related to biological aging. Let’s see whether we can turn the attention into concentration.

The first several posts in the series is going to be a quick write-up of my slides I presented. The slides are available here.

Please see below how I consider at first the different, yet fundamental causation layers in the context of aging. I dubbed this figure as The ladder of causation in aging as an obvious paraphrase/allusion of Pearl’s Ladder of causation, and while there’s a lot of connection between the 2 ladders, there’s no strict mapping between the different shelves. Basically, all 3 ladders of Pearl’s causation ladder – association, intervention, counterfactuals – are aspects that can be examined, considered, excluded, applied in the context of the different layers in aging.

The bottom step of the ladder is also the most mysterious level that seems to be so intimately linked with all things aging that many people cannot think further: time. Continue reading “The ladder of causation in aging”