ELON MUSK REMAINS CAUTIOUS

We are increasing our understanding of health, sickness, death — of aging. The hope, of course, is that the requisite knowledge for fully understanding and thus mitigating aging isn’t some infinite chase, meaning that if we double or quadruple our knowledge, then again, then again, and then again, we’re still only part-way to understanding.

That’s a depressing thought.

Put it aside. Fact is, we are increasing our knowledge in absolute terms and this should mean raising the overall age of death for all humans and almost certainly increasing the age — the lifespan — of me, you, of those in the developed world keenly interested in life extension.

Maybe you live to age 80, 90, 115 — healthy, vigorous, aware, then die in your sleep.

Another depressing thought — don’t put it aside: until that final moment, the very last moment of alive, you are distracted, stressed out, deeply in debt.

I find the juxtaposition of hope — that we are nearing “curing” aging — with the clear and present truth — that more people are more in debt, for longer, and far into their senior years — a useful reminder that all that we leave behind, all the cruft of past life, is often replaced with far more cruft, stuff, and rough hewing than ever anticipated.

Udean Murray, a 62-year-old retired telephone operator in Brooklyn, relies on more than a dozen credit cards to make ends meet. Her prescription medication often goes on a Capital One card. She pays for groceries with one from Discover Financial Services.

The amount of debt owed by American consumers, which receded in the wake of the financial crisis, is again on the rise. Outstanding credit card debt — the total balances that customers roll from month to month — hit a record $1 trillion this year, according to the Federal Reserve.

Picture this: there’s a breakthrough in life extension. You gain ten more years, maybe twenty.

Question: What will you be charged for one extra decade of life?

A million dollars? The deed to your home? 24×7 worry? The loss of freedom, dignity, autonomy over your life?

Will you ever even see a price tag?

There are few guarantees in (long) life. Here’s one: credit card companies will use all their resources to fine-tune their AI to entice you into debt and keep you there.

That’s not a singularity.

That’s not AI enslaving or eradicating humanity.

That’s merely the profit motive.

Elon Musk-backed Artificial Intelligence company “OpenAI” used a bot to wallop the best DOTA2 players in the world. To be honest, it wasn’t even close. Instead of trying to program the perfect bot (a task that would have required an exhausting amount of programming due to the complicated nature of the game) OpenAI simply created a bot that learned through trial and error.

The AI learns through trial and error at near light speed. You?

Gaining good, such as the ability to live healthfully to age 120, for example, is targeted magic, it doesn’t destroy all the bad and all the unnecessary nor even all the great stuff, such as AIs and profits, which can be turned bad.

Japan, whose people are notoriously long-lived and quietly desperate for companionship, is on the leading edge of merging like-human avatars and robots with individually responsive AI. For now, this is more wondrous than frightening.

Wondrous:

Famous android creator and robot scientist Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro sees the interaction between humans and the AI embedded in speakers or robots as central to both approaches. From there, the approaches differ greatly.

“It is about more than the difference of form. Speaking to an Amazon Echo is not a natural kind of interaction for humans. That is part of what we in Japan are creating in many human-like robot systems,” he says. “The human brain is constructed to recognize and interact with humans. This is part of why it makes sense to focus on developing the body for the AI mind as well as the AI mind itself. In a way, you can describe it as the difference between developing an assistant, which could be said to be what many American companies are currently doing, and a companion, which is more the focus here in Japan.”

Frightening:

Another advantage is that robots are more kawaii—a multifaceted Japanese word that can be translated as “cute”—than speakers are. This makes it easy for people to relate to them and forgive them.

Picture this, it’s very easy to do: Chase Manhattan acquires Sony, strikes a partnership with Softbank, and has China’s Foxconn manufacture AI-infused, emotionally inciting androids, then offers these for free to everyone over age 60, provided they get a Chase Manhattan credit card and spend at least $6,000 on the card in the first 3 months of use.

Charges 19% interest.

Sets minimum payments to no more than 5% of your balance.

And you live for 6o more years with this fast-learning, highly connected, (artificial) companion that is constantly — literally, constantly, and in ways you can’t possibly keep up with — encouraging you to spend, buy, consume.

Age 90, still with another 20+ years of healthy living remaining, you have no money, few assets, a micro-apartment filled with junk, and your closest, dearest friend, the bot you’ve had for 30 years, somehow convinces you, that day, like every day, to spend more.

Worth it?

I want to live a long time.

I want to live a long time, being healthy and vigorous and alert the entire time, or extremely close, and then die peacefully, all my loved ones knowing how much they meant to me.

Bonus, maybe I leave them each something beyond our treasured memories.

Curing aging does not cure everything.

Stay vigilant against those who would drip drip drip the life out of you.