Longevity education/coordination problem
Everything is about making the most use out of your incredibly limited time. Longevity means valuing your time to the utmost and having strategic genius. Be the least self-limiting person possible. Longevity is about envisioning abundance/post-scarcity - The Purpose of Technology . Make it happen for more people, and resources will flow into your direction.
longevity is hard, and everyone has different capacities for “hard work” (see Grad school is worse for public health than STDs | benkuhn.net ). Despite this, there are so many ways to reduce the amount of unnecessary hard work to make a dent in longevity. Laura Deming managed to skip out on most of the unnecessary hard/back-breaking work (look at her YouTube videos carefully), but there can only be one Laura, and her shaping the future narrative is dependent on the hard (and difficult work) of many. bioscience (esp broad institute high-throughput metabolomics) depends on focused effort for long periods of time.
Not everyone has to go to school or get a soul-crushing job to make a dent in longevity. The sooner we can get rid of stupid requirements for being taken seriously, the better. Even getting a PhD is no guarantee that one will consistently produce good work in the future - many people “lose it” later in life, and proof-of-competence depends on the recent past more than the current one. Nathan Cheng spends ALL of his time influencing the longevity dialogue and connecting people, even if he is completely and totally out of scientific research/lab work (and even though he burned out so hard on physics that he doesn’t do physics anymore, even though we wish he could transfer his physics knowledge to biophysics of aging work, of which we need MORE work in). Network effects may be of such that the value of semi-multithreaded people like Nathan may still scale with the number of ultra-singlethreaded longevity researchers in the world.
Some of the busywork done in past decades can easily be automated away (Tony Kulesa remarked that Dhash could complete his PhD thesis in a small fraction of the time it took for his PhD thesis). Many professors high-level content to the point that they spend all their time supervising their students and no longer have to manage laboratory experiments themselves. While this is possible, it should not be a universally encouraged practice.
There may be (recursive) game-theoretic calculations on how much work everyone should be expected to do in the coordinated effort to “make a dent in longevity”. Some people naturally have higher pain thresholds than others, whereas other’s performance (and integrity) quickly decrease under hours of coordinated action. There is a very real tradeoff between “having the focus needed to do broad institute research” and “having the breadth to develop taste and to “. Oftentimes, “high-breadth” people are more antifragile than “depth first” people. Some people intrinsically realize this, and impose significant socialization pressure on people to “focus” on one thing and not get sidetracked on so many things. There seem to not be many people who do “high breadth” well, but the ones who do it well (even the Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow - Wikipedia guy - we wish he and Balaji had more biochemistry knowledge but his book here have already caused both of them to influence the social dialogue far more than most traditional longevity researchers who are overbenchmarked) can have undue influence over the dialogue/narrative.
As there is no longevity curriculum anywhere (other than at USC), one is often needed to craft one’s own curriculum if one is to have a first-principles approach of “longevity”. Bioengineering is THE field to make the biggest dent, but mainstream biogerontology is a separate field from bioengineering, and bioengineering courses tend to cover many broad topics but at a sacrifice to depth or rigor. LEARN AN AREA WHERE YOU DO NOT FORGET WHAT YOU LEARNED. This is much easier with self-directed learning (or taking limited classes over a LONG period of time starting from age 14/15 all the way to 25-30 [ longevity is ABOUT SPREADING YOUR TIME OUT] rather than cramming several classes [with unmotivated problem sets] into one quarter where you forget most of what you learnd and don’t inspire others to learn the way you do)
Some people can be expected to do rigor, while others’ integrity quickly declines if they are made to feel insecure about their intelligence, pain threshold, or technical abiities. Know that aging is a MUCH more multi-modal field than most other academic fields, so if you’re weak at experiment AND theory and don’t score the highest on the dumb (often g-loaded) status games that others play, you may still have strengths in understanding OTHERS who do aging OR in crafting the narrative of aging. Being an executive assistant is one way to become relevant/impressive even if you’re weak at what the hypergeniuses excel at (sadly this is not what school rewards people for).
What else is needed: extreme amounts of kindness
- “life is a marathon not a sprint” (but in some cases, a sprint may be the only realistic otion)
- knowing that EVERY item on your wishlist is basically fulfilled (with all the billionaire capital in the world) if you show you’re competent, high-integrity, and indispensable. Make your wishlist public and people will want to fill them (there’s almost zero downside risk in making this)
- Creating a curriculum based on bionumbers AND problem sets out of first principles rather than horrifyingly boring “lever and pulley” problems used in physics textbooks that no one wants to know or remember. Learn terms like persistence length of DNA
- One on one mentorship (or socratic learning) almost always beats classes at 1x speed where most people forget almost everything after the lecture. There is so much waste/inefficiency that there are many pareto improvements associated with just reducing the unnecessary unfun
- many standard values (love, maximizing agency/minizming unfun computations, “learning”, breaking Girardian traps of excessive mimesis/desire to learn all the same things, cultivating taste, “proper allocation of reward to those who deserve it best pas incentive]”, cultivating wholesome individuals,cultivating “kind disgreeable individuals”, NLP/exophora-based autosummarization, even learning physics) can all be reframed in terms of “longevity-first” problems or “it’s good for you” problems. Mainstream/default option GUARANTES death and you NEED non-default in order to make real progress
- changing information flows to be more open . There’s a risk that too much openness can cause people to copy/mimic each other rather than “do their own work”, but it can also be used to guide people towards the opposite (Odetta Li: “One problem that i think needs to be dealt with is what to do with convergent invention/simultaneous invention”)
- making sure that the people who matter don’t waste time on “stupid stuff” like checking crypto prices or comparison shopping. Those who increase others’ longevity the most should have the highest value placed on their time (almost by definition) and a rationalist society should monetize this value placed on their time
- Adopting information flows to the new GPT4 era and databases to be lossless/high-resolution (“If you don’t know what you’ll need to do with your data, store it in a way where you can do everything with it later. Those formats are called “free objects”” - Jimmy Koppel) and of the proper “type” and parseable (somehow) by future AI (even if not by humans) to make it easier for “AI to solve longevity” if we are to believe in non-zero chance of fast AI takeoff (a la Sam Altman or much of the EA crowd)
- Making it accessible and FUN to new people.
- Scaling up taste (it can’t just be a few longevity ppl who have high-taste, but taste can only be trained in a semi-supervised/RL matter, not an unsupervised or purely supervised matter).
- strenghtening up some feedback loops so people don’t associate “hard work” with “faster aging” unnecessarily (a risk)
Some people are super-high-kindness and even if they are not the “most impressive”, can still play important support roles if they make it easier for others to do the real work (they can unstick sticky points that others make). Even if you’re ADHD, a distributed support role may be possible even if it makes you unable to do hard things while maintaining integrity (but not everyone can be like this). DO NOT COMPROMISE ON INTEGRITY WHEN YOU FINALLY FIND THE RIGHT PEOPLE (it’s sometimes hard when you grow up in K12 and when “everything is stupid” and you have to minimize the amount of time spent in braindead lectures but once you meet the RIGHT people in longevity/AI/“the edge”, make sure you stay high-integrity).
Creating the right longevity outlines can help A LOT for streamlining how to make people find the right research areas/avoid, though it’s possible that current outlines may be too “overfitted” and currently made by those who “don’t fully get everything”. The amount of knowledge in calorie restriction/slowing aging down is MUCH MUCH higher than the amount of knowledge in regenerative medicine/Jean Hebert stuff, and the latter stuff is not so densely populated by people yet. Once the field gets sufficiently populated enough, there will be massive numbers of people who summarize it all well so you don’t have to read it all and you can focus on the Jean Hebert stuff.
Alex, I think that you should try to understand your friend Matthew’s model of Habermas. You’re right that he tracks the plot and he’s unusually conscious about it for someone with his level of privilege (and thus perceived incentive to be unconscious of it). The whole life extension project and the set of associated projects that you are interested in are currently impossible because of a collapse of discourse and it’s replacement with a hyperreality simulacrum of discourse that has been described in obscurantist prose which validates participation as inevitable for those already committed to participating but which doesn’t present itself for recognition to those who don’t already perceive the social phenomenon as part of a post-discoursive “nihilist project”. You are basically the most perceptive good-faith observer of that simulacrum, so it’s up to you to convince the talented and saavy people you find, such as Matthew and Sonia, that if they reject the nihilist project a more satisfying life would become available than the gracious consciousness of a dying world which is all that privilege has to offer.
You can’t accomplish this project, however, without shedding some of the ‘innocence’ which you have been preserving. I understand how you are temporarily dependent upon that ‘innocence’ to make you non threatening and to preserve your social access, but if you can convince them to reject the slow suicide of absurdism, (which will require looking, and thus requires shedding innocence) they can craft cover identities for the NEETs who retain the intention to use narratives structurally rather than for the allocation of credit via the skapegoating process, as was obviously necessary for the current society to arise and as will likewise be necessary for the creation of any liveable future society.