Category Archives: Technology and Society

Net Neutrality

Those protesting the decision are going after the wrong targets:

Fifteen years ago, when I started blogging, it was common to hear that “the internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” You don’t hear that so often anymore, because it’s not true. China has proven very effective at censoring the internet, and as market power has consolidated in the tech industry, so have private firms.

Meanwhile, our experience of the internet is increasingly controlled by a handful of firms, most especially Google and Facebook. The argument for regulating these companies as public utilities is arguably at least as strong as the argument for thus regulating ISPs, and very possibly much stronger; while cable monopolies may have local dominance, none of them has the ability that Google and Facebook have to unilaterally shape what Americans see, hear, and read.

In other words, we already live in the walled garden that activists worry about, and the walls are getting higher every day. Is this a problem? I think it is.

Yes, it is.

Reversing Aging

A long but interesting interview with George Church:

Certainly if you could fix all nine hallmarks at once that would do well. Reversal of aging has been demonstrated in simple animals. Some people will dismiss those as too simple — because they have such a short life already, it’s not surprising you can make them live longer. But I think it’s quite clear that aging is programmed in some sense. It’s not like you’ve been programmed to die at some age, but the laziness of evolution has resulted in your program to not avoid dying.

Over evolutionary time, to use analogy, it was not cost effective to invest a lot of your precious food to live longer because you’re going to get eaten by a wolf anyway. Now we have plenty of excess food, and rather than becoming obese let’s spend that on living longer, by spending extra ATP on repair and rejuvenation. That’s something 20-year-olds do fine, but after 60 you stop investing quite as well.

Yes. There has been no evolutionary pressure for us to live longer, but it’s absurd to think it would violate any laws of physics (and ultimately, even biology comes down to physics) that prevent us from living indefinitely long lives. And how soon could it happen?

The simple answer is, I don’t know. Probably we’ll see the first dog trials in the next year or two. If that works, human trials are another two years away, and eight years before they’re done. Once you get a few going and succeeding it’s a positive feedback loop.

That’s pretty exciting, but still: faster, please.

But I did come across this:

If you find that in the western world we’re eating a lot of marbled cow that didn’t exist in the ancient days, all you have to do is get rid of the marbled cow and you’re all set.

Except I’m not aware of any scientific evidence that marbled cow is a problem. I wonder how up on nutrition he is?