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on August 23, 2012
Increasingly tech-med chatter involves anti-aging discussions, and there's a noticeable uptick in estimations of incredible life-extending miracles happening by 2050. "When I'm 164: The New Science of Radical Life Extension, and What Happens If It Succeeds" would seem to be Johnny-on-the-spot with this trend, and with the cool stamp of TED approval at that, but seems to fall short.

Specifically, here's how the book breaks down:

* 1/3 of the book was about the author's question to people he encounters, and their answers, of why/why not do they want to grow exceptionally old.

* 1/3 of the book is end notes (musings about the author's aging family, thanks yous, citations.)

* 17% centers directly on the book's title: 1. Science of Radical Life Extension & 2. What Happens if it Succeeds. Of 4 sections treating the material in the title, a couple of them were only a few pages long. There are pages about stories & myths about aging, for some reason.

I actually made a pie chart showing the specifics of the content breakdown but cannot show images in Amazon reviews. But if you go to Goodreads and look the book up there, you'll see my review and can see the embedded picture. I wish I knew all this before I bought the book. I learned very little and it was disappointng. There is simply almost no actual solid material in this book.

Hybrid Reality: Thriving in the Emerging Human-Technology Civilization (TED Books) actually treated the topic better and is rich in information (albeit lacking a coherent thesis.) And, while not focusing on anti-aging, The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care looks like a good alternative (it is on my to-read list) to When I'm 164.
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on September 3, 2012
I thought David Ewing Duncan was a delightful real about a subject that's been around for a long, long time: longevity and immortality.
Some thoughts:

*Not very many people want to live forever. A significant number want to live to be 150 (or 164), a lot more want to live to be 120, the current maximum lifespan of a human being. However, most, 60% want to live the current lifespan of 80 years. He didn't mention the fact that most people throughout history died by their thirtieth birthday.

*Bioscience and technology are beginning to make discoveries which may make living far past the 120 cutoff limit possible. People have began to utilize one form of life extension, cryonics, which may or may not work.

*Mr Duncan a list of positives and negatives about living past the 120 cutoff. Most people would not live to be an extremely old age if it meant a dreary existence of physical and mental infirmary. These people also don't want to a burden on their families and society for an indefinite period of time.

*I believe he thinks that prolonged longevity is probably inevitable for a certain portion of the population. He doesn't really deal with the issue of whether or not a 200 hundred year old person is fully human. I don't think that's much of an issue. I know of an individual who lived to be 109 years old and those who knew her thought she was just as human as any of them were. Even though she outlived her classmates by almost a third of a century.

I think one problem I had is that it assumes that extreme longevity is the goal for most people when it may be to extend out your usefulness by an indefinite amount. The government would have a stake in the good wellbeing of its older members. A ninety year old may want to go on being a productive citizen and be in good health. Certain kinds of jobs aren't technologically dependent such as cooks, waiters, barbers, beauticians. If a 110 year old cook who could pass for forty would have a nearly limited range of skills in the kitchen. Finally a 120 year old may not be thinking of living to be 164 but as an unintended consequence, that person may do just that. Also if someone is in their late fifties now and begins to take advantage of life-extention technologies, it would be 2070s before he or she reached the magic 124th birthday. By that time society would have had time to adjust to the fact that some people will live centuries not years.
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on February 18, 2016
I found this book useful for only one thing a survey to discover how many people would like to live longer than the prevailing average. It seems not many want more than about 80 years on earth and future experiences longer life may bring them. I am not sure but this simple fact seems to me to suggest the average brown bear has little enthusiasm for what appear to be exciting things that may come to pass beginning around 2025. A future date that various considerably based on the tech author speaking. All these experts, such as Ray Kurzweil, seem enthused about being on earth in our increasingly technological world. George Dyson along with others believes the web will wake up. Bostrom, Musk and Tegmark are more pessimistic. Rees believes other existential threats may be more probable though tech is on his screen. This book is about opinions of the average who are apparently quite content to live without being in that questionable future.
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on November 19, 2013
This is very interesting, specultive read surrounding longevity. The author covers most any related topic from living to see your great-great-great-great grand children to the roll of Social Security/Medicare to the future prospect of replacing worn out parts of the body with parts regenerated from your own DNA. I will likely read it again soon.
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on August 26, 2012
In "When I'm 164" the author asks what seems like a simple question, which he has asked 30,000 people: "How old do you want to be?" He then gives people four possible answers - 80 years, 120 years, 150 years, and forever. While these are a bit arbitrary, it does allow him to get a sense of how people think about a lot of complicated things, including how people feel about their life in their present and their optimism or pessimism about the future; and about how they feel about the future for society. Do people think humans will prosper and solve problems, or are we headed into various disasters that have happened before, like war and plague and economic crashes.It's sup rising how people voted, but I won't ruin it by giving it away here!

For me, I'm an optimist. People have muddled through before, and I think we will in the future. But most of all I'm curious about what will happen in a century, in 1000 years, and beyond. Who knows where we'll be and what humans will even look like?

This book is very short, like a TED talk, but it delivers on making us think about what life really would be like to live to 164. And I love the play on the Beatles' song!
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on March 16, 2013
The author misses the point that most of the increase in average life expectancy over the past 150 years has not resulted from extending the lives of those people who reached adulthood but rather in sharply cutting the rate of infant and childhood mortality. If two brothers are born, one reaching the age of 90 and the other dying at the age of six months from diphtheria, their "average life expectancy" is 45 -- a number that tells the observer absolutely nothing about the actual life span of either of them. Having swallowed this fallacy, the argumentation then incorporates other. Be careful.
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on December 9, 2012
Rather than being a report on the current state of longevity research, this book questions why we would want to live so long. In literature living forever can be a curse,such as the flying Dutchman , or a benefit, like Tolkein's elves or the BBC 's Doctor Who
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on September 14, 2013
An examination of long its is possible to live. With the progress in science this book suggest that age 164 is not out of the question. With more people living to a hundred now days who knows what is possible.
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on August 1, 2014
A decent introduction to the topic, but really doesn't go into any detail. Basically asks some thought provoking questions, but doesn't provide much in the way of answers, even speculative ones. So the ultimate feeling when you finish this is like you opened a bag of potato chips and there were only 3 chips in the bag, not very satisfying. Still, it's very inexpensive and a quick read, so if you're totally new to the subject matter it's probably worth the time and money.
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on May 2, 2013
What kinds of things can we invent in the future? What kinds of problems will that create? Who wants to live forever?

From personally asking lots of people for their answer to the last question I think David Ewing Duncan's numbers are off but the question may be more than just hypothetical sooner than we may think.

I love this book because it presents a lot of ideas and science in a quick fashion that doesn't seem to bog down but is light and fun to read. A nice short look at what our lives could be like much sooner than we may have realized.
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