Automation and Longevity Impacts on Social Security and Medicare

Some people believe that successful antiaging would have a huge impact on social security and Medicare. They believe that if breakthrough medicine reduced the death probability each year three times, then this would bankrupt social security or Medicare. If someone who was 90 had one-third the death probability then it would be like they were 80 before the improvement. They went from a 16% chance of dying in that year back to 5.9% when they were 80. In order for there chance of dying to drop that dramatically then their overall health would have to massively improve. If the medical breakthrough could drop the chance of death for someone who is 90 by about 60 times, then the chance of dying and health would be that of someone who was 50. They would have 0.5% chance of dying in that year. The health improvement would reduce the costs on Medicare.

Unfunded Social Security and Medicare

An important policy aspect to remember about Social Security and Medicare is that they are unfunded and pay as we go systems. The Urban Institute tracks how much individuals pay in and get out in terms of benefits from social security and Medicare. A couple retiring now would have paid in about $750,000 and would get out about $1 million in benefits. 80% of the people are now living to full retirement age. Only some of those people are living long enough to get benefits beyond what they paid into the system. The solvency of the system in each year depends upon the workforce and taxes paid in versus the benefits that are paid out. The Social Security program is currently forecast to run out of reserves in 2034. Benefits would have to be reduced by about 25% to keep spending within available annual revenue. The alternative to benefit reduction would be to increase taxes. Restoring permanent solvency to the program would require raising the payroll tax rate immediately from today’s combined employer-employee rate of 12.4% of taxable payroll to 15.2%. Alternatively, Social Security benefits would need to be cut on a permanent basis by about 17%. Those figures assume continued trends in longevity and employment. If there was a massive increase in unemployment from automation or just a prolonged bad economy then the solvency of the systems could fail more quickly. There is a small Social Security trust fund. Social Security and Medicare are paid out of general tax revenue. In 1950, the average American lived for 68 years and retirees were supported by 16 active workers. In 2019, the average life expectancy is 78 and three workers support every retiree. In 15-20 years, it is projected that only two workers will support each retiree their benefits. If there was an immediate increase in longevity then this could happen a few years earlier, but only if the extra longevity was not good enough to make seniors healthy enough to work again. Canada’s government pension system has an automatic increase in the full retirement age to match increases in longevity. These are the conceptually simple adjustments around age and eligibility which enable benefit system solvency. Policymakers would have 10 years or more to adjust to radically longevity. Sudden and persistent reductions in employment could trigger the need for emergency policy fixes.
SOURCES – Social Security, Medicare Written By Brian Wang

89 thoughts on “Automation and Longevity Impacts on Social Security and Medicare”

  1. But that doesn’t mean that they will respond in ways that conform to reality, either.

    The Weimar Republic and Zimbabwe dealt with inflation issues by…drumroll, please…by simply printing MORE money, for example.

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  2. Other nations have copied Chile’s system. Panama and Costa Rica both have, I believe.

    The Chilean system isn’t perfect…but as you say, it is solvent and it is a major reason why Chile’s economy has grown so that it is the richest nation in South America right now on a per capita GDP basis, I believe.

    Singapore has their own system that is tied into their HSAs everyone has for health care.

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  3. …all the “reserves” are is IOU’s between two parts of the same government. They don’t contribute at all to the capacity of the government as a whole to keep the SS system running. They’re just an accounting gimmick to make people think they’re saving money rather than running pay as you go.

    Trivia: the formal name of those IOUs is intergovernmental debentures.

    They can’t be traded or sold, etc. And Congress can LEGALLY default on them.

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  4. Whether you like it or not we are heading towards a real Utopia, where a person is free to do whatever he wants within the law.

    Riiiight. Far more likely we are headed toward the world depicted in Elysium. And no, I am not referring to the orbiting colony of rick phuks, either.

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  5. I would call it a senior support pension. Why be vague?

    CEOs generally get stock every year or options to buy the stock at a low price. I presume the difference in the market and what they paid equates to gain. And that is income. If not, we need a change in tax code to reflect that. They don’t work for a dollar and get nothing. When stock is sold, that is also income…as well as dividends.

    Why live in a crowed super high cost city when you don’t have to? Just move to Florida when you retire. And almost every State has some way for seniors to get cheaper property tax including New York: https://www.tax.ny.gov/pit/property/exemption/seniorexempt.htm

    That average earning person could be an average of the State rather than an average of the whole country.

    If you are retired and you are still earning what the average worker earns, there is no way you are hurting. People build up savings, buy homes when they are younger, their children move away. You generally do not eat as much when retired. Don’t use as much fuel. And, as I said, they almost always have some major tax reduction on their home. Prop 13 in California sort of works that way but is a bit more sloppy.

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  6. I really hope we get something like that as soon as predicted. Humanity needs it.

    Another benefit in regard to the computational speedup compared to neurons is how long we can expect to exist when thinking about the end of the universe. The universe has about 100 trillion years of star formation left in it – let’s call that the time where it’s still practical to do computation. Well, we can multiply that by a thousand or more to get how much subjective time we have left to experience.

    I’ve heard before that as the background energy of the universe cools it should be possible to run ever more efficient calculations, so then add several more zeros. With present physics that might be as close to immortality as we can imagine – good enough for now. We’ll revisit strange physics once we’ve built some godbrains. For now, we’re just a species fiddling around with mousebrains.

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  7. The Human Brain Project is probably the most
    promising first step in the direction of a superbrain. They should be able to simulate
    a human brain in a few years, and after that
    it should be relatively easy to expand it.
    They also have analog circuits that are ten
    thousand times faster than real time.(Brainscales)
    A simulated human brain on these circuits
    could spend, say, the first 10 years of its life
    slowed down at normal speed, living in a virtual world in a virtual body, where he would get
    a normal parenting from real humans’ avatars
    (scientists wearing VR suits). After that it could be
    sped up and expanded. In fact, you could have
    simulated normal human brains at 10000x speed
    working to build superbrains. You would communicate with them by email. You would
    send them an email every minute,and they would receive it every week of their subjective time,
    maybe like a message in a bottle on the shore of
    their virtual island. But in one day they could
    make 30 years of human work.
    It seems that HBP scientists have already succeeded in simulating a mouse brain,
    but they are very secretive about it, and they
    clearly dont want to tell what they are really doing. I think that in 20 years time we (mankind) should have a brain at least 1000 times more powerful than ours, with many other lesser super brains (man-made God and Angels). As for immortality, if there is even only 1 chance in 1000 to reach it, it is worth to plan one’s whole life
    around it.

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  8. I think that the basic requirements needed are demonstrated in nature. The brain is 20% intracellular space, so there’s room for stuff like this. The vascular system provides access routes. Alzheimer’s disease, terrible as it is, demonstrates that a large amount of biocompatible material can fill up that intracellular space before negative symptoms emerge. Prokaryotes are basically programmable little bots that are like 5% the size of a eukaryote, and cells have demonstrated the ability to follow complex biochemical gradients to do things like trace dendritic connections.  If they need a “wired” connection to their processor, the ability to spread those around is also demonstrated, by dendrites themselves.

    This is just a thought experiment, and clearly so far beyond or current abilities that it would take a super intelligence to design all the parts. And I’m sure a super intelligent being would come up with a better architecture anyway. But I think an architecture which fits the philosophical requirement of “Don’t just kill me and copy me” should be possible.

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  9. That should be possible with something like nanotech too. Imagine something next to every neuron. It records neuron firing, can stimulate firing, and talks to an external computer.  Using something like Openwater’s technology, have also run a scan so that we know where basically every one of these is, if that helps. By recording enough behavior we work out which neurons are connected with which others, and the pattern that governs their behavior in relation to how they are stimulated by or stimulate other neurons.

    Then a neuron dies through natural causes. The upstream signals from connecting neurons no longer go anywhere, and the downstream neurons never receive a signal from it again. But if we have the pattern, we can get our little bots to read the upstream activity, and stimulate the exact same downstream activity, basically bridging past the dead cell as if it were still alive. Does that make you inhuman and dead? Or is it basically the same as if a stem cell stepped in? Imagine this goes on over a large amount of time, and many cells die. Eventually 10% of the brain is simulated behavior being fed into the other 90%. It would be a like a stroke victim who still thinks, feels, and acts normally. The person is still alive. Eventually, the whole brain might go, and all that’s left is a computer and a connection to the outgoing nerves. At what point did the person die and become a copy?  I argue that they never did, maintaining continuity of consciousness the whole time.

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  10. Syntax error? You’re a computer already aren’t you!

    I understand your concern. I’m not interested in having a copy of me made either, but I don’t think that’s the only option.

    You are already a being that moves from physical medium to physical medium. Brain cells die and are taken out of your consciousness, and new ones are born, but we have continuity of consciousness. At no point are all of your brain cells killed and new ones grown from scratch with memories ported in, right?

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  11. It should be reserved for people who earn less than the average worker

    You realize that millionaires and billionaires often collect very little of their income in wages? Some CEOs have been known to accept salaries as low as one dollar.
     
    Stock is taxed when sold, and at a lower rate than income. To avoid even this, many very rich live on loans (they have very good credit) settled when they die, with no tax paid due to the step-up, and reducing the inheritance tax. That’s just one of many tricks.
     
    In 2019 higher earners only pay Social Security on the first $132,900 they make each year, doing that for 35 years they get the max rate at age 62 of $2,639 per month.
     
    If someone makes $36,000 a year they get $1776.48 per month at full retirement age.
     
    Clearly, the higher incomes are already supplementing the lower incomes a lot.
    If you want to make a substantive change to all that and make it be welfare, be honest about it. Call it what it is and take if from federal tax collections.
     
    Also, you want to take more from the wealthy to pay for the poor? Fine, but keep in mind who you are aiming at. In New York, taxes on a medium home can be 25k, easily, and a pizza will run you thirty bucks. For a working Joe to be taxed at a higher rate just because folks in Wyoming think he must be living pretty high on the hog . . . really?

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  12. Thanks, but I would prefer the superbrain to
    keep my physical brain immortal. I cannot
    stop to think that a perfect copy of myself
    is myself only for the others.

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  13. Here’s the great thing about the superbrain computer – you can set it the task of figuring out how to translate our consciousness from residing on physical neurons, into other superbrain computers. I mean, uploading is a hard task, but it has a finite complexity. Eventually the brainbot can figure it out.

    Great, so then we’re on a medium which allows us to have a million+ IQ, just like the brainbot. Super cool. Maybe task a super psychologist brainbot to figure out the best mental architecutre for that so we can handle it and not go insane. Great. Now we’re smart and in control of our own destinies.

    And here’s the even better thing about being superbrain computers. We don’t actually have to continue having that million+ IQ. I mean, we want the abilities of being super smart, sure, and totally need them to solve certain problems. But a joke told by an idiot to an idiot has just as much value as a joke told about string theory by a genius to a genius. If we actually like the human condition and want to go back, we can. We’ll have the IQ to solve that problem and simulate a perfectly normal human existence for ourselves, if we want it.

    Since we’d have total editorial control over both the living environment, and our own minds, we’d have way more power to preserve everything we value about the human experience than any other possible future. And we could, of course, debug out the crappy parts of the human experience while we’re at it.

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  14. dirty and dull would describe a lot of low end jobs which seems to have a majority female workforce, like working in meat processing for example (Tyson chicken I seem to remember particularly for this anecdote, especially during those ICE raids…). Those chickens aren’t gonna gut themselves, but a lot of that work involves maneuvering a vacuum gun to suck out the innards.

    Could one make the argument that men are taking a lot of dangerous/dirty jobs, which happen to have highly variable/unprepared work areas (construction, repair, heavy industry), which happen to until recently have a predisposition towards high body strength? Those kinds of jobs that are potentially the hardest to automate precisely because of their highly variable/temporal/environmentally specific nature?

    Farming is in that weird space, because farmers are increasingly driving large machines, so personal strength is becoming less of a factor, and pickers have largely been a migrant workforce (which might tilt towards towards women in the case of many married couples, where the men are off at nearby construction jobs?)

    Mining is an interesting point, as the dull parts are increasingly being automated (remote/automated dump truck driving, remote/automated ore trains) while the tough work at the excavation face still has a bias towards personal strength. Though mining already had a male bias, perhaps because women were unwilling to tolerate the isolation of remote mining facilities?

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  15. But actual current automation has been tilted toward the DDD jobs (Dirty, Dangerous and Dull) and the first 2 categories are heavily tilted male (mining, heavy industry, farming…)

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  16. But pork to win votes IS spending it on the voters.

    If the voters weren’t prepared to vote for pork then it wouldn’t have been spent (allowing for the noisey signalling inherent in such an exchange).

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  17. There are actually more people who prefer having public lands remain public than people that worship money to the exclusion of everything else.

    Really? Not even to save their precious Social Security checks or keep Medicare funded?

    SS will muddle through with retirees getting an ever shrinking monthly check, or surviving members will be refunded whatever they paid in -assuming they haven’t already collected that amount in benefits- and the program will be dissolved.

    Hahahahahah! What a fantasy world you are living in right now. Sorry, but not even Luca would post such a thing!

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  18. Total value of the World’s money: $90.4 T.

    Money doesn’t have value. And when it is spend on something, it is not removed from circulation. I spend $5 for a big mac and Mickey D’s uses that to pay for the utility bill for that restaurant and the utility company uses that to pay for its janitorial staff, etc, etc, etc.

    That $5 circulates in all kinds of transactions that have an accumulated worth far, far more than the $5 itself.

    And they only have value when not sold, as soon as you start selling them, the prices will slip dramatically.

    Do it over time, of course.

    However, we do need to build new planned cities (for 1-5 m p), and it makes the most sense to do that on what is now Federal lands. The fully developed land with housing, and all the other structures can be sold at market. But it would only be the city and land the city is sitting on.

    Now there you go! Hell, even at that discounted land price, the value of it is still higher for the Feds to sell off that way than merely as undeveloped land, too!

    Brits did this after WWII. Only they didn’t have a 5th Amendment and bought farm land at forced farm land prices. But the New Towns (which they still build here and there) thing worked quite well.

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  19. And a human with a 100 kg brain is not a human anymore,
    because I think that that is the processing power needed to solve this most important problem
    we are facing. Namely, to reach indefinite life in useful time. An increase of the average IQ from 100 to 150
    is nothing. Einstein and you and me share practically
    the same machinery.

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    • The workforce will age.
    • Automation will increase.
    • No politician will touch social security until the cons (for his/her reelection prospects) of not doing something outweigh the cons of doing something.
    • People will live longer, but automation will ensure that fewer people are making a living wage.
    • Automation will increase earned income from capital as a percentage of all earned income. Wage-based income will shrink as a percentage of all earned income.
    • Wealth inequality will increase, even as asteroid mining, cheap energy, and full automation, increase world GDP by at least two orders of magnitude.
    • Some sort of dole or “make-work-fare” will be considered, but those with the wealth may have the power to resist making it much more than subsistence level.
    • At the same time, lifespans will be increasing, probably reaching a point where, before mid-century, there is no such thing as an average lifespan for those that can afford anti-agathic measures.
    • Social Security will shrink and take longer to get, eventually restricted to permanently disabled and those grandfathered in. With rejuvenation, it will phase itself out completely for all healthy people unless, possibly, it is used to pay for anti-agathic treatments, and/or part of a public dole.
    • Pensions will cease to be offered. Existing pensions will be authorized to make cash settlements and shutdown.
    • By mid-century, worldwide peak population will be reached, followed by sharp declines, even with rejuvenation tech available.
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  20. Correction: I spent it to buy pork to win votes and sent the bill to voters that will have to deal with it long after I’m gone.

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  21. It is ingenuity and outside the box thinking that solves the real stuff. If it was just math or science and strait forward, the answers would have been obvious for decades. You do have to have knowledge, but even with only above average ability to suck up knowledge, sucking it up over a longer period of time is just fine.

    Ingenuity is rarely trained…but could be more. There is nothing magical about it. Or not much 😉

    It certainly does not hurt to have good intelligence too. But it is ingenuity that is requisite.

    Nose-to-the-grindstone science can make incremental improvements and sometimes they cross some threshold that allows something new.

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  22. There’s been some noises that automation may tilt towards female job loss in an early wave, which in effect tilts payment issues for social security and the tax base for medicare. Which on the face of it seems believable, as minor automation takes a lot of low end jobs that may currently be heavily filled by women.

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  23. You confuse me, but i guess that’s not unusual since i am 72 🙂

    You tell me intelligence is not the answer but technology can solve global warming. I thought technology stems from intelligence. My definition for intelligence has nothing to do with education. My definition of intelligence is a group of things. 1st. being how quickly you learn. 2nd being how much and how long you retain that knowledge.
    3rd being pattern recognition for what you have learned. (The ability to make use of that knowledge).
    Since you have all the technical answers you must be very intelligent. Since you look down on intelligence so much, you must be very ashamed and embarrassed by yourself. Or your just regurgitating what a LOT of rebels say. I have heard the same thoughts before by a bunch of people that could never succeed a anything and it’s their way of rationalizing that failure. (Another Brick In The Wall), (Sour Grapes) etc.

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  24. I think Brian may have learned his lesson about trying to predict politics as though it was logical and fact based.

    I mean, politics eventually has to respond to reality.

    You can only sit on the beach commanding the tide to go back until the water level reaches your nostrils.

    Then you have to stand up, command the tide to come in and go back on a regular basis (the same way it’s been doing up till now), and then pretend this was your idea all along.

    But the number of actually drowned kings littering the beach means you never want to put real money on when this will happen.

    (Headcannon: This is how ancient fish ended up having to learn how to walk on land and breathe air in the first place. Some stupid Devonian fish king trying to demonstrate that he could stop the tides.)

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  25. I have more confidence in the weaseling ability of big medical tech companies.

    Given that aging affects just about every chronic disease, it is trivial to say that this is what you are targeting.

    This breakthrough treatment cures aging…. Err we mean it cures heart disease. Yes, it gives you a heart that is coincidentally as healthy as a 20-year-old. Heart disease. Good old, firmly traditional medicine, right in the center of the Overton window, heart disease.
    And this, seemingly identical to the naked eye product, which has one hydrogen atom different and hence is covered by completely different patents, why this rejuvenates skin cells… err it reduces wrinkles. Not a medicine here, no this is a cosmetic. A harmless, not covered by medical law, cosmetic that will sell for more per gram than all but the finest narcotics.

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  26. The baby boomers have had everything they wanted from government, though it did not always lead to the consequences they would have preferred.

    They will get their SS. Big voting blocks will not be ignored, even if it bankrupts those younger by the tens of millions and wracks up phenomenal debt.

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  27. “Besides we are headed towards extinction as a species from climate change, AI, emerging resistant diseases etc. There’s nothing we can do to stop our extion by climate change even if we ALL worked and copperated together, it’s too late.”

    None of these things seem remotely like doomsday to me.

    Climate change can be halted with geoengineering with ease. Environmentalists just want it solved in some irrational painful way to punish us for our wasteful ways and for not listening to their brilliant shroom and weed inspired advise…something that involves us eating millet and worms and sterilizing 7/8 of the World’s population and removing 90% of its infrastructure.

    AI is not what people presume it to be. It is just a tool like an automobile.

    Resistant diseases. That is all intentionally blown way out of proportion because big pharmaceutical companies lost billions when doctors started curing stuff with antibiotics they were not supposed to, like stomach ulcers and lower back pain. They needed to stop that as quickly as possible, so they made it very hard for doctors to prescribe antibiotics for anything that did not have a recognized bacteriological cause.

    The vast majority of the resistance that has been created was farmers giving antibiotics to animals because it stimulates growth and reduces the risk of loosing whole crowded herds. Outlaw that farming use.

    There were a lot of people before antibiotics. People died, but it certainly did not wipe out everyone.

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  28. Intelligence is just the ability to learn and become skilled in a classroom setting. If you comprehended, retained, regurgitated and executed everything, maybe that might equate to 900 IQ or something. That would save a lot of classroom time. 1st grade through College diploma in a year, but it does not really do much beyond that.

    You just learn what people already know and want to indoctrinate you with.

    The mythology you appear to have erected around it, just does not logically follow.

    And if your memory works too good, it can be hard to unlearn things later shown to be in error…or are just traumatic and become an inescapable burden.

    We certainly have not had 100s of thousands of years of access to CRISPR, nor the statistical studies to identify the genes responsible. Yet we have recently identified some of the genes in the areas I am talking about: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3522237/

    https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/study-finds-that-genes-play-a-role-in-empathy

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18616610

    https://phys.org/news/2010-09-links-maternal-genes-selfish-behavior.html

    All tip of the iceberg stuff. There are a lot of genes to study and we haven’t been at it very long.

    And we don’t yet have great ways to quantify many psychological traits…to generate the necessary correlations.

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  29. The main reason it has been so slow is because if the FDA does have a category for longevity, so there is no money in it, for the drug companies to develop anything.
    That is in the process of changing as we speak. 🙂
    Now that the FDA is going to make a category called longevity the money for research is pouring in. That combined with what we are developing with stem cells and genetic engineering is going to make the development of longevity treatments develop very fast.

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  30. Metformin is a great example. The drug is available since 1960 and we haven’t found anything better. Luckily, it may also increase lifespan in humans but progress in drug development is slower than it was 70 years ago. I have been following the anti-aging community for over a decade now but believe me, news about possible breakthroughs is a constant in this field, like the non-existence of respective treatments.

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  31. The only reason I mentioned Nevada was because NextBigAsshole listed it first. So, no, I would certainly not build there first.

    I would build in California. And I would use the power of the Fed to avoid the ripoff permit BS and delays. And if they don’t like it, make it an island (Federal district like Washington D.C.) no longer a part of California.

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  32. Cities start for reasons including government. How many cities started as forts? Mostly it is about reaching critical mass. But that can be achieved in one fell swoop. There is a constraint. You need access to water. But there is lots of that. And it can be brought by aqueduct as well.

    I never said they should put it in the desert. You would start with the best land that you don’t really foresee needing.

    No, it would certainly be corporate welfare. It is not in a usable condition by those who would use it. These corporations would earn a boatload making those modifications. They would also do the minimum, and certainly do nothing innovative to add to the efficiency of cities to improve productivity of those who would live and work there. You have to twist their arms to get them to put in basic roads and schools.

    The interests of the citizens is very different than the needs and interests of construction companies.

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  33. Command economy is a whole economy not one action. In a command economy the government retains all the largest factories, or perhaps 51% of each, all the mines, all the other resource extraction. And they would run all that stuff. That is not what I am proposing. My version is that the government does things private companies and individuals are not doing (often because investors are cowards or just don’t have enough money to do) or are not doing it well, but it can generate significant revenue.

    And though I have not brought it up before…I go well beyond this. I believe that when there is an opportunity to bring a price down on items that add to productivity, health, safety, or basic needs, government should directly compete producing and selling these things. Prices can be grossly inflated beyond cost of production for many things like toothbrushes, mattresses, refrigerators, and breakfast cereal and a hundred other items. That generally means the market is broken or distorted in some way. Often this is because of monopolies, just a few companies, heavy advertising, collusion, high sales commissions, unions, gouging at the store level, refusal to carry items of low cost at stores or high barriers to market entry.

    This action by government is not an attack on markets. Quite the opposite. It restores health to the market and makes it function closer to ideal markets: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfect_competition#Idealizing_conditions_of_perfect_competition

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  34. There will be a requirement to actually move in and live there if you buy (like the homesteader requirements of the past). There is not going to be a bunch of vacant stuff, absentee landlords, and buying for investment sake.

    The quality as I have already given will be a plan for things to last in excess of 300 years…much longer than we currently build for. We build for about 80 years life. And even if a design is antiquated, if efficiency was a major priority, things will remain practical and useful. Unless everyone is just teleporting absolutely everywhere like one room to the next without bothering with doors.

    There will also be a lot of design input and competitions. You don’t just cookie cutter 2 million homes. You also look at statistics on what people tend to do to homes and give surveys as to what people would like to do to their homes. Everything from home bowling alleys, mechanical bull rooms, mud-pits, car lifts, gamer rooms and band rooms to ballrooms, aviaries, greenhouses, ice rinks, art studios, and home astronomical observatories.

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  35. My actual plan is far more complex than I have presented here. My ideas on design have been a product of thousands of hours of thinking about this, not just 20 minutes of dreaming.

    I had a number of objectives which I believe I have met:
    1.Efficiency
    2.Productivity
    3.Safety
    4.Extreme resistance to natural disasters and weather and resistance to even disruption due to these forces (and not this in not my underground plan)
    5.Retaining the positive aspects of suburbia: option of yards, space, square footage, reduced traffic compared to typical urban, air quality, decent parks, schools with good playing fields, noise pollution, homeless
    6.While removing the negatives: distance from medical experts, and other experts and specialized services, longer travel times, lack of people with similar interests/hobbies that larger populations provide, lack of transportation options, unavailability of specialty goods, less choice in restaurants…and often boring franchise food, lack of investors for businesses, sprawl and lack of interesting views of architecture

    As for ghettos. The only thing government in the US has built is low rent…because no one else will…and a bit for military housing. To say they can’t, when it has not been tried, is to lack imagination.

    I believe most ghettos are a result of poor nutrition, lead exposure, and other toxic exposure, and in the past, discrimination/oppression, and forced segregation. And in some parts of the world disease plays a major role.

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  36. I will be close for me. The FDA is already making a category called longevity. Metformin will be the first approved drug for it. ABC google just put millions into a company called cisco that does nothing but longevity research.
    If you look up Ray Kurzweil and the exponential growth of technology on google, you will be stunned at the results of that extremely exacting and rigorous study. Progress is being made at a astounding rate.
    Reading these pages on this site should give you a indication of that speed. If this site had been possible a 1000 years ago you probably would have seen one article every six months. A hundred years ago perhaps one a month. Now several a day. Of course I am just guessing but you get the idea.

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  37. What is always avoided in thee discussions is that females are the primary reason that Social Security and Medicare are crumbling. They collect benefits for about 8 years longer than males but pay in far less. We need an equal responsibility law that requires them to pay in their fair share while now about half of them pay in little to nothing. Add to that, the poor who pay in very little but still get Medicare. These are the real problems.

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  38. As I point out above, the SS “trust fund” is just a pickle jar full of IOUs, they spent it as fast as it came in.

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  39. The problem is that, while the program is a mistake, you can’t just shut it down abruptly, because by running it you deprived a lot of people of the ability to save enough for their retirements.

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  40. You don’t get much more “command economy” than the government up and building empty cities in the desert, on the assumption that, once they build them, people will magically show up to live there and run a productive economy. (The only thing that would make it more “command” would be forcing people to move there.)

    Look, cities are where they are for REASONS. Some resource in the area, a port, intersection of two well traveled routes needs servicing vehicles. People show up for that reason, other people come to provide them services, things snowball. The reason comes first, then the city naturally arises. And then, because you’ve got people there for the original purpose, it makes sense to do other things there.

    But take that original reason away, and the city fades, because you can do those other things anywhere, and might as well do them some place that has an inherent reason for a city being THERE, rather than someplace else.

    Thinking that the government can just say, “Here’s an empty spot, we’ll tax people, build a city there, and the people will show up to populate it and it will be a success!” is indeed command economy thinking.

    You’re demonstrating that anti-private ownership ideology yourself. You say selling the land would just be corporate welfare. But, welfare is giving, not selling. Selling isn’t “welfare” unless you deliberately under-price that thing you’re selling.

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  41. Sorry, while your idea sounds really great, there is not enough time left before extinction. Besides we have had 100s of thousands of years to achieve that goal, with no success.
    On top of that you have NO WAY of knowing what you will think about anything once you have that great of intelligence boost. It’s like a dog knowing about building a space ship BEFORE it got a boost to human intelligence.

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  42. Modification may do something constructive in that area but I think modifying intelligence would have little bearing on the inclination for some people to want to lord over others. You have to go directly to the target. Find the genes that make people want to lord over others…and empathy, generosity…control greed, hording, selfishness…

    It is like you have a weight problem and think a massage is going to fix that. No you hit the nutrition and exercise.

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  43. I can see the concern about middle men and big business, but both governments and large corporations are absolutely idiots when it comes to home development. They think it’s appropriate to build giant strips of low quality identical buildings because it’s slightly cheaper to source materials, and as a result the quality of our built environment is bland and every town lacks a sense of “place”. This impairs our ability to take pride in our environs and is bad for our sense of community. Also, because it all gets built at once, it all starts to become dated and fall apart at once, eventually resulting in ghettos.

    The government shouldn’t build and sell off the houses one by one, but I propose they sell off the plots one by one, and require that they be sold to individuals, not corporations, with limits on how many each individual can purchase (say, one plot every fifteen years), and a tax break if the purchaser develops it immediately and lives in it for at least 5 years. Then schedule when each plot goes up for sale to stagger the development of an area across 20 years or so.

    This way a lot more voices will get a chance to decide how their community develops. You’ll get more architectural diversity and homes that better fit people’s actual needs.

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  44. Slowly selling land can be done within demand. The population is going up, people need to live somewhere. California is probably a better bet than Nevada.

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  45. Or people can just keep their own investment accounts and decide their own balance of working/vacationing based on their finances and preferences. I mean, why exactly have a government guaranteed and mandated vacation savings system?

    Unless the point isn’t so much for people to loaf around, but to go back to school or something. Then we can at least say that the government is investing in the future, and providing a bit of a job skills safety blanket.

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  46. If full automation becomes a reality then there will be only two outcomes. The first outcome would be plenty for all. The second outcome will be the robot soldiers will be ordered to exterminate 99.9% of the human race since they are no longer needed. The one thing that will not happen is that the poor will be left to die because guns and bullets are cheap.

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  47. Since we have reached peak life expectancy in 2015 and it had already started falling due to humanity loss of vitality as a result of the harms of modern life, this calculations are going to change. The number of workers supporting retirees will improve somewhat but health care cost will continue to skyrocket. Anti aging is actually more of the same of modern medicine which brought us to this peak but no more but with a huge added cost.

    https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2019/01/16/why-is-life-expectancy-in-the-u-s-going-down-a-qa/

    https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/american-life-expectancy-has-dropped-again-heres-why

    .. And here is what truly account for for good life and consequently longevity as deduced from the blue zones of longevity,
    A cultural environment that reinforces healthy lifestyle habits like diet and exercise
    Healthy social relationships and psychological well-being
    People who have a cooperative spirit
    People who tend to gardens
    Public health that is easily accessible
    Seniors are valued as members of their family and the community

    https://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/2013-03-29-where-people-live-the-longest/

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  48. The nation of Chile has the world’s only solvent social security system. Each worker owns his own account which is similar to a mutual fund. The worker chooses which fund that he wants his account to be invested in. The different funds vary in degrees of risk vs safety. Bonds being the safest and growth stocks being the riskiest. All of the funds are restricted to investing in Chilean companies. The plan was instituted by military dictator Generalissimo Pinochet. The plan was designed by Chilean economists who were students of Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago.

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  49. You shouldn’t overestimate progress. I just saw a documentary from 1972, about how the future in the year 2000 will look like and it was way off. They predicted that humans will only work 25 hours per week at that everyone retires with 50. We always overestimate the future because we secretly wish for it to change that way and not because it is the most logical outcome. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we wouldn’t have to work anymore and if there was no more disease? Not only sounds like an utopia but probably is. Progress in medicine is a joke compared to what we spend on it. 90% of drugs that are used today were developed between 1950 and 1970. Just look at cortisone, despite its negative side effects, we haven’t found alternatives and still use it significantly for all kind of diseases. Sure, the Chinese scientist made two babies immune against HIV but the Chinese government took stance against him immediately. On average, it takes 12-15 years before a drug gets approved in the US, and it costs around 1-3 billion USD to get there. The internet is a great place because there is so little regulation. The same cannot be said about medicine.

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  50. “…more of them will be voting for politicians who will make it happen.”

    Just like they do now for every other problem. Is every other problem that is currently being ignored so inferior to the “SS problem” as to make them change.

    The existing older population who wants that funding, but will make choices that block all attempts to get it funded are simply incapable of change. Their poor critical thinking skills means they cannot reason their way out of their herd conditioning so they will go to their grave demanding good outcomes while insisting on making poor choices. It’s more likely nothing will happen.

    It will take societal turnover to enact policies to maintain adequate funding for SS in the manner you’ve suggested. I

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  51. > I don’t see how a pay as you go old age pension system can continue to function in the face of increases in longevity, unless the age to start receiving the pension keeps getting adjusted up.

    Change it from “X age until forever” to “X years of pension per Y years of work”. Let each person decide how to group their working and pension years.

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  52. They will just use other money.

    The older the population grows, the more certain it will be funded…somehow…because more of them will be voting for politicians who will make it happen.

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  53. Congress cares about 3 things: getting reelected, making the other party look bad, and getting big money in influence peddling for special interests after. Well, some have fantasies of holding other offices like Governor or President…then influence peddling…or being worshiped by students at some University.

    How is anything they do painful to them…unless it risks not being reelected?

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  54. Votes or wishes cant change reality. You can rob Peter to pay Paul, but what to do when you have way more Pauls than Peters? You need more Peters or take an ever larger % from your existing Peters, the worldview blocking such pathways are pillars of the adopted platform of a large % of the electorate.

    In short, nothing will be permitted to happen and SS will die a natural & ignominious death. You cant expect the poorly educated masses to make choices that tend to lead to better outcomes.

    Don’t worry, societal turnover fixes most of these problems, eventually.

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  55. If you are in good health why would anyone retire? Take a leave of absense? Yes. Take a year long vacation? Sure. Retire? Man, I have a hard time taking a vacation. That won’t work for me. I’ll create a space industry just to have something to do with my time.

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  56. Right! Everything government does should be justified and well thought out. Randomly selling off a bunch of land where it is haphazardly developed and animals displaced, is not my idea of well thought out.

    I think you want to avoid rural sprawl. I am all for expanding our roads but not just for random new very small villages for junk collectors and people who like to shoot things.

    Economies are far more productive in cities. And if those cities are well designed and all the underground stuff put in first and designed to accommodate whatever is built and that underground infrastructure designed to last indefinitely and certainly at least 300 years, then the productivity should be much higher and taxes lower.

    People like to use the term “command economy” or “planned economy” when the slightest thing is not commercial and out of control. That is irrational and ideologically motivated. Some things serve a society better when government does them. You don’t go all crazy that the military is not commercial and extorting some obscene price for their protection.

    Selling a bunch of land would just be corporate welfare. Making some companies lots of money. It would probably pass through 3 or 4 middlemen making each rich before the real owner. I would rather the government built a city and sold it home by home business building by business building getting the full value. The more money they make, the less taxes have to be.

    We could complete one of these a year for decades.

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  57. I guess so, if your rooting for the machines instead of the human race.
    Personally, I’d rather see humans with bigger faster brains and machines be our willing servants.
    A rose is only a rose if it IS a rose.

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  58. You can only sell such assets once.

    There are actually more people who prefer having public lands remain public than people that worship money to the exclusion of everything else.

    SS will muddle through with retirees getting an ever shrinking monthly check, or surviving members will be refunded whatever they paid in -assuming they haven’t already collected that amount in benefits- and the program will be dissolved.

    Don’t know why so many are always running around like their hair was on fire thinking up magical solutions to “solve” the non problem.

    People & their societies eventually mature & change , some people will refuse as if they have a choice but turnover fixes that. Societies value different things as they mature.
    doi:10.1007/s10745-008-9192-3
    doi:10.1111/0002-9092.00161
    doi:10.1641/0006-3568(2002)052[0151:ECACOD]2.0.CO;2

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  59. That’s why you’d sell them off gradually, instead of in one huge sale.

    You’re demonstrating the real problem: A while back there was an ideological shift away from the prior presumption that all property would be in private hands except for the bare minimum the government needed for it’s own very limited purposes.

    Today’s presumption is that, barring a REALLY good reason, nothing should end up privately owned. That the default is a command economy, and anything else needs to be rigorously justified.

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  60. Selling or leasing assets would be a sensible thing to do, and the economy would likely be much larger now if they’d been doing it all along. But our government turned somewhat hostile to the idea of private ownership of land a long while back, (Which is why there are such huge federal enclaves in the Western states.) and they’d rather hoard the land than see it used by the private sector.

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  61. Real hope lies not in an improvement of our brains, but in machines
    that can simulate brains many times larger and faster than ours.

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  62. ” The Social Security program is currently forecast to run out of reserves in 2034.”

    A key point to remember is, there are no reserves. SS is a purely pay as you go system with pretend reserves.

    But all the “reserves” are is IOU’s between two parts of the same government. They don’t contribute at all to the capacity of the government as a whole to keep the SS system running. They’re just an accounting gimmick to make people think they’re saving money rather than running pay as you go.

    I don’t see how a pay as you go old age pension system can continue to function in the face of increases in longevity, unless the age to start receiving the pension keeps getting adjusted up. Which SS IS doing, though politics has probably kept them from doing it to a sufficient extent. It used to be that you’d get full SS benefits retiring at 65; For people in my cohort, (Born in 1959) they’ve kicked that up to 66 years and 10 months.

    Not nearly enough to actually compensate for changes in longevity, of course. But the principle is sound.

    https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/agereduction.html

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  63. Large increases in longevity and healthspan could solve the unfounded pensions crisis.

    Maybe Brian shouldn make a prediction that a politician will call for investment in longevity science as a solution to the pensions crisis in the next 10 years?

    Aubrey de Grey reckons RMR (robust mouse rejuvenation) is possible in three years time. RMR involves getting 2 year old mice that normally have a 3 year lifespan to live to 5, so they must already have a bunch of 2 year old mice that they are currently or about to start testing multiple therapies on. I’d guess senolytics, expression of the mitochondrial genes in the nucleus, and maybe some of the less costly cancer immunotherapies such as injecting TLR9 agonists and antibodies to OX40 into any tumours for “in stitu vaccination”:

    http://science-union.org/articlelist/2018/6/15/b999fu2fg0cb48r8hicks8jypug9ar

    I wonder if the public and politicians will be able to ignore the possibility of longevity science once RMR has been achieved?

    Also I must say it is bloody refreshing to read the comments on NBF which for some reason are free of the usual silly knee jerk objections to longevity news such as “overpopulation” and “it will only be for the rich” (which actually contradict each other).

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  64. Strongly oppose the sell off of our national assets. And they only have value when not sold, as soon as you start selling them, the prices will slip dramatically. Total value of the World’s money: $90.4 T. The Nevada desert value less than $100 B. Profoundly against selling off hydroelectric plants and such. All we need is more greedy corporations gouging people for water and power. You don’t buy utilities unless you are planning to gouge. These things have already paid for themselves decades ago. Now you want customers to pay for the plants all over again…and again…

    We need to move the other way. Buy and liberate all the toll roads. Eminent domain several drugs, lots of educational material and make freely available to everyone in the US. No sense in buying 5, $100 textbooks for every student every year, when you can either commission books or buy the rights and sell at cost.

    However, we do need to build new planned cities (for 1-5 m p), and it makes the most sense to do that on what is now Federal lands. The fully developed land with housing, and all the other structures can be sold at market. But it would only be the city and land the city is sitting on.

    Then build another…

    Should certainly make a substantial profit on the first few cities, as there is currently so much congestion and lack of housing. Having well thought out and engineered cities that recycle most stuff will aid in people being more productive, and the old cities benefit from less congestion.

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  65. There is somthing that will stop that. 🙂
    The little girls in china that got the gene enhancement to make the HIV resistance were just the start. One of the genes they changed not only helped make them more HIV resistant but also gave them a very minor boost in intelligence. Did you see anyone trying to take that enhancement for only the very powerful? No, because it was a very small enhancement and easily dismissed. That will keep happening as gene editing becomes the norm for adults as well as embryos. It will happen worldwide in such small increments but at a accelerating pace that no one will control it. Before you know it ALL the peoples of the world will have their IQ’s enhanced by 50% or greater.
    Besides we are headed towards extinction as a species from climate change, AI, emerging resistant diseases etc. There’s nothing we can do to stop our extion by climate change even if we ALL worked and copperated together, it’s too late.
    But with enhanced intelligence we will be smart enough to quickly re terraform the earth.

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  66. Would be nice, but you forget that there are people who like power over others, so they will take more to make others grovel and sweat to get what is necessary to survive…unless there is someone or something to stop that.

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  67. With large healthspan increases, medicare costs could come down, and that is more of a problem than Social Security. And I think the Social Security thing is badly designed. Milionares with good earnings from stock and such should not be colecting Social Security checks. It should be reserved for people who earn less than the average worker in the US. This thing is about supporting the elderly, plain and simple. It is not a piggy bank.

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  68. The goal we WILL reach in the near future is not to stop ageing but rather to reverse it. I am 72 and look forward to going off medicare and going back to work.
    Of course even that will not last long because in the very near future robots will be doing ALL the work and everything will be free.
    Whether you like it or not we are heading towards a real Utopia, where a person is free to do whatever he wants within the law.
    Now I know most of you will not believe this but that’s because you are looking at the past without seeing how fast things are currently advancing.
    And that advancement is exponential to a degree that is dizzying.

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  69. I think its great someone is concerned that people are living too long. Government can’t handle money, never could, so I think everyone should live long and enjoy. Fiat money no problem have faith.

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  70. Social Security is not in jeopardy. Its stupid financing source (payroll taxes on labor) is.

    All we have to do is change the funding source.

    Best option: US government is sitting on an estimated $128 TRILLION in assets. Mostly land. But also buildings, power authorities, etc. It should lease the revenue generating assets out and sell off some of the land – the Feds own 85% of all the land in the State of Nevada, 53% of the land in Oregon, and even 46% of the land in California (how that happened is a mystery to me as California was not a territory carved out of federal land when it joined the Union, unlike Nevada and Oregon).

    That leaves enough to pay off the national debt, fund Medicare AND put a lot of money into social investment accounts for each citizen to earn dividends from..and have legal property rights thereto.

    But of course that makes too much sense, so…option two:

    VAT. I hate VATs and don’t want to see one. But a VAT charges the value added to production by robots and people equally, as it is a tax on general consumption. I really, really hate this option because it will become a mess just like our income tax code is. And it’s bad when you compare it to the first option I mention in the above.

    But, we now have morons in Congress who officially push for MMT and other monetary quackery. So don’t expect either of these two solutions to happen any time soon.

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  71. Social security has a huge trust fund. If there’s a problem with it being full of treasury bonds, we know who to blame, Congress. AFDC is a pay as you go program, cut it first.

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