Would Antiaging Mean More Dictators?

By 2040-2050 there could be effective antiaging treatments that could enable people to live 30 years longer than they do today. One of the concerns that people have is that this will enable dictators for life to dominate their countries for a longer time.

Very few of the longest-ruling dictators since 1900 have ended their lives while still ruling their country and dying from disease or old age.

The main dictators who lived to over 80 and died while they were still the leader of their country are:
Fidel Castro (90)
Kim Il-Sung (82)
Chiang Kai-shek (88)
Mao Zedong (82)
There are also some rulers of some Africa countries like Cameroon, Gabon and Iran.

Castro and Kim Il-Sung passed leadership to relatives. Mao left leadership of China to the communist party. Mao’s four closest associates were deposed. Chiang Kai-shek ruling party retained control of Taiwan for about 20 years after the death of Chiang.

If a leader is strong enough to maintain control throughout his life, then it seems that their ruling party or clan can maintain control for generations afterwards.

The duration of the systems and authoritarian rule in Iran and the African countries is also not dependent upon the the lifespan of the leaders. It is the durability of the systems and ruling elite who determine the duration.

SOURCES- Wikipedia

Written By Brian Wang

63 thoughts on “Would Antiaging Mean More Dictators?”

  1. I don’t want to “conspiracy theorize” this story. It’s not so much that the US military deliberately sabotages the unsupported longevity of their stuff (though that probably happens with a handful of critical systems like nukes). More that they no longer work to make their systems long term robust and easily maintainable.
    Making stuff for long life under tough conditions takes work. Planning and design. Performance needs to be compromised. More expensive materials used. It takes EFFORT to make everything that will work for decades in terrible conditions.

    The EASY way out to have things that need specialized parts and don’t last long without care and attention. This is easy, cheaper and gives higher performance.

    SO… what will the private sector do? Even the open-source private sector? Well without a strong driving force pushing for robustness you will get the cheaper, easier, higher performance approach.

    I think just about all the private sector computing projects end up using the cheap, available, mass produced, high performance chips from intel, motorola, AMD… well it turns out that all those intel chips had actual hardware backdoors into them. It’s currently believed (at least publicly) that this was a complete accident. But that doesn’t actually help prevent your systems from being vulnerable and needing regular updates.

  2. This is why open source is important. Or a fair amount of the development of these technologies done in countries the US (EU even Australia) doesn’t have that much control.

    But ABOVE ALL, what needs to be done from the get go is design architecture that deliberately makes it difficult or even impossible for governments/big business later on to subvert/control like cell phones and the internet were. Open source can do that best, I think. Not all of it, but the core stuff.

  3. The stinger missiles never were shot at US planes because they have inbuilt battery packs that died within a couple of years. Then the alkali fluid from the batteries corroded the electronics and the missiles were junk.

    The Russian stuff is brutal, rough, tough… designed for a semi-literate conscript to keep it operating with a rock hammer and a screwdriver made from a stick.

    The US stuff is almost the opposite. You need a constant stream of specialty parts and support from the US logistics machine. You need specialty training to operate anything above the level of a rifle. You need custom made batteries. You probably need timed software upgrades.

    This is usually seen as a weakness. But it means that the Americans no longer see any of their stuff in their enemies’ hands. A coup in a client state means that in a couple of years their airforce is grounded and anything that still works is vastly downgraded.

    (To some extent this is a side effect. Insisting on Russian levels of longevity without support just means accepting lower levels of performance in order to be far enough down the tech food chain to be “simple” by the standards of the day.)

    ANYWAY, back on track: This is EXACTLY how I see any “this will give you independence” type tech working out. Any really advanced 3D printers. Any home chemical lab-on-a-chip. Any Mr Fusion. Rooftop solar panels that can’t work unless connected to a live grid.

  4. I’m reminded of what I think was a realistic depiction of US Military equipment design philosophy.

    Brief historical note: In 1975 North Vietnam conquered South Vietnam, and took over the SV military, which was equipped with US equipment (though clearly not enough). The communists grabbed an armies worth of US equipment.
    1978, Iranian revolution takes over Persia. Radical islam grabs an army’s worth of US equipment. And an airforce. To this day Iran flies American made fighter jets.

    The USA was NOT happy. A change began to work its way through US military equipment design.

    In the 1980s the USA supplied guided ground to air stinger missiles for Afghans to shoot down soviet aircraft. The Russians lost a bunch of helicopters.

    Then, the USSR collapsed. Move forward 10-15 years.

    Now various groups in the middle east and africa are breaking up, having coups, changing sides, making up new sides, attacking allies, doing all that stuff. And loads of old (and not so old) Russian equipment is forming the bulk of what is arming them.

    But not American stuff. Where are all the stinger missiles fed to the Afghans? What about the anti-tank stuff? ISIS apparently grabbed entire artillery brigades worth of stuff from surrendering Iraqis, who were set up and trained (not so well that last part) by the USA… so how come ISIS never used the us artillery effectively.


  5. The trend though sinuous is of receding despotic authority due to technology allowing people to be more and more self-sufficient; something like upwards from the bottom of the Maslow order of necessities.

    While *I* happen to like to think that is the case, the opposite is actually occurring so far.

    And I am all for the Vulgar Life as you outlined. Hell, I’ve wrote similar examples over the years myself, I think.

    BUT Look at what the government has done with cell phones and the internet? Neither started out that way and in fact they should have been two the first of those disintermediation/liberating techs. But both are now well integrated into the surveillance state, mostly from piggybacking onto what businesses built in the parts doing said spying and only later mandating outright backdoors and such by the Feds. Then there is the Copyright State that even legally overpowered internet domain name (NIKE being one of the more famous cases) registration.

    This trend will continue with all the other pending otherwise liberating techs, too. Mr Fusion and Mr Drexler at home? They’ll regulate those or control the feedstocks or the firmware or the templates downloaded/shared, etc. Gotta make sure some kid does not nanofabricates aerosolized VX nerve bombs to take to school, right? Or worse: MAGA clothes ware! Gotta make sure ‘patent’ and ‘copyright’ infringement doesn’t happen. Can’t have some old person print out pharma that otherwise cost $1,500/pill.

  6. All it takes for a bad man to win is for good men to do nothing (except drink a lot). Heard that somewhere.

    Knew a few; US citizens now and not any of which ever plan on going back, so far as I know. Much like the guy that worked for me (in the US) that claimed to have been at Tienanmen Square. Going back to China wasn’t really at the top of his list.

    I was also something of an expert on Soviets when I was in the US military.

    Then too, a few years back I got to know several Ukrainians that were here in the US as seasonal labor and students, working and studying with my kids. These were good folks that I was impressed with, but they were not fans of Putin, either.

  7. If you go by tech singularity theories, we are due for one in the mid 2020s (around 30 years from the World Wide Web), another in the late 2030s (around 15 years from the previous one), and yet another in the mid 2040s (about 7.5 years after the previous one) as each comes in half the time required by the previous one. The last three were the World Wide Web (circa 1993), electronics and computers (circa 1935), and the industrial revolution (circa early 1800s). A tech singularity date is not a point in time, nor is it the date it was discovered.

    I think the next one, already underway, relates to massively increased automation — a cognition based version of the more brawn based industrial revolution.

    This will probably provide enormous impetus towards research resulting in real thinking machines (synthetic intelligence, sometimes called artilects) as opposed to AI, which is really just a work-around for real intelligence. I also look for man-machine advances on the mental level as part of this (as opposed to purely physical mergers, such as prosthetic devices and bionics).

    Then comes our biological singularity, where estimated lifespan becomes an unknown. The reason for this order is that I believe, due to the incredible complexity of fully understanding biological systems, we will need the SI/man-machine singularity first, in order to achieve the biological singularity.

    Alternatively, one of the earlier technological singularities might be a double singularity.

  8. Ok. But that still doesn’t warrant dismissing everything but robotics as credible for significant healthspan improvements.

    The next 50-100 years will very likely produce unexpected width and breadth of new techologies. Never mind 200. Saying our “biology” is an impassable obstacle is not credible, *in that timeframe*.

  9. We are still essentially stuck in the “no-mans land” of human genetics. The understanding of the genome is there, but there is a problem with a the lack of already present variation within the human genome that can create additional benefits. It is why we look to non-human genetics to make up the gap; however, that has a huge risk factor. We are stuck here because the human genome has crazy limits, again, the “Founders Effect” is to blame. Modern Humans (Homo sapiens) were actually a quite quick development in evolutionary terms. Thanks the Ice Age (Pliestocene), it created several major population bottlenecks that pushed our development forward very quickly after we had developed the cognition and evolutionary trend toward the ability to manipulate natural objects as tools.

  10. Russia has population level statistics closer to a 3rd world economy. Their economy is about 30% weaker than California with 7x the population. California can feed and house a few million illegals and still have have a economy that is 10x stronger per ca pita than Russia. Even with PPP the disparity is 5-6x.

  11. How many Russians do you know? I literally work with a large contingent of Russian’s in Mongolia for a month or two each summer. Most of them are not fans of Putin, but are too drunk and ambivalent to care.

  12. <<a solid understanding of human genetics says anything over 200ish is asking more than our biology can handle. >>

    200 years from now is way beyond the horizon. No real predictions feasible

  13. The trend though sinuous is of receding despotic authority due to technology allowing people to be more and more self-sufficient; something like upwards from the bottom of the Maslow order of necessities.

    Vulgar illustration:
    If I have an internet connection, a Mr Fusion and a Drexler at home, why do I care what Prick-In-Chief demand of his “subjects”?
    I can just print myself a UHaul and bugger off.
    Compare with 1000 years ago. You had a shorter lifespan to even look forward to, higher chances of dying from various environmental causes, etc. You couldn’t own land to live on. Couldn’t hear about other places where the grass might be greener. Etc. So when The King By Divine Right decided he did not sympathize with your wants and needs, there was nothing like legal recourse from something like the Renaissance and Industrial Revolution’s combined effect on society to produce something like our modern legal landscape.

    In the big picture we’re at the end of an era. It’s not that utopia is guaranteed but that material scarcity as we know it will not be inevitable anymore, along with all the consequences for that.

  14. Keep smoking that wu mau weed, Godfree!

    BTW, nice to see you are still alive. Was wondering if you dropped off the Earth or something.

  15. We would be less likely to have senile dictators or incompetent offspring running the show like idiots. All in all, probably a positive result from life extension.

    The US would probably have to do something about the Supreme Court. You don’t want the same people in there for centuries. Maybe have a 25 year term. I would like that now. Politicians are reluctant to confirm anyone who is younger and still very bright, because it is too big of a risk that they would not be what they want and they will be stuck with that appointee for decades and decades. Better to broaden the pool of candidates. Everything from 40 years and up.

  16. The fact that you don’t get that pretty much answers the question. 🙂

    Lot of literature involves plots where the impatient youngsters plot to off the Old Man In Charge. And that literature exists for a reason.

    Case in point: The real reason FDR got union political support for Social Security was so they could retire off older workers to make room so the younger ones could advance. This was in an era of scarce career opportunities, remember.

  17. This is why Zeihan and other geopolitical analysts insist that Russia has a ‘get off the pot or sh!t’ when it comes to re-securing most of its Soviet-era borders. Because if it doesn’t while it still has the manpower to do so, it definitely will not have the manpower in the future to defend the less defensible borders it has now.

  18. “Notice that the US applies the label of ‘dictator’ to foreign leaders who, like  Fidel Castro Kim Il-Sung, and Mao Zedong, insist on preserving their nations’ independence.” – and kill millions of people while doing it…

  19. This won’t apply to just formal dictators, but informal oligarchies as well.

    This is a well published theme in SF. The “Bosses Won’t Die” problem.

    Imagine if the Boomers live 30 years longer in the US? See the problem?

  20. Like saying we shouldn’t cure malaria in equatorial countries because it might cause illegal drug growers to have a better survival rate.

    Longevity breakthroughs could just as easily make people realize they can’t just do nothing and wait for the bad guys to pass on.

    Not entirely dissimilar from how passengers on commercial airliners no longer allow hijackers to intimidate them into passive compliance after 9-11.

  21. Wrong, sorry. Reasons:

    • Huge levels of alcoholism (30% of deaths in 2012 were alcohol related, vodka sales dipped briefly in 2015, maybe)
    • Enormous levels of drug addiction (perhaps 10 million addicts, up from 2.5 million in 2010).
    • Enormous levels of drug related disease (possibly 3 million with HIV/AIDS and Putin banned foreign made condoms).
    • Failing health care system.
    • Aging population.
    • Over the next ten years, women of prime child bearing age will nearly halve.
    • Plunging life expectancy of working-age males.
    • One of the lowest male to female ratios in the world.
    • One of the lowest fertility rates in the world.
    • Economic sanctions (causing an extra 15% reduction in births).
    • By 2050, Russia will mover from 9th to 15th–most–populous country (94% likelihood).
    • Near highest rates in the world for homicide and suicide.
    • Immigration has dropped enormously (even from former Soviet republics of Central Asia . . . and those were not helpful)
    • 11 million unskilled and uneducated immigrants from former Soviet republics of Central Asia.
    • 1.4 million displaced refugees from Ukraine conflict.
    • Bureaucracy (risks and responsibility are avoided, and accountability non-existent).
    • Kleptocracy (the government is indistinguishable from a criminal syndicate, Putin has personally stolen an est. $200 billion)
    • Attempts by the ‘government’ to whitewash and misreport all.

    Putin knows all this and is stalling with external distractions and band-aids while he steals even more and moves it out of country.

  22. I am absolutely sure that Putin gets all kind of promicing therapy. He even got botox treatments in the last ten years to be look younger.

  23. Psychopathy is a well known condition. Wikipedia has it covered for anyone interested in the details. The incidence of psychopathy is up to ~1% and they are all around us. The intelligent ones are those creating the most serious problems. You often find these people as managers in companies and organizations or in politics working full time manipulating their surroundings to their advantage. The economic loss is considerable as a result.

    The old argument with environment and “circumstances” has very little ground in science unfortunately.

  24. The said dictators are still living less long than these powerful figures:

    Henry Kissinger at 95 years old ; Queen Elizabeth II (92) ; George Soros (88) ; Jacob Rothschild (82)…

  25. Dictators (and similar rule by very tiny groups) have far less constraints on their actions, far less “checks and balances”. Just about any democratic system requires getting support from lots of people, with different agendas and (in theory completely, in practice at least a bit) representing many, many more people. You won’t get that unless you are really “middle of the road” with everything you do.

    Hence the dictators have a larger variance in behaviour. And yes, variance can go both ways, and can mean a government that is fantastic.

    But destruction is much easier than creation. A bad government causes much more damage in a year than a good one can repair in a decade. Your king/general-secretary/generalisimo can be fantastic, with liberty and growth for all, then he dies and his son takes over. His first move is to order all redheads into concentration camps. His second move is to send the army on a surprise late november march on Moscow while the Navy attacks Pearl Harbour.

    A system that gives consistently mediocre government SOUNDS like it can be improved on, but actually that gives the rest of society decades of stability and consistency to get on with actually creating peace and prosperity.

  26. Exactly. It’s such a weird thing to bring up as a objection to what should be a universal good.

    My guess is that the whole concept of preventing aging makes people think about their own mortality (which they normally avoid thinking about at all). Therefore the subject makes them upset. Therefore they decide it’s a bad thing. Therefore they thrash about and come up with the first possible reason to reject it.

    Like a toddler who is tired, so they become grumpy, so they scream that their sister is upsetting them when she is doing something harmless like brushing her hair in the next room.

  27. No psychopaths = no dictators??

    Funny how so many people believe dictators, murderers, pedos and the like, are some abnormal or different form of life vs. people no different than themselves.

    I’m sure given the right circumstances, the dear leader “Jennifer Amb” could achieve a larger body count than Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler etc

  28. The rich would get richer and the powerful would acquire more power. And with this the world would stagnate until the next large impact.

  29. Maybe it’s possible to cure psychopaths or screen them out before birth and then we don’t have dictators. They serve little use except as a counter measure for when an enemy has an intelligent psychopathic dictator. With AI, it should be possible to devise defensive long term strategies without psychopaths.

    Psychopaths cause a lot of overall loss and a society will be more competitive without them once the survival factor is taken out of the equation.

    So – when all the current type of politicians are filtered out by AI, what will a typical leader look like in the future? I wonder if people will be comfortable with an AI as leader. No ideologies, no corruption, just long term optimization towards development and sustainability. Who would want that?

  30. It would appear absurd to those accustomed to not caring about the consequences of their actions to others as long as those actions are personally profitable. Just looking at dictators is myopic as they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

  31. Rhodesia? Algeria? Was Iran a one man show with Khomeini?

    To me it seems that dictators leave the job to their groomed replacement, usually in the clan, when they get too unhealthy. Cuba is an example.

    So the argument from the example data seems weak?

  32. I do not think Putin will be deposed, he should, but ultimately wont. He will die in office, but it will be from something natural. As far as anti-aging, unless consciousness transfer happens, a solid understanding of human genetics says anything over 200ish is asking more than our biology can handle. Mutation rates from cell regen and multiple loci, overlapping traits and such. The “Founders Effect” from human population bottlenecks is a real problem with the human genome.

    300k Chimps in Africa have more genetic variation than the entire world human population.

  33. Hay, you conspiracy theorists out there that think only the top of the ruling class will get the things that make you live longer. Think again. There is already a drug on the market that makes you live longer and the FDA is calling it a longevity drug. That drug is metformin and it is cheap and readily available to everyone. I guess that blows another conspiracy theory. Perhaps you should go back to the world is round conspiracy.

  34. Yes. Dictator drink Ponce de Leon tonic. Shares it with his closest advisors and elite. Runs a rigged lottery to entice his subjects for longevity. They brainwashedly follow him like zombies. Rince and repeat.

  35. See you made a side article on my behalf again Brian. Much obliged. Next debate could be if it’s worth while to clone and bring back old celebs like Elvis so people in the future could be entertained for an eternity. Or … Einstien, Tesla, Mold a new reality.

  36. If that’s the case hook me up with the Spock treatment. Jo king. I’m sure with longevity they will screen for megalomania and scroogeness. Wink wink. Doh bt it.

  37. If a sufficiently advanced dictator could manage to keep the immortality cure to himself and rule over a short-lived populace, it could indeed be a very bad thing.

    Honestly, this is neither logically a consequence of immortality nor is it logically prohibited. It’s up to us to decide to make human rights mean something. In a world where victims will remember the sins that were perpetrated against them forever, or worse, they will die, and we will remember having failed them forever (and their descendants will not be forgiving either), it becomes very important to actually get a grip on the conditions of the world.

  38. Instead the opposite could be argued. If we live longer, us individuals might be less inclined to buy the political lies that get dictators into power in the first place, or put up with them once they’re there. We’ll recognise the stages and take action. There might be some rare instances where someone gets such a stranglehold of power and has long term established goons backing him, but other measures should, by then, be in place. EG: Despite Brexit, the European Union is still a good idea and could lead to a “United States of Europe” that brings many former enemies and competitors into one Federation. EG: The African Union is slowly giving birth to a Pan-African dream. Bit by bit, Federations are consolidating the rule of law. Let us all work towards these efforts stretching and coalescing into even better, law abiding supra-national institutions. Then they might not only stand up to dictators in charge of banana republics, but corporations. Imagine that?

  39. If a smart mischievous,malevolent and diabolical dude or dudet knew they had more time on their ticker. He or she could potentially have more time to plan out scenarios. Ensuring various plans are executed properly rather than in haste with not all ramifications considered.

  40. “What would happen to dictators” is such an absurd consideration. The entire planet needs to die to ensure a handful of people die -> doesn’t seem super logical. It’s hard to find a comparatively bad idea without venturing into the realm of comedy.

  41. With the possible exception of Franco of Spain, how many dictators get to die of age-related reasons already? Usually they end up on the wrong end of a noose or firing squad (one well known mustached guy took matters into his own hands), or they realize the jig is up, grab what money and national treasures they can, and get out of Dodge.

    Indefinite life spans don’t change that, all it means is that you’re a target that much longer. Either the populace will have enough and finally overthrow you, and/or a sufficiently powerful adversary may decide it’s time for regime change, and/or someone in the existing hierarchy wants to warm your seat themselves, and doesn’t have the patience for something else to take you out, if aging doesn’t…

    (And have you noticed how much Kim smokes? Your own bad lifestyle may also do it, of stress doesn’t.)

    And, your determined foes may be living that much longer, too.

  42. Wow, someone with the foresight to see the near future! So few can be objective.

    Besides. it may be politically incorrect to say but a GOOD dictator can get more done than any other form of government. It’s just that there are more bad dictators then good ones. And a bad dictator can be really bad!

  43. Mao was a board chairman, never a dictator.

    The board bounced him after the Great Leap and he wandered around aimlessly for a year complaining, “They’re treating me like a dead ancestor.”

    When someone asked him whether he felt mistreated, however, he replied, “Anyone who cannot deal with being impeached isn’t Party material”.

    Unlike our monarchical system in which a leadership change is traumatic, all but one of China’s leaders have been impeached at one time or another and Deng was impeached twice.

    Notice that the US applies the label of ‘dictator’ to foreign leaders who, like  Fidel Castro Kim Il-Sung, and Mao Zedong, insist on preserving their nations’ independence.

  44. Sure, there could be more by virtue of them lasting much longer. Once a country stumbles and finds itself in such a situation, it could end up being a one way street. There will be more poorly educated people around once the economic pressure to produce such individuals subsides; This will increase the likelyhood of countries stumbling into this situation.

    Dictators are the extreme cases, but most people suffering in the world isn’t the result of such systems by population count alone. Dictators aren’t unique individuals, lots of people are like minded but are never lucky enough to be in a position to achieve political power.

    Next time you look in a mirror or walk down a street, chances are you will see the face of those making decisions responsible for more suffering than your average dictator. Most people can ignore causality by telling themselves their small actions have no greater impact or they’re just one voice in the crowd taking the same actions.

  45. Dictators get deposed constantly. Think of CEOs or mafia bosses or even emperors: any apical personality stays on top until they serve whichever cause they meant to. If they start to drift, the base grumbles and the rest of the higher ups start thinking about a succession.
    The succession could happen pacifically and in an orderly way (example: Pope Benedictus XVI). Or it could happen with a conjure (example: Julius Caesar). There are countless examples for both. There could be some resistance and even retaliation (example: Rommel forced suicide after the attempt to kill Hitler; side note: it would have taken only one “martyr” to kill Hitler with a handgun immediatly after the failed attack, but I guess they didn’t plan for that), but eventually you get there. Think of Mugabe. History has all the examples you want…

    So, immortal dictators will mean either more willingness to retire (think of Diocletian) or more assassinations, not necessarily longer periods of power.

    Edit: before someone brings it up: Putin is still there because the oligarch system he contributed to shape still wants him there; should he ever stop serving the “common” interest, he’s going to be deposed just like any other dictator.

    Personal power still means that other people have to trust/believe/obey you and that happens only if such people have an incentive. When people stop obeying, you know you’re on the way out.

  46. so no, I think that immortality *definitely* carries this downside. Some dictators are very good at building the institutions you mention. If they practice, they could get *better*. And they could use the new tools of AI to further their grip over their people, with the most adept of them reaching out to increase their spheres of influence, and further embedding the DNA of their rule into their supporting tools.

    Side note, what is the issue with this commenting system and length? I tried to post this in one node, and it looks like it just stopped accepting input, like it was some sort of tweet or something.

    Is anybody else seeing this or is this just me?

  47. well, sure.. the institutions are important.

    *However* certain individuals are also important. How long would soviet russia have been a horrific nightmare if stalin was immortal for example. There was no sign that he was going down, no sign he was losing power. If anything signs were he was getting more paranoid if anything, and bad things would have happened if he remained in good health.

    If history is anything to go by, he was gearing up for a new set of purges after the existential threat of WWII, this time against the remaining jews, when a jewish doctor suggested to him to ‘work less and rest more’ – which he took as a threat (and so had the doctor arrested).

    Even when infirm, nobody acted against him for *days* until it was obvious that he was not likely to gain function again.

    It is clear therefore that history changed vastly for the better because of stalin’s death. stalin was known to be unafraid of nuclear war, viewing citizens of russia as completely his and to be expended like so much coal or pig iron. Khrushchev for all his faults was an order of magnitude better than stalin – he is probably the only reason for example that we didn’t have a nuclear war in 1963.

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