Segments in this Video

Introduction: Intelligence Squared U.S. (03:47)


Moderator John Donvan introduces Bob Rosenkranz who frames the debate about extending lifespans.

Debate "Housekeeping" (06:42)

The average American lifespan is 78.7 years. Donvan introduces the panelists and explains the debate format. Audience members record their preliminary votes.

For the Motion: Paul Root Wolpe (07:40)

Asa Griggs Candler Professor and Director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University Paul Root Wolpe supports healthy aging and biogerontology; the pursuit of immortality is a narcissistic fantasy. Overpopulation, over-utilized resources, and work disruption are negative possibilities of life extension.

Against the Motion: Aubrey de Grey (07:23)

SENS Research Foundation Chief science Officer and Rejuvenation Research Editor-in-Chief de Aubrey de Grey states there is no danger of extending longevity when we postpone the period of life when we are not well, rather than extending it; aging is not distinct from diseases of old age. Society will have the opportunity to adjust priorities to address any problems that might occur.

For the Motion: Ian Ground (07:40)

Philosopher and Newcastle University and Secretary of the British Wittgenstein Society Teaching Fellow Ian Ground believes that choosing an indefinitely long life is the rejection of the human. Life has meaning and value because our experiences shape it from start to end.

Against the Motion: Brian Kennedy (06:49)

CEO and President of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging Brian Kennedy states that the question is not life span, but health span. If we can increase the health span as quickly as lifespan, we will be productive, active, and improve quality of life. He cites how slowing aging will benefit society.

Attempts to Cure Diseases Associated with Aging (07:23)

Donvan summarizes opening states. Wolpe is against the goal of living longer lives, not the goal of living healthier lives. De Grey questions the idea that societal consequences of longer lifespans would be cataclysmic. De Grey and Ground debate the right of health.

Arc of Human Life (05:19)

Kennedy states that aging research targets multiple diseases simultaneously. Wolpe argues that human life happens in stages. De Grey states that the enjoyment of life arises from health status; Ground argues that prospect of death conditions our lives.

Biological Determinism (05:07)

Kennedy challenges the perception of "what old people are." Wolpe states that our narrative arcs live outside of biology. De Grey considers the effects of whether or not to pursue a war on aging.

Morality of Extending Life (06:01)

Wolpe stress the intention behind increasing lifespan. De Grey challenges the proponents' idea of altering the "narrative arc."

QA: Will We See a Different Human Race? (01:52)

Ground argues natural selection. Kennedy argues against making speculations that living longer will be bad.

QA: Is Religion an Argument for a Longer Lifespan? (03:10)

Wolpe states that evolution has placed a limit on lifespan. Kennedy challenges the concept of programmed aging.

QA: How Far Off is a Drug to Prolong Life? (02:03)

Kennedy states that lifestyle choices are important in a healthy lifespan. Several drugs today can extend lifespan in animals.

QA: Extending Life to Accomplish More (02:01)

Ground states that those engaged in "indefinite activities" argue for a longer lifespan, but questions how the "ordinary Joe" views life extention.

QA: Who is Worthy of Receiving a Longer Life? (04:09)

De Grey states that 90% of the medical budget in the western world is spent on age-related health issues; potential therapies would be available to everyone. Wolpe describes de Grey's statements as a Utopian fantasy. Wolpe and Kennedy argue reasons for shorter lifespans in the poorest areas.

QA: Does Negative Space Define Life? (04:42)

Ground reiterates that we make choices in life with the presumption that time is finite; he challenges de Grey's public perception. De Grey states that sensationalism often colors his position.

QA: Finite Resources (01:22)

Kennedy explains how over-population is not the problem some perceive it to be.

Extending Life is Narcissistic? (02:58)

De Grey believes the term narcissism is a blanket for something perceived as scary. Ground counters that extending life is consumer narcissism. Kennedy says keeping people healthy is not narcissistic. Wolpe considers the desire to live longer is narcissistic.

Concluding Statement For: Ian Ground (02:07)

Ground discusses psychological life and compares living an indefinite life to living through the teenage years.

Concluding Statement Against: Aubrey de Grey (02:10)

The debate is about the desire to extend life, not the feasibility of achieving it. De Grey agrees there is more to life than just "more life" but it is not an "either/or" question.

Concluding Statement For: Paul Root Wolpe (02:03)

Wolpe quotes from a Martin Luther King speech. He questions the value of life if it is infinite. Our willingness to give our lives is the noblest part about being human.

Concluding Statement Against: Brian Kennedy (02:21)

Kennedy's grandparents were centenarians and lived healthy, active lives. Healthy, active, functional people in the population provide social benefits.

Time to Vote (04:25)

Donvan instructs the audience to vote, thanks panelists and supporters, and introduces the next Intelligence Squared Debate.

Audience Vote Results (00:39)

Pre-Debate - For: 32% - Against: 36% - Undecided: 32% Post-Debate - For: 40% - Against: 49% - Undecided: 11%

Credits: Lifespans Are Long Enough: A Debate (00:20)

Credits: Lifespans Are Long Enough: A Debate

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Lifespans Are Long Enough: A Debate

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



What if we didn’t have to grow old and die? The average American can expect to live to about age 79, an improvement over the days before clean water and vaccines, when life expectancy was closer to 50, but still not long enough for most of us. So researchers around the world have been working on arresting the process of aging through biotechnology and finding cures to debilitating diseases. What are the ethical and social consequences of radically increasing lifespans? Should we accept a “natural” end to life, or should we find a "cure" to aging?

Length: 84 minutes

Item#: BVL116095

Copyright date: ©2016

Closed Captioned

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