Why Fixing Aging Is Easier than Fixing Similarly Complex Machines

Now let’s move on to another reason that people often give for clinging to the belief that aging is inherently inaccessible to biomedical intervention. If aging is just damage, and the body is just a complex machine, it stands to reason that we can apply the same principles to alleviating the damage of aging as we do to alleviating damage to machines.

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But people sometimes point out that the body has a host of self-repair and self-maintenance processes, which machines basically don’t have, hence we’re not really machines at all. Thus, they claim, the maintainability of machines is no basis for confidence that the body is in principle similarly maintainable.

Well, I invite you to think about that logic for a moment. We have built-in repair and maintenance machinery. Why on earth would that make it harder to maintain our bodies in good working order? Clearly the opposite is the case: if our bodies are doing most of the job automatically, that leaves less for us to do with biomedical technology.

Let me stress that I’m not saying the task is easy. The body is a great deal more complicated than any man-made machine—and what’s more, we didn’t design it, so we have to reverse-engineer its workings in order to understand it well enough to keep it running. But that doesn’t change the above logic: the natural capacity for self-repair that we’re born with is our ally in the anti-aging crusade, not our enemy.

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