The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant

By: Alexander Mervar

Read the Paper Here!

Nick Bostrom creates  an anecdotal story of a kingdom under duress from a dragon-tyrant, which is a representation of human senescence. Mr. Bostrom depicts a society that (at first) fears the dragon and tries to attack it with all of it’s best minds and resources currently at hand. Alas, the technology at the time cannot pierce the seemingly impenetrable scales of the dragon. Thus, the society of the kingdom learns to accept the dragon and his eternal and exponentially increasing demands for humans to feed on. The society continues like this until a wise and lone sage depicts a possible future without the threat of the dragon. This inspires researchers to investigate the possibility, and upon discovery of a new composite material (due to the increase in technological capabilities over the years), the researchers turn the outlook of the kingdom around. The kingdom bands together to create a missile to destroy the dragon. In the end, the dragon falls. Nick Bostrom concludes the paper by discussing eight different subpoints in the story that act as an anecdotal catalyst for further conversation on human senescence.

Nick Bostrom catalyzes a necessary conversation for the whole of human society. Is human senescence necessary and is it a static part of our lives? Mr. Bostrom points out in the paper that, “In relation to the fable (where aging is, of course, represented by the dragon), we are therefore at a stage somewhere between that at which the lone sage predicted the dragon’s eventual demise and that at which the iconoclast dragonologists convinced their peers by demonstrating a composite material that was harder than dragon scales.” so, obviously current human perception is infantile when considering this possible reality. Thus, it can be very helpful to the reader to read Bostrom’s “Moral”, which acts as the conclusion of the piece with a more scholarly, professional, and direct way of expanding the ideas of the anecdote.

Several of the ideas in this paper are applicable to create radical change within the global healthcare system. If the mindset of individuals within not only the United States begins to shift and consider human senescence as more of a disease rather than a static fact of life, this paper could be the initial piece to a global movement toward an expansion of humanity’s capabilities to extend the possible “health-span.”