Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Life Extension: A Blessing, Probably

Google's working on life extension, too. I just hope
they plan to increase free storage on gmail.
The science of aging--more accurately, the science of arresting or even reversing the effects of aging--is progressing so rapidly that someone has coined the term
“longevity escape velocity”, the point where life expectancy increases by more than a year every year.
Researchers are pursuing multiple avenues--genome analysis, drugs, microbiology, diet, exercise, environment--that lead to life extension. When the maximum age, perhaps 120 years, of the human body is reached, then regenerative therapies such as stem-cell implantation or organ replacement by cloning may allow some to surpass this natural limit.

It's also both fun and alarming to speculate about the impact on society if large numbers of adults can live healthily past 100: [bold added]
People might go back to school in their 50s to learn how to do something completely different....The accountant might become a doctor. The lawyer, a charity worker. Perhaps some will take long breaks between careers and party wildly, in the knowledge that medicine can offer them running repairs.

How many will tie the knot in their 20s in the expectation of being with the same person 80 years later? The one-partner life, already on the decline, could become rare, replaced by a series of relationships, each as long as what many today would consider a decent marital stretch. As for reproduction, men’s testes would presumably work indefinitely and, though women’s ovaries are believed to be loaded with a finite number of eggs, technology would surely be able to create new ones. Those who wished to could thus continue to procreate for decades. That, and serial marriage, will make it difficult to keep track of who is related to whom. Families will start to look more like labyrinthine networks.
Perhaps we oldsters will still want to die "when it's our time," and I can't imagine myself living to 100. Nevertheless, I'm paying more attention to diet and exercise and seeing the doctor regularly. Admiring the Apollo astronauts as a kid, I dreamt of attaining escape velocity....

No comments: