January 19, 2011 7 Comments
BBC News has reported that “Life expectancy is generally increasing in the developed world, but Cambridge University geneticist Aubrey de Grey believes it will soon extend dramatically to 1,000.”
He contends that “… we are close to that point because of the SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) project to prevent and cure ageing …”, and that this will begin to be possible within about 10 years, and that the first person to be able to live to 1000 years of age, may today already be in his 60s.
I find it interesting that most people want to live forever, but struggle to work out how to fill their time on a wet weekend, so as we continue to extend life expectancies around the world to 1,000 what will we do with all this extra time that we will have available?
In France, assuming that it will be difficult to raise the official retirement age from 62 to say 900, it is going to be an expensive exercise just to support so many long-livers on state retirement pensions. The state will therefore need to come up with new revenue collection strategies to support a growing and increasingly feeble minded population, for example maybe with a major tax on the life-enhancing treatments and medications themselves … a longevity tax rather than the wealth tax that now exists in France. Being a socialist state this longevity tax would of course have to be a sliding scale, otherwise it would not be fair to those of diminished means (can’t say “poor” anymore), and based on growing population numbers maybe even a major tax on new births as well (sliding scale of course).
Living to 1000 would definitely give people longer to pay off their mortgages, have significantly more marriages and divorces, give everyone the chance to do their 10,000 hours to become an expert at something over and over again (see ”First secret of success” posted 16 September, 2010), watch the same reruns of “Friends” at least 1000 times, and read all those books that generally pile up on the bedside table.
This does however assume that we can still read as we get older and older and older, as Aubrey does not actually outline how we are going to be able to stop our brains turning to mush, just focussing on the physical aspects of ageing. The projected spectacle conjured up of Earth’s future as being increasingly inhabited by medically enhanced, ever-ageing, dribbling super-centenarians is not an enticing image for anyone to look forward to with great eagerness, except maybe the manufacturers of “Sansabelts”.
We would also have to learn to cope with population numbers that will make it increasingly more challenging to support life on this planet, unless of course we keep the driving-license-for-life system, as billions of physically fit but mentally incompetent drivers on the road will definitely help with population control (actually not much different to the current situation in many parts of the world, like Florida or Portugal for example). What will also help is that most of them will have no way of remembering who they are or where they actually live, which will keep them on the roads increasing their chances of becoming or creating a statistic.
The thought of people being able to live to 1,000 years of age just like Methuselah doesn’t actually appeal to me at all … I am much more a supporter of the scenario outlined in the novel by William Nolan and George Johnson “Logan’s Run” published in 1967, and later made into a movie, in which everyone is basically terminated, when they reach 21, as a means of population control … a true commitment to “Live fast, die young”.
I don’t necessarily feel that it should age-tested, but at the least we should make it easy for those who have already received their telegram from the Queen, and who can’t remember their name nor find their way home, to instead find a ubiquitous “sleep-centre”, as they are called in “Logan’s Run”.