Just something to chew on for Saturday night. We’ve made great advances in medicine and related sciences just over the course of my lifetime. The average lifespan has expanded vastly in the past half century, and even the American average of more than 76 years for men and 81 for women is dragged down quite a bit by the people dying in car crashes or getting murdered and such. People are often living into their 90s. Of course, the longer you live without some form of accident or violence taking you out, the more some long term diseases have a chance to catch up with you.
But if you make it past all of those things, at some point past 90 or 100 you’re still going to be reaching the end of the road because humans end up dying from just getting too old. We wear out. The various parts of the machine wind down and stop working, with one of them we really need eventually doing us in. But what if that didn’t have to happen? What if you could choose a procedure to reset the clock by a few decades, and then thirty years later do it again… and again… and again? You could, in theory, live for centuries on end. And at least one group of scientists is pretty sure that they are on the verge of doing just that. In fact they are saying that the first human who will live for 1,000 years may have already been born.
IT is likely the first person who will live to be 1,000 years old is already alive today.
This is according to a growing regiment of researchers who believe a biological revolution enabling humans to experience everlasting youthfulness is just around the corner. At the epicentre of the research is Aubrey de Grey — a Cambridge gerontologist and co-founder or the California-based Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) Research Foundation.
“The first thing I want to do is get rid of the use of this word immortality, because it’s enormously damaging, it is not just wrong, it is damaging,” he told Motherboard. “It means zero risk of death from any cause — whereas I just work on one particular cause of death, namely ageing.”
Mr de Grey said his research aims to undo the damage done by the wear and tear of life, as opposed to stopping the ageing process altogether. “If we ask the question: ‘Has the person been born who will be able to escape the ill health of old age indefinitely?’ Then I would say the chances of that are very high,” he said.
The first thing I would ask all of the Hot Air faithful reading this is what your gut level reaction would be. Is this thrilling or terrifying?
If you read through the article, the doctor is talking about a process where you would live to the age of roughly sixty, then have yourself “rejuvenated” so that you’d be younger and more vigorous until you were 90. By then they would have refined the process so you could again be rejuvenated to be fairly youthful and vibrant until 120 or 150. And so on and so on and so on. You could wind up lasting for ten centuries or more. It’s all very reminiscent of Methuselah’s Children and Time Enough for Love by Heinlein. There was no need for cloning or time travel… they simply kept on going to a spa every lifetime or so and stretching out their lives until they became tired of living.
But would you really want to do it? I don’t know if any of us really want to die, but how long could you keep going? Wouldn’t it all become too tedious and pointless after a while?
We’ve seen plenty of science in the works which would enable people to grow their own replacement organs from original DNA (to avoid rejection problems) allowing you to essentially just keep replacing things as they wear out. They grew a bladder some time ago and think they will soon be able to grow a replacement heart or lung. With technology such as this you could seriously extend the viable lifespan of the body… but what about the brain? That’s the one organ we can’t do without and still have any sort of viable quality of life. I think it’s also the single organ that we don’t have a clue about replacing. Without the brain, we’re just a bag of organs on a machine.
There are serious societal issues to deal with also. If everyone suddenly starts living to even 150 years old in the space of a generation – to say nothing of a thousand – then the total population is going to go through a super boom period of a century or so and it will have massive implications for how we continue to care for everyone. And would it only be available to the wealthy, replacing the “income inequality gap” with an “immortality gap” leading to massive civil unrest? But returning to the original question which started all of this… would you want to live that long? Share your thoughts.