On Engineering Longevity

They're talking about engineering longevity in the present issue of The Scientist. It is promising to see more talk of such in the scientific community, even if it is more the Longevity Dividend and not at all SENS. More discussion means growing support for extending the healthy human lifespan.

George Bernard Shaw commented on how ridiculous it is that just as we are reaching the age at which we begin to acquire some wisdom, our faculties start to deteriorate and our bodies let us down. So, when we should be applying our hard-won experience to solving the problems of human conflict, overpopulation, and the degradation of our planet, we spend a disproportionate amount of our remaining lifespan worrying about our failing health and memory.

How different our lives could be if we lived twice as long and retained full possession of our health and senses, and no one would have to retire unless they wished to.

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So, all we need do is hurry up and solve the medical problems of aging - the sooner the better for all of us.

Michael Anissimov catches a few interesting quotes while commenting on the same subject:

Is living forever a lost cause? No. Biological tissue works according to the same physical principles as any machine, and is subject to analysis and fine-grained repair just like any other system. Some people view radical life extension as impossible because to equate the human body with a repairable machine is seen as blasphemy.

In related news, one of the most popular economist bloggers on the net, Arnold Kling, writes:

"I tell my high school students now that I think there is a good chance that they will be immortal."

James D. Miller, an associate professor of economics at Smith College, also writes:

"I have told my college students the same thing, and will even be discussing this possibility in my upcoming intro micro textbook.

Obviously, immortality would change the world beyond measure. But long before we achieve immortality people will realize that immortality will someday be within our grasp. This expectation alone will radically alter human society."

It's only human nature to lose sight of the trends in technological progress that will take us from the world we recognize today to the radically different and improved future of 20, 40 and 60 years hence. It's easy to take for granted the amazing technology of today, and forget just how different it was to live 20 years ago.

The biotechnology revolution is taking us into a whole new world of control over our own bodies, our biochemistry and its failings. Help yourself and help others to live to see that world - the rewards will be great for all of us.

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