Three Decades From Now

It takes 20 years, give or take, for a new technology to move through multiple cycles of development, commercialization, and competition necessary to evolve from experimental prototype to widespread maturity. A look back at the past few decades of medical progress suggests that 30 years is more likely in that field - there's one effect of regulation for you, a slowing of the technologies that manage to make it over the regulatory hurdle in the first place.

What does this pace of progress in medicine mean for middle-aged and younger people today? It means that the 2030s will see widespread, cost-effective use of the medical technologies you presently read about in the science press. A small selection:

These are just a few that spring to mind after watching the technology demonstrations in laboratories across the past few years. I've left out much that is promising but not confirmed - and notice that many technologies required for the repair of age-related damage are not yet at the stage where we can be confident that they'll be solved, mature, and widespread 30 years from now. The technology demonstrations haven't yet occurred, or there are too few research groups presently working on the science.

We have years - not too many, but some - to do something about that problem. I'm sure we all know what sort of capabilities in medicine we'd like to see awaiting us 30 years from now. No-one wants to be sick and crippled by age-related degeneration. But based on a survey of work taking place today, there is much left to do before we can look ahead with great confidence.

Remember that even if specific goals in medicine are possible, and even if this is an era of general progress in biotechnology, people still must work to deliberately bring those goals to fruition. The world is filled with examples of the possible and the plausible that have failed to come to pass because no-one has worked to make them real. We'll all be sorry if plausible rejuvenation technologies remain no more than a vision in the decades ahead due to lack of deliberate effort.

Comments

I like the thrust of this post. In fact, I am going to post about it on my own blog - it's good to get people thinking about what can happen in 20-30 years.

You end on a down note - much not being done that could be. Do you have an answer to make it happen.

I thought of: lobbying. In my industry (alternative health care), I have seen tons achieved by an effective lobbying company and for a relatively modest cost. Eg I have seen questions asked in Parliament and Acts of Parliament - and even EU Directives - changed through good lobbying. £50,000 sounds like a lot; but in terms of bang for your buck it's not much if you can influence the law makers.

I am quite new to the healthy aging movement; has lobbying been considered as a way of drawing attention to longevity research - and as a way to attract support as well as funds greater than the lobbying costs?

Posted by: Malcolm Simmonds at August 4th, 2008 1:45 PM

Re: lobbying, yes, and for decades. The NIA is the result of that, and one might argue - as Aubrey de Grey does - that these efforts have largely come to naught with respect to real, earnest longevity science. See:

https://www.fightaging.org/archives/000721.php

An ongoing new initiative to direct funds more meaningfully - that I believe will come to the same end if successful - is the Longevity Dividend:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3Afightaging.org+%22longevity+dividend%22

Posted by: Reason at August 4th, 2008 7:17 PM

Excellent post, and the last paragraph is very important. Too many people think that progress is inevitable and all they have to do is stand back.

We must actively work on the problems, and we must also play it defensive to make sure that something big doesn't happen in the meantime (see lifeboat.com).

Posted by: Michael G.R. at August 5th, 2008 3:52 PM

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