Support for Radical Life Extension in Canadian Public Survey

An interesting result here, given that most surveys of the public conducted in recent years show mixed interest or a lack of interest in greatly extending healthy human life via medical biotechnology. Perhaps measurable progress in changing minds and educating the public is occurring now - and certainly such progress should speed up at some point after a slow start - but we need to see more such encouraging surveys before drawing that conclusion:

This paper explores Canadian public perceptions of a hypothetical scenario in which a radical increase in life expectancy results from advances in regenerative medicine. A national sample of 1231 adults completed an online questionnaire on stem cell research and regenerative medicine, including three items relating to the possibility of Canadians' average life expectancy increasing to 120 years by 2050.

Overall, Canadians are strongly supportive of the prospect of extended lifespans, with 59% of the sample indicating a desire to live to 120 if scientific advances made it possible, and 47% of respondents agreeing that such increases in life expectancy are possible by 2050. The strongest predictors of support for radical life extension are individuals' general orientation towards science and technology and their evaluation of its plausibility. These results contrast with previous research, which has suggested public ambivalence for biomedical life extension, and point to the need for more research in this area. They suggest, moreover, that efforts to increase public awareness about anti-aging research are likely to increase support for the life-extending consequences of that research program.



I recall AdG having said that SENS finds the most enthusiastic support among IT/computer professionals, libertarians and Canadians. That was just an informal, almost off-hand observation, but it makes me wonder if this survey outcome might be coloured by some subtle tendency of Canadians rather than its revealing a change of attitude over time.

Posted by: José at April 10th, 2013 6:15 AM

As a Canadian, I second this motion for increased radical life extension if every other country could get jealous about the fact that Canucks are ahead of the curve when it comes to acceptance of radical nanotech/biotech life extension technology, then we could get real progress!!!

Posted by: Gary Salter at April 10th, 2013 3:37 PM

I am an American living in Canada most of my life. I have a practice wherein I see patients and a growing interest in the past 30 years in health generally and alternative medicine in particular. Granted, this is not focused on life extension but it suggests an increasing awareness of the possibilities of getting at causes instead of treating symptoms, which is an underlying basis of all life extension attempts.

Having said that, I would say that patient compliance with consistent prevention strategies, much less wellness goals, is still more talk than walk. And the health care system is certainly more of a "wealth care system" here, which (I am fond of saying) leads ultimately to a "health scare system" and a "hell scare system." In other words, the health of the system before the health of patients, as anyone waiting for an MRI or operation here will tell you.

For that very reason, it helps to be able to live to 120, just so you can get into the Emergency room.

Posted by: D at April 15th, 2013 1:29 PM

Just a "PS" on my post above.

Some years ago at the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine researchers stated that,if people today (that was in about 1996) were to take advantage of life extension technologies available then, a person age 40 could expect to remain biologically age 40 to chronological age 120 years. They said that, if the child of someone now (1996) were to take advantage of technologies available when he or she reached chronological age 40, they could expect to live to age 300 without advancing past biological age 40. The audience, comprised mostly of physicians, was rapt.

Lots of excited questions followed. I was shy to break the mood, but the questions I would have asked were these:

1. What would it be like to be 300 and have seen generations of friends and great-great-great-great grandchildren die (assuming they did not or could not afford to take advantage of life extension technologies)? If they did not die, what would it be like to be "younger" than your great-great grandchildren?

2. How would it be to have 20- and 30-year-olds of the opposite sex turn their heads when you, perennially 40, walk lithely by? What kind of "generation chasm" would exist in any relationship with anyone under, say, 250? This would tend to either make one more isolated and lonely or be forced to become part of an elite group of very wealthy, healthy Methuselahs who ostensibly live forever. Is this what we really want?

3. Most religions are based on the idea of "heaven" or a hereafter, a place that essentially rewards us for leading a good life after we die. What if we knew we were going to live for what almost seems like forever (300 years)? Would we stop being "spiritual?" How much of "doing good" is based on the fear of death and going to "the other place?" Would we lose interest in a hereafter if we were living in good health for what seems like "eternity" right here on earth? Or, alternatively, would we use what seems like eternity to meditate, pray, and become even more spiritual?

4. How is the economy, which is in danger of collapsing right now under the "weight" of the present population and its excesses going to hold up if people start hanging around for what amounts to more than three generations instead of only one? What happens to population? To Social Security? What if you work at the same job for most of 200 years?

5. And, finally, do you really want to remain alive for 300 years, given what is happening in the world and expected to happen in the next little while (asteroids aside)?

Posted by: David Dressler, BA, RMT at April 15th, 2013 2:03 PM

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