Some people do seem to like to jump straight to talking about immortality as soon as the topic of extending human life comes up. Immortality here is meant in the sense of complete resistance to aging through medical technology capable of repairing the cellular and molecular damage that causes degenerative aging and all its symptoms and conditions. Near perfect repair is a long way out into the future - we'll get there by degrees, with prototype rejuvenation treatments that are steadily expanded and improved step by step over decades or centuries. Each new advance will allow us to live long enough to benefit from the next. We don't even have the prototypes yet, however, and most of the research community is not heading in the right direction to produce them. So there is a lot to be done yet in order to produce any meaningful benefits for those who are old and suffering, and that includes persuading the surprisingly large majority who think that aging and all the pain and death it causes should be left untouched:
The dream to live forever has captivated mankind since the beginning. We see this in religion, literature, art, and present day pop-culture in a myriad of ways. But all along, the possibility that we'd actually achieve such a thing never quite seemed real. Now science, through a variety of medical and technological advances the likes of which seem as far fetched as immortality itself, is close to turning that dream into a reality. This hour we talk with experts who are on the cutting edge of this research about the science and implications of ending aging.
What exactly is aging anyway? A natural process which is best, albeit unfortunately, left to itself? Or should we think of it more like a fatal disease - something to be cured at all costs like cancer or Ebola? And why not think of it as such? The fact is that aging kills more people and causes more suffering than all other sources combined. Does not the Hippocratic oath therefore compel medical experts to find its cure if they can? Or should the guiding principle, do no harm, more appropriately be applied to those who'll suffer the consequences if we were to actually end aging?
Whether you love life or simply fear death, chances are you've imagined what it would be like to live forever. What would you do with all that time? How would the world around you change? And speaking of the world around you, could it even sustain an immortal population? With densely packed mega-cities and resource shortages plaguing us already, how would society manage the extra burdens incurred by radical life extension? Some believe that longer life spans would lead to increased productivity and innovation; enough so to hedge against the burdens it would create. Others see longer life spans as a sure fire way to make an already challenging resource management problem even worse.