The Future of Human Longevity will be Very Different from the Past

Human life expectancy has increased through two distinct process; firstly a reduction in child mortality, and second a reduction in the burden of damage accumulated over an adult life span. Control of infectious disease has played a large role in both components of gains in life expectancy. The trend has been slow. In recent decades, something like 0.2 years of life expectancy at birth and 0.1 years of remaining life expectancy at age 60 have been added with each passing calendar year.

Life expectancy is an artificial measure, of course: it is the length of life remaining, on average, assuming that nothing changes in the state of medical science and public health practices. But there are always improvements. At present, the medical research community is shifting from a paradigm in which the mechanisms that cause aging were ignored, to a paradigm in which the mechanisms that cause aging are deliberately targeted. Meaningful slowing and reversal of degenerative aging are now on the table as options for the years ahead. This will cause considerable, and welcome, disruption to the slow historical increase in life expectancy. The future is bright.

Increasing life expectancy - the rise of longevity

A recent study analysed data from the Human Mortality Database (HMD), specifically looking at the probability of death at a given age. For various countries, including the US, Sweden, and Japan, individuals over 50 years had their mortality postponed, on average, by a decade for every age group (50s, 60s, 70s, etc.) from 1967 to 2017. In the example of Sweden, mortality remained constant more or less over the 19th and 20th centuries, until 1950 where an international life expectancy revolution took place.

This could be due to the colossal medical advancements that took place: the discovery of the structure of DNA, novel vaccines, the first successful kidney transplant, a novel antibiotic tetracycline, the first oral contraceptive and the invention of the internal pacemaker. Since then, life expectancy increased almost linearly at a rate of 2.5 years per decade all over the world. This same trend is observed in the longevity leader - Japan. Undoubtedly, the improvements in mortality stem from postponing it and thus prolonging both lifespan and healthspan. People are living longer due to being healthier and thus aging diseases are pushed back, developing later in life.

There are three predominant views on which longevity researchers speculate about the future of life expectancy: 1) life expectancy will rise, but more slowly that in the past due to reaching the 'limit'; 2) the same 2.5 year per decade increase in life expectancy will continue as in the past; 3) life expectancy will rise at a much faster rate due to biomedical advances, as previously seen in the 1950s. The future for longevity will differ from the past, as various mortality improvements play their part. A more effective public health strategy, along with devising treatments to cure aging diseases, such as dementia and cancer, would push out the current limits of healthspan and lifespan. Furthermore, developments in precision medicine, nanotechnology, regenerating tissues, and research on the biology of aging may all lead to slowing rates of aging.


Honestly this will come with a lot of new social issues. Living so long and so healthily is going to create weird conundrums. A 40 year old is twice as smart as his 20 year old self. Imagine that at 60 years, 80 and so on. With no faculty decline and good health.

Additionally how people look at life and what is important financially, personally, and so on will change. At 20 years old I had not a care in the world because my entire life was ahead of me. I could work a krap job because that job did not define me I had unlimited potential. As you get older however you need to perform, you need to meet expectations for yourself and from others.

It will be interesting to see if 60 year olds revert back into 20 year old pot heads if they get a second go at the whole thing.

Posted by: David at March 16th, 2021 11:58 PM


Doubling your "smartness" every 20 years has a limit, perhaps at 120 years, because your brain will be overloaded with information and to get "smarter" over that limit will require outsourcing your memory to external computer chips or molecular microscopic computer system.
And would a "chronologically 60 year old revert back into 20 year old pot head" ?
I doubt it. If you are 3 times smarter at 60 compared to when you were 20, then why would you take dangerous narcotics? "Smartness" in your brain will make you behave "smartly", which means avoiding high risk lifestyle, dangerous activity, and other foolish death-defying behavior. That is if you continue believing in life extension , health extension and youthfulness. You wouldn't want to die of accident or overdose.

It is against your Faith to act foolishly and unsafely.

Posted by: Nicholas D. at March 17th, 2021 3:21 PM

@David, @Nicolas
One doesn't become smarter but wiser and gains more experience with age. As for reverting to the stupid lifestyle... At 22 I was able to drink quite large quantities of alcohol. If I could do it with the same impunity (I had only a handful hangovers )I might do it once in a while. Therefore, for sure, there's will be people reverting to the patying lifestyle.
Others will have to pay the mortgage, kids college and such.

There might be some social postponement and delayed maturity. In fact, we already have it compared to a few hundred years ago where 14-16 was considered an adult age and the people back then had to mature socially quite early. Now we have people in their mid 30s living with their parents.

So we have an established trend and it is quite plausible

Posted by: Cuberat at March 17th, 2021 7:01 PM

@Cuberat, I think within a decade or two, Universal basic income will become more prevalent as robots become more common, cheaper, and versatile thus reducing many jobs. IMO, government should tax companies more heavily each time a human is replaced with a robot. In the ideal world, that robot will compensate displaced/replaced workers, so its only fitting that society benefits from this not the singulty company, IMO. Yes, the future could be awesome. I like to compare this possible utopian way with Star Trek regarding work.

Posted by: Robert at March 17th, 2021 9:39 PM

Even now we have witnessed some elements of UBI as disaster /covid relief payments. It remains to be seen of those payments will trigger large inflation or function as a form of quantitative easing.

As for taxing the companies for displacing humans with robots it is hard to do, easily evaded and gives perverse incentives. If a job can be better and cheaper performed by a robot it would be a net negative to mandate a meatbag job. What would be fair and at the same time productive wealth redistribution is a huge it debate. Unfortunately much hotter than the backwaterish anti-aging research. .

Posted by: Cuberat at March 18th, 2021 11:36 PM

"Eternal"life is inevitable-sooner than we may think. Except of course if we refute the medical advances or accidentally obliterate our bodies. Even then our memories could be downloaded from a quantum computer into biologically identical (or upgraded) bodies grown from our DNA.
To accommodate all this, an awful lot of existing dogma and ideology will have to be "reconstructed". The Great Reward will be for everyone to get up in the morning after a worry free sleep with no anxieties about finance, health, or security and enjoy a beautiful day hardwired to accommodation with nature.

Posted by: Barrett Sleeman at March 21st, 2021 1:07 PM
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