The Live-Forevers (Excerpt from "The 2030 Papers")
Aubrey de Grey wants you to live a healthy life. A long, healthy life. A life that is hundreds or even a thousand years long. If properly repaired, he thinks our bodies can run indefinitely. He thinks Cell Loss, Death-resistant Cells, Lysosomal Junk and other variants of the “Seven Deadly Things” can be addressed via stem cells (to create healthy new cells), suicide genes (that make death-resistant cells self-destruct) and soil microbe genes, respectively.
Extending healthy living would be a huge win on a good day - a world-altering win in the face of the aging crisis. The reduction of strain on the system - from hospitals to nursing homes to assistive medical devices - coupled with the reduced burden on families to care for an aging relative (or two), would set forth a positive trickle down effect for incoming generations. Rather than worrying about the collapse of such infrastructures, we might free up some resources to investigate how to improve (and fund accordingly).
Of course, what’s good for us is not always good for industry. Decreased dependency on medications would put a staggering amount of cash back in the pockets of consumers, at the expense of Big Pharma. What would happen if we witnessed a significant reduction in cholesterol-lowering prescriptions? Or blood pressure meds? Or thyroid hormones? What if instead of mitigating the damage, we had a way to replace the faulty parts altogether?
You may remember Jeanne Louise Calment, the French supercentenarian who held the title of longest confirmed human lifespan for decades. Born on February 21, 1875 in Arles, France, she lived to be 122 years and 164 days old, bidding farewell in August of 1997. Her secret? A smile was her recipe for long life. Unfortunately the smile did not stop the effects of aging on the body, and she spent the last many partially blind, nearly deaf and confined to a wheelchair. Nevertheless, she kept her spirit, always contending “she’d die laughing”.
(Note: At the time of this writing, the veracity of Ms. Calment’s age has been called into question, with researchers citing the possibility her daughter, Yvonne Calment, had assumed her mother's identity to avoid inheritance taxes in the 1930s. That would have made her 99 when she died.)
Supercentenarian outliers aside, life over 100 is rare. We might expect the Live-Forevers to materialize in the 2040s, with the first 130+ woman. She will not persevere on luck alone—a mix of stem cells and other reparatory parts will keep her running. A proud great-great-great-grandma, she might enjoy dates with the grandkids, daily trips to the park, and virtual reality trips to the Maldives—which will by then likely be underwater.
Want to learn more about the world in 2030? Buy The 2030 Papers on Amazon!