Advances in life sciences have scientist believing that the first person to Live to 200 has already been born. This Healthy Life Extension scenario has major societal implications. In this scenario, we are not just enabling people to live longer, but we will also be healthier. This healthy longevity challenges traditional views of retirement, wealth, savings, our social contract, and the phases of our lives, among other things. Now, you may ask, how is it possible to extend our lives in a healthy manner? In a Post from 2018, I shared a perspective from Johnty Andersen, Biotechnology, Nanotechnology and Anti-Aging Medicine researcher:
“Once these other factors come into play and examples include nanotechnology, tissue engineering, gene therapy, stem cell therapy, advanced robotics, cloning and memory upload (this one’s time frame is harder to work out than the others) then factor in all of the other interventions that we will develop over the next 50 years then clearly assuming a child born today will only live to 100 has to be a gross underestimate, frankly for children born this year even if they only average a life expectancy of 150 something will have to have gone catastrophically wrong in my opinion”
Fast forward two years and we find evidence emerging. In this recent Article, author Maayan Jafe-Hoffman reports that Israeli scientists say they have managed to successfully reverse the biological aging process – using only oxygen. From the article:
Recent research led by Tel Aviv University’s Prof. Shai Efrati, together with a team from Shamir Medical Center, found that when healthy adults over the age of 64 were placed in a pressurized chamber and given pure oxygen for 90 minutes a day, five days a week for three months, not only was the aging process delayed – it was actually reversed.
Reversing the aging process is one of many health innovations that ultimately contribute to our ability to live longer. Some, like Futurist Ray Kurzweil, want to take it even further. Google (his employer) established a $1.5 billion research center to Solve Death. Calico (the California Life Company) has the intended goal of combating aging and associated diseases, by investigating ways to harness advanced technologies to increase our understanding of the biology that controls lifespan.
While science and technology provide hope for longer healthier lives, society is working in the other direction. Diseases of Despair are actually reducing life expectancy in the United States. Drug overdoses and suicide are the primary cause of this reduction. In order to realize this healthy life extension scenario, we must manage the Convergence of enabling innovation and societal factors. The exponential progression of science and technology is only part of the story. As the pandemic reminds us, healthy life extension is a moving target.