Will you live to be 200?

Will you live to be 200?

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It is an interesting question, isn’t it? Well, the truth is – there’s a lot more chance of it happening than you might think.

Life expectancy was 20 years a thousand years ago, and 37 two hundred years ago. Life expectancy where I now live is 80. The pace of change in life expectancy is increasing all the time. In 20 years’ time, thanks to upcoming technological innovations, our life expectancy may start to increase faster than we age.

There are billions and billions of dollars going into life extension right now. There are some extremely wealthy people like Larry Ellison, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who just don’t want to die, and these guys are investing large amounts of their considerable accumulated fortunes into helping us all live longer.

I am not blogging about this as an information piece, but to challenge you to your core as I am challenged to mine. Most of the world is built around the fact that you work to a certain age, retire and then die a couple of decades later. You will find that most of us are subconsciously making decisions about our lives on that basis.

Our understanding of progress is linear, but information technology progresses exponentially. Since health and medicine are now subjects of IT, they are therefore subject to the exponential curve that applies to any IT: a doubling of capability (for the same cost) each year.

What I am describing to you is a world that is changing in ways unfathomable to our thinking today. To be planning for retirement, to be saving for a rainy day, to be following a career path fundamentally don’t align with how rapidly our future is changing. A long life is now not about being a frail 95 year old. A long, technology-enhanced life could now mean you being fitter and healthier at 150 than you were at 20.

Achieving this is not as hard or as unpredictable as you might think. You can radically increase your chances of living a long life by considering how you can take advantage of upcoming health technologies:

Stage 1

Personal responsibility. Do whatever it takes to live to see step two. There are huge gains in looking after yourself today rather than tomorrow. The first thing you have to do is to stay as healthy as possible, with exercise, nutrition and current medicine.

This isn’t as easy as you might think. Life expectancy is starting to tail off in many western countries because there are a couple of negative impacts at play: neither the food industry nor the pharmaceutical industry are designed or optimised to benefit life expectancy. They are still optimised and designed to deliver the best rewards to shareholders. And therefore, they are long overdue serious disruption. Luckily for all of us, that is starting to happen right now, and that change gives us options to rethink our future.

To live a long time, you must become the CEO of your own health. It is not something you delegate to your doctor or do by blindly following government health guidelines. It can take up to 17 years for a medical discovery to make it into mainstream medicine! 17 years! Most of us didn’t have mobile phones or use the Internet back then! Think of all the medical discoveries that have already occurred, that are not available yet. That timescale can mean the difference between life and death, sadly.

Whilst many of these new technologies will be the preserve of the very rich in the beginning, they will get cheaper and cheaper until they are available to the entire planet, much like the 7 billion mobile phones now in existence today.

The less money you have, the healthier you must try to remain, to allow the next technology wave to reach down to your price point.

Stage 2

The first big shift in life extension is the upcoming biotechnology revolution. Biotechnology is moving at such an incredible rate now, that it makes the technology revolution look slow by comparison. This revolution is leading to a whole new approach to health.

DNA is reprogrammable, just like computers. We can start to programme ourselves away from disease. We can also programme ourselves away from the aging process. We can even regrow and reengineer new body parts. There are literally hundreds of drugs and processes in the pipeline that will modify the course of many of the diseases we face today.

As a result, technologies to reprogramme the “software” underlying human biology are already a thousand times more powerful than they were when the genome project was completed in 2003. And in a decade’s time, they will be a thousand times more powerful than they are today – and a million times more powerful in two decades. Clinical applications now at the cutting edge will be routine in the early 2020s.

Stage 3

The Nanotech revolution is our ticket to immortality. The use of small robots to augment our immune system will be technically possible. We will have the ability to develop immune systems that can cope with all diseases, as well as being reprogrammable for all new diseases that might occur. At the current rate of technological change we are only decades away from achieving these breakthroughs.

In essence, this would mean that no disease could kill us – and provided that we live in peace, keep the planet in great condition and avoid only the very worst of accidents, then we could indeed go way beyond age 200, and live forever. That possibility completely blows my mind – and it should blow yours.

And therefore I ask you to genuinely think about what it would mean for you to live to 200 years of age and beyond.

How would you change your approach to life?

What great things would you do in the world?

And what would happen if you started now?

To a long and wonderful life.

Marc

 

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  1. It’s an interesting and important challenge for us all to think more long term. For most of Humanity’s existence there hasn’t been a future because of short life spans. So our instincts by and large disregard the future. Working in the Health Sector where drugs are the first line of defence against chronic illness, I was amazed to hear that up to 50 percent of patients are non-adherent after three months. This results in more than $300 billion in annual waste and approximately 125,000 deaths a year. We need to build in shorter term victories for ourselves. Like a computer game where you have to complete challenges to get to the next level. Effectively, game your life.

    • Interesting. I think gamification will play a big future in improving health. We are starting to see it now with things like Nike Fuel Band etc.

      Big hugs.

      Marc

  2. Dunc from the pea factory says:

    agree with the pharma industry comment , the discovery of new drugs has slowed, which has lead them ploughing money into “systems biology” to discover new markatable targets….. i would like to see these big data sets being associated back to life style factors to inform people on how to live better ( which is probably not profitable with the current pharma business model)…. so as to prevent rather than treat….how to make that economically viable ??

  3. How do Dunc,

    Big Pharma is pretty screwed if I was to be honest! Prevention is actually more than economically viable when one compares it to the current model of healthcare. It is just a legacy that we are still doing it this way. Startups like http://www.wellnessfx.com/ are looking to really disrupt things in the future. There are also fascinating big crowd-sourced data sets like http://ubiome.com/ and https://www.23andme.com/ that will probably transform how we approach illness.

    Interesting times!

    M

  4. Dyrke Schaefer says:

    Was glad to see that you touched on the fact that such medical tech will, for many years, only be available to the super rich. Another point: if everyone can live that long, I can’t help but think things like population control, etc, will come into play. Environmental issues become even more pressing that they are now.

    Apparently, the tech already exists to keep humans perfectly healthy to age 115. But, then the human body apparently reaches a sort of brick wall for longevity.

  5. Malcolm says:

    The reason we humans hit the biological brick wall at 115 is due to telemores…the caps on the ends of the DNA double helix. Cells lose telemores each time they replicate. If there are not enough of them the cell goes into a senescent state and cannot replicate further. The ability to make new telemores is regulates by the enzyme telemorase however telomorase production is switched off at birth. Scientists are just now unlocking how top switch that enzyme back on without causing cancer.
    As far as living until 200 is concerned….bring it on. There is so much to do and see in this universe that I would need another couple of lifetimes.
    It would change everything we humans do. Let’s bring an end to funeral homes and graveyards.
    Malcolm

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