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:
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.
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.
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.