Ever since Man began to think, he’s wondered if there was a way to cheat – or at least delay – DEATH. To radically slow down, arrest or even REVERSE the ageing process.
And thus have evolved myths, superstitions and the books of H. Rider Haggard, featuring Trees, Rivers and Fires Of Life. Countess Bathory had hundreds of virgins killed so she might bathe in their blood (it didn’t work – and they walled her up alive, for her crimes).
But after thousands of years of hocus-pocus, SCIENCE has finally emerged as the medium which threatens to make the dream a reality. Thus WE could be the first generation to actually ACHIEVE what for millennia has only been a FANTASY.
It’s all down to our having “unlocked the human genome”. But therein lies the problem. Thanks to public ignorance (genetics = Frankenstein, Hitler, etc.) an exploitative media and knee-jerk politicians, it may be years or even DECADES before we move FORWARDS from that point.
But even if all of these spoil-sports are bypassed, what are the ramifications of this new tech? Well of course, they are many. And MOST of them have been addressed. Issues like…
(1) Overpopulation and shortages of food and resources. Not necessarily a problem, provided people were prepared to re-think if, when and how many kids they were planning on having. And people would still die from diseases and accidents.
(2) Government interference with the new tech. Unlikely. Governments rarely look beyond the next five years – and during that time, little would actually change. Plus now that we have a Global economy, if one government banned research and use of the tech, it would simply re-locate.
(3) Jobs and pensions. Those WOULD have to change. People would need to have SEVERAL careers during their life-times. And automation would HAVE to be stepped up to a point where survival was no longer dependant on an INCOME.
(4) Given that the “cure” for ageing would probably be a VERY pricey procedure (it’d be unlikely to be a PILL) crimes against the rich would SKY-ROCKET. But then, would rejuvenation clinics accept clients with suitcases filled with blood-spattered cash? I think not.
And (5) Relationships. Would you (or your beloved) want to spend the next CENTURY – or maybe TWO – with the same life-partner? Sorry, this scribbler can NOT answer THAT one!
But one aspect of this issue has NOT been addressed. Would one WANT to live that long?
You may have heard the story of the young man who encounters a very, very old man. “How old ARE you?” “One hundred years old.” “Oh, I’d HATE to live THAT long.” “You wouldn’t say that if you were ninety-nine.” We cling on to life.
But as a fifty-seven-year-old, who’s been everywhere, done everything and has a large collection of tee-shirts, this scribe has, statistically, about twenty-four years left In This Place – and that’s PLENTY.
Oh sure, if they came up with a tech that’d make this writer LOOK like a twenty-five-year-old, they’d have his full attention. “You know you’re looking old and tired – And have lived too many years – When hair stops growing on your head – And starts sprouting out your ears.” But he wouldn’t want to BE one.
You can’t go BACK. Everyone knows that. And there are limits to how LONG one wants to go FORWARD. So, listen Pfiser, Glaxo, et al, forget about giving me another century or two. Just fix it so that when I DO check out – I look like Daniel Craig.
Update: I understand my Zen brother also has thoughts on this issue – which can be found by clicking: http://corneliusatloppers.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/cornelius-on-i-wanna-live-forever/