22 February 2006

Predicting Life Extension and Human Longevity

Over at the Speculist Blog, Stephen Gordon talks about the joys and perils of predicting trends in human longevity and life extension. Stephen once predicted--boldly, he felt--that 2014 would be the date for life extension to take off. Now Stephen is in the uncomfortable position of being upstaged by a biologist from Stanford, Shripad Tuljapurkar.

In this article, Dr. Tuljapurkar makes many interesting predictions concerning the effects on the world of increasing average lifespan past the 100 year mark. Overpopulation, increased inequality, a trend toward more serial monogamy, and the raising of the retirement age are some of his predictions. Dr. T. sets the date 2010 as the beginning of the rising lifespan.

The Speculist feels that a lot of unanticipated things will happen between now and 2010, and certainly between now and 2030. The Speculist represents a fairly optimistic blog-vision of the future. But read both the above article, and the reaction by the Speculist.

Personally, I feel that the acceleration has already begun. Not only are new drugs such as statins, ACEIs, ARBs, modafinil, donezepil, memantine, and many others changing many of the underlying processes of degeneration in the body and mind, but the process of new drug discovery is exploding rapidly. In addition, many people have gone on their own into personal life extension experimentation, taking pharmaceuticals and non-pharmaceuticals alike. Vitamin stores are happy to sell resveratrol, quercetin, carnosine, lipoic acid, Curcumin, DHEA, and other promising non-pharmaceuticals to an ever more sophisticated buying public.

Besides all that, a new generation of scientists has grown up with the idea that life extension is not wrong or unnatural, but is completely natural, ethical, and a worthy goal to pursue. These scientists are finding that the people who control the purse-strings are growing more agreeable as well. The tsunami has been spawned by the underlying groundswell, and will not be stopped. ETA: any time now.

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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