What if we lived for 500 years
I'm sitting here half-listening to a television documentary that supposes we humans could potentially live for 500 years with appropriate genetic discoveries and proper body maintenance. It's becoming an increasingly surmountable engineering problem.
What the heck would that be like? Seriously, this isn't the old "immortality" question, because we all agree that would be torture. Assuming you wouldn't be a bed-ridden stroke-prone diabetic, would you want to live for 500 years? You know, Cocoon style.
(Wilford Brimley hasn't aged since 1985)
If it was an option, I think I'd give it a go, but I can only imagine how drastically things would change if many made the same choice.
- Would a class of super-experts emerge or would you hit your brain's capacity where learning becomes stifled?
- Would memories from childhood eventually evaporate?
- Would you go to college 3 or 4 times? If so, would you need to go to special elder-schools or hang with the kids?
- Would euthanasia be more acceptable for the people who decide at, say, 350 years to just stop keeping the machine running?
- Would the relative life span give people less of a sense of urgency and cause lower productivity and laziness?
- Would it dialate the experience of time such that it doesn't really *feel* different for the person living that long?
- Would we send these long-living people into space so they could reach nearby stars?
- Would you drive more or less recklessly?
- Would those who have acquired an enormous lifetime of experience and knowledge have a considerable economic advantage compared to those who are a mere 80 or 100 years old?
- Would the collective wisdom of all these (hopefully lucid and reasonable) old folks help to keep humans from making the same mistakes over and over?
- How would that kind of lifespan effect natural selection? Would women prefer the man who can make it past 200 successfully?
- To extend a classic Bill Hicks line, would pro-lifers support or oppose a 500 year lifespan?
I think it's safe to say religions would freak-out, but I wonder how much so? I mean there are people in the Bible who lived longer than 500 years. "After Lamech had Noah he lived 595 years having sons and daughters. He lived to age 777 and then he died." I'd look at it like a true modern miracle.
I don't know if I'll ever see this in my lifetime. I'm not too upset about it.
Scientific American posts feature article: Unlocking the Secrets of Longevity Genes.