THE BLOG

Are We Methuselah?

04/17/2012 08:13 am ET | Updated Jun 17, 2012

The common perception of people born in the past 20 years is that they're the millennial generation. They were born at a time when technology was growing faster than at any point in history. They are at the crucial point that matters the most, and if they succeed, the next millennium could be prosperous. What few people ever think about is that people born in this very decade could be the generation to live to be over a millenium old. With that, the fourth biggest advancement in human history occurs. Questions arise about the idea that aging could be cured in just a few decades -- from this questioning, a world of inquiries and ideas opens up.
               
There have been three crucial events in the history of man. The first was the birth of man, then the birth of agriculture, and most recently, the birth and rise of industry. Today, scientists all over the world are creating the next key point which is the cure for aging. With that, humans could live to be 100, 200, 500 and potentially immortal from that point on. This idea could lead to humans who are hundreds of years old look like they're in their early 20s. The societal impact can create cultural change like no one has ever imagined.
               
Oftentimes people mistake aging as a fact to life rather than a disease. We all believe from birth that we're going to die someday and we just grow to accept it. So first thing to disprove aging as fact would be looking at the Methuselah fly. Scientist realized that some had different reasons for aging than others. So after breeding, they extended the life expectancy of these flies from seven days to 28 days. While that sounds like nothing, one must realize the average human life expectancy is just over 78 years old. Taking that principle presents the very real idea that humans could live to be 300 years old.
                 
People say that human beings are far more complex and can't be bred like flies. This is true, and if we were to rely on breeding humans based on genes for generations to get immortal humans, it'd be likely that it never happens. Yet the key is realizing that there are many reasons why we grow older. We factor all of these things in and realize it's a matter of cells losing the ability to reproduce. With that, the mission becomes taking all the factors that cause this and eliminating them. It can be from serious science to just mild changes in diet. Regardless, through the methuselah fly it has become clear that the causes of aging can be observed and technology may be able to develop a cure for it.
                
So, is 300 years immortality? Also, is it practical to say we can accomplish this in the next 25 to 50 years? Both have the same answer. The first thing to note is that it's not likely that we'll have indestructible immortals in 25 years. Yet the number-one thing people want is to live. Human philosophy and animal nature shows that the desire to live is primary. Having one reasonable advancement to suggest that humans will live five more years longer due to work in anti-aging technology, the effects could be world-shifting. People will realize that it's possible and the venture capital industry and government will change to meet this new culture. VC's will view this as a practical investment worth far more than making the next Facebook. Governments will curve policies and make it easier for innovation in this field. The creation of one success curves markets and creates innovation. We develop cures for aging for a few years, and then develop cures for the 500-year-olds when they exist.
          
The truth is that in order to gain momentum in the anti-aging industry, we're going to need advancements made soon in order to have serious investments. That would bring us to the FDA and the incredibly small growth in the biotech field. At the 2012 International Students for Liberty Conference, keynote speaker Peter Thiel mentions the failure of the biotech industry to perform. Thiel compared biotech to the game Angry Birds. He said that if it took 10 years to get Angry Birds approved, we'd have no Angry Birds or tech innovation. The amount of time it takes to get any biotech innovation through is a crippling factor. This can cripple the anti-aging field and keeps people like Thiel saying that aging would have been cured by now without these regulations. This makes any investment in anti-aging a scary one that prevents science from moving forward.
              
With the difficult climate for raising funds for anti-aging, the movement has failed to grow into the mainstream for scientists or universities to study it. So this mission to cure aging has been lead by pure passion. Notably, Aubrey de Grey has been traveling the globe to discuss this topic. Scientists like Aubrey are motivated to act purely from a desire to cure death -- that can be enough to make the people today the Methuselah Generation.
            
The thing that could make a cure for aging happen is the concept of utopia without death. People don't give up -- they have one million more tomorrows to keep trying. Human beings will witness the single greatest cultural shift in history happen. It's almost impossible to predict what people will try to accomplish and what will be accomplished. The race for survival would end and then the race for prosperity begins.
               
The idea could be scary for some people and actual opposition may emerge. The single largest fear for people against anti-aging is overpopulation. People presume that a society without death is a society that will get pretty crowded pretty quickly. If death rates decrease and birth rates continue to increase, we could easily have an earth of over 20 billion people in less than 100 years.

             
The cure is there, but the money is not. Without question, we will have places where death occurs and places where it doesn't. It's possible that if a 60-year-old visited a third-world country they'd look as young as a 20-year-old, and a 60-year-old in this third-world country would look to be a 60 year old. Even in the U.S., it's likely that for the first few years, only the rich will not age.
             
While this seems to be a chilling reality, the market will likely address it. If the first round of anti-aging tech costs 100,000 dollars per person every year, it's unlikely anyone except for the top .5 percent of Americans would be able to afford it. What happens is profit, and profit will make it so that everyone will be cured. With time, anti-aging cost will dramatically fall to a point they're an extremely cheap procedure and most countries can afford to do it. The same principle can be used for cell phones in the '90s being large and only for the rich. Today they're smaller and more powerful and owned by over 90 percent of Americans.
                
We might also see change in the policies of governments globally. Philosopher Stefan Molyneux has stated the reasoning for how all society is shaped is survival. Third-world nations that are oppressed by dictators can grow to see the U.S. and other nations as places where death doesn't exist. They will seek to shape themselves like these countries in order to experience the same prosperity. Anti-aging could be the end to oppressive regimes around the world. It's extremely likely that the prosperity that cured death will lead to incentive for revolutions and changes in policies globally.
                
The risks longevity brings are something to consider, but the fear will decrease as answers arrive. The key now is realizing that humans can live forever and that it can be done right now. Aging can be cured, and anyone who says otherwise is increasing the chances that it will not be cured in this generation. The fourth massive stage in human history is here. So the key now is spreading this information in order to speed up the process. With that education, financial and medical reforms will be made and it will become practical to say anyone born in the last 20 years -- and perhaps less -- can be cured.