Do you want to live longer? Would you like to live longer and in a healthier manner? How would you like to live to 100 and still be able to operate like you are 50?
This is the question that longevity experts post.
It is no secret that humanity is enamored with the "Fountain of Youth". Throughout history, we have parables and stories telling of the "magic waters" the bring back youth and vitality. Of course, throughout human history, these are just that, stories.
That said, our life expectancy has been increasing over the last couple centuries. While the numbers vary from country to country, we went from a human lifespan of about 40 years a few centuries back to now pushing 80. This is remarkable progress.
Naturally, since it is an average, we have to look closer at the numbers. Much of this increase was due to the serious reduction in infant deaths. At the same time, the reduction in war casualties over the last hundred years also factored into that.
Nevertheless, there is little doubt people are living longer.
We are also in a highly technological age. We are seeing progress like never before. Thus, the idea of using technology to increase our lifespans holds great appeal to many people.
While a lot of our present focus is on diseases, the longevity field takes a different approach. They believe that aging, itself, is a disease and ought to be treated like any other disease. The goal should be to first reduce the impact before eliminating it altogether.
Here is where we see the embryotic stage of this new industry.
The last decade saw massive progress. That said, it is so early there is really nothing outside the geeky scientific community to get excited about. There are a few things getting ready for trial but they are still not very powerful.
That all could change with AI. The entire drug discovery process is starting to be massively interrupted by supercomputers that are now pushing exascale. We are also getting closer to the day when quantum computers can help in this endeavor due to the computational power they will provide. Thus, even though that industry is very new, it can have an impact upon drug discovery with a few simple applications.
Here we see the progress starting to come in waves. If AI can be inserted into the research of longevity, biotech at its finest, we could see enormous breakthroughs in the next couple decades. The goal is to reach Longevity Escape Velocity (LEV), the point where the average life expectancy just more than a year for each year passing. Some believe we could see this point as early as the 2030s.
Obviously we are dealing with averages here and many will live longer, others shorter. However, when we look at the overall picture, there is a chance that, by the middle of this century, people are going to routinely top the 100 year mark while still being highly active. The goal is not to live longer so as to make the nursing homes more profitable.
Many ask about radical life extension (or immortality). That is still highly debated. Thus far, there is no evidence that human can surpass the 120 years threshold that biology seems to put on us. For whatever reason, it appears the human body simply cannot last beyond that point.
This is where age reversal comes in. Some feel that we stand a chance if we can do periodic maintenance like one does on a machine. This is a growing area of research and likely where the first treatments are going to target.
Of course, this brings up a host of economic and sociological questions. If we are going to radically extend our lives, what will the world look like. If we think we have an aging problem in countries like Japan, what will happen if it is common to life to 110 or 115? Who is going to do the work since most of the population will be old (70 year old people do not have kids)? How will society afford all these aged people?
At the personal level, how will one handle his or her own finances? On one hand, if investing, the extra time would be fabulous. Imaging the compounding that one would have if he or she starting investing at the age of 30 and keep compounding until the age of 110. That would provide quite a return. Of course, for those mired in debt, the impact of compounding simply will bury them even further.
We might be seeing the ultimate inequality forming. Those who are younger, let's say in their 20s or 30s, could see a massive longer life than those who are now in their 50s or 60s. There are people who are going to miss out on decades of extra life simply because they died 5 or 10 years too soon.
Longevity is another field that is going to eat up trillions of dollars for funding of research, development, and ultimately bringing things to market. In the end, like many things, we are facing enormous progress that is requiring a lot of money. This is how progress is made.
Simply put, we see another moonshot area of research that could dramatically change the world.
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