If anti-aging procedures become widespread and available for all, the future would likely look just like this one, only you'd see far less time, energy and heartache devoted to end-of-life care and the treatment of severe illnesses. World population would increase, though people would still die from any number of accidents, murders and suicides.
Other individuals would inevitably cling to unhealthy or self-destructive lifestyle choices, limiting the effectiveness of anti-aging treatments. After all, we're talking preventive medical measures here, not magic solutions. So, personal health would still be important. Think of it as a war against aging. Just as famed Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu believed that wars are won via the accumulation of small advantages on the battlefield, so too would every small health advantage in your life contribute to the forestallment of death.
Without a doubt, ageless human societies would have to rethink their approaches to various social concerns. In the United States, for instance, would only individuals with health insurance have access to anti-aging treatments? Would long life become a luxury of the wealthy? Or would aging achieve the same status as starvation, elevating preventive gene therapies to a basic human right? We might also have to reconsider our proclivity for human reproduction, though it wouldn't be the first time that advances in medical science resulted in a population boom.
But what would it mean for you, the individual? So many things in life are framed by the eventuality of aging and death. Would you still say yes to the whole "till death do us part" clause if it meant having the same spouse for eight centuries? What would a career look like if there were no such thing as retirement age? Devoted professionals would have time to pursue a particular craft or field of study as long as they avoided fatal injury. Every man and woman would have the chance to try their hand at various trades and disciplines.
Would the end of aging take some of the motivating urgency out of life? Maybe, but then again, just look at Prince: So far, he's devoted his eternal youth to hammering out 25 studio albums, 91 singles, 136 music videos and three movies (as of the time we wrote this). Who knows what he'll do with his next 53 years?
Before you get any older, explore the links below for more information on aging.
- "Aubrey de Grey." Curiosity Project. 2011. (July 5, 2011) http://curiosity.discovery.com/user/aubrey-degrey/answers
- Bal, Hartosh Singh. "End of Ageing" OPEN Magazine. June 12, 2010. (July 5, 2011) http://184-106-237-247.static.cloud-ips.com/article/living/end-of-ageing
- de Grey, Aubrey. "Aubrey de Grey says we can avoid aging." TED Talks. July 2005. (July 5, 2011) http://www.ted.com/talks/aubrey_de_grey_says_we_can_avoid_aging.html
- Lund University. "New Genetic Technique Converts Skin Cells Into Brain Cells." ScienceDaily. June 13, 2001. (July 5, 2011) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110609084815.htm
- Pareles, Jon. "True Guitar Hero, With More Love and Less Leer." The New York Times. Dec. 16, 2010. (July 5, 2011) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/17/arts/music/17prince.html