According to the United Nations, the worldwide average life expectancy is 71 years (68.5 for males and 73.5 for females). This statistic has Japan on one end (84.6 years) and Sierra Leone (38 years) on the other. Now, apply a new headline that was just released by the Guardian that says “Live for ever: Scientists say they’ll soon extend life ‘well beyond 120’”. While this may sound a bit farfetched, it is certainly no joke to billionaire investors who are devoting considerable resources to “hack the code of life.”
Let’s first take a look at Joon Yun, a 47-year-old hedge fund manager who has created the Palo Alto Longevity Prize. This particular prize will award $1million to the team that can extend the lifespan of mice by 50%. Yun says that this is a moral issue for him and has pledged to offer larger amounts of money for greater achievements. Perhaps it is a moral issue for Yun, but Patrick McCray, a historian of modern technology, says there are three common reasons why wealthy individuals want to fund life extension research. The first is that if you are extremely wealthy, it gives you more time to spend it. Secondly, finding a way to extend people’s lives to 120 years would turn billionaires into trillionaires. Lastly, what could be a better legacy than going down in history as the one who helped people to stop aging?
In 2013, Google created Calico, short for the California Life Company, to “cure death” and there are lots of other wealthy investors bankrolling research led by some of the world’s top minds. So, what happens to society if people really do start living to the age of 120? Imagine retiring at the ago of 60 and knowing that half of your life would be in retirement. Would this mean that people would do everything later? Perhaps people would finish university at 40, get married at 50, have kids at 60 or 70, and then retire at 100 years old. Only time will tell…
For more information on Life Extension, please refer to the following articles:
Live for ever: Scientists say they’ll soon extend life ‘well beyond 120’, The Guardian, Zoe Corbyn, January 11th, 2015 (http://tinyurl.com/oggouqu)
How to live for ever, The Economist, R.MCS, July 30th, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/nqxnpva
Google's project to 'cure death,' Calico, announces $1.5 billion research center, Ben Popper, September 3rd, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/pm5kn29
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