Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me, When I’m (One Thousand And) Sixty-Four?

The Washington Post recently ran a particularly interesting article about Aubrey de Grey who runs the aptly named “Methuselah Foundation” and believes that in the next few decades science will figure out how to keep people alive and young for 1000 years.

I would not personally give money to a dude who looks like this dude unless I was pretty desperate. And people who don’t believe in an afterlife and/or who are obsessed with looking young apparently are pretty desperate because the Foundation lives on.

The MIT Technology Review apparently just had a contest challenging scientists to prove that the idea of near-eternal youth is crazy, and no one could. Of course, it’s kind of hard to prove that something is impossible, so I guess I’m not surprised.

Leaving aside the scientific merits of the discussion, what do you think of the ethical and aesthetic ramifications of living to be 1000? Bear in mind that de Grey thinks it will be possible to live to 1000 as a youngish person, not as a decrepit person.

I wonder if that would be a good thing. First, how would you decide what age you wanted to be for the rest of your 1000 years? Our concepts of aging have so much to do with the experience and wisdom gained by that age, I wonder how that would shift if you could have the wisdom of a 90 year old in the body of a 25 year old. You know, “youth is wasted on the young” and all that.

Given that most people would probably choose an age sometime in their 20s to maintain, de Grey says fertility would have to “go down by an order of magnitude.” How would that be enforced? I wonder if you would look 25 but still only be able to have children for a few decades. Otherwise people like the Duggars would have hundreds of kids, wow!

I’m sure some people would opt out. For one thing, life is pretty hard and why delay the promise of Heaven any longer than necessary? For another thing, God is sovereign and, not to be morbid, but if your time has come there are always car accidents and such.

We do a lot of things to prolong our lives now – you’ve probably taken antibiotics, we expect surgeons to wash their hands between patients, and maybe you take care not to pull on your collagen too much. The fact is, people do live longer now than they did even 100 years ago, so would there be an ethical dilemma to living a little longer still? And how long is too long? I wonder what life was like during Methuselah’s time, and how the aging process worked then?

I guess I’d rather not jump to any glib conclusions, and let’s be realistic about the chances of de Grey being successful in his lifetime, I just thought it was an interesting article and topic.

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