What do you say?

by LFTW on June 3, 2010

in Conversation Guidelines

Will scientists find a cure for aging?
Would you want them to?

  • If you could stay healthy (“biologically young, chronologically old”), how long would you want to live?
  • If you knew that you had an extra 50 or 100 years in front of you, how might you change your life?
  • How might people, or particular cultures, be different with longer life spans?
  • Would you wish a 500-year-life on your kids if you couldn’t have one, too?

Answer one or more questions
Responses can be as short as 10 or 20 words, but feel free to go longer.

or make stuff up
What might the world look like if we lived for hundreds of years? What even comes to mind? Write a short science-fiction, draw a picture, make a list, shoot a video, sing a song.

and then share.
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Selected online submissions will be featured here on LongForThisWorld.com.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott Thompson July 26, 2010 at 10:22 pm

In the back yard tonight, just a few minutes before nine o’clock with plenty of light still in the sky, I decided that I might eventually make peace with winter if I were to live for a few hundred years. Until then, on those dark, rainy days, I’m doomed to dread the warmer (or at least milder), outdoor day that I missed.

M. Shane Tutwiler July 26, 2010 at 7:45 am

This is such an interesting question! Like many of the posters before me have stated, there are obvious pros and cons to living for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. I won’t re-state them, but I’d like to add a few more.

Firstly, the medical technologies that enable this extended life-span will likely be expensive at first. This will lead to a technology gap between those who can afford the “rejuvenation services”, and those who cannot (as mentioned by an earlier poster). Here’s the rub, though: With the wealthy able to live longer, they’ll have to work longer (indefinitely in some cases) to support themselves. This will further stratify economies and resources.

In the long-run, these rejuvenation services won’t ever be able to account for or prevent traumatic causes of death. How will we insure health and life policies if there is a 100% chance that everyone will die of completely random accidents (or via murder or suicide), making it near impossible to use actuarial distributions?

Finally, and a bit more abstractly, what if there are biological “states” that the SENS theory does or can not account for? Complex systems, such as reproductive lifeforms, tend to be ergodic…but some of the possible, but very improbable, states are unknowable with small (or short time-frame) samples. In other words, there may be ways for cells to “age” or “die” that are only knowable in ultra-extreme lifespan scenarios. I wouldn’t be surprised if, despite the best efforts of lifespan researchers, life eventually finds a way to extinguish itself and return our natural resources (the atoms of which we are composed) to the larger ecosystem of the earth.

Lawrence Hsu June 18, 2010 at 2:35 am

If I were given the chance to live let’s say 200 more years, I would have to decline. There are a few problems around: personal feelings and population. I would rather live with my friends and families then watch them die one by one until they’re all no longer living. This may change my mind if this immorality is offered to anyone from poor to rich. If this was the case, I would able to enjoy my life together with them and die together. However, medicine that improve human life or lifestyle tend to be expensive and only the rich can afford it.

Another problem is population. Our world is being overpopulation by people and is slowly on the brink that it cannot sustain the people currently living. If this immorality was given, our resources around the world will limited and people would fight another one to control that particular resource like precious metals, oil and such.

As you can see, there are problems dealing with extending our lives. Personal feelings can conflict with the ideal of the concept. Overpopulation is something that needs to be solve not worsen. However, I do agree there are some potential benefits from living longer but I do not see it at the moment. Living longer may seem like a good idea at first but is it worth it to lose your friends and families and having your future generations to live in an overpopulated world?

Rachael Gibson June 16, 2010 at 7:37 am

If I were given the choice to live as long as I wanted, than I would take how ever many years I could have. With age comes great knowledge, and I’d like to think that I could help people with what I know. If I had even just 100 years, than I would learn as much as I could. Other people though, might be different about choosing whether or not they want to live as long. I can see the desire of not having such a long life; it could get very boring. Maybe the age that we have now is good enough. But if I was to decide for myself, I would not think twice in choosing between living longer or not.

Chris Chu June 15, 2010 at 7:34 pm

One of the main arguments against living longer seems to be overpopulation. Well what these people seem to forget is that living longer also means that you have a longer working period (or so I am assuming) With more people working longer hours there should be no problem with people supporting the larger elderly population or fixing up overpopulation problems. This would help solve problems for countries like Japan and India which are nearing a age demographic problem.

Another argument I hear of a lot is that life is a gift and if we live for too long we’ll start wasting our lives away. Lets all be honest with ourselves, how often how we layed awake in life and thought about how short life is and how much we had more time. And I don’t know about the rest of you but thats never occurred in my mind. The only people that could talk like their life is measured in days would be those dying of serious disease, and I’m sure they would all tell you they wish they could live longer.

Katherine Nguyen June 15, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Like some others, I am kinda conflicted whether or not scientists should find the cure. It’s a good thing for those who are curious about the future and those who want to see it. It does seem very cool and who doesn’t want to live forever?
But when you think about it, is it that good of an idea? If everyone was too live to 200, the world would be more overpopulated then it already is. For those religious people, God made us to live a certain amount of time, so why break that?
So I guess I’m voting for not finding the cure. You should just live everyday as if it was your last. Live your life to the fullest so when you’re at the end of the road, you won’t have any regrets.

Zach Lehman June 15, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Right now there is what is called a “generation gap,” which in short is just the changes from the old generation to the new generation. If we were to live longer, this gap would also increase. The reason that I bring this up is because a lot of times in politics, this gap is overlooked and only policies that benefit the older generation are put through. And the younger generation’s voice is often overlooked because the older generation thinks that they know a bit more the the younger. So i n short, I am against having humans expand their lifespan.

Anisha Agarwal June 15, 2010 at 3:24 pm

I’m not really sure about this. There are pros and cons for this topic.
It would be great for some people. They would be able to do more things, and get more out of life. Ideally, life wouldn’t be as much of a rush. Great leaders, and people who do good would live longer and be able to reach more people.
At the same time, it’s just not natural to live for so long. Death is what is supposed to happen. Humans are not supposed to mess with nature. Many people would simply get bored with life. For the planet, the population would increase at a faster rate than it is already increasing. We would run out of resources very quickly unless we found alternatives.
Also, once a longer lifespan is normal, won’t people want more? It’s just human nature. If it’s possible, humans would just want to live longer and longer. We’ll never actually be happier with a longer life.

Trevor Luu June 14, 2010 at 11:45 pm

This concept of living forever reminds me of Ray Bradbury’s ideas.  But, often times in those stories technology leads to the demise of the main character or it shows the true evil of the technology.  Who will get the benefits of living hundreds of years old?  It seems as though only the rice will reap the benefits, while the poor will continue to live in their inpoverished state.  Would this be a fair world to live in with this technology?  Wouldn’t there be more corruption with all that power and jeliousy around.  I think that this technology would be a major mistake if it were developed, because it would definitly be misused.

Anne Tan June 14, 2010 at 10:52 pm

Well, initially it may seem like a good idea. But then again, how long are we supposed to live naturally? The average life spans and life expectancies have been changing over time, but would changing it so much be a good idea? If everyone lived for 500 years, the earth would be quickly overpopulated. Resources would be strained even more than they are now. Problems with global warming and climate changes, etc. would be even harder to fix. In addition to that, it’s also a moral issue for society. How long are we supposed to live? Would changing our life spans ruin “life” as we know it? It would certainly be very different if everyone had such long lives ahead of them. In my opinion, I think that we should leave our life spans as they are and not try to live for too long. The time we have on this earth is like a gift and prolonging our life spans is like overstaying the limit. There are advantages, but there are problems, and I would say that many, if not most, people are happy with however long they have to live (if they don’t die early), so we should just keep things the way they are.

Paige Tucker June 14, 2010 at 8:27 pm

I’m a little on the fence about this topic. Pros: science benefits, technology development, you’d have more time in your life to do what you’ve always wanted to do, you’d get to see generations of your family live, it would be interesting to try it out. I’m very curious to what it would be like.
Cons: the world would be over populated, you value life more with it short, its tampering with nature, we would run out of resoucres, technology would develop beyond our control and we would all end up like couch potatoes and be living like the people in Disneys “WALL-E” (glued to tv screens and our lives being controled by robots), A LOT of trash.
Overall I’m a little more leaning towards its a bad idea because lifes too valuable to tamper with it, but I’m not totally opposed to the idea. I guess it just goes down to if I had the choice to live longer would I? If all of my friends and family were living longer I would live longer. We’ve already manipulated the world enough to fit our needs, death is a natural cycle of things.

Connor Miers June 14, 2010 at 6:09 pm

I think that at maximum, I wouldn’t want to live more than a hundred years. Because the reason we appreciate the time we have here on Earth is because we don’t live forever. If we lived forever, or even if we had just twice our current lifespan, we would probably get bored with life pretty easily. Because our life is relatively short, we try to make the best of it and do what we want to do the most. If we lived too long, we would eventually run out of the things we would want out of life. I’m happy with our current average lifespan.

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