Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Biotech Science

Live to be 1000 Years Old? 1120

Posted by michael
from the better-start-saving-for-retirement dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC has a long article by wonderfully be-whiskered Aubrey de Grey of SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) on how we may all live to be 1,000 years old... as this is the balanced BBC they are also running the opposing view."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Live to be 1000 Years Old?

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    A number of people in biblical times lived well into their 200s or 300s. This is well-documented in The Bible. 1000 years doesn't sound like so much of a stretch now.
    • by eln (21727) on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:04PM (#10988717) Homepage
      Is there any documentary or archaeological evidence, outside of the Bible itself, to support this claim? I'm not trying to troll or anything, but before we use a single dubious source as a basis for determining what may or may not be scientifically feasible, we may want to look for more evidence.
      • While I am certain that this post is going to invite many a troll, the Bible is not the only ancient text to document extended life spans. That's not to say they're not all blowing smoke, but it's not out of the question that some sort of significant cosmological or climatological shift might have contributed to shortening our natural lifespan.
        • What is easier to beleive: that the climat has somehow changed resulting in the massive shortening of our lifespands, or that people have always longed to live longer? There is no archilogical evidense to support the idea that people lived longer than they do now. There is a lot of litterary evidense that shows that many people wish to live longer than they do.
          • by NotoriousQ (457789) on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:55PM (#10989532) Homepage
            Either that or somebody is certainly trying to make the time span managed in the book.

            I mean a couple of billion years has fit in about 5 days. Speaking of which,, the whole idea of T-Rex/ evolution that a lot of cristians find contradictory to the bible does not have to contradict at all. The bible said that animals were created in one day. It does not say how. And it could have been a long day. The only direct reference is sculping adam out of clay (IIRC) and making eve out of a rib...that does not make much sense, but even christians agree that bible is full of metaphors. Taking it as the exact literal truth is not correct.

            Speaking of god's increased precision, as the time passes... Is it just me or is god exponentially decreasing in time and scope.
            • Either that or somebody is certainly trying to make the time span managed in the book.
              Most of the Old Testament was written after hundreds of years of oral history. Pass a story down that many times and exaggerations and liberalizations are bound to happen.

              I mean a couple of billion years has fit in about 5 days.
              Most Christians do not believe that the Old Testament is the literal truth. For example, Catholics believe that the history of the world is divided into two logical sections: before Christ
        • by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:21PM (#10989002) Homepage
          Nope... ancient texts aren't scientific journals - we shouldn't read them with our modern spectacles and expect them to adhere to our rules.

          It was common in ancient times to extend lifespans of rules/important people to emphasize their status - in fact some of the lifespans around 1/2 kings actually overlap somewhat because of this.

          Also remember that the lifespans of the earliest characters in the bible (whether written as myth or aurally transmitted until written, or both) may not even have been known. eg. if only 5 people allegedly survived the flood (and no library :P), then it only takes one of those to forget a detail or two and it's gone forever.
      • Well, the Bible is not just one work written by one person or even one lone culture, really. It is already a collection of old documents. They are just packaged up together. So, in a way, the Bible represents more than one source already.
    • Actually, some guy was talk to me about this. He was saying something about how the earth wasn't developed and had no protection from UV for some obscure reason, so that bacteria and virii would be eliminated naturally.

      I really didn't feel like arguing with him, so I just listened to his theory. He failed to take into account the other reasons why people die, such as the degradation of our genetic code that occurs over multiple generations of cell division
    • by ellem (147712) * <ellem52 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:14PM (#10988877) Homepage Journal
      what you need to do is read Asimov's Bible History and you'll understand WHY people are said to live hundreds of years.

      Short answer: Not people, names.
    • by jellomizer (103300) * on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:19PM (#10988952)
      Translations. Some of these documents have been passed on and translated from dead language to dead language for tens of thousands of years.

      Lets say in the bible a man lived for 900 years (which there are at least one I just cant spell his name). Say durring that time they recorded time based off the moon (which is around 1 month for us) so 900/12 is 75 years old which is an old age in our standards and really old but possible for 10,000 years ago. Or the guy who lived to be 300 years old this story could have came from the time where they use the different seasons (4). so 300/4 is still 75 year old. We normally know the year as the primary unit for measuring time. So for an other culture who uses an other primary unit for time say the moon or seasons, Or Solar or Lunar Eclipises The aragment of the planets, etc. Could easily have been translated to the word year because that is the largest time method. It is just like how we don't have a name of the amount of time the sun spins around the galaxy, we as a culture don't think of time as our position in the orbit around the galaxy. But say a million years in the future they use that as a form of time then they translate our books and see that a man lived to be a 100 years but converted it to the persons age in Glactic Year. That number would seem to be a very old person.
      • by lawpoop (604919) on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:40PM (#10989293) Homepage Journal
        I don't buy the idea that 1000 year old people in the Bible is because they used a different counting system. Here's the reasons:

        1. For any other 'year' based on the moon, the planets, etc, the ages of all the bible heroes could be recalculated, and then shown to be normal. I haven't seen any one do this yet.

        2. At some point in the Bible, they stop using long ages, and people have normal life spans. If there was a change in age calculation in the culture, it is reflected in the literature. I haven't seen anyone look into the culture to explain why they changed.

        3. There is enough weird stuff going on in the Bible to make long lifespans seem... normal. Why do we have to seek a rational explanation for this? It's not like long lifespans are the single 'deal-breaker' for skeptics.

        • There is enough weird stuff going on in the Bible to make long lifespans seem... normal. Why do we have to seek a rational explanation for this? It's not like long lifespans are the single 'deal-breaker' for skeptics.

          I agree COMPLETELY. I believe we should attempt to understand the Bible to the best of our ability, but why this constant need to rationalize it as something that fits our modern way of thinking.

          According to the Bible this world was created by an omnipotent being that can do anything he
      • Lets say in the bible a man lived for 900 years (which there are at least one I just cant spell his name[methuselah]). Say durring that time they recorded time based off the moon (which is around 1 month for us) so 900/12 is 75 years old which is an old age in our standards and really old but possible for 10,000 years ago.

        The problem with that sort of explanation is that it has some of these characters fathering/bearing children at 36 moons=3 years old, or 20 seasons=5 years old.

        Also, if that were the c

        • by DMadCat (643046) <(moc.snadnoom) (ta) (tacdamd)> on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:06PM (#10989693)
          What no one here seems to have taken into account is when the Bible was written.

          The beginning books were written well after the lives of the central figures (i.e. Adam and Eve and their direct descendents). Also, they weren't immediately set to paper (papyrus, stone, whatever they used to write on) as soon as they were first related. Word of mouth was the most likely way in which these early tales were related.

          Anyone who has ever participated in the grade school experiment of whispering a story around a classroom only to hear a completely different version of the story come out at the end will understand what word of mouth does to tales related in such a fashion.

          Also you must remember that once the Bible's tales were written down they weren't yet "canonized" and conflicting versions were bandied about. Gaining the favor of the nobility whose money paid for the first written copies of the Bible was a huge factor in determining how the Bible would be interpreted and what would be included as canon.

          No information can possibly be taken as truth that has such a dubious history.
  • My mommy told me the secret....eat your veggies!
    • Either way, I wonder how helpful this will really be, and what does 'aging' include? I mean, will we still get senile, or is it just our bodies that stay young, and how many bodily 'disfunctions' (for lack of a better word) are caused by the brain deteriating (sp?)?
      Still.. Wow. This is a damn cool story, and I for one welcome our new millenia-old-people.
      Oh, and one more thing.. Population disaster; rising ocean levels, increasing population.. where are we all going to fit? Personally, I recommend we spend a
  • In Korea... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Ming_Mecca (816256)
    Only Old People... Oh, wait.
    • by Tackhead (54550) on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:23PM (#10989029)
      > Only Old People... Oh, wait.

      In Korea, old - no, wait, "Snuggling Ifbot" robots provide companionship to old Japanese, not old Koreans (they just use email).

      Problem is, the snuggling ifbots were only warranted for the first four years... and then...

      HUMAN: I'm surprised you didn't come to me sooner.
      IFBOT: It's not an easy thing to meet your maker.
      HUMAN: And what can he do for you?
      IFBOT: Can the maker repair what he makes?
      HUMAN: Would you like to be modified?
      IFBOT: Had in mind something a little more radical.
      HUMAN: What's the problem?
      IFBOT: Death.
      HUMAN: I'm afraid that's a little out of my...
      IFBOT: I want more life, fucker.

      From the article:

      > We will still die, of course - from crossing the road carelessly, being bitten by snakes, catching a new flu variant etcetera -

      Guess we gotta add "eyes gouged out by snuggling ifbot" to that hazard list, bub. On the other hand, four years (or more, depending on whose interpretation you follow) with a Rachelbot sounds pretty sweet. Sign me up.

  • Not a good idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by truz24 (800762)
    There is a reason for people dying when they do. There would be major overpopulation if people were to live that long...
    • The population of the Earth has continued to grow at an astonishing rate throughout human history, regardless of age expectancy. The rate may increase a little more, but overpopulation in general is inevitable regardless of age expectancy. In cultures where age expectancy is low and infant mortality is high, having as many children as possible is encouraged. This is not a coincidence.

      The human animal, like all animals, seeks to propagate itself on an instinctual level. The fact that we happen to be so
    • Re:Not a good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Saige (53303) <evil...angela@@@gmail...com> on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:13PM (#10988849) Journal
      There is a reason for people not flying.

      There is a reason for people not being able to see well.

      There is a reason people can't communicate with each other over long distances.

      Just because something has been a certain way, doesn't mean it's SUPPOSED to be that way. Sometimes, things just are the way they are. That is, until they change.

      Should the technology become available, you don't have to extend your life. You can live without all this fancy technology. BTW - you don't go to the hospital and stuff, do you? There is a reason for people dying from diseases, after all, and curing them would be unnatural and wrong.
  • I'm not sure I'd want to live to be 1000. Bad enough to see the fall of the Commonwealth but to actually see the Abyss take over. I just don't think I could take it.

    Yeah, I love Trance. Wanna fight about it?
  • by Aceto3for5 (806224) on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:03PM (#10988707)
    ... in my lifetime that I can see the Red Sox win the world series!
  • Yah but.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by A5un (586681) on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:03PM (#10988709)
    Can we have eternal youth as well?
  • by Duncan3 (10537) on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:04PM (#10988719) Homepage
    How long until they raise the retirement age to 980?
    • Look as good you will not, hmmm.
  • by Skyshadow (508) * on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:04PM (#10988721) Homepage
    I wouldn't want to live to be 1000. That last century you spend in a nursing home probably would Suck with a capital "S".

    Seriously, given the likelyhood of an accident getting you, imagine the sort of life people would have to live to average living to 1000. Even if you could offer people a constant youthful physique and extreme longevity, how many of us are really going to make it to even 200? Unless you live your entire life underground in a room with little windows, never venturing forth into the world, something's going to get you. While this means that a huge number of /.'ers are relatively safe, the rest of us are still going to get ourselves killed going over the handlebar on our bikes or crashing our cars or walking in front of a bus or hitting trees skiing or etc.

    Aside from that, try to imagine the social, scientific and political stagnation that would occur from having old people not dying. Try to picture the economic devestation among young people (you think following the boomers sucks...), the lock-in of power among a few Very Oldsters... If people do start living to 1000, I think our real duty would be to start hunting them.

    • If people do start living to 1000, I think our real duty would be to start hunting them.

      What kind of sport would that be - they move slowly and don't hide well. That would kind of be like hunting cattle - in a feed yard.

    • by Julian Morrison (5575) on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:09PM (#10988799)
      To demonstrate this, please commit suicide.

      Well, isn't that what you're asking everyone else to do, by wilfully forgoing life-extension technology?
      • Well, yeah. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Skyshadow (508) * on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:22PM (#10989012) Homepage
        Am I saying death is a good idea? Well, yeah. I am.

        If you think about it, the success of all life on this planet is predicated on the fact that, sooner or later, it dies. This necessitates the ability to reproduce, and reproduction is the key to evolution.

        I don't just mean genetic evolution here, either. The advancement of human civilization has always been about the next generation surpassing the accomplishment of their parents. Science, philosophy, economics, art -- you name it. The progress we as a species have made have always come from the student looking at what has been accomplished before them and saying "That's great, but what if..."

        Aside from the obvious population issues, allowing people (or far worse, some people) to outlive Methusela poses a very real danger of short-circuiting this vital process. Understand, this is what has worked for eons -- ever since your ancestors and mine decided to gang up and be more than free-floating amino acids, this is the way it's been. Ask yourself: is your own inflated sense of self-importance worth short-circuiting that?

        I'd rather die knowing my descendants would someday achieve things beyond my imagining than live and help ensure that they don't.

    • Larry Niven (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RatBastard (949) on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:18PM (#10988938) Homepage
      Sounds like you've been reading Larry Niven. He has some good stories on this subject, save that the oldest people in his stories have only lived about 300 years.

      But your argument applies to any other radical change in human lifestyle. The agracultural revolution shifted the balance of power putting a few landowners in charge of large numbers of farm workers. The industrial revolution shifted the power to a few rich industrialists in charge of large numbers of factory workers. Etc... Every time we change the way we live the old order is upset and we have to adapt. We'll adapt to this change if it ever comes about. That's what we do best (besides blather constantly).

      And yes, most people would not live to be 1000. The human life expectancy in many places is 75 years and most people do not make it that far. But does that mean we shouldn't try?
    • by RealAlaskan (576404) on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:23PM (#10989033) Homepage Journal
      That last century you spend in a nursing home probably would Suck with a capital "S".

      Seriously, given the likelyhood of an accident getting you, imagine the sort of life people would have to live to average living to 1000. Even if you could offer people a constant youthful physique and extreme longevity, how many of us are really going to make it to even 200?

      Looks as if those two problems cancel. To get to that last, Sucky century in the nursing home, you'd have to have way too little fun along the way. If you have a full, active life, as you said: ``... something's going to get you.''

      I think that the whole point of these life extension projects is to give us a good life until an accident does us in, so that instead of becoming a miserable burden to ourselves and others after 70 or 80 years, we can go on being useful.

      For me, the draw isn't ``live as long as possible'', it's ``be physically able to live 'til I die.'' Longer total life span is ok, too, I guess.

    • by Sparr0 (451780) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:25PM (#10989070) Homepage Journal
      Aside from that, try to imagine the social, scientific and political stagnation that would occur from having old people not dying. Try to picture the economic devestation among young people (you think following the boomers sucks...), the lock-in of power among a few Very Oldsters... If people do start living to 1000, I think our real duty would be to start hunting them.


      I think the long term result would be the exact opposite. On the surface yes, what you suggest would happen, but consider the OTHER implications of 1000 year old politicians... No longer would pollution, poor city planning, etc be a problem for their grandchildren/successors. Each and every person would have to spend at least 900 years living with the consequences of their decisions. Also, consider how boring it would be to be a senator for a thousand years. I would wager that most "career" politicans would retire after about as long as they do now, simply out of boredom. 60 or 70 years of income gives a pretty sound basis for a 900 year retirement just as much so as for a 20 year retirement.
      • 60 or 70 years of income gives a pretty sound basis for a 900 year retirement just as much so as for a 20 year retirement.

        If that were true, you'd only ever have to make enough money to pay back taxes on what you got from your parents when they died. Let's say you make $100,000/year for 60 years. That's $6,000,000. Let's say that you save enough and get a high enough return on investments that you retire with about 20% of that value saved. $1,200,000 is your retirement nest egg. That is not enough to live
    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:27PM (#10989097) Homepage Journal
      You know, I really suspect that when Og the caveman first figured out how to light a fire, his buddy Thag bitched about this dangerous new technology because he was afraid Og's fire would burn up his prized collection of mammoth hides. Meanwhile, the rest of the tribe said, "Hey, now we can keep our caves warm!"

      Every technological advance brings with it the potential for danger and social change. There are real, hard questions which must be answered. But for myself, I'd rather have the opportunity to answer those questions with some real-world experience ...
    • Economically (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MisanthropicProgram (763655) on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:32PM (#10989190)
      I was wondering about that myself. Let's say that everyone works enough in their first 100 years that they can save/invest enough so that they never have to work again - ever. Now, you have 900 years of retirement doing whatever you want. Now you just have a lot of money, only 10% of the people who are able to work do so and the other 90% don't produce. This is assuming that most people are disciplined enough to have that kind of financial plan. - There, I just shot my own idea down the toilet - everybody would live the same way financially, only over a longer period of time. I guess we'd see 300 year mortgages and as a result a typical family home would cost, what, $2,000,000?
      • Re:Economically (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Sylver Dragon (445237)
        It would just become unfeseable to retire at that point.
        The first thing to realize is that money is not wealth. Money is just funny looking bits of paper which all of us have agreed to use as a medium of exchange for wealth, which is really convient. Wealth is physical things, like a car or food. If the supply of money increses, from all of the people saving it and collecting intrest, but the supply of food does not increse in kind, the price of food will increse. It's a simple supply and demand balanc
    • Even if you could offer people a constant youthful physique and extreme longevity, how many of us are really going to make it to even 200? Unless you live your entire life underground in a room with little windows, never venturing forth into the world, something's going to get you.

      Here's an interesting tabulation of your risks of death due to injury [nsc.org].

      Your odds are slightly worse than one in eighteen hundred of dying in any given year due to injury. (About 1 in 2800 of accidental injury; the rest is due to self-inflicted injury or deliberate assault.)

      Assuming that figure remains constant throughout your lifetime, your odds of surviving to various ages would be

      100 - 94.5%

      500 - 75.5%
      1000 - 57.0%
      1235 - 50.0%
      2000 - 32.5%
      5300 - 5%
      8200 - 1%
      The distribution of actual injury risk vs. age is more U-shaped in reality. We're prone to accidental injuries while we're very young (getting dropped, falling, sticking fingers in electrical sockets) and while we're older (poorer reflexes, vision, balance, less ability to heal). Obviously our accident risk is going to depend on how well this treatment arrests the aging process, and at what stage.

      There's also the possibility that individuals who want to live 'forever' might make a conscious effort not to do so many stupid things, and therefore lower their own risks.

  • by gatekeep (122108) on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:04PM (#10988725)
    Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 6-0-4?
  • by CommanderData (782739) * <kevinhi@NOspam.yahoo.com> on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:05PM (#10988732)
    ...when this technology is developed? Will it be shared freely with every person on the planet, or will you have to be one of the wealthy elite of a first-world-nation in order to be immortal? If the treatment is universally shared, what will be done about overpopulation of the planet? With birthrates where they are now, and no one dying of old age we'll need to move billions of people into space.
    • by Shazow (263582) <andrey.petrov@sha[ ].net ['zow' in gap]> on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:41PM (#10989317) Homepage
      What about if they devise some sort of contract that whomever decides to accept this medicine, they have to sign a contract that by age x (say... 200?) they are required to leave the planet. Of course, they can come back to visit their great great great great great great not so great great great grandchildren every once in a while and suches, but for the most part, they'd be living elsewhere.

      I think since most geniuses don't hit their peak of invention until nearing the ends of their lives, extending it will either push it much further back or... make huge leaps in technology.

      But what about education? Most people today only ever go to school because they want to make the most of their short life. They want to graduate, get a good job, live a good life.
      If you have 984 years to go, would you really be interested in pursuing higher education? Would this "dumben down" our populace?

      We'll either get a lot of smart people, or a lot of patient lazy people.

      So, where do I sign?

      - shazow
      • by Knara (9377)
        I think since most geniuses don't hit their peak of invention until nearing the ends of their lives, extending it will either push it much further back or... make huge leaps in technology.

        I dunno, seems to me that most geniuses make their greatest progress in their relative youth, then spend the rest of their lives either promoting and expanding on that first development, or they start off on some other incredulous project that they never quite finish.

    • ... will you have to be one of the wealthy elite of a first-world-nation in order to be immortal?

      If you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it. If the ``developing'' nations clean up their corruption, they'll be first-world-nations soon enough, even with our present lifespans.

      If the treatment is universally shared, what will be done about overpopulation of the planet? With birthrates where they are now ...

      If only the rich can afford it, there won't be any overpopulation problems. Right n

    • by geekotourist (80163) on Friday December 03, 2004 @05:15PM (#10992043) Journal
      Nevermind 1,000 for now- lets just look at if an average of 150 was possible (22% more than the current record for documented oldest person, 100% more than today. Not a giant leap. Humanity has handled a 100% leap before.) If the wealthy elite care about making it past 150 they'll be using a decent fraction of their riches to hand out extended lifespans to everyone else. You can recover from a dip in net worth. Death in the pandemic of 2071 isn't so fixable. Why the pandemic?

      We know if teenagers think they're likely to die early (violent neighborhood, say) or they're unlikely to have a family (because they die early / other reasons), then they often live risky lives w/ short planning horizons. Even if its causing a feedback loop, it is rational behavior if, in fact, the local average lifespan is low.

      Ditto for a sense of control and ownership of your health / home / public spaces and "the commons." If they aren't "defensible," that is, your hard work to protect them is easily ruined by external factors, then rationally you don't put much time into taking care of them. (Note that a "commons" meant that multiple people had predictable control over an area: outsiders couldn't arbitrarily ruin them.)

      So even now we know we shouldn't have neighborhoods / countries / regions where most people think their lifespan is half of the worldwide average, or that they can't control their health or local environment. Their rational behavior can change their health / environment for the worse (nevermind the problem of angry hopeless young men and wars / violence). Pollution spreads. Epidemics spread. It is in everyone's best interest for all people to think that they're all on the same bell curve with regards to health, lifespan, the environment... for everyone to think and live as if they can make it to their 70's.

      Of course currently it isn't true: many countries have significantly lower average life expectancies (even without childhood mortality in the mix). But it doesn't take much to change that: once countries hit a per capita GDP around $2000 then average lifespans get into the 60s to 70s. (Clean water, immunizations, basic access to clinics and medical knowledge). Once women have education and job opportunities birthrates go way down (education isn't the only factor, but the most significant one)

      So lets say we can fix Aubrey's big 7 problems (see below) [cam.ac.uk] and can expect to reach 150. These aren't overwhelmingly complex solutions. Molecules can be copied: labs are getting cheaper. Science has always been more bazaar than cathedral, and with the internet open-source biology is even easier.

      It may be for the most part "sharing" won't be relevant. We'll be "participating," so will most other people. "The rich" won't have much control over KaZaa-Life, and a billion eyeballs'll be keeping track of the anti-viral wetware on Life-Forge. In this case some people will still die young-- some treatments won't work for all people -- but that'd be just bad luck. You'll still try to live like 150 is possible.

      But what if some countries are still on different bell curves: they reasonably can expect to live only 45-55, 65 years if they're lucky. They'll behave differently- taking more risks, discounting the future- not out of anger or jealousy (though never ignore the power of those), but simply because its rational. Using more untested / black-market copies of drugs. Perhaps slightly less likely to use antibiotics in "old" (=60+) age.

      AdG writes that epidemics can still get us. Even without malicious intent they'll be more likely to come from the regions where lifespans are 1/3 the average. So again, if the wealthy elite (or 1st world countries generally) want to reach 150, we'll be handing out our telomere lengthening inhibitors and ATase like candy (low-glycolic index candy).

      The 7 problems & solutions:

  • The 'opposing view' rightly cautions against false prophets and the seductive lure of imortality, but doesn't acknowledge that we know about a billion times more about aging than we did even 50 years ago.

    I personally am not expecting to live to a 1000, but I'm sure that in a few generations people will be living much longer.

  • I thought the rebuttle was pretty lame... several stories of past interest in immortality that failed...
    I am sure mankind has thought about flight for just as long, but in 50 years we went from flying a couuple hundred yards to the SR-71.
  • ...with that beard, how does that guy do any lab work? Wouldn't his hair get in *everything*? :P
  • All I have to do is get my billions by the age of 40. Then I have 960 years of excellent retirement to look forward to.

  • A Long Damn Time (Score:3, Interesting)

    by teiresias (101481) on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:07PM (#10988760)
    As much as I never want to die, and I really really don't, living to a 1000 years old seems a tad bit excessive. After awhile, the risk of being alive is diminished and we no longer have a rush to do things. With a deadline of a 1000 years (more than ten times the above average we have now), it gives new meaning to putting stuff off till tommorow. Much of the excitement that makes life so worth living will be lost.

    And I suppose when we start having people living till 1000, they'll come out with treatments to help you live to 10,000. etc etc etc.

    What I'd really like to know is if the treatment will be a simple once a day pill or a three hour long invasive therapy I have to go through every morning (much like showering).
    • Re:A Long Damn Time (Score:5, Interesting)

      by joeldg (518249) on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:20PM (#10988964) Homepage
      The ability to set *huge* projects in motion with these kinds of timespans would be impressive though.
      Just think what the egyptian kings would have made had they lived that long... :)

      Is interesting.. However, I would not worry as you will always have certain portions of the population that will label this the "Mark of the beast" and not partake.. Of course we won't bother shipping any of this to troubled areas like the middle east or Africa.. For any of our enemies.. Reminds me of the Dune and "the spice must flow" etc.. I imagine it will also be priced high-enough that your average garbage man could not afford it.

      Control this information.. you control the world.
      Think about threatening to not ship peoples life extending drugs to a country that is being "bad".. Wow, that would have some quick results.. Or if not, then you could just wait until they die, talk to the new guys.. Easy..

      This all kind of reminds me of the Worthing Saga by Orson scott card..
    • Re:A Long Damn Time (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dammital (220641)

      With a deadline of a 1000 years [...] it gives new meaning to putting stuff off till tommorow.

      Au contraire, Pierre. Here's my perspective, from the far side of 50 years of age: retirement is too damn close for me to screw around now. I can't change careers. I don't dare quit my fat job. I'll never go to grad school. I've only got 15 years left to feather my nest for retirement. I have no options.

      If I turned on the television tomorrow morning and Diane Sawyer was telling me that I had a thousand y

    • Re:A Long Damn Time (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tenebrious1 (530949)
      As much as I never want to die, and I really really don't, living to a 1000 years old seems a tad bit excessive. After awhile, the risk of being alive is diminished and we no longer have a rush to do things. With a deadline of a 1000 years (more than ten times the above average we have now), it gives new meaning to putting stuff off till tommorow. Much of the excitement that makes life so worth living will be lost.

      I can think of so many things I'd love to do, but really don't have the time or money for.
  • I didn't read the article, of course, but would you really want to be slaving away for so long, feeding the upper class?
    Or how many losses could you cope with? Imagine that your significant other dies in a crash, 50 years later your child is killed, and another one commits suicide? And then your second significant other leaves you.
    I dunno, maybe I'm too pessimistic, but it's not all rosy if everyone can live that long...
  • So you live to be 1000 or whatever but surely after a couple of hunderd years you would get bored and would feel that you've seen everything. SO what do you do then?

    Of course space travel might be possible then but you would then be stuck on a ship for a couple hundered years getting bored there instead

    Rus
  • by merdaccia (695940)
    does he plan to put 50 billion people?
  • How much will it hurt 900 years from now? I don't even want to know.
  • by JohnGrahamCumming (684871) * <slashdotNO@SPAMjgc.org> on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:10PM (#10988809) Homepage Journal
    I surely hope so... then my 6 digit /. ID will look so cool to all those 48 digit l4mers who just signed up.

    That's right script kiddie: I'm a top 1,000,000 /. member so bite me.

    John.
  • by Washizu (220337) <<ten.tsacmoc> <ta> <yevragneb>> on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:14PM (#10988871) Homepage
    Think of the Matlock ratings!

  • by naoursla (99850) on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:14PM (#10988873) Homepage Journal
    Why that's only 8 years old when written in decimal.
  • by RealProgrammer (723725) on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:18PM (#10988943) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, right.

    This reminds me of a guy wanting to attract grants. Except for the ... no, I will take the high road.

    There is SO much that goes wrong with the human body as it ages. He predicts in effect that in the next 10 years we'll simultaneously find cures for two maladies that appear to be universal: Alzheimers and cancer.

    The statistics on prostate cancer for men and breast cancer for women are such that if you live long enough, you are assured of getting them. The only variable is age of onset.

    The same is true for Alzheimer's. Live long enough, and you'll get it.

    1000 years? Let's try 130 first.
  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheKubrix (585297) on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:31PM (#10989165) Homepage
    So you mean I'll REALLY be around when they release Duke Nukem Forever?! sweet.
  • by raider_red (156642) on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:51PM (#10989466) Journal
    Anyone interested in this might want to take a look at Holy Fire. It's a speculative work about the impact that an aging population and an emphasis on life extension could have on society. In the future depicted in the book, most wealth and power is concentrated with the very old, leaving the young in society marginalized with very little upward mobility.

    The main character is a very old woman who undergoes a radical experimental treatment which leaves her with a physical age in her early twenties, and essentially has to start over. A very interesting look at the direction we could be headed.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Friday December 03, 2004 @01:56PM (#10989559)
    I see an awful lot of "But living that long would suck" posts.

    I think this question is a great illuminator of which side of the pessimistic/optimistic divide you fall on. If you are fundamentally a pessimist, how better to draw that out that to give you a scenario where you are free to imagine the worst that can happen - stretched to over 1000 years!!!

    Myself, I think it would be fantastic and fully expect to live to be 200 at least, due to advancement in technology. And not in a creepy Davros [daleklinks.co.uk] half-human mechanised wheelchair kind of way either. More like the 80-year old woman I met climbing a fourteener when I'm 800 or so.

    What would I do with so much time? Well, imagine for a start what savings would mean - right now people save up for "retirement" - which then lasts a short time (relativley) and near the end of life.

    Instead imagine a world where you spend 100 years working on something you like (and you could take a lot more time to find something you like without having to settle down before you were thirty or so), then perhaps take the next 100 years (!) off just living on savings accumulated! If you are thrifty the first hundred you could probably live off the interest indefinatley. Just recently I read a story about a janitor that managed to save up enough to donate a few MILLION dollors to the school he worked at.

    But I'm avoiding the initial question - what to do with all that time? What wouldn't I do!! Finally time enough to finish the vast backlog of books I have to read. Or play piano better. Or try five or six other interesting carreers in depth. Basically, if you have a mind that finds the world interesting then what wouldn't you do? I have a cousin right now that does this on a Micro scale, working for some time until he's accumulated enough money - then taking a year (or as long as possible) off to do what he loves.

    With a potential lifespan so long some people seem to think that people would become terriby risk adverse and never venture forth for fear of wasting life. But in fact do not people grow far more cautious as they get older? With life stretched to 1000 years, then the first two-hundred or so would be more like your twenties when you were brash and did risky things.

    Furthermore, people overlook the VAST benefit you would get from people living so long and having such a depth of knowlege. It would provide a perfect offset for a world overly focused on the moment, and less on the "Long Now" (if anyone out there has not read "The Clock of the Long Now", they should).
  • Population (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chiller2 (35804) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:18PM (#10989857) Homepage
    Those raising the point of population problems are assuming that the norm of having children in your 20s and 30s will continue.

    Why would you tie yourself down with children at that age if you can live ten times as long?
    • Re:Population (Score:3, Interesting)

      The answer lies in Biology, which I guess you never took.

      Your sperm won't be good copies after about 4 decades. For example, the chance of having a baby with Down's Syndrome dramatically increase after the man hits 40.

      As for women, they have a finite supply of eggs. Once they're gone, they're gone.

      So, you can't have kids at the age of 700, since there won't be any eggs in the mother and the dad's sperm is going to be pretty bad quality.
  • Dude.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BigZaphod (12942) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:40PM (#10990171) Homepage
    I'd love to live for 1000 years. Think of all the cool stuff you could do and experience! Course, it'd be even more fun if everyone else wasn't living to 1000. ;-)

    Still, though.. you could fail over and over and have the time to learn to do it right. Or, just give up on this hectic modern concept of life and just become a wander for, say, 80 years. You could do all sorts of great things. Think long term. Produce works of art impossible to do any other way. Imagine a painting by a master that took, say, 50 years just to complete--because it was an entire city! That master could produce many of them--and they'd be LARGE scale projects. Business would have a much longer and more stable outlook. Quick reactions would be frowned upon and instead, careful consideration would be rewarded. These would all be great improvements, I think.
  • by nusratt (751548) on Friday December 03, 2004 @03:11PM (#10990600) Journal
    -- statistically: You'll live longer by avoiding all manner of risks of accidents. Avoid cars, planes, electricity, wild animals, hazardous weather, high-crime neighborhoods, etc.

    -- physiologically: avoid anything which is stressful, overly exciting, fattening; opt for unrelenting exercise, drastic caloric reduction, etc.

    Unfortunately, the bulk of the effect is relativistic:
    you'll live somewhat longer, but mostly it will just *seem* longer (ba-dum-bump, thanks folks, you've been great, I'll be here all week).
  • by arasinen (22038) on Friday December 03, 2004 @03:15PM (#10990652)
    The near-immortality proposed by the article is truly fascinating. It is hard to even imagine the scale of changes brought by 1000 year lifespan. Quite a few comments here concentrate on individuals and the rest on the society and they bring up some good points. What really interests me, however, is what happens to families.

    Relationships grow as people grow. It is quite mindbogging to think about a relationship with a century of common history.

    1. Sex. There'd be ten times as much. That would probably finally reveal us if it is possible to get bored of sex.

    2. Marriage. The institution of marriage is already slowly losing the status it has had in the recent years. It seems difficult to find a mate for 50 years -- imagine the difficulties in finding a partner for 500! One possibility is that marriages become short-term only, ie. you get married for 20, 30, 50 years at a time. This leads to ...

    3. Children. Obviously you can't go on spawning children every 10 years. The population explosion would be more like a population supernova. A child would be a very very rare occurence. It wouldn't be inconcievable that marriages would be only granted for the express purpose of having a child and raising it into adulthood.
  • by Esion Modnar (632431) on Friday December 03, 2004 @03:33PM (#10990862)
    You go to a nightclub, you hit it off with this witty sexy girl. You get her home.

    Things are moving along nicely, talking about things. The chemistry is *incredible*.

    Then you find out (I don't know, maybe the convo made a strange turn to genealogy) she's your great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother.

    I mean, how many of us would recognize our great*n grandparents if we met them on the street?

    • That only seems scary in our generation-challenged world. In actuality, you only share 2^-8 of your genes with with your great^6 grandmother. This is not all that different from the baseline relationship coefficient in many populations.
  • A few thoughts. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pragma_x (644215) on Friday December 03, 2004 @03:40PM (#10990935) Journal
    I don't think that any human being, as we understand ourselves now, can withstand living past 120 or so years without undergoing some pretty hefty consequences.

    Cancer. How much radiation will you absorb over 1000 years? How many parts-per-billion of the innumerable carcinogens, heavy metals and free-radicals will your body come in contact and absorb over that much time? The sheer volume of damage to cells and DNA by these factors, as well as the simple (and natural) mishandling of our DNA by basic cell division, puts one at a tremendous risk for developing cancer. Any kind of longevity thereapy would have to be aggressive and continuous to stave off these problems.

    Insanity and or lossing the capability to change healthily. How much can the human mind hold, safely? You might very well live to be 1000, but would you still remember the first 500 years of your life? Even if you remain active, and fight off senility and alzhimers to the end, you only have so many neurons that are available for use. Even assuming that you learn to use the so called unused 85% of your brain, would your consciousness, your very psyche, be able to withstand so much knowledge without loosing your sanity? How about just keeping up with current events?
  • Murders! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Capt_Troy (60831) <tfandango@@@yahoo...com> on Friday December 03, 2004 @04:02PM (#10991211) Homepage Journal
    Just think of all the murderers that will be walking the streets after they serve their consecutive lifetime sentences! OH THE HUMANITY!
  • by Colonel Cholling (715787) on Friday December 03, 2004 @04:10PM (#10991307)
    Rodney Brooks, in Flesh and Machines, briefly discusses various people (I remember Raymond Kurzweil with his "spiritual machines" concept among them) who have predicted that Real Soon Now we'll have technology which can make people virtually immortal. He cited a study of various thinkers through the years who have made this claim, which found that most of them predicted such technological innovations would come about roughly at the time they were entering old age. Brooks concluded that most of these predictions were fueled more by the desire for personal longevity than by a serious attempt to predict the likely progress of science.

It's a poor workman who blames his tools.

Working...