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Medicine Science

What Happens When the Average Lifespan is 150 Years? 904

Posted by samzenpus
from the first-century-is-the-best dept.
First time accepted submitter Macgrrl writes "It was reported today in The Age newspaper that scientists believe they will have a drug within the next 5-10 years that will extend the average human lifespan to 150 years. Given the retirement age is 65, that would give you an extra 85 years, meaning you would probably have to extend the average working life to 100 or 120 years to prevent the economy becoming totally unbalanced and pensions running out. That assumes that the life extension is all 'good years', and not a prolonged period of dementia and physical decline. Would you want to live to 150? What do you see as being the most likely issues and what do you think you would do with all the extra years?"
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What Happens When the Average Lifespan is 150 Years?

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  • Umm... (Score:3, Informative)

    by d3ac0n (715594) on Monday October 17, 2011 @08:23AM (#37737400)

    you would probably have to extend the average working life to 100 or 120 years to prevent the economy becoming totally unbalanced

    I hate to break it to you, but having 65 as a retirement age has ALREADY made the economy totally unbalanced.

    Remember that the 65 retirement age was designed for a time when most people only lived to 50! If you made it to 65 you deserved a reward for actually surviving that long. Now almost everyone makes it to 65 and our Social support systems are taking up 50% (or more, depending on your country) of our GDP. Our economy all over the globe is in shambles trying to support a number of people the various welfare states were never designed to handle.

    Frankly we need to raise the retirement age to 80 NOW. Make the boomers work for another 25 years or retire on their own money. But us Gen X and down shouldn't be paying for it. When people start living to 150 (or longer) you can bump it to first 100, then 125.

    Assuming we haven't decided by then that the government just isn't properly equipped to take care of people in that manner and cancelled all the welfare programs. Or have slipped into a global social collapse and fallen back to 50 year lifespans and steam technology.

  • by vossman77 (300689) on Monday October 17, 2011 @08:27AM (#37737434) Homepage

    While life expectancy [wikipedia.org] has been consistently increasing in the modern era from 30 to almost 70 now, maximum life span [wikipedia.org] has really not changed at all and stays at about 120 years. This true both for humans and laboratory rats, scientist are having difficulty increasing the maximum life span.

    We are going to need a medical break-through in order to push 150 years, but it is a good thought experiment, I just don't see it changing dramatically this century.

  • Re:Easy (Score:5, Informative)

    by icebraining (1313345) on Monday October 17, 2011 @09:09AM (#37737874) Homepage

    No, not really. The CDF said less than a year ago:

    "The idea that anyone could deduce from the words of Benedict XVI that it is somehow legitimate, in certain situations, to use condoms to avoid an unwanted pregnancy is completely arbitrary and is in no way justified either by his words or in his thought,"

    What he said is that HIV-positive prostitutes (and possibly non-prostitutes) should use it as a "first step".

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-12053610 [bbc.co.uk]

  • Re:Not gonna happen. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lord Grey (463613) on Monday October 17, 2011 @09:30AM (#37738112)

    Larry Niven is rubbing his hands with glee and saying, "I knew it!"

    ... Even if this medicine turns out to be affordable, the treatments to keep the body going beyond its designed lifespan most likely will be very expensive. So on what basis will this life-extending drug be given out? ... Or will anyone able to pay for it be able to obtain it?

    Niven's future problem revolved around the perfection of organ transplants. In a world where everything but the brain and spinal column can be successfully transplanted, and life thereby extended indefinitely, what kinds of problems would arise? Organlegging [wikipedia.org] was one such problem.

    However, most of the problems actually had to do with the upper class hoarding the technology for themselves (the rich were the ones in power, which means they could pass new laws governing the technology, etc.). Niven's excellent The Jigsaw Man short story dealt with that from the "criminal's" point of view, and his book A Gift From Earth [amazon.com] introduces an entire culture built around this problem (and what happens when better technology comes along to upset the applecart).

    While the problem is slightly different, Niven's ideas of the problems and consequences of this kind of technology are amazing. I heartily recommend reading his Known Space collection, which is where this problem is addressed.

  • Re:Easy (Score:4, Informative)

    by Surt (22457) on Monday October 17, 2011 @11:21AM (#37739528) Homepage Journal

    Why? Most people only need life insurance until their children are out of college, and/or their homes are paid for. Once you achieve that, you drop your life insurance (maybe carrying it to term if the potential payoff seems worth it relative to the risk).

All life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities. -- Dawkins