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Biotech Science

How Long Do You Want To Live? 813

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-want-to-live-forever dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Since 1900, the life expectancy of Americans, driven by improved hygiene, nutrition, and new medical discoveries and interventions, has jumped from 47 years to almost 80. Now, scientists studying the intricacies of DNA and other molecular bio-dynamics may be poised to offer even more dramatic boosts to longevity. But there is one very basic question that is seldom asked, according to David Ewing Duncan: How long do you want to live? 'Over the past three years I have posed this query to nearly 30,000 people at the start of talks and lectures on future trends in bioscience, taking an informal poll as a show of hands,' writes Duncan. 'To make it easier to tabulate responses I provided four possible answers: 80 years, currently the average life span in the West; 120 years, close to the maximum anyone has lived; 150 years, which would require a biotech breakthrough; and forever, which rejects the idea that life span has to have any limit at all.' The results: some 60 percent opted for a life span of 80 years. Another 30 percent chose 120 years, and almost 10 percent chose 150 years. Less than 1 percent embraced the idea that people might avoid death altogether (PDF). Overwhelmingly, the reason given was that people didn't want to be old and infirm any longer than they had to be, even if a pill allowed them to delay the inevitable. Others were concerned about issues like boredom, the cost of paying for a longer life, and the impact of so many extra people on planetary resources and on the environment. But wouldn't long life allow people like Albert Einstein to accomplish more and try new things? That's assuming that Einstein would want to live that long. As he lay dying of an abdominal aortic aneurysm in 1955, Einstein refused surgery, saying: 'It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.'"
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How Long Do You Want To Live?

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  • 600 years. (Score:5, Funny)

    by lxs (131946) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:37PM (#41140405)

    Should be enough for me.

    • 640 years (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:39PM (#41140447)

      Ought to be enough for anybody.

      • 640K years (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:43PM (#41140517)

        Ought to be enough for anybody...

        • Re:640K years (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:56PM (#41140739) Homepage Journal

          Yep. I think by then, you'll have had enough of watching TV and eating Doritos. The idea of new Nikes just won't thrill anymore, like it did for the last 5 centuries... Maybe then it's time to take a nap, and not get back up.

          Seriously. Y'all live miserable lives as it is. Thank God, people die. Without that, there isn't even the glimmer that we'd bother to understand Life.

          • by cayenne8 (626475)
            I'd like to live forever I think..or at least...have my choice in when I go....

            If the vampire thing worked, and I could live forever the way I am now...age, looks..etc...I'd do it.

          • Re:640K years (Score:5, Interesting)

            by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Monday August 27, 2012 @07:08PM (#41143419)
            I think the survey's results would be illuminated by also asking the following two questions:

            1. Do you believe in an afterlife?

            2. Are you assuming you'd live your extended lifespan in excellent, good, decent, poor, or horrible health?

            If it was an extra 100 years of old age, vs an extra 100 years of being 20, I bet the answers would differ significantly.
      • Re:640 years (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:38PM (#41141453) Homepage Journal

        When my grandmother was 95 she told me "I don't know why everybody wants to live to be a hundred. It ain't no fun bein' old."

        As to the "how long is best," I think it doesn't matter. A lifetime is a lifetime, whether it's ten years or two hundred. I'm 60, and I don't feel any older thanI did at 20. Thirty year olds seem like children to me, but a 30 year old to me is like a ten year old to a twenty year old.

        I really don't feel like more time has passed now than it did when I was young. From birth to now, your life seems like "forever". Perhaps that's because time gets shorter when you get older. Remember how long it was between Christmases when you were five? Christmas to Christmas was 1/5th of a lifetime! Far longer than a year to me, only 1/60th of a lifetime.

        The only difference is that I've seen and done a hell of a lot more.

        • Re:640 years (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Chas (5144) on Monday August 27, 2012 @05:37PM (#41142307) Homepage Journal

          That's the thing. The "getting old" part is what really sucks.

          Any idiot can die.

          Death isn't scary. You wanna know what scary is?

          Being old and shriveled and constantly in pain while sitting in your own shit and being so senile that you don't remember anything for more than a minute.

          Now if there was some way to preserve quality of life. THAT would be a bigger breakthrough than simple prevention of death. Age to sometime between 20-30 and then just stop and stay there (biologically) until you fall over dead. Granted, the ability to retard/stop physical aging that way would, in itself, probably extend life by an unknown quantity (if not permanently).

          The way I'm going right now, and all the damage I've done to myself in my life already, if I don't die early, I'll be an old man confined to a bed going "It hurts to live!"

          I think I'd MUCH rather take up cordless bungee jumping.

    • by JamesTRexx (675890) <m DOT nystrom AT mbitz DOT nl> on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:54PM (#41140711) Homepage Journal
      666 years. Or until the year of Linux on the desktop. Shouldn't differ much.

      I kid, I kid! :-P
      Anyway, if you're afraid of getting bored living a very long time, try stepping away from the TV. I can't imagine ever getting bored.
    • Re:600 years. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mikael_j (106439) on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:02PM (#41140869)

      I've always said I'd like to live at least 500 years. Of course, it would be interesting to be able to stay relatively "young" more or less indefinitely.

      Might not be something everyone is interested in but I would love to never feel any pressure to hurry up and do all those things I want to do. I could spend 50 years just reading interesting books. Maybe spend ten years building a house. And thinking more long-term, how about a few hundred years in deep space? You'd have the time...

    • Re:600 years. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by EEPROMS (889169) on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:16PM (#41141079)
      There is a reason we must die, social stagnation, for humanity to grow and accept new technologies and concepts the old must die and make way for the new. Imagine a large part of the US population being over 200 years old and blocking new technologies at the voting booth.
  • News Flash! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Orga (1720130) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:39PM (#41140433)

    99% of people are idiots.

    • Re:News Flash! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PeanutButterBreath (1224570) on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:34PM (#41141385)

      99% of people are idiots.

      80 years among them is about enough.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:39PM (#41140439)
    Just long enough to lick the tears off of Raymond Kurzweil's widow's face at his funeral.
  • Long Enough (Score:5, Funny)

    by IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:39PM (#41140441) Homepage Journal

    To see my enemies buried. After that, I don't care.

  • Oh, FFS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:39PM (#41140443) Homepage Journal

    Overwhelmingly the reason given was that people didn't want to be old and infirm any longer than they had to be, even if a pill allowed them to delay the inevitable.

    Well, it's a good thing that that's not what we're talking about, isn't it? The whole idea is to delay--or if possible, prevent entirely--the things that make us "old" and infirm to begin with. Nobody wants to spend eternity in a nursing home, duh. Spending an indefinite amount of time young and healthy, or even middle-aged and mostly healthy? Sign me up.

    • It isn't enough to be physically healthy. Setting side the questions of cost and availability, with artificial and transplanted parts plus current biochemistry we could already keep a person mostly-healthy beyond 100. But until/unless we can delay the natural cognitive decline that begins in late middle-age - which can't be fixed with a transplant or implant, or any known medical procedure - what's the point? Who wants to be fit enough to walk a mile to the store, but unable to remember the way home?

    • Re:Oh, FFS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Seumas (6865) on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:29PM (#41141305)

      I don't give a shit WHAT it takes. As long as I can still enjoy a song or a book or a video game or a movie or conversation or meals or board games, I want to stay alive. I don't care WHAT you have to do. Strap me to some jumper cables. Anything. Life is a blink of an eye. Death and nothingness is god damn fucking FOREVER and I absolutely DO NOT want to die. Period. And I'll say the same thing if I live to be 800 years old. There is never enough life to live. There is always more of mankind and exploration and science and exploration to enjoy. I would give anything to see what we're doing in a thousand years. To be there and witness all the amazing things we've done and places we're going.

    • Re:Oh, FFS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by digitalaudiorock (1130835) on Monday August 27, 2012 @05:22PM (#41142071)

      Exactly. I'm 58 and have managed to get/stay more physically fit than most people I know in their 30s. I do so because I don't want my later years to be unbearable. What completely blows my mind is that most people I know, when the discussion of an elderly person having serious health issues comes up, will say "I hope I don't live that long", rather than "I hope I stay healthy"...I can't tell you how that attitude makes my skin crawl.

      I guess that all part of peoples rationalizations for taking abysmal care of themselves (I've never been able to convince any of my friends to start working out for example)...that "you're gonna die anyway" bullshit. People love to delude themselves into the belief that you can take crappy care of your health, and that it just means that "switch" gets pulled a few years earlier. The reality is that it can mean spending decades of your life being in fucking misery.

      All those sorts of attitudes kill me. Indeed...sign me up too!...I want to be healthy and live as long as I can.

  • by drwho (4190) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:39PM (#41140445) Homepage Journal

    She's supposedly pretty sharp, still there in the mind and still happy. The last part is the most important. I'd rather die happy at 85 than live to 120 in misery.

  • by Dr. Tom (23206) <tomh@nih.gov> on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:40PM (#41140463) Homepage

    Barbarian: “How do you want to die?”

    Tyrion Lannister: “In bed, when I’m 80, with a belly full of wine and woman’s mouth on my cock.”

  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:40PM (#41140477)
    I know Jesus exists. So what if I die, I get to live forever. There's a cool thing that happens when you know this life isn't the end: You suddenly stop caring about yourself and just live your life to help everyone else. This life will be the only life where other people need our help. It only costs 100$/yr to keep children from starving to death. So the obvious idea is to work for enough money to live on frugally, then give excess to the poor. If enough people actually did do self sacrificial giving of their excess funds, there would be no such a thing as World Hunger. But as long as other people need help to survive, we should be helping them.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:46PM (#41140581)

      There's a cool thing that happens when you know this life isn't the end: You suddenly stop caring about yourself and just live your life to help everyone else.

      There was a cool thing that happened to me when I figured out that the Law of Parsimony indicates that life is the end. I realized that all I would leave behind is other people's memories of me and I stopped being a dick and judging everyone else based on my doctrine. How odd that the biggest inhibitor of being like Christ was being a Christian.

      • I agree. I was raised as a "Christian". When I began to research the history of Christianity and the Bible, I became an Atheist. It took about a year of being an angst filled teenage fatalist before I realized that because there's no afterlife I must do as much good as possible in this life as possible to advance our race. Then I created my bucket list of humanitarian projects, and the race to complete them began -- as a Teen. Even if I don't get done before I die, I've already helped more people than my religious relatives ever have. I could die tomorrow a happy man, satisfied with my life's works.

        Furthermore, I value life much more than they do. I said something about curbing our pollution problems to my Aunt last week. Her stance was that it didn't matter because it was part of "God's plan"; She'd be in heaven before the future went to hell; And, some BS about the events being signs of the end times and Rapture, and how I needed to go back to church. I told her that she was being selfish, and that she was worsening the planet for her grand children, and all other future people.

        I told her that our advances in medicine and science, specifically understanding the brain and machine intelligence, may allow some of us to live thousands or millions or billions of years -- We may some day even be able to scan a dead brain and bring its consciousness back to life. Then I promised her that if she didn't start using the recycling bin and curbside pickup the city provides her, that I would dedicate the rest of my life to bringing her mind back to the future so she could witness the horrors her careless actions had helped bring about.

        Despite her being a God fearing woman, I was able to place a new kind of fear in her: The fear of having to live with the long term consequences of her actions. She has seen my AI projects demonstrating uncanny human like capabilities (she called them an abomination), so she knew I was serious. Though she claims her beliefs have not been shaken at all, I now see her recycling bin full instead of empty every garbage day.

    • by snowraver1 (1052510) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:51PM (#41140653)
      I know Jesus doesn't exist. When I die, that's it; I'm dead. There's a cool thing that happens when you know this life is the end: You suddenly start caring about yourself and just live your life. It only costs 200$/mo to keep my turbocharged child from running out of premium fuel. So the obvious idea is to work for enough money to live on frugally, then buy a fast car. If enough people actually did do self sacrificial giving of buying a fast car, there would be no such a thing a suffering auto industry. But as long as other people need roadside help we should be helping them.
    • by na1led (1030470)
      I know Santa Clause is real, I just know it!
    • by Grizzley9 (1407005) on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:47PM (#41141601)
      I fail to see how your post got rated as "offtopic" except for the /. groupthink. Good post though you will inevitably be downvoted due to the "-1 disagrees with my religious beliefs"
  • Why Einstein? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drwho (4190) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:42PM (#41140499) Homepage Journal

    Why is he quoted so often? It's like he's some Jesus/Buddha/Mohammed/Hubbard. It's kind of bizarre. He was just a scientist, although a very good one. His accomplishments were in physics, not metaphysics, not morality.

    • Re:Why Einstein? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:48PM (#41140611) Journal

      Why is he quoted so often? It's like he's some Jesus/Buddha/Mohammed/Hubbard. It's kind of bizarre. He was just a scientist, although a very good one. His accomplishments were in physics, not metaphysics, not morality.

      Just a scientist? That makes him better than some sort of Jesus/Buddha//Mohammed/Hubbard. Anyone with a keen logical mind will make greater accomplishements in metaphysics and morality than any peddler of fairy tales.

      The key to true morality isn't "what would Jesus do", but "what makes sense and actually works to produce favorable outcomes". By that standard, you cannot do better than a scientist.

      • Re:Why Einstein? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:27PM (#41141253) Homepage Journal

        While I agrre with the intent of your post: Mengele considered himself (and was percieved by colleagues) as a scientist, too.

      • Re:Why Einstein? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tool462 (677306) on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:32PM (#41141349)

        Then why don't people quote Werner von Braun as a moral authority?

    • Re:Why Einstein? (Score:5, Informative)

      by MozeeToby (1163751) on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:18PM (#41141105)

      He is arguably the most influential thinker of modern times. His accomplishments were in physics but his insight into other areas was acknowledged even while he was still alive. There's a reason it was his signature at the bottom of the letter in support of the Manhattan project. There's a reason he was asked to be the first prime minister of Israel. There's a reason that he's often listed as one of, if not the absolute, most intelligent person in history.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Einstein's accomplishments were in science, but he expounded quite a lot on morality. He didn't win a nobel prize for morality, I'd say that because his moral positions are quoted and recognized by so many people, that means they resonate and because of that he can be considered "accomplished".

      Also, I find it ironic that you group Hubbard in with Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed becase I personally consider Hubbard to be a joke in the metaphysics/morality arena.

    • Why is he quoted so often?

      He isn't quoted. He is just mentioned. And inappropriately, since he is a poor example of someone continuing to make contributions late in life: most of his major contributions were made by the time he was 26 years old.

    • by tverbeek (457094)

      Einstein was actually pretty perceptive about metaphysics and morality as well. He may not have been a "philosophical genius" but he generally exemplified above-average wisdom about religion [wikipedia.org] and politics [wikipedia.org].

  • by TemperedAlchemist (2045966) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:42PM (#41140505)

    How many of those people believe in an eternal afterlife?

    I'm satisfied living forever. And then I get to choose my lifespan.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:43PM (#41140535)

    If I live to 200, do I spend most of that time with the body of a 30-year-old, or a 90-year-old? If the latter, thanks but no thanks.

    • by vlm (69642)

      If I live to 200, do I spend most of that time with the body of a 30-year-old, or a 90-year-old? If the latter, thanks but no thanks.

      30 year old or 90 year old... you talking about yourself or spouse?

  • by SlashDread (38969) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:43PM (#41140543)

    This question is meaningless without defining quality of life. If I can reach 6000, and have the same Quality of Life as I have now (age 47) or even the QOL I expect to have at 67, Im all for it. In fact Immortality, yes please!

    If I have to wait in bed in pain from 100 until 6000, than, no way.

    • by GodInHell (258915) on Monday August 27, 2012 @05:28PM (#41142149) Homepage
      From about age 21 to 26 I couldn't afford a root canal that was badly needed (two wisdom teeth, cracked open with exposed nerves). One thing you learn dealing with that kind of pain is that eventually -- it just tunes out. (no, the nerves didn't die off -- I wish). The first month or so was hell, but then I got used to it and for awhile I had a pretty impressive pain tolerance. (broken foot? No problem.) Point being, 5900 years in bed, reading great fiction, playing video games, getting visited by family, advancing my interests and continuing the work of my first 100 years -- even with constant pain -- sounds worth it to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:46PM (#41140583)

    I suppose I can understand some arguments for cutting your life short based on overcrowding, etc., but I think we can get over that with science.

    But limited lifespan because of boredom? I mean, have you *seen* this world we live in? If you can't come up with enough different things to do, and see, and explore, and discover, and wonder about to last you thousands of years, you are doing it wrong. That's not even thinking about all the incredible people you get to meet.

    • This presupposes that old age can be achieved without a significant decline in one's ability to enjoy the world. I'm sure you can do many fun things at a young age, but if you can't see, can't move without pain, can't hear too well, forget about things constantly, or are in physical pain then you might want to punch an early ticket out of this world.

    • by mapkinase (958129) on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:20PM (#41141125) Homepage Journal

      How old are you?

      >I mean, have you *seen* this world we live in

      I am in my mid-40s and the things that interest me in the world rapidly shrink. I do not want to see most of the Europe as I used in earlier years. I do not want to visit my long-time friends in a neighboring state, because travel is seen as more and more hassle. The only reason for my travel is my son duty of visiting the parents. I do that regularly with a great pain.

      I have seen plenty of relatively healthy old people, in whose eyes I read only one desire: to finally end this.

      I am still relatively healthy. It's just the grass is not as green anymore as it is used to be, so, naturally, my desire to see new vistas, new man made objects, new people is less.

      We are limited in our capacity of learning as we are limited in everything else.

      Ask Tony S. why he did it.

      • Holy crap (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Overzeetop (214511) on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:34PM (#41141381) Journal

        YOU, sir, need a hobby or three. Badly.

        Having reached my mid-40s, I've only begun to explore the things I'd like to do in my life. I find that I'm having to pare back all the interests I have because I just can't find the time for them all. I look at the time I have left and think, "shit, it's going to take me 2 years to complete this project, which means I'm going to be X old before I can even begin this next one."

        I've started worrying less about the cost of my endeavors and more about the time commitment. I can always make more money, but damnit I've only got another 20 great years left, another 10 or 15 mediocre ones, and - if I'm lucky - maybe 10 more to do some low intensity stuff while I look for "young" people willing to hang with the "old dudes in the home."

        It's a shame I can't buy 10 of the good years you have left, 'cause you sure aren't using them in any meaningful way, it seems.

    • by tverbeek (457094)

      The flip-side of the Boredom coin is Future Shock. A substantial number of people find in old age that the world has become alien to them, and don't wish to live in that Brave New World.

  • Sample bias much? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:49PM (#41140617)

    Asking for a show of hands at the start of a bioscience lecture?

    Let's see him ask a bunch of 80 year olds how many of them don't want to live past 80... That would be just as biased but I think the answers would be more interesting.

    It's easy for relatively young people to say they won't mind dying sometime in the distant future...

  • by stevegee58 (1179505) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:50PM (#41140637) Journal
    While life expectancy has increased over time due to improved diet, health care, lower infant mortality etc the max age has held steady.
    Even 200 years ago you could live into your 80's or 90's as long as you survived past around 10.
  • by wierd_w (1375923) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:51PM (#41140655)

    Seriously. I am in the 30% that is considerate of the consequences of people living a long time.

    For a poignant example, look at the current USA. We have an aging "boomer" generation. If you aren't familiar with the problems an aging boomer generation is causing, google is your friend. Now, imagine them living another 60 years. 100 years... FOREVER.

    In addition to the problems with resource allocations, the political and ideological bottlenecks immortality, or even jut artificialy ling lives would introduce would be catastrophic. Instead of a progressive civilization, which becomes more tolerant and technologically advanced, we would have an ideologically stilted, recalcitrant population of aged and possibly immortal persons halting all forms of social progress.

    I would actually campaign for a shorter, but less labor intensive life than a longer one.

    • by TheSpoom (715771)

      Like gay marriage, your disagreement with a life choice that does not affect your freedom or anyone else's should be limited to your own actions, and not restrict others.

      None of the problems you mentioned are guaranteed to happen in an immortal-ish population. They could all very well be a consequence of senescence, which would theoretically be prevented.

    • by Grishnakh (216268) on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:41PM (#41141521)

      Oh please. What I'm seeing here in America is that it's the younger generations that are more conservative, and the older ones that are more progressive. Go into any fundamentalist evangelical megachurch; it's absolutely full of younger people (20-30 somethings and their hordes of kids). Then go into the liberal, progressive Protestant churches where they have women preachers, gay preachers, and are constantly preaching tolerance towards those who are different; those churches are full of people who look like they're about to fall over dead from old age, and very few younger people. In my experience, it's usually the young people who are most intolerant of everything. How many elderly muslim Jihadists do you see? None, they're all young men, in their teens and 20s. When people survive to older ages, they realize that life is short and it's stupid to waste your life getting mad about what other people do with their lives. Sure, there's exceptions in both groups (plenty of liberal college students, and Fred Phelps (the WBC asshole, not the swimmer's father) certainly isn't young), but that's the trend I see today. Kids learn their ideology from their parents; when I was in middle/high school, everyone was a Republican, because that's what all their parents were, and they all parroted the same ideology (which, to be fair, wasn't that bad back in those days of the late 80s and early 90s like it is now). It wasn't until they went away to college and hung around with different people that they learned new ideologies from others, not being around their parents any more to have their influence.

      Tolerance and progressivism aren't determined by age, they're determined by culture, which changes over time so it's generational. Just look at the Arab uprisings; the young people got tired of their crappy leaders, so they revolted, and installed new leaders. Are these new leaders progressive and tolerant? Hell no, they're all Islamists. Because that's what the young people in those countries are.

  • by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:51PM (#41140657)

    but barring that I'd settle for a couple thousand years. Even five hundred would be pretty nice.

    -- CEO Nwabudike Morgan,
    MorganLink 3DVision Interview

  • Stockholm Syndrome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dcollins (135727) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:53PM (#41140705) Homepage

    This kind of thinking is basically Stockholm Syndrome writ very large.

    Let's say you asked people a thousand years ago, "Would you want to live with a king?". I'm sure the vast majority would have said "no", and come up with a bunch of reasons why that would be personally undesirable and socially perilous. The reasoning is so transparently irrational it's ludicrous.

  • by vlm (69642) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:54PM (#41140713)

    the life expectancy of Americans, driven by improved hygiene, nutrition, and new medical discoveries and interventions, has jumped from 47 years to almost 80

    Talk to a genealogist, its a bogus number. Life expectancy at birth, given that at least half used to die as babies or little kids.

    Most birth-death years in my family tree are like 1854-1855 (whoops) or 1853-1930 (a good long while). Not much in between, other than maybe 5% of the women died around childbirth age around a year or so after the last baby. Stereotypical electronics "bathtub curve" plus the danger of giving birth. The main change in the last 200 years or so is if you are born, you'll probably live to age 10, whereas in the olden days if you were born you'd probably die before age 10, but some made it till 80s, just like now.

  • by jensend (71114) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:59PM (#41140795)

    I plan to live forever, of course, but barring that I'd settle for a couple thousand years. Even five hundred would be pretty nice.

    -- CEO Nwabudike Morgan, MorganLink 3DVision Interview

    (from one of the best games ever made [wikipedia.org])

  • Euthanasia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lobiusmoop (305328) on Monday August 27, 2012 @03:59PM (#41140813) Homepage

    This recent news story in the UK [bbc.co.uk] Makes me sad. It doesn't matter how long you want to live if you have no legal choices when you want to stop living.

    It seems like we give our pets more compassion at the end of their lives than we do our fellow humans.

  • by dltaylor (7510) on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:04PM (#41140899)

    I'd like to hang around to see if humans, or any descendent species, ever achieves species-wide intelligence. Homo sapiens sapiens certainly hasn't.

  • by Arthur B. (806360) on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:06PM (#41140935)

    And yet, when those pills hit the market, they will all line up to buy it. This poll reveals how people think in "far mode". People enter "far mode" when contemplating events they assume are unlikely or distant in the future... far more is selfless, idealistic. Put the pill under their nose and you'll get a very different reaction.

    How do I know? Old people don't massively take their own life, people overwhemingly chose treatment when facing cancer, etc.

    It's soothing to imagine one's to be comfortable with death, it makes the whole prospect less absurd and cruel. This is just a protective form of denial, unfortunately, death-ism seriously hampers anti-aging research.

  • by Lucas123 (935744) on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:09PM (#41140981) Homepage
    If all I'm going to be doing at 120 is sitting in a wheel chair, unable to remember what I had for breakfast with a catheter and colostomy bag attached to me, you can keep your attempts at immortality. While we've increased the average lifespan of people, I do not see a decrease in the symptoms which make us feel old -- arthritis, osteoporosis, etc... My grandmother died at 77 years old and she was very frail and unable to get around easily. My father died at 83, and spent the last five years of his life with a horrible back and having undergone multiple operations and treatments for various cancers. The very fact that these scientists are asking the question, "How old do you want to be" is very telling because it says, the older you live, the longer you'll have to deal with the ailments of old age.
  • ...I know I certainly would. Do I get to live a long lifespan AND be healthy and relatively active? Or do I live a long and ultimately sad and sickly life? I don't want to become a burden on my family. But if I could be reasonably self sufficient then yes I'd sign up for a longer life.

    As a geek I would love to see the future just because I think for all of our human failings we will eventually make great strides as a society. I'd love to see the cityscapes and the exciting possibilities the world of tomorrow holds. Most of all I'd like to see us live in mutual respect and not manipulated by political and religious interests. If I could live 200 years perhaps I would see some pretty amazing changes.

    If I had a guarantee of 80 or 90 years I know I'd live long enough to see my children become parents. I'd get to see them as adults and see them grow into the confidence of middle age. I might even see my great-grandchildren, which would probably make me wish for more years.

    Most of all I want to be a support to my family, which means I at least need to be around until 65 or 70. To see my young children past the mistakes we all make as late teens and young adults, to be a safety net and a caring dad.

    Ultimately I'd be happiest if I could just do this job as well as my dad.

  • by Kittenman (971447) on Monday August 27, 2012 @07:00PM (#41143321)
    Sorry to mention it, but isn't the fact that the average American glutting on fast-food, doesn't exercise and is a workaholic moving the life expectancy down? I remember hearing that the current generation will be the first one for a while to live longer than its children. And I know ... citation needed.. and here it is
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/aug/13/usa.ewenmacaskill [guardian.co.uk]
    and here http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/nation/life-expectancy-map/?hpid=z3 [washingtonpost.com]

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