The next field ripe for technological disruption could be life itself.
Roughly 150,000 people die every day, and about 100,000 of them die of age-related causes.
Lots of smart people are throwing resources towards uncovering a reliable means of life extension that would effectively make death a thing of the past. Brand name guys like Peter Thiel and Larry Ellison want to see us live 150 years and longer.
Whether you become a loud naysayer citing moral problems or an eager enthusiasts ready to live an unnaturally long life, here’s a look at the technology that will quite literally carry us into the future.
Imagine small robots in your body that move from place to place, fixing damaged cells and reporting on the state of your body. Famed author and futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts that sufficiently advanced nanotechnology will do exactly this, putting a stop to ageing by the year 2030.
As parts of our ageing bodies begin to fail, some predict the use of cloning as a source of perfectly compatible replacement parts. An extreme realisation of this would basically see us keeping copies of ourselves as pets that we turn into spare parts.
The technology has a ways to go before it can be a practical weapon in the fight against death. So far in experiments with mice, complex stuff like joints and complete limbs have failed, but scientists have grown replacement bladders for patients fighting bladder disease with much success.
Cryonics is basically the act of turning yourself into a message in a bottle. Whatever it is that ails you, suppose contemporary science doesn't have a solution. You can shift the burden of discovery to the scientists of the future by putting yourself in deep freeze until your problem is solved.
In medically freezing your body, the idea is that you will reach some sort of stasis and be preserved, illness and all, until such a time as doctors can treat you effectively, however far down the road that may be.
Instead of altering or replacing genes related to ageing, what if we just convinced them to never activate?
Richard Dawkins writes in The Selfish Gene that we could potentially do so by 'identifying changes in the internal chemical environment of a body that take place during ageing(...) and by simulating the superficial chemical properties of a young body.'
What are we but minds attached to bodies?
There are some who imagine a world where the entire contents of one's brain is uploaded to a computer and run as if it were a piece of software. The body will inevitably fail over time, but the computer is ostensibly immortal.
There's a healthy debate surrounding whether such an application would actually constitute life extension, since it forgoes the physical body.
This is a program for putting a stop to ageing. 'Negligible senescence' is just highfalutin science talk for how some species don't appear to age, like lobsters.
SENS culls together a variety of anti-ageing methods and experimental treatments for different 'schemes,' or courses of treatment dependent upon what your body is doing -- if dealing with cancer, for example, you'd opt for a scheme called OncoSENS.
Google recently formed a biotech company called Calico, which will focus specifically on anti-ageing work. There's not much known about it yet except that they're very well-funded and the company is already interviewing its first potential employees.
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