Anti-aging activist Aubrey de Grey has identified medical advances that will eliminate much of the wear and tear our bodies suffer, as we grow old. Those who undergo continuous repair treatments, de Grey said in a Futurist Magazine article; could remain healthy for millennia without fears of dying from old age.
A growing number of researchers around the world support the belief that eternal health and youth can be realized. Aging is a destructive biochemical event, experts say, and scientists are on the brink of developing interventions for all of its life-destroying processes.
"Over 100,000 people die every day from age-related diseases," de Grey says; "but research ventures, some which are in beginning stages today, promise to one day end this carnage."
Most forward-thinking scientists believe the goal to end aging is technologically achievable, and it could be reached in time to benefit many people alive today. "I am working on immortality," says UC Irvine's Michael Rose, who has achieved breakthrough results extending the lives of fruit flies.
"There are many components of aging and we are chipping away at all of them," added Robert Freitas at the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing. "In the future," Freitas claims, "aging will be cured."
Author Ray Kurzweil, in Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, confirmed that we are in early stages of an anti-aging revolution. "By 2020," he says, "biotech upgrades will add more than one year of life expectancy to our lives each year."
However, not everyone agrees that curing aging is a good thing. Bioethicist Daniel Callahan believes that "There is no known social good coming from the conquest of death." But if this is true, advocates argue, why do humans strive so hard to prolong their lives?
Critics also claim that ending death will cause population increases that our planet cannot sustain. But supporters reason that as technologies advance, new solutions will emerge. For example, as space travel becomes affordable with people opting to live offworld, and nanotech-enabled resource management matures, most of our concerns about overpopulation will disappear.
Over the coming decades, predicted healthcare breakthroughs will continue to wield huge benefits for humankind. Between now and 2030, stem cell therapies, 3-D bioprinter techniques, and genetic engineering procedures are expected to cure most of today's diseases; or at least make them more manageable.
By 2035-to-2040, advances in molecular nanotech and an explosion in artificial intelligence hold great promise to unravel the mysteries of consciousness, while increasing intelligence a billion-fold. Experts predict this will enable replacement of much of our biology with more durable non-biological tissues.
In one of his more widely-read books, The Singularity is Near, Kurzweil writes; "One day, people will reshape their physical, emotional and cognitive characteristics as they see fit." This could make future humans – circa 2050-2100 – as different from us today, as we are to our cave-dweller ancestors.
Looking into this distant future, we will enjoy bodies that can change physical appearance on command. With intelligence multiplied billions of times, tomorrow's humans will be able to change body types using only voice or thoughts. Imagine, wishing for a radically different body; maybe add wings so you could fly, surround yourself with an invisibility cloak, or appear as the opposite sex. The possibilities seem endless.
As we build faraway colonies in the centuries ahead, we will run across many intelligent alien life forms. Some may seem strange, but we share common traits. All life is made of similar atoms and governed by the same laws of physics. If our new friends have eyes and clear skies, they will gaze at the same stars and galaxies we do.
Anti-aging therapies promise to return many of today's older citizens to a more youthful form. The smart sexy strong years, once thought long lost for seniors, is about to be reclaimed as humanity evolves into this most exciting "ageless" era. Will the future unfold in this upbeat way? Positive futurists believe it will.
Dick Pelletier was a weekly columnist who wrote about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He passed away on July 22, 2014.
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