Is the end of death in our future? Positive futurists say it is. Infectious disease, accidents, starvation, and violence have kept average life expectancy at 20-to-30 years throughout most of human history. However, the quest to live longer and enjoy good health is one of the most ancient and deep-rooted hopes ingrained in our species.
Infectious disease, accidents, starvation, and violence have kept average life expectancy at 20-to-30 years throughout most of human history. However, the quest to live longer and enjoy good health is one of the most ancient and deep-rooted hopes ingrained in our species.
It underlies religious teachings of dreams of an afterlife and up to now, people have had no alternative but to accept death as an inevitable part of existence. Even Humanists view death as not such a bad thing, and ultra-conservatives maintain that death is necessary to give life meaning.
That people should make excuses for death is understandable. Until recently, nothing could be done about it and it made sense to create comforting philosophies that dying of old age is a positive thing.
Now, stem cell, genetic engineering, and nanomedicine technologies promise to one day eliminate most diseases and even abolish human aging. It is becoming increasingly evident that research scientists are getting ever closer to making indefinite lifespan become reality.
Today many of us future watchers have accepted the challenge of keeping our bodies in shape to maneuver through the next two decades when many experts believe that science could eliminate most unwanted deaths, allowing nearly everyone to live a technology-rich life filled with plentiful resources.
The things I value most – freedom, joy, friendship and fun of discovery are all limited by my lifespan. I want more. More time to think and do all the wonderful things I can imagine. A “magical future” that could arrive in as early as 20 years promises to help me obtain these things.
I do not want these things for myself alone, which would be an empty and lonely existence. No, I want this additional time for friends, relatives; every human on Earth who might also enjoy a longer lifespan. I want more time to learn, grow, and follow a path without death constantly looming its ugly head.
This driving force encourages me to write weekly articles depicting a positive and optimistic future. Let us enrich ourselves by believing that an extended lifespan without fears of unwanted death will soon be ours to enjoy. Comments welcome.
Dick Pelletier was a weekly columnist who wrote about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He passed away on July 22, 2014.