Recently I’ve been skim-reading Ageless Nation: The Quest for Superlongevity and Physical Perfection written by futurist Michael G Zey, PH.D. The basic premise of the book is that in the not-too-distant future humans will be able to have lifespans of ~400 years due to nanotechnology, genetic engineering and alike. Not only would we live longer, we would live in a state of youthful health.
(Again: full disclosure, I skim read). In the book, Zey briefly addresses the concern that such technology will be a widening between the rich and poor. He thinks otherwise; he points to the fact that once we thought automobiles and computers were playthings of the ultra-rich. That’s not the case now he says, and age-extending tech will likewise be available to all.
Personally I’d love to live for 400 years – especially if that was in a relatively good state of health. Life is short, and there are so many things I would love to do that I know I’ll never have the time for. I’d love to study a plethora of subjects and have the potential to write thousands of books over an extended lifetime.
But there is something disturbing about the premise. Perhaps that is why he calls the book Ageless Nation instead of Ageless World. The reality is that there are places in the world where the vast majority of people don’t have cars or computers. Or even safe drinking water.
The concept of living 400 years is good, but I’m not sure I could do it knowing that in some places in the world life expectancy is just 50 years (today). Regardless of technological advances, there will be a vast number of people in the world who would miss out.
Honestly, I’m not sure what the answer is. In today’s world the disparity between rich and poor is already disturbing. Even using the word disturbing, I suspect is an attempt to make something palatable, to hold back the true nature, to pretend and attempt to remain in blind ignorance. If I considered it deeply, the disturbance would likely seep into my consciousness – and, I suspect – change a great many things. Already it is too much; I can’t fathom a world where that gap would be increased so massively as to grant some hundreds of years and others so few; life itself a commodity.