What most of us alive today are taking part of. You may not realize it, but as things get closer, I'm sure you will.

We, as humans, have a lifespan. The body does not have the ability to last forever - it's not in the DNA, and not within the realm of medicine to change yet. But technology is changing things fast, and surely it will change even faster soon. Lifespan has increased incredibly in the last hundred years, and the next hundred promise to have many times the amount of change.

So the big question is will you remain alive until the first serious life-extension technology arrives? It doesn't need to be "immortality", or even allowing you to live for 100 more years. The first one only needs to give you another twenty or so, because in those twenty they'll find even more methods. That's the goal you should keep in mind, to keep yourself intact and aware until that point is reached, because from there on, it'll just get better. (I've heard an estimate recently that they're extending lifespan by approximately one-quarter of a year every year. The target - extending by at least a year's lifespan per year of technological advance.)

Of course, it is a given that extending lifespan doesn't simply mean tacking more time on at the end - living a lot longer while in a frail state, with a degraded body and mind, is not what is being looked at here, and as technology improves, it won't simply tack on all the time at the end, but will be able to keep us healthy and active for longer also.

I want to win this race, I want to arrive at the boarding point and be able to enjoy the rest of the ride. I want to decide when I get off myself, not letting anyone or anything else say "that's it for you".

There's not just one race between lifespan and technology, but several, depending on how much money you have. The 20th century witnessed the development of major life-extension technologies--primarily antibiotics and sanitation--but those technologies are still not accessible to the majority of people living today. The next generation of life extension technology is also going to be accessible only to a limited portion of the population--in all likelihood, a much more limited portion than the first. It's entirely likely that some humans living today will have access to technologies that will extend their lifespans for centuries or more, but most of us probably won't be able to afford that kind of medical treatment.

See Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson for more on this issue.

The real trick here is to not just understand the gains of technology but rather looking back to ancient medicinal remedies instead of short to long term pharmaceutical care.

It is certainly obvious that technology has improved our way of life in some areas as well as aiding in extending our lives but extending our lives is really not the answer. I would rather die at 70 and be a happy 70 year old than die at 105 and be blind deaf and a para.

Saige is correct in saying our DNA doesn't support this. We are programmed to die, either via apoptosis (preprogrammed cell death)or via our oncogenes. Our cells are not only able to kill us via tumors, but they are even able to defend themselves against drugs and against genetic engineering so far. Combine that with our natural proteins which get turned on to increase hormones which kill us, and you have a body that wants to die. Technology will be able to "keep us alive" but how about "living?" Not sure if that is what one could call it.

Even the human genome project is just the tip of the iceburg. Think about it, the genes have been identified, but how do they work together? It is not a one to one, gene to protein relationship. Thirty genes could design a protein;who knows what all the combinations are. It will take a very long time before we know it all and technology simply will not be there to keep us happy, living, without molecular biology and biotechnology by its side.

Until then I think I would rather just die at a ripe old age with my health relatively intact, able to control my own washroom trips, and have sex at least once a week. Living in a bubble just to wait for the next cool technology that promises the fountain of youth is just not my deal.

An Honest Good Luck to those that want to try!
Many years ago, Jeremy Rifkin, now of the Foundation on Economic Trends, took an interesting perspective on what has become the race between lifespan and technology.

Rifkin was one of the first to publicise the unforseen problems with genetically modified organisms, and the unforseen consequences of their diffusing through the ecology.

His view is that science had--and continues--to contribute chemicals and other things, to the environment--dyes, glues, additives of all kinds, plastics, pesticides, etc.--that have negative effects on people, including infertility, and gender dysfunction, allergies. The most serious effect, or course, is cancer.

Rifkin saw the future of science, after having polluted the environment, as working towards the goal of allowing people to live in the fouled nest they had created. When I read him, years ago, nanotechnology and gene-therapy were not on the horizon. But the details are irrelevant.

The capital investment in any new technology is enormous. Only the largest corporations will be able to make it. Governments will not be the players in research they once were. The irony is, it is corporations who profited from the pollution that they will provide the solutions for--and profit from. They created this mnarket.

But let us not be begiled, new technology is only for those that can afford. Why would it be otherwise? While we have the price of admission to the internet, there are those who cannot afford a basic telephone connection. How many of use will be able to afford the technological fix to live in the brave new world?

Technology is not the remedy for problems caused by technology, it is just another profit center.

There is a race, but the track, and the racecars?

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