I don’t know if you have noticed this or not, but lately people have been talking about the possibility of humans living to the age of 150. And not far off future humans, but currently alive baby humans. This possibility has been plastered onto billboards, magazine covers, newspapers, and the internet, with people wondering if it is possible, if it is probable, and if it is even a good thing.
Now, I don’t know if it is really going to happen, or not. One thing you may have noticed is that, yes, people are living longer on average, but the oldest people are not getting any older. The oldest person in the world is always around 114 or 115. This number is not increasing. Yet. But if it does happen, then I have to ask myself, would I really want to live that long? And the answer is, it depends on the day.
But I am currently 35 years old. And if you asked me if I wanted to live to be 36, my answer would be yes. And I would imagine that if you asked me on my 60th birthday, would I like to live to be 61, I would still say yes. And if I make it to 100, I can’t imagine not wanting to make it to 101. But then again, you never know.
I think one of the important factors in this question is, what will my quality of life be like? I mean, are you slowing down the aging process, or simply extending my lifespan? I know a lot of people in their 80’s who still ride their bikes and climb mountains and are totally with it. But once you start burning through your 90’s, it seems like no matter how well you have taken care of yourself, your body starts to slow down significantly. I would certainly not want to hit 100, be put into a assisted care facility with aches, pains, and mild confusion, and then left there for 50 years.
But what if these extra years are a result of a decelerated aging process? What if 100 is the new 50? Sure, I can’t run as fast as I used to and I have to watch what I eat a little more than I did when I was 70, but I’m still fit as a fiddle, enjoying life, going on hikes, traveling the world, and possibly still in the middle of my career. Well that sounds a lot more appealing to me. Wouldn’t it be cool to meet your great-great-great grandchildren? Of course family gatherings would be slightly larger, with so many generations all alive at the same time. And this would not help the population problem, as the planet would fill up with people very quickly. But if we can live to be 150, I see no reason why we can’t colonize Mars.
So I guess I might want to live that long, if I could live life on my own terms. But actually, I think my ship has sailed on that one. As I appear to be aging at the standard current rate, if they did extend my life significantly, it would probably only be because I was hooked up to some machine, and not because my youth and middle age had been extended significantly. So no, I probably do not want to live to be 150 years old. I want to die like any man wants to die: at age 100, fighting a bear. But if there are any babies reading this, it might not be too late for you! With a little gene therapy and some lifestyle adjustments, you just might be spending your 120th birthday white water rafting.*
*Please get your parents’ permission before undergoing any genetic modification.