Should we live longer?

@Thomas73 (1467)
Switzerland
March 6, 2007 3:03am CST
Isn't it ironic that, as we age and acquire a certain wisdom, both body and mind start deteriorating? As we should be starting to apply our life experience to solving some global problems, we are instead more concerned with our failing health, both physical and mental. Wouldn't it be better if we could live much longer, and without the natural restraints that affect our health and senses? Of course, doubling the current life expectancy wouldn't mean that everyone would reach a ripe old age of 160, as accidents and diseases would prevent many people to do so, while some could live to be 200 or more. Moreover, this wouldn't happen right away but the current trend toward a longer life shows that it is possible. All we need is an appropriate medical advance that would prevent people from physically -- and mostly mentally! -- deteriorating. People who knew they stood a good chance of living for two centuries or more would be more likely to take global problems more seriously. They would see things change during their lifetime and would be more apt to advise accordingly. Mankind would also advance its knowledge on life and the universe; imagine if Einstein -- or any other great scientist -- had been able to live one or two hundred years more! Although the world's problems linked to overpopulation will continue to increase, if current trends continue, the proportion of older people in the population will increase faster, hopefully producing an ever larger pool of wise people. So, solutions to world problems should increase even faster as those minds cooperate to tackle them. So, don't you think that we should hurry up and solve the medical problems of ageing in order to have these Wise Old Ones help us out?
12 people like this
38 responses
@Aussies2007 (5339)
• Australia
6 Mar 07
There are several problems with your idea... The biggest problem is our growing population which is already out of contol and heading us for doom. Our planet simply cannot support that many people... as each extra person creates more pollution and requires more food and water. As it is... we are heading for a major disaster. So... if you are doubling the age expectancy... it just mean that humanity will die even sooner. Remember the present situation... 6 billion people heading for 9 billion by 2040 and 13 billion by 2080. Add to that India and China becoming industrial countries and doubling our current rate of pollution. Furthermore... while it is true that older people become wiser... they don't become more intelligent. They are simply wiser about life. But most are not capable to find the "switch on" button on a computer. Intelligence requires learning... and keeping up with the times. Not everyone wants to keep learning. Only a few do. Not every old person let their health coming in the way of their life either. I have a 75 year old friend right now... who is contemplating building a new house and doing all the work himself. I think he is nuts... but many old people attitude is to work until they drop... because they reckon that if they stop working... they will die. There is something in that... as your body needs exercise to stay healthy. And there is no better exercise than working. As long as it is physical work. You also have an economic problem with doubling the age expectancy. At what age do you retire?... If you don't retire... you create more unemployment for the young people... and if you do retire... you are going to need a heck of a super-annuation to support you for 100 years. All in all... in the last 200 years... we already have doubled our age expectancy from 40 to 80. And as far as I can see... it has done us more harm than good. Yes it is good from a personal point of view. But from a humanity point of view... it is a total disaster.
@Thomas73 (1467)
• Switzerland
6 Mar 07
Just look at it this way for global problem-solving by the new wise: Groups of specialists, paid by both government and public-interest foundations, would brainstorm the parts of the overall problem that particularly interested them. By video-consulting together through the Internet, without any of the constraints of time or space that an office demands, they would filter, organize, and review the vast mass of data and information available in cyberspace in their fields of expertise, using the Semantic Web. Groups of wise bi- or tricentenarians would meta-analyze the output, connecting relevant solutions to solve the larger problem. The results would then be passed on to a global council of millenarian sages who would live wherever their surroundings were most conducive to deep thought, be it mountain-top or desert. These geniuses would thus have the best possible advice to enable them to confront and resolve the world's biggest challenges, and see their efforts to completion. (From an original idea of Jack Woodall, director of the Nucleus for the Investigation of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Institute of Medical Biochemistry at Brazil's Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.)
3 people like this
@Thomas73 (1467)
• Switzerland
6 Mar 07
You make a valid point with over-population and medical costs. Maybe the Wise Old Ones should reflect on this problem. ;) If the cost used for the current conflicts around the planet were invested in medical research and space exploration to colonise new worlds, maybe this would solve the issue. But I'm a dreamer, I know. :)
3 people like this
@arnboy (357)
• India
6 Mar 07
Thomas, i already do not like such a high life expectancy, i feel if people die at 40 then, the earth will be a better place. Young people will get more jobs, the problem of generation gap would be lessened, in a nutshell the world will be a better place to live. 80 year old people are a drag on the society, they eat up society's money in the form of health insurance, tax benefits, pensions etc. Plus, its a big lie that they are an asset, i really doubt they become wise, most of them are affected by dementia, they do not know the difference between the car key's and house key's, they p*ss in the pants like small babies. The whole concept of wisdom with aging is a lie, if the same eighty year old people somehow get youthful vigor and vitality, they would also start behaving like kids. Take the example of Viagra, after consuming Viagra even 70+ men started visiting wh*res, just because their manhood was restored .... where was the wisdom in these h*rny old men...ha ha. The big problem is not aging, its the gray cells in the head that need repairing and fast to make the world a better place.
3 people like this
@Thomas73 (1467)
• Switzerland
6 Mar 07
I agree that if the mind isn't preserved, then there's no reason to live longer. I made the point that both physical health and mental integrity should be maintained.
4 people like this
@arnboy (357)
• India
6 Mar 07
Yes, research is taking place but so far the result is pathetic. The main reason is that scientific research is targeted at diseases, rather than good health. Also, if people start living any longer than 80, then there would be a explosive growth in population, it would put a strain on the resources of the planet earth which is already wheezing with excess human capacity. All green forests will have to be chopped for modern high rise buildings to house people. There are very few countries left with low density population like Australia, Canada they would have to be conquered to house the ever increasing world population. In other words such long life research scheme represent a threat to the environment of the planet itself, let us hope that such research remains stillborn and never sees the light of the day.
2 people like this
@Thomas73 (1467)
• Switzerland
6 Mar 07
And how about colonising other planets? That could be a solution to over-population on Earth. I hope that the fields of medicine and astronautics will advance jointly.
3 people like this
@arnboy (357)
• India
6 Mar 07
Well even if another planet was discovered just like earth, maybe even better, the problem at hand would be, how the hell would we transport the people i.e. jettison them to another galaxy, when the best we can manage now is a few astronauts per spacecraft, that to after spending millions of dollars of taxpayers money. Also, the first country which finds that planet would stake ownership over that, so what will the rest of the world do???.
2 people like this
@Thomas73 (1467)
• Switzerland
6 Mar 07
You're very pessimistic about the future of Mankind, aren't you? Well, I suppose that you have good reasons to be, as I share your pessimism too. I just hope that one day we'll be able to spend all this taxpayer money on something else than the Ministry of Defense and its senseless wars.
3 people like this
@bluewings (3857)
6 Mar 07
I see your point.People tend to ignore the global problems because they know that those global challanges won't affect them in their lifetime.So,they are more concerned about problems in their own life.Now if we live for two centuries,then the global problems would concern us and if our brain doesn't decay ,then more old people will add to the wisdom in the world and should have better chances of finding solutions. I think prevention of physical deterioration might be tackled to only an extent and beyond that point if we try to tamper with the natural process of wear and tear ,then it might manifest itself in some other form in our body.But,if both physical and mental decay could be stopped and life could be prolonged ,then your theory won't be fallible.Do you think it could ever happen or it's just a fantasy ?:-)
@Thomas73 (1467)
• Switzerland
6 Mar 07
I'm afraid that this is only just fantasy... for the moment. Who knows what medical progress will be made in the future. Remember that only 200 years ago a 40-year-old was considered 'really old'.
3 people like this
@bluewings (3857)
6 Mar 07
Yes, it's hard to say how much progress medical science would make.Probably my grandchildren would be six or seven generations after them in their lifetime,i.e if the average range of age for childbirth isn't pushed beyond what it stands at now(if and when the lifespan increases).
2 people like this
@crickethear (1420)
• United States
6 Mar 07
Very good point, Thomas. People do tend to ignore the global problems because they know that more than likely that it won't affect them in their lifetime. It is like the mentality, well it ain't my problm, so why should I care. However, we need to concerned with these issues. We forget that their are others who will be following after us, and would we want them to deal with the problems? However, preventing it, I don't know if it ever can be fixed. Like so many things you find one answer for some other problems and the next thing you know that is something in the dust just waiting to attack. Tampering around too much with mothers nature, could actually cause more remaifications in the long run. There should be some answer. It seems though with people living so much longer, is there a solution? With each prolong life and with each generation, you get new problems. People think different then the generation before them. No one seems to want to work at this, because everyone just views their opinion. Because we are living longer,and the ones who come after us will also be living longer, how are we to get by? I see so many things as I am writing. As the poplulation grows, and people are living longer, the job market will be full. Are there enough jobs to support everyone? It is like a ship. You can put only so many on it before it sinks. Something needs to be done, but just what that is, is unknwn.
2 people like this
@Thomas73 (1467)
• Switzerland
6 Mar 07
All those problems would be solved by those Wise Old Ones who would think about them and suggest solutions. Well, this is how I hope it would work anyway!
3 people like this
• United States
6 Mar 07
I would hope so, but what do you do when the wiser ones, have to deal with younger ones coming up in the world, who think they have all the answers.
2 people like this
@Thomas73 (1467)
• Switzerland
6 Mar 07
Simple: educate them in the respect of knowledge and encourage them to seek it out before they criticise it.
3 people like this
@Nacholco (18)
• Argentina
6 Mar 07
I understand the fantasy of living 2 centuris but, maybe that is too much for a human been. We have a way to live, and that not include our old time. When we past the 60 (aprox) we stop living, no matter how many years of life we have left there are a lot of thing we stop doing just because we are tired. So de bigest problem of your idea is that we are not prepared for such long time of life.
2 people like this
@Thomas73 (1467)
• Switzerland
6 Mar 07
I know a few people well over 60 that are far from being tired of life. It's just how you look at things.
3 people like this
• United States
6 Mar 07
Interesting concept. Then we would not hear people say about so many important issues" Oh I don't care it wont be in my lifetime". Although I would have to be in top physical condition to enjoy 200 years, I think I would be kind of tired by then. LOL
2 people like this
@Thomas73 (1467)
• Switzerland
6 Mar 07
The good physical and mental health of those elderly people would of course be a priority.
2 people like this
@polachicago (19073)
• United States
6 Mar 07
Great topic! I think that overpopulation is not a problem. The problem here is how we explore our mother Earth. Human body is designed to live 160 or longer. We always vision 90 years old as disable, but if you can imagine 90 years old working and playing soccer, the whole perspective looks different.
2 people like this
@Thomas73 (1467)
• Switzerland
6 Mar 07
What? Beckham still active at 90??? Argh! ;)
3 people like this
@greengal (4286)
• United States
6 Mar 07
That is a very good analogy, maybe old people will help us. But as you said unless there is a medical advancement, the older ones will be more of a burden than an advisory. I think with the current medical advancements, life expectancy is supposed to be higher in the future. But again, older doesn't necessarily mean wiser. Only a certain set of qualified ones will be of use rather than the entire population of senior citizens. They may have seen changes around them since long, but they might not necessarily be capable of providing solutions and offering worthwhile advice. This is the other side of your theory. Well, it pays to be positive so I think I will go along with you. Let's see if time does bring about such a situation.
2 people like this
@Thomas73 (1467)
• Switzerland
6 Mar 07
Of course, the panel of the 'Wise' should be carefully selected. Some people live to be over 80 and never wisen up.
4 people like this
@sigma77 (5385)
• United States
6 Mar 07
I can agree with some of this. But why instead of living 200 years, why not 300 or 500? Where does it end? With people living that much longer, or twice as long, it brings about a whole new scale of problems. How are they going to support themselves? Are they going to work from age 20 to 150? What about younger people waiting to move up in the world or even get a job. If older employees are working longer, fewer jobs might be available to younger workers. I think solutions can come to many world problems by more people working to find them, not necessarily living a whole lot longer. It might eventually happen, but it will create a host of new problems in the long run. I don't think it want to live 200 years.
2 people like this
@Thomas73 (1467)
• Switzerland
6 Mar 07
Working on the world's problems with a clear mind and the wisdom of age, now wouldn't that be good? But you're right, I wouldn't want to live that long either.
3 people like this
@Willowlady (10666)
• United States
6 Mar 07
A big aspect of aging gracefully is what we eat. The closer to the garden that we eat is the better we function and therefore age. Barring accidents and enviromental factors we could conceiveable be young til about 100 years. Indeed medical science could possibly discovered some new thing or things that could even extend our lives more. Would be concerned that only the rich could then afford that with the way things are going.
2 people like this
@Thomas73 (1467)
• Switzerland
6 Mar 07
Mankind has indeed a lot of progress to make in the field of gratuitous altruism. Thanks for a nice response.
3 people like this
@arnboy (357)
• India
6 Mar 07
Thomas, wishful thinking will take us nowhere. The problem is even scientist's will not prefer to work in this field, it is a worthless cause. Why would anyone try to tackle the problem of aging when they are aware of the fact that people in the 60+ age group are retired!. There is insufficient funding and rightly so, its more important to solve the problems of people below 60 who actively contribute to the society.
2 people like this
@Thomas73 (1467)
• Switzerland
6 Mar 07
It isn't just wishful thinking. What I described could be possible one day. Research in this field is just a bit slow, that's all.
3 people like this
@Tetchie (2933)
• Australia
6 Mar 07
It is quite possible with nanotechnology that allot of what ails us could be a thing of the past, whether this is for the better good is yet to be realized. We could end up part human, part robot and it would be called being alive! Hopefully there are geniuses in the making in our schools or universities as we speak planning to better the world and we would do well to encourage and nurture them to help us all.
2 people like this
@Thomas73 (1467)
• Switzerland
6 Mar 07
Half-human, half robot? I bet you're a Star Trek enthusiast! ;) Sounds good, though.
3 people like this
@isha11 (19)
• India
6 Mar 07
of course this is a fantastic thought and who knows in time to come science may be able to achieve breakthroughs in this sphere. but then a downside could be a tremendous explosion in the population figures that would play havoc with the food supply situation; infrastructure in cities would also come under tremendous strain. the only way would then be to control population especially in asian countries.
@seamonkey (1981)
• Ireland
6 Mar 07
From my own perspective I don't want to live longer. 80 odd years is enough. I f I could tack on extreme youth to the beginning half of my life, then it would be worth it, but not to continue in a geriatric state. I also don't think it is feasable or fair in terms of world resources and population issues.
2 people like this
@James72 (26829)
• Australia
7 Mar 07
Until attitudes towards the older generations change, this will not help us much at all! Sure, it would be great for some to be able to live much longer but how do they support themselves if businesses will not employ them because of their age? What would this mean for retirement age? What effect will this have on taxes in terms of government provided pensions for much longer periods of time? There are many, many economic and sociological factors that need to be considered. Who the hell would want to live an extra 20 - 50 years if it meant being healthier longer but having to live on the bones of your a@@?
1 person likes this
@Thomas73 (1467)
• Switzerland
7 Mar 07
The problem of money is indeed a very delicate one and would need to be solved. I personally don't have a solution for it, but I'm sure that *honest* economists could find something viable.
1 person likes this
@James72 (26829)
• Australia
13 Mar 07
Yes. The *honest* economists can work alongside the beef loving vegetarians..... They will work it out for sure! ;)
6 Mar 07
I can see a snag with this fantasy Thomas! This longevity would initially be an expensive process - not something available to everyone - and therefore I could see a situation developing where only the wealthiest would be in a position to afford it. They're not necessarily the people who will be blessed with the required brainpower and desire to solve the problems you talk about. If this state of healthy longevity was available right now who'd be front of the queue? Michael Jackson, the Beckhams, Paris Hilton, Tom Cruise ... it really doesn't bear thinking about LOL.
1 person likes this
7 Mar 07
Benevolent pharmaceutical companies, as if!
1 person likes this
@The_Eagle_1 (1123)
• Australia
7 Mar 07
Ironic indeed Tom, even the point of retirement coming after we bust our butts for 40 odd years and start to find it difficult to do some of the things which were easy when we were younger..lol.. they should have retirement from 25 to 55...work from 18 to 25, roughly and then rejoin the work force at 55!! haha As for the global problems and extended life...I would like to think we do some things already, but the over population control for extended life creates a much larger dilema!! We would definately need to perfect space travel and colonise!
1 person likes this
@Thomas73 (1467)
• Switzerland
7 Mar 07
At last someone who agrees with me about reaching for the star! Thanks, my feathery friend!
1 person likes this
@selina0625 (1383)
• Philippines
7 Mar 07
For me it doesn't matter how long you have lived but how well you lived. It's the quantity of life and not how many years you've been in this world. Life can be meaningful even if you've only lived for a short time if you can make a difference, if you cna make a dent in this world.
1 person likes this
@Thomas73 (1467)
• Switzerland
7 Mar 07
Indeed, the quality of life is important. Wouldn't it be nice to extend the life of those who have a positive impact instead of seeing them die too young?
1 person likes this
@jennybianca (12914)
• Australia
7 Mar 07
You have made a number of thoughtful comments here. My "idea" at the moment would be to see an improvement in the quality of life, for the aged, not necessily a longer life. Better medical care, a cure for the debilitating mental states that many elderly find themselves in. If this could be achieved, I think the chances of the Wise-Elderly contributing to societies problems would increase. For many elderly, life is a daily battle.Even if improvements didn't lengthen ones life, but improved the mind, then I would be satisfied. You have a made a good point above, as you often do in your discussions.
@Thomas73 (1467)
• Switzerland
7 Mar 07
Thanks Jenny. Indeed the preservation of mental health is as important as that of the physical one. We don't want to end up like Tithonus, do we? ;)