The Second Eclectic

Technology changes how we relate to God and each other

You in 100 Years?

A while back I posted "Dying for a really long time." This post follows that up with more talk about it. I read this article, talking about doubling our lifespans and some of the consequences we haven't thought much about. Below are some excerpts from the article.

Also, back in December I found this website, Futureme.org, where you can write yourself an email up to 30 or 35 years into the future. They'll send it to you then. It was really insightful for me because it gave me a real understanding of what I hope and fear for myself. Writing to your own self really brings into focus who you do and don't want to be when you read it then. I recommend the exercise and encourage you to consider your life in light of what it reveals.

And maybe, by then, we'll all be living forever, and you can write yourself another one! Here are those excerpts:

If one considers only the personal benefits that longer life would bring,
the answer might seem like a no-brainer: People could spend more quality time
with loved ones; watch future generations grow up; learn new languages; master
new musical instruments; try different careers or travel the world.

A doubled lifespan, [Gregory] Stock said, would "give us a chance to
recover from our mistakes, lead us towards longer-term thinking and reduce
healthcare costs by delaying the onset of expensive diseases of aging. It would
also raise productivity by adding to our prime years."

This seems quite unlikely. We waste our lives as it is, with only 80
years of life. With 140 years, we would simply slough off and think we have more
time to get things done and in fact get less done. This is shown by
the way busy people accomplish more, while people who don't have a heavy
load accomplish less. The same would prove true over the lifespan


In today’s world, for example, a couple in their 60s who are stuck in a
loveless but tolerable marriage might decide to stay together for the remaining
15 to 20 years of their lives out of inertia or familiarity. But if that same
couple knew they might have to suffer each other's company for another 60 or 80
years, their choice might be different.

Kalish predicted that as life spans increase, there will be a shift in
emphasis from marriage as a lifelong union to marriage as a long-term
commitment. Multiple, brief marriages could become common.

If multiple marriages become the norm as Kalish predicts, and each marriage
produces children, then half-siblings will become more common, Hackler points
out. And if couples continue the current trend of having children beginning in
their 20s and 30s, then eight or even 10 generations might be alive
simultaneously, Hackler said.

Furthermore, if life extension also increases a woman's period of
fertility, siblings could be born 40 or 50 years apart. Such a large age
difference would radically change the way siblings or parents and their children
interact with one other.

"If you have people staying in their jobs for 100 years, that is going to
make it really tough for young people to move in and get ahead," Callahan
explained. "If people like the idea of delayed gratification, this is going to
be a wonderful chance to experience it."

Callahan also worries that corporations and universities could become
dominated by a few individuals if executives, managers and tenured professors
refuse to give up their posts. Without a constant infusion of youthful talent
and ideas, these institutions could stagnate.

Hackler points out that the same problem could apply to politics. Many
elected officials have term limits that prevent them from amassing too much
power. But what about federal judges, who are appointed for life?

"Justices sitting on the bench for a hundred years would have a
powerful influence on the shape of social institutions," Hackler writes.

“The nation might commit less of its intellectual energy and social
resources to the cause of initiating the young, and more to the cause of
accommodating the old,” the paper stated. Also, quality of life might suffer. “A
world that truly belonged to the living would be very different, and perhaps a
much diminished, world, focused too narrowly on maintaining life and not
sufficiently broadly on building the good life."