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Indefinite Lifespan Possible in 20 Years, Expert Predicts

Posted: Tue, March 05, 2013 | By: Indefinite Life Extension

by Dick Pelletier

Google hire and renowned futurist Ray Kurzweil sums up how technologies might play out over the next two decades with this claim: “If you remain in good health for 20 more years, you may never die.”

Kurzweil looks at today’s trends to piece together a convincing picture of what science hopes to accomplish in the future. He believes we will eliminate most disease, pain, and forgetfulness. “If you live well for the next 20 years,” he says, “you may be able to live in perfect health for as long as you wish.”

Although accidents, crime, and other forms of violence, may still cause death in this future time, nobody will die from heart problems, cancer, diabetes, or most of the other age-related diseases.

This future is not surprising considering the current speed of medical innovations. It seems just about every week, we hear researchers make fresh discoveries, or begin clinical trials for a new therapy; and over the next 20 years, experts say, healthcare breakthroughs will occur at even faster rates than today.

In a recent Technology Review interview, Harvard genetics professor George Church forecasts a bright future for regenerative medicine using stem cells. Involved in the Personal Genome Project, a massive effort to sequence the genes of 100,000 people, Church sees an increase in doctors using induced pluripotent stem cells (IPS) to create replacement organs and tissues between now and 2030.

These wonder cells could one day regenerate nearly every part of the human body, Church says. At first, the process will be used to make sick patients well, but it will soon become clear that people, who enjoy good health, will want these procedures to enhance and strengthen their already healthy bodies.

Nanomedicine author Robert Freitas talks to Ray Kurzweil in this video interview about developing tiny nanorobots that can roam through our bodies, repairing cell damage. “The hard part is building the first one”, Freitas says; “although the progress may seem slow, nanorobots will one day become reality.”

Freitas compares nanomedicine development to the computer industry. It took 60 years of market-driven research to bring computers to their present state with today’s ‘smart’ cell-phones, laptops and tablets; and we will see a similar, but more rapid progression with medical nanorobots.

“This revolutionary nanoscience,” Freitas says, “is in beginning stages of producing bio robots now. Next will be hybrid robots built from engineered structural DNA, synthetic proteins, and other non-biological materials. Finally, by early 2030s or before, researchers will produce completely artificial devices: nanorobots capable of protecting every cell in the body from disease, injury; and even aging.”

If we define disease as something gone wrong with an otherwise healthy body, Freitas adds, then aging; and indeed, ‘natural death’ are diseases, which occur when the body’s cellular structure cannot repair damages. Nanomedicine will not only allow us to repair these damages, but we can undo damage already inflicted. This means that the young can remain young and the old will become young.

In just 20 years, seniors and ‘boomers might look in the mirror wondering, “Who is that gorgeous creature?” Their reflection would reveal a perfectly-shaped body with natural hair color, wrinkle-free skin, and real teeth. By mid-to-late-2030s, people will remain healthy indefinitely, enjoying a futuristic lifestyle with driverless cars, household robots, and vacations to Moon, Mars and other exotic locations in space.

Even though our lives will improve immensely, extending human lifespans beyond what some consider ‘natural’ may evoke controversy. Religions hold that death is inevitable; that living a good life sends believers to an afterlife paradise, and memories of lost loved ones live on in the hearts of descendents.

Nevertheless, experts believe this controversy will not stop efforts to extend health and increase human lifespan. Demand from citizens who believe they deserve improved health and longer, happier lives, will drive this future forward; and it could become reality in time to benefit most people alive today.

Will abilities to extend life progress like this? Stem cell advances, genetic breakthroughs, and nanotech discoveries are occurring almost daily. Humanity’s dream of immortality could be just around the corner!”

This essay originally appeared at Dick’s blog HERE.  It also appears in numerous other publications. For more info on Dick Pelletier, the Positive Futurist, click HERE 


What I find a little abating is that such progress is always 20 years away.  It was 15-20 years away in 2005 when I read The Singularity is Near.  So using my calculator it should be 8-13 years away now.  But it is still 20 years away…
I also find it unlikely that we will visit Mars as tourists in the late 2030ies. 

By the way, IBM Watson would be able to enter the word in the box below that checks if I’m human.  A sign of the approaching singularity?

By Cryonica on Mar 13, 2013 at 5:05am

I don’t have time for immortality.  Heh, heh, heh.

I have found in my conversations with others re: extended lifespans a fair amount of resistance to the idea.  Some mention overpopulation, others the environment.  Underlying a lot of it is, in my opinion, simply a lack of desire to live indefinitely.

Life is hard enough for 75 years, they can’t imagine continuing the struggle for 750!  To be persuasive to laypeople, we must be able to show them that their lives will not only get longer, but better too.

By Tom J Wright on Mar 14, 2013 at 12:54pm

Even though they said in 05 just 20 years away technology has literally boomed in just the past 5 years, They already have a suit that the elderly can wear that will increase their movement. I think that bit with religious issues is kind of odd. I mean I am christian and I really think it would be cool to not physically die. I could just wait until the second coming lol. I hear some Christians say its not natural or God intended death upon us, but when you read Genesis, we brought death on ourselves. Originally God intended us to be like him and live forever in harmony with him. So I mean as we brought death on ourselves why can’t we do the opposite and not bring death upon us and Christians can just wait for the second coming rather than dying.
I think with this new medical technology even if we lived to be 500 years old, we would have a life without pain because you have to imagine in probably 100 years they would perfect this aging halt or reversal.

By Ryan on Jul 11, 2013 at 12:46pm

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