With the goal of securing a peaceful life on planet earth in mutual respect and with the aim of colonizng space together (“Terraism”), we may want to focus on future developments early in the process. Our lifespann on earth will expand. What does that mean for our society?
How will it happen?
Life prolonging measures are within reach. Cyborg technologies – whether artificial hearts or pacemakers – make it possible to continue living. However, these technologies, together with medicine, will probably only make the already possible human lifespan of 100+ years on average more often possible. Hormone cures for cell rejuvenation and icing technologies, however, promise to drastically prolong the period of time experienced by humans. Maybe at a later point in time, transgenetic measures may lead to a massive breakthrough. for your recollection: the jelly fish Turritopsis Dohrnii is relatively immortal (see above). There have been sightings of creatures with more than a 1000 years of lifespan.
When will it happen?
The ethical questions of this foreseeable development are not yet an active part of the social debate. As far as I know, it is still difficult to predict when and if these technologies and interventions will actually be successful. However, companies like Google- via Calico and others are beginning to invest considerable sums in this area.
What can a terraistic association do about it?
I think it would be desirable for an international commission of experts to examine the social consequences, assuming a life span of 200 years. What does this mean for the retirement age (67) and pensions? What health and social benefits can, and will society provide for 200-year-old citizens? Should there be temporary marriages? Do we need asset management rules for cryonized fellow human beings that will only wake up in decades to come? How do we deal with people who are impoverished in cryostasis?
Why care now?
The search for the Fountain of Youth and the Philosopher’s Stone has always energized humanity and has also led to controversy. To be active here in an accompanying and translational way can mitigate conflicts and injustice in the future. Leaving this area to philosophers and science fiction authors could turn out to be a little short of reality.
Next week we will start focussing on extremly longliving creatures: Artificial Intelligences.