What if: we’re still alive in 2100? Radical life extension and its implications. On the eve of the World Economic Forum 2016 in Davos.

Author: Olivera Z. Mijuskovic, philosopher and bioethicist

Philosophy and economics together? Not at all, but...

This year's World Economic Forum in Davos will inter alia  address the bioethical issues of radical life extension, more precisely, its possible implications. That science is advancing rapidly and topics in the field of bioethics and biomedicine are no longer science fiction witnesses and panel discussions on the possible, plausible and probable impacts of significantly extended lifespans at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos (Wednesday, January 20th at 10:15 EST / 16:15 CET).

What's radical life extension?

The general definition is:

Life extension science, also known as anti-aging medicine, indefinite life extension, experimental gerontology, and biomedical gerontology, is the study of slowing down or reversing the processes of aging to extend both the maximum and average lifespan.

Radical life extension has its roots in the period of the philosophical concept of Francis Bacon, René Descartes, Benjamin Franklin, etc. In modern times there are different councils, government and scientific institutions that have their own views on this issue.For example, John Harris, famous world bioethicist from England, argues that as long as life is worth living, according to the person himself, we have a powerful moral imperative to save the life and thus to develop and offer life extension therapies to those who want them. Nick Bostrom has argued that any technological advances in life extension must be equitably distributed and not restricted to a privileged few. The human life span significantly improves not only the beauty but also the quality. Stem cell therapies, nanotehnologies, gene-editing, new products as a pharmaceutical and surgical interventions have greatly contributed to prolong the human lifespan. If we continue to be resistant to everything our ancestors centuries before us have not been immune, how will our future look like? If recourse to cognitive or moral enhancement of all this stuff, whether we live in abundance and this will be only the privileged life?

The issues that are specially engaged in Davos are as follows:

Would people still want to marry if they were faced with over a century of life together? What age would people want to have children? How many generations could expect to be alive at the same time?

From the actualization of these issues and official data issued by the UN, the consequences of such a scenario are actually very close in front of us. It will be interesting to hear what  different profession think on this issue.

What is your opinion on this issue?

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Comment by Olivera Z Mijuskovic on January 26, 2016 at 5:57am


1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_extension

2. Japsen, Bruce (15 June 2009). "AMA report questions science behind using hormones as anti-aging t.... The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 17 July 2009.

3. Marziali, Carl (7 December 2010). "Reaching Toward the Fountain of Youth". USC Trojan Family Magazine. Retrieved 7 December 2010.

Comment by Valentine Olushola Oyedipe on January 25, 2016 at 9:01am

One can not deny the fact that the advancement in science and technology has only made life more meaningful and pleasant to humanity. Besides, the dividends of science and technology should not be  the exclusive preserve/right of any class, group, colour etc. At any rate, we must take into consideration the notion of "free will" that every individual is willing and enjoys to express at at times. When the "free will" is not tampered with,   I want to believe that every individual that wishes can embark on life extension therapy thus benefiting from the largesse of advanced technology.

On the consequence of life extension, living beyond a century together as couples does not stop the institution of marriage.Marriage  is a matter of choice and  right decision making under proper "tutelage" and counseling (ceteris paribus). However, there are various sociological theories that explains  what usually attracts couples together in the first place (i.e. exchange theory). Imagine this theory  holds tenaciously on couples, the relationship will continue to blossom and in such a case, life extension therapy becomes significant for such a couple.The age to marry is also a matter of choice, marrying earlier when the is possibility of life extension is beneficial as that makes one to see a number of generations in his life time.At the same time marrying late may make one have time for other things that are not within the confines of family institution which may be pleasurable.The age to have children is also a matter of choice, depending on the rationale for raising children in fact all these issues have  cross cultural perspectives which we must take cognizance of before taking a unilateral judgement.

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