Not Getting It

Via Glenn, I find a new group blog about the future. But I found this post pretty disappointing, and I’m hoping that it’s not indicative of a more general cluelessness:

According to Cambridge University biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, the first person to live to 1,000 years of age has already been born. True or not, this idea is frightening to me mainly because the average person today starts to get pretty frail right around sixty, so unless we manage to improve the quality of life for the elderly along with their lifespan, we youngsters are doomed to some 900 years of infeebled misery. While I’m sure that at some point the necessity for some kind of physical rejuvenation process would breed the requisite ingenuity to devise one, I’m still not convinced that several decades, if not centuries, of torture would be worth it.

He can’t have actually read much of what De Grey wrote, if he believes that the intent, or likely outcome, is to “provide nine centuries of torture.” The whole point is to defeat senescence, not merely to keep frail bodies alive. Note also the commenter who is already bored with life at age fifty seven.

As I wrote in a letter to the editor of The Economist back in the late eighties, if your idea of life is to come home from work with a six pack in front of the television, then three score and ten is plenty (and perhaps even too long). But if you’re a Leonardo or Leonarda da Vinci, several centuries could be all too short. We will have to come to terms with the reality that many won’t want to live forever, and become more societally accepting, at some point, of the right to end it, lest we do in fact be sentencing people to centuries of “torture” (mental, perhaps, if not physical).