It has taken me a few days to catch up with this item because there has been so much going on, the election, volcanoes, long lunches etc. Last week one of the guests on television show Its Only A Theory was longevity expert Aubrey De Grey. Aubrey is always a brilliant guest on any TV show. Now I know he is a biologist and some of your think I harbour an irrational hated of scientists but to jump to that conclusion because I take the piss out of them so much is irrational.
What sets people like Aubrey (and Stephen Hawking, who we will be coming to in a later post, among others) apart from those who cop the full sarcasm barrage is none of these guys announces Im a scientist as if that proves they are more clever than anybody in their audience. Oh and also, in Aubreys case he has the most splendid fuck off beard in the history of everything ever. Its a real Old Testament Prophet fuck off beard. It makes Osama Bin Ladens wispy little beard look like an effing novice. Sometimes Aubreys beard seems to have a life of its own.
The theory Aubrey De Grey was on the show to propose was that the first human being who will live for 1000 years has already been born.
If you are thinking the problems humanity will face when life expectancy jumps in the space of two generations from 80 to 800 dwarfs the catastrophic effects of climate change just remember that like climate change it is only a theory. What is fascinating about Aubrey De Grey is the way he explains his work, not only is he a brilliant thinker, he is a brilliant communicator as well.
The work he and is team do is not aimed at stretching life to infinity but at preventing the deterioration that comes with age, seeking therapies that will hold off aching joints, wrinkly skin and incontinence as well as dementia and saggy bodies. Cool, but unfortunately living longer will be a side effect.
One statistic mentioned was that the cost of old age is set to soar. In terms of healthcare costs, the last year of life for the average person equals the total of the rest of their years. And as life extends so the duration of peoples decrepitude extends in proportion. Preventing deterioration then carries social benefits as well as good television kudos.
Even if the deterioration of age can be prevented it still leaves far too many oldies for society to absorb however so when Aubrey and his cohorts have abolished arthritis and Alzheimers how do we stop the population becoming unbalanced? Boggart Blog suggests we use the internet to monitor individual lifestyles and watch for signs people are about to become too expensive. When comfort becomes a more important factor than style in choice of clothes, when people stop watching Midsomer Murders because it is all sex and violence, when people buy the same book three times, when people prefer complan to kebabs, we just have to kill them.