Where do I see Canada in the next 150 years? To be honest, I have absolutely no idea. However, with the technological and scientific advances occurring in today’s world, we may all be alive to witness Canada in the year 2167!
At Cambridge University, a researcher named Aubrey de Grey believes he has identified all of the causes of aging, and can overcome them all. By doing so, de Grey claims that humans are capable of living up to 1,000 years old.1 He is convinced that he understands the theoretical underpinnings of human illness and death and has indicated that 25 years is all the world will need to make his theory a reality.
However, he recognizes that he is a computer scientist, not a human biologist.2 S. Jay Olshansky, one of De Grey’s contemporaries, has the human sciences background that de Grey lacks. Olshansky is a professor of Public Health and research associate at the Center on Aging at the University of Chicago.3 His work pursues means to slow down human aging and discovering the “upper limits to human longevity.”4
If researchers are successful in extending the human lifespan, what kinds of political obstacles would they face?
Most people are skeptical that humans have the ability to extend their own lives.5 People firmly believe in the inevitability of aging and death and the science world is having a hard time changing that perspective.
But how then are pharmaceutical companies who sell “anti-aging products” so successful if the world refuses to buy into the idea of longevity?
These companies are excellent marketing specialists but they do not truly market “living longer.” Rather, they convince people that their products will allow them to remain young while they are alive. They encourage consumers to buy products that they claim will make them look and feel more youthful.
In the United States, pharmaceutical companies can legally sell anti-aging products that are merely placebo.6 The FDA allows “cosmeceuticals” to be sold without approval, so long as the product does not contain drugs.7
There is the additional problem that even if pharmaceutical companies attempted to conduct research on life extension, it would take a lot of money and a lot of time. These companies want to make money and it is not in their interest to invest all that time and money on an unsure bet.
However, if these money powerhouses teamed up with brilliant science minds, it’s impossible to say what they could accomplish.
There are also organizations popping up that provide cryonic freezing: a low temperature method of preserving human bodies in the hope that they can be revived by future medicine.8 Currently, this method of preservation is only available after death; you cannot be frozen while alive.
Whether or not you believe in life extension, there are many people working towards that ultimate goal.
So I may be long gone by the time #Canada300 rolls around, but who knows: maybe I won’t be.
1Caspar Llewellyn Smith, “Aubrey de Grey: We don’t have to get sick as we get older”, The Guardian (1 August 2010), online: <https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2010/aug/01/aubrey-de-grey-ageing-research>.
2Sherwin Nuland, “Do You Want to Live Forever?”, MIT Technology Review (1 February 2005), online: <https://www.technologyreview.com/s/403654/do-you-want-to-live-forever/>.
7US, US Food and Drug Administration, Cosmeceutical (Silver Spring: MD, US Food and Drug Administration, 2014), online: <https://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/Labeling/Claims/ucm127064.htm>.