During a conversation with a friend, the topic of longevity research came up, which I expressed my longstanding support for.
My friend came back expressing his idea that death is actually important, and questions of why we shouldn’t die, concerned about how life will be special if we don’t die.
The argument of whether or not we should extend longevity has and will be continued to be had over and over and over again. The points and arguments may be disagreed upon, but it is important to lay them out in writing once and for all:
First of all, we should be so lucky to be able to worry about living forever.
At this stage, we aren’t even sure if curing aging is possible.
We’re pretty far from discovering the cure for aging.
The proclamation that “we shouldn’t cure aging” is silly if we don’t even know for sure that it is possible.
What we do know is that people suffer unnecessarily due to age related illnesses.
While some of us with longevity genes live healthy and active well into our 90s, many of our loved ones get older and face cancer, obesity, dementia and alzeimers, and more.
The issue is that these debilitating aging illnesses consume a large number of years towards the end of a persons life.
By solving aging, first and foremost we must allow people to live healthy, active lives up until the end.
Its unlikely we’ll be able to extend life indefinitely (at least as far as we know).
But what if humans could live healthy lives into their twelfth decade, reaching 120+ years of age?
I believe this is absolutely possible and achievable at the current pace of scientific research.
We want to find a way to end diseases. No one is saying you have to live forever.
You can still die. But wouldn’t it be great to extend our lives a little longer?
Why is extending human lifespan important?
As a person finishes school and gets their start in the “real world”, their lives are likely already 1/3 to 1/4 of the way over.
As disappointing as this may be, it is a fact – and the sooner you come to terms with mortality, the easier it will be to focus and commit to the truly important things in life – that which gives your life meaning, whatever that may be for you as an individual.
Reason #1 – more productive years for skilled professionals
Take an example of the career of a doctor.
If you decide to become a doctor, you’re going to have to spend another 8-ish years in school on top of college.
By the time you make it out of medical school and residency as a practicing physician, if you’re lucky, you will be about 30 years old.
On the other hand, many students don’t get into medical school the first time around due to grades, preparedness, slow decision making, and other reasons. Its not uncommon to see medical students enter their M1 year of school after taking a 3-4 year gap between undergrad and medical school.
Because of this, a career doctor can expect to spend between 30-35 years as a practicing physician, assuming an average retirement age of 65.
There is a shortage of primary care physicians globally, and a shortage of specialists in the US.
Its too bad that after all that school and training, one of the most valuable professions in our society gets so few years of productive work out in the real world.
The skills that a doctor possesses are important and benefit society. Becoming a doctor is no easy task. Wouldn’t it be better if a doctor was able to practice medicine for more years, allowing society to benefit more from their hard earned skillset?
How much better would surgeons be if they were able to put that much more time under their belt? Why can’t people live to be 200, 500, or even 1000 years old?
The same can be said of other skilled professions as well. How much would human society benefit from having elders with decades upon centuries of experience to help us run our seemingly broken society?
It is unfortunate that humans have to have this upper-limit to their age of productivity.
As soon as you really start to get your life figured out – by the time you get your finances under control, have learned quite a lot about the world, have developed a strong network of friendships, and built a solid career, the effects of aging start to creep up on you and slowly compound and get worse over the next several decades of life.
Reason #2 – aging is expensive
As you reach old age, the numeric age of a person is quite insignificant.
What really matters is the quality of life, health, and prevalence of disease – or ideally lack thereof.
But one thing is for sure – as people get older, they tend to develop more age related illnesses.
These illnesses unfortunately cost a lot.
Medicare in the United States spends about $35 billion per year on kidney failure alone. 
At age 65 and older people spend over $11,000 on average per year on healthcare.
Imagine a futuristic society where people don’t have to get sick and debilitated as they get old.
Imagine that instead of spending $35 billion on treating kidney failure (which, by the way, is almost always incurable), we spent far less money on re-programming cells and turn back the aging clock.
The large healthcare costs could be more efficiently put towards other endeavors such as infrastructure, education, providing clean access to drinking water, advancing space travel – anything we can think of to make life more enjoyable for everyone on planet Earth.
Reason #3 – death is scary
No matter what they say, no one wants to die.
Yet, when bringing up the idea of living forever, so many people start acting squirrely and say something along the line of “but without death, we won’t have meaning in our lives”.
The thing is, we’ll always die. But the goal here is to stop the body from breaking down.
Let’s not worry so much about they unknown negative effects of living forever, and instead, let’s first focus on finding a cure for aging and age related diseases, enabling people to live healthy lifespans for longer.
A special thank you to David Sinclair and his inspiring book “Lifespan”.
- Kidney Project Statistics