Humanity has always been intrigued by the possibility of eternal life. From explorers searching for the Fountain of Youth to Silicon Valley spending millions on genome research, aimed at extending life, we have never given up the dream of living forever. But is this really what we want? Is immortality the end-result of a fully evolved human race?
Of course, there is no one answer. It is difficult to wish for death. For those of us who have watched loved ones succumb to illness or old age, it is inconceivable to wish that pain on anyone else. So it is no wonder, then, that when we are faced with people like Jeanne Calments, to date the person with the longest recorded lifespan, we wish for our parents, our grandparents, our children to be that lucky. We are obsessed with health fads like activity trackers and crash diets; we love the idea of a pill that will extend our vitality.
But on the other side—immortality has its downsides. Scientists project that severe climate change effects will be felt as early as 2036, not that far into the future! What’s more our planet is struggling to support a population that is at triple what it is able to handle. Humanity is facing some tough challenges ahead and beyond simply not wanting to see tragedy unfold, we might also consider how our longevity is contributing to these issues.
Yet still, the promise of immortality is alluring. And today, an even newer take on this old idea is emerging—maybe we don’t live forever, but we keep our fitness, our energy, our abilities well into old age. Maybe this is where science meets utility and practicality. The Methuselah Foundation is exploring regenerative medicine that promises to make a 90-year-old feel like a 50-year-old. Google-backed biotech company, Calico, is looking into ways to “cure” aging. While these organizations are promising results in the decades to come, Elysium Health is suggesting that their results are already here, quantifiable and attainable in the form of a pill. Users report having more restful sleep and significantly more energy, while the packaging and marketing goes a long way to making the claims seem legitimate. What’s more, the founder is the leading expert on aging at MIT—definitely an expert on the topic!
As we look to the future, how do these advancements fit in? We have been raised to believe that death is simply a part of life, it is the way the world works, but now we are posed with the possibility that maybe it isn’t. Is this an affront to science or is this simply the reaching of full potential? Where do you stand on immortality? Would you want to live forever or do you believe that everything, life included, has a season?