Saturday, December 04, 2004

2000 Year Old Man

In 1982 Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks classic comedy skit The 2000 Year Old Man was made into an animated made-for-TV movie. I remember watching it and laughing as Reiner, posing as an interviewer, chatted with Brooks, the 2000 year old man. Reiner asks Brooks about the people he has known over the years:
Joan of Arc? "Know her? I went with her!" Robin Hood? "Lovely Man. Ran around the forest. Took from everybody and kept it. But he had a good press agent." Jesus? "A quiet lad, used to come into the store with these twelve other guys. Never bought anything. Asked me for some water once."
Now Dr. Aubrey de Grey of the University of Cambridge suggests that we might all live that long... though he doesn't promise we'll be as funny as Brooks.

de Grey stats that he believes that "...the first person to live to 1,000 might be 60 already," suggesting that the rapid advances currently being made in his field could have a real impact on those alive today. de Grey claims to have "...a very detailed plan to repair all the types of molecular and cellular deamage that happen to us over time," and that "since these therapies repair accumulated damage, they are applicable to people in middle age or older who have a fair amount of damage."

Boy won't that throw a wrinkle into plans to reform social security. "Yep, I retired at 62 and have been drawing social security benefits for the past 900 years!" And our overpopulation problems are liable to get a lot worse as well...

But all kidding aside, I wonder if the biggest problem with this whole scheme is that only the very rich are likely to be able to afford to live for thousands of years. Imagine my great-great-great-great grandchildren still having to hear about Warren Buffet's investing ideas. Live, from Warren himself.

This could create the greatest "haves" and "have-nots" problem that the human race has ever seen. Already the rich tend to live longer than the poor, but thousands of years longer? If de Grey is right, and this is a real possibility, I predict that the very wealthy will actually evolve to become a quite different species from the rest of humanity. One's entire perspective on the world is likely to shift radically when one has hundreds of years of experience and when one can look forward to a future of hundreds of years of life. Now there is a generation gap.


Dr. Leonid Gavrilov, Ph.D. said...

Thank you for your interesting post!
I thought perhaps you may also find this related story interesting to you:
Longevity Science: SENS

Dr. Leonid Gavrilov, Ph.D. said...

Also perhaps you may be curious to see this info on related topic:
New Books Discussing Aubrey de Grey Ideas
Shorter link: