April 17, 2007

Rejuvenation of bodies, disease elimination and life spans

Robert Freitas had a very interesting essay a few years back called "Death is an Outrage", which discusses how long life spans could be extended if our bodies could be rejuvenated and maintained without aging as a factor.

If we cure diseases but do not have effective rejuvenation then we get less overall life extension because more age related diseases and degeneration continue to cause more deaths as we age. The problem of "if one thing does not kill you then something else will".

There was an analysis that if cardiovascular disease (all major forms of heart and blood vessel disease were eliminated), U.S. life expectancy would rise by almost seven years and the nation would be more than $300 billion richer.

However, if we cured cardiovascular disease and had powerful rejuvenation therapies then the overall benefit of curing the disease would be an extension of life expectancy by closer to 20 years.

Curing heart disease and cancers would provide a combined elimination of about 50% of medically preventable disease. Combined with effective rejuvenation techniques would provide a 151 year life expectancy. Eliminating 90% of disease deaths along with effective rejuvenation would provide lifespans of 512 years.

Curing Heart disease strategy :
early detection of the soft blisters that burst which then lead to plaque formation (pre-blockage detection) and then treatment.
More aggressive monitoring of risks and indicators (getting on top of higher cholesterol and other problems before it results in heart and arterial diseases / failures)
Stem cell treatments
Effective Lifestyle mitigation therapies

Curing Cancer strategy
Effective early detection
Understanding the processes in molecular detail and the pathways
Developing interventions against it at key stages
Effective tumor treatments
Some cancers that are not cured could become manageable conditions like aids or diabetes now.

Progress is being made with stem cells, organ and tissue regeneration and replacement. These things have the potential to provide a powerful rejuvenation capability.

Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence also continues to get more funding and is making some progress. It has its own scientific projects funded and is influencing more researchers to work towards the goals that they have defined, which is life extension escape velocity.


Luke said...

How large does the population of the Earth grow over time if we all live to be 512?

bw said...

It depends upon the birthrate.

The current deathrate is 55 million people per year. Living to 512 means that the deathrate drops to about 5 million per year. So 50 million more people each year over current projections. So what would have been steady state at 80 year lifespans would be an increase of 4 billion people every 80 years if people do not decide to have fewer children or space the children out more.

But if people are rejuvenated then woman would not have ticking fertility clocks. How long would they put off having children then ?

Also, with advanced nanotechnology like I predict use over 90% less material to make the same goods. The material being stronger and lighter. We can also reduce pollution to near zero and remediate the environment. We can also travel to space as easily as we hop on a plane now.

In Mining the Sky, John S. Lewis suggests that the staggering resources of the solar system could support 10 quadrillion (10^15) people.
more at wikipedia