Will You Still Love Me When I’m 164?

Google's plan to extend our life span will change love, work, and just about every aspect of society

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Most married people have spoken the words “until death do us part,” usually expecting to enjoy a wonderful half a century or so with their beloved. But if humans could live to 150 years, as many scientists now think might be possible, the world will be a very different place, and it won’t just mean more time with one’s spouse. There is also a greater possibility of switching partners.

(MORE: Google vs. Death)

In her 79 fabulous years, actress Elizabeth Taylor was married eight times to seven husbands.  If she had lived a longer and healthier life, that number might have been even higher.  While it’s true Taylor was an anomaly, it turns out that as more time becomes available, mating behaviors do begin to shift. In 1950, the average age at first marriage was 23 for men and 20 for women. Today, with longer life expectancies, average age at first marriage is 28 for men and 26 for women. Those numbers will likely climb higher as women gain more control over their fertility with reproductive technologies such as IVF, egg freezing, and ovary and embryo transplants. The ability to have children at much later ages means that it will be possible for siblings to be separated by many decades. A woman might have one child when she is 22 and another when she is 62, and the relationship between those siblings might be less like traditional siblings and more like that between an uncle and nephew.

Dynamics will change in the workplace too.  It’s possible to imagine a scenario where a 25-year-old is put on the same corporate team as a healthy 100-year-old. The cultural difference between the two workers may be stark, which means that the ability to co-operate with diverse groups of people will be a highly sought after when hiring new employees.

As people work longer and spend money longer, the economy will grow.  Health begets wealth, and according to University of Chicago economists Kevin Murphy and Robert Topel, gains in life expectancy over the last decade (30 years) are worth over $1.2 million to the current population. They also found that “from 1970 to 2000, gains in life expectancy added about $3.2 trillion per year to national wealth.” While these numbers are staggering, what might be more important is the issue of longevity gains as a competitive advantage.

In a paper titled “The Health and Wealth of Nations,” Harvard economist David Bloom and Queen’s University economist David Canning explain that, based on the available research, if there are “two countries that are identical in all respects, except that one has a five-year advantage in life expectancy,” then the “real income per capita in the healthier country will grow 0.3–0.5% per year faster than in its less healthy counterpart.” These percentages might look small, but they are actually quite significant, since it is known that between 1965 and 1990 countries experienced an average per capita income growth of 2% per year, and Bloom and Canning’s numbers are based on only a five-year longevity advantage. If a country had a 30 or 50-year advantage then having a longer-lived population could generate enormous differences in economic prosperity.

Some may worry about a population explosion if lifespans extend.  While that’s a reasonable reaction, the trends on population growth currently point in the other direction.  Another objection to longer lives is that somehow it will make life less noble or rich. The opposite is true. Being able to spend more time with friends and family, innovating, career building, exploring, learning, and helping others would increase the richness of our lives. The goal is more healthy time, which will lead to greater wealth and prospects for happiness. That is one of the noblest causes of all.

 

9 comments
Openminded1
Openminded1

well in the interest of some humor, asking the question will you still love me when I am 164 years old, my answer to that is and question is will you even be able to see anyone or hear anyone not to mention remember anyone at that age, so the question is mute.

James.C
James.C

Not to mention the implications to programs like social security.

mnv2k2
mnv2k2

One more reason to buy land on mars.

oliviamungal
oliviamungal

While it's interesting to see how far scientific innovations can take the human body, there are a lot of ethical problems this brings up:

Will only the richest people have access to life saving/ life extending therapy?

Without a normal death rate to counter-balance so many extra people, can we produce enough food, potable water, land, and jobs for all of these able-bodied people?

I don't know that Google has thought their cunning plan through.

D_Coder
D_Coder

@Openminded1 ("Moot", not "mute"... unless that's a good pun.)

The whole point is to be able to be 164 years old and in *good condition*. Today's 70-year-olds are often in good shape. Fixing aging will extend the healthy years, not the unhealthy ones.

Pheynes
Pheynes

@oliviamungalMore people mean more manpower to build the infrastructure required to build what's needed to sustain a population of this size. This is an understandable concern, but let's take a look at the countries that lack of food, jobs and potable water at this point in time. What do they need to get out of these dire needs? A large skilled workforce, like the one that rebuilt Europe after both world wars. Therefore, the main concern shouldn't be "Will we have enough resources to live?" but "Will people be skilled and smart enough to create new ways to use our natural resources without threatening our existence on this planet?". In my personal opinion, I think that this is possible, as humanity proved itself capable on the course of history.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@D_Coder @Openminded1 You seem intelligent and do not know me  so i will go light on you, yes it was a pun and I am approaching 70 myself i am retired say it like it is guy who still has fun, but i will tell you for a reasonably healthy old man I do not want to live 164 years i would be happy with around 85.

mimagary
mimagary

@Pheynes @oliviamungal  NO the countries that lack food do not need a large workforce. What they need is for the GREEDY to stop being GREEDY!