Should we even try to stop the aging process? We accept that this is a debatable question. In the “Future of Longevity Impact Roadmap” that was recently created by the Longevity Vision Fund team in partnership with XPRIZE, we brought out facts and objections to overcome the nine common arguments against fighting aging. It’s important to discuss this topic as it helps to understand that a lot can be done to improve our healthy longevity and overall quality of life.
1. Aging is natural, and should therefore not be interfered with
Just because something is “natural” does not mean it is necessarily good; the HIV virus is also natural, as is appendicitis. Furthermore, immortality or very long lifespans can also be natural: some species of jellyfish seem to be immortal, sharks can achieve lifespans of centuries, and trees can live for thousands of years. Additionally, even if one considers lifespan extension as something unnatural and thus undesired, one should consider that humans display many unnatural habits, like playing piano, indulging in mathematics, using antibiotics, and flying around in airplanes.
Aging is the underlying cause of numerous chronic diseases, and in order to effectively cure them, methods must be developed that address aging directly. As long as human beings have existed, we’ve focused on tackling barriers that jeopardize our health and happiness. Together with XPRIZE, we believe in first-principles thinking, and since there is no scientific proof that aging and aging-related diseases and conditions are inevitable, we wholeheartedly believe in the legitimacy of this work. Moreover, it’s important to recognize aging as a disease as it will mean resources will flow towards anti-aging treatments.
2. Aging should not be eliminated, since the world would then suffer from overpopulation
While the world’s population is already increasing, growth rates differ across the globe. According to the UN’s 2019 population report, by 2050 the population of sub-Saharan Africa is expected to double, while over the same period 55 countries or areas are projected to experience population declines. This reduction is primarily due to low levels of fertility, and, in some places, high rates of emigration.
There is no clear evidence that increasing longevity would lead to overpopulation. In fact, there is good evidence that families in developed nations tend to be smaller, in part because women there tend to have fewer children than in developing nations. As global poverty falls and the availability of contraception rises, the world population will likely increase in the near-term, but growth rates are expected to shrink, in line with historical trends.
Even if parents were to keep bringing children into the world at current rates, however, overpopulation would not be inevitable. Concerns about overpopulation have existed for at least the past two hundred years, yet time after time such forecasts are proven overly pessimistic.
They do not adequately account for human ingenuity and the ability of science and technology to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of how we use Earth’s resources. No reasonable forecast has yet been made about Earth’s “carrying capacity.” Meanwhile, it is undeniable that aging and aging-related diseases impose a very real burden on society, the economy, and the planet, and therefore require innovation.
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