28 March 2009

Extreme Longevity ~ Towards Real Methuselahs...

This past week I stumbled across my copy of Robert A Heinlein's 1941 story Methuselah's Children -- and related Future History shorter pieces collected together as The Past Through Tomorrow -- and gave it a quick read-through. First of all, a great fiction story by an SF grandmaster. Second, the whole extended saga of Lazarus Long and family includes many aspects of a really interesting and even quite attractive imagined far-futureworlds, including ubiquitous computing, immersive interfaces, robomation everywhere, smart homes, systems sociology, and much more. Third, Heinlein touches on some hard truths about human nature, the persistence of individual irrationality and herd mentality and other social dysfunctionality. Fourth, this got me thinking about the prospects for Extreme Longevity (or indefinite lifespans), a topic broached by many SF writers and a growing number of speculative futurists, transhumanists, and, increasingly, biological engineers who actually might be able to deliver the goods. So it was interesting to see Rebecca Sato's piece yesterday in the Daily Galaxy about Can the Human Lifespan Reach 1,000 Years -- Some Experts Say "Yes" touching on the work of, among others, Cambridge biogerentologist Aubrey de Grey and his Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) project. Compelling stuff.

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