Life Extension Solutions are a Threat to Mankind

In the modern age of scientific and technological advancement, the quest for eternal youth and longevity has never been more pronounced. The concept of life extension, or prolonging human life beyond its natural lifespan, is gaining momentum in the field of biomedical research, now including the likes of major organisations such as Jeff Bezos’s Altos Labs and Calico Life, owned by Google. However, despite the allure of immortality, life extension could pose an existential threat to humanity. Let’s delve into why this is so.

The first issue that comes to mind when discussing life-extension is overpopulation. Currently, the world is home to over 7 billion people, and our resources are already stretched thin. If humans start living significantly longer or even indefinitely, the planet’s population will skyrocket in a very short period, leading to severe resource depletion. Water, food, and energy would become scarcer, and the effects of climate change would worsen due to increased carbon emissions. This could lead to greater social inequality, as the wealthy hoard resources while the less fortunate struggle to survive.

Another issue that is highlighted in my book, Elixir, is that life extension technologies, such a life-lengthening pill like the illustration below, are likely to be expensive and out of reach for a large portion of the global population. This could create a significant divide between the ‘immortal’ wealthy class and the mortal poor, exacerbating socioeconomic disparities. It’s conceivable that we could end up with a society where the rich not only have more wealth but also more time to accumulate it, while the poor remain trapped in their short-lived existence.

From a biological perspective, death is essential for the process of evolution. It allows the removal of old, potentially harmful genetic material from the gene pool, making room for new, possibly beneficial mutations. If we halt this process through life-extension, we could inadvertently hinder our species’ ability to adapt to changing environments or new diseases, leaving us vulnerable in the face of unforeseen threats.

Living indefinitely could have profound psychological implications. The knowledge of an impending end helps us appreciate our time and motivates us to make the most of our lives. If we remove this, it could lead to a lack of motivation and stagnation. Furthermore, the constant fear of death, given that physical immortality doesn’t equate to invincibility, could lead to increased anxiety and mental health issues.

Finally, life extension raises several ethical questions. Is it right to play God and interfere with the natural human lifespan? Should we prioritise prolonging life over improving the quality of existing lives? And who gets to decide who lives longer and who doesn’t?

In conclusion, while the prospect of life extension may seem attractive, it’s essential to consider the potential implications for our society, our planet, and ourselves. Rather than chasing immortality, perhaps our efforts would be better spent improving the quality of life for all people and ensuring# that our planet can sustain us for generations to come. Life extension, in its current conceptualisation, may indeed be one of mankind’s greatest threats. As we continue to push the boundaries of science, we must also take care to consider the ethical, social, and environmental impact of our innovations.