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Lifespans Are Long Enough

The BriefGet Up To Speed

What if we didn'€™t have to grow old and die? The average American can expect to live for 78.8 years, an improvement over the days before clean water and vaccines, when life expectancy was closer to 50, but still not long enough for most of us. So researchers around the world have been working on arresting the process of aging through biotechnology and finding cures to diseases like Alzheimer'€™s and cancer. What are the ethical and social consequences of radically increasing lifespans? Should we accept a '€œnatural'€ end, or should we find a cure to aging?


We may properly hope that scientific advances help ensure, with ever greater reliability, that young people manage to become old people. We are not, however, obliged to help the old become indefinitely older. Indeed, our duty may be just the reverse: to let death have its day.

Saturday, November 30, 2013
Daniel Callahan

Longevity science may divide us into treated and untreated: the first living ever longer, the second dying even younger than now.

Monday, July 7, 2014
George Monbiot

An argument that society and families—and you—will be better off if nature takes its course swiftly and promptly.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Ezekiel J. Emanuel

Our growing power to control human life may require us to consider possible limits to the principle of L’Chaim.

Tuesday, May 1, 2001
Leon R. Kass

Think how culturally and materially richer we would be if people could live, be healthy, and contribute to society up to ages of 150, 200, or beyond.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
The Futurist interviews Sonia Arrison

Oxford philosopher Bennett Foddy discusses the likely objections to life extension and the exiting new biology of aging.

Monday, May 21, 2012
Ross Anderson interviews Bennett Foddy

Kurzweil—futurist, inventor, entrepreneur, bestselling author, and now, director of engineering at Google— wants to live forever. He’s working to make it happen.

Monday, October 14, 2013
Kate Lunau interviews Ray Kurzweil

Can we argue for anti-aging technology, for 2,000-year lifespans of perpetual youth, and admit death can be good at the same time? Not only can we; we must

Friday, January 6, 2012
Kyle Munkittrick

If life-expectancy trends continue, that future may be near, transforming society in surprising and far-reaching ways.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Gregg Easterbrook

For the first time in human history, some experts believe we may be at the threshold of a new aging paradigm, one that replaces the generally accepted limits of human life with more open-ended possibilities.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Pew Forum

Despite medical and social advancements that extend life, people are hesitant to embrace longer lifespans.

Saturday, August 25, 2012
David Ewing Duncan

For centuries, explorers have searched the world for the fountain of youth. Today’s billionaires believe they can create it, using technology and data.

Saturday, April 4, 2015
Ariana Eunjung Cha

These startups are trying to beat Alzheimer's, cure viral diseases, and kill tumors with gold. One common thread: funding from Peter Thiel.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Jeff Bercovici
Life Expectancy

CDC data on life expectancy in the United States.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

National Vital Statistics System mortality data filed by the 50 states and the District of Columbia for years 2000 through 2014 were analyzed to determine the number of deaths, age-specific death rates by race and ethnicity, and sex-specific leading causes of death among centenarians.

Friday, January 1, 2016
Jiaquan Xu

Overview of life expectancy statistics and the implications of life extension on the federal budget.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Josh Barro

Gains in the American life span have slowed in recent years, according to a new report, with average annual death rates flattening for the first time since researchers started measuring them in the late 1960s.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Sabrina Tavernise
Anti-Aging Technology

The average American can expect to live for about 80 years. But that may change as scientists develop new ways to prolong human life. In this game, you will have access to seven promising tools.

Friday, April 3, 2015
Sohail Al-Jamea

Can we really cure ageing? Sinclair, the co-discoverer a molecular cause of aging, thinks so -- and he's going to try to prove it.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013
David Sinclair

What controls aging? Kenyon found a simple genetic mutation that can double the lifespan of a worm. The lessons from that discovery, and others, are pointing to how we might one day significantly extend youthful human life.

Friday, July 1, 2011
Cynthia Kenyon

In what could be a landmark experiment in the study of aging, researchers at the Mayo Clinic reported that if you purge the body of its senescent cells, the tissues remain youthful and vigorous.

Monday, November 21, 2011
Nicholas Wade

At last, a member of the celebrated sirtuin family of proteins has been shown to extend lifespan in mammals — although it’s not the one that has received the most attention and financial investment.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Heidi Ledford

Over the past decade, rapamycin has shown promise as a drug that not only can extend life by delaying the onset of aging-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, but also postpone the effects of normal aging.

Thursday, February 12, 2015
Bill Gifford

Scientists believe the common diabetes drug metformin could hold the secret of long life and want to start a groundbreaking human trial in 2016.

Saturday, November 28, 2015
Sarah Knapton
Economic Concerns

Americans' rising longevity threatens fiscal calamity and generational warfare. But with improvements in health and political courage, a grayer society will grow in wealth.

Friday, December 16, 2011
Paul Starobin

Unless governments enact sweeping changes to age-related public spending, sovereign debt could become unsustainable, rivaling levels seen during cataclysms like the Great Depression and World War II.

Saturday, October 16, 2010
Natasha Singer

A generation of old people is about to change the global economy. They will not all do so in the same way.

Friday, April 25, 2014
The Economist
Quality of Life

Almost all medical professionals have seen what we call “futile care” being performed on people. That’s when doctors bring the cutting edge of technology to bear on a grievously ill person near the end of life. What it creates is misery we would not inflict on a terrorist.

Sunday, November 20, 2011
Ken Murray

The majority of the world is living longer, but spending more years in poor health compared to 20 years ago.

Thursday, December 13, 2012
Harvard School of Public Health

The survey, conducted from March 21 to April 8, 2013, among a nationally representative sample of 2,012 adults, examines public attitudes about aging, health care, personal life satisfaction, possible medical advances (including radical life extension) and other bioethical issues.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Pew Research Center

At a time when the global population of people ages 65 and older is expected to triple to 1.5 billion by mid-century, public opinion on whether the growing number of older people is a problem varies dramatically around the world.

Monday, January 20, 2014
Pew Research Center