Over the past few years there has been a surge in the amount of money being pumped into research on how to overcome death.
Billionaires, scientists, and entrepreneurs have arrived at the revolutionary conclusion that the human body can be dramatically remade into something better, stronger, and far longer lasting.
I do believe that we will get to the stage where death will be a curable disease, thanks to technological progress.
This philosophy often goes under the umbrella term transhumanism, which literally means ‘beyond human.’
Transhumanism’s citizen scientists, who often go by the term biohackers, promote genetic editing as a way to achieve this, turning our bodies into alien-like creatures.
Others like billionaire Elon Musk think we should consider merging our brains with machines and upload our consciousness into the cloud.
And some people, like Professor Stephen Westaby, want the human form to remain essentially the same but restore itself with stem cell tech and the help of bionic organs.
Whatever science transhumanists want to use to become a better species, overcoming biological death is the movement’s primary goal.
Most deaths in the world are caused by aging and disease. Approximately 150,000 people die every day on planet Earth, causing devastating loss to loved ones and communities.
I think the first step in getting this figure to decrease is for governments around the world to declare aging a disease.
If society were to see aging like it sees cancer or diabetes, then I believe more would be done to fight it.
In 2010, one of the first studies into stopping and reversing aging in mice took place. They were partially successful and proved that 21st century science and medicine could hold the key pausing human aging, and the illnesses associated with it.
Nearly a decade later, dozens of new types of gene therapies, bionic organ experiments, and miracle anti-aging drugs tests are underway, prompted by funding.
In fact, experts including Dr. Jose Codeiro and David Wood think we’re just a decade or two from significantly lengthening our lifespans.
That would be just in time too since in some countries, like the UK and USA, life expectancy has stalled after improving for decades. No one is exactly sure why but I think an increase in cheaply available junk food and obesity is one likely culprit.
Tackling aging is just the start but eventually we’ll also wipe out most diseases. To me, this is only a matter of time and there has already been research into gene editing and the impact it can have on conditions like cancer and Alzheimer’s.
And to rid us of the number one killer around the world – heart disease – scientists are working on bionic hearts, which are already being tested in people.
Some people worry that as we cure current diseases, new maladies or issues might appear. But, in my view, the body is essentially a biological machine and humans keep getting better every year at fixing it, regardless of what new dilemma shows up.
Google Ventures’ CEO Bill Maris, who helps direct investments into health and science companies, has previously said, ‘If you ask me today, is it possible to live to be 500? The answer is yes.’
Increasingly, leading scientists are voicing similar ideas. Dr. Aubrey de Grey, a renowned voice on the study of aging, has said that ‘we have a 50/50 chance of bringing aging… medical control within the next 25 years or so.’
You might say that regardless of how amazing science is, people will always be able to die. And this is likely true.
But, even in cases of acute trauma, there is great progress being made to save lives. Medicine is getting better and because of this, people are getting better at surviving. Just look to the recent past; people used to die from violence and accidents at a far higher rate than they do today.
Eventually, we’ll get to an era where it’s very difficult to die if medical help is nearby.
One of the biggest issues in the face of all this progress is that, despite what seem like obvious benefits, conquering aging and overcoming death are not widely supported.
Around 80 per cent of the world’s population are religious, many believing in some form of life after death.
Because of this, it can be argued that many see dying as part of life. This is something transhumanists refer to as ‘deathist’ culture.
Religion aside, some raise the argument that in eliminating death, we also eliminate value in life; these people believe death gives our lives meaning.
In my mind, it’s highly unlikely we’ll find ourselves bored or devoid of meaning in the future, just because we don’t die.
Especially since in the near future — by 2050 according to Historian Yuval Noah Harari — our bodies will likely be merged with AI and we’ll likely know ourselves and what we like better than we do today.
Some experts like Google executive Ray Kurzweil even think we could be thousands of times smarter by the end of this century.
Besides, even if we find ways around death it doesn’t mean people won’t die — individuals may still want to end their lives and I’m sure they’ll find a way to do so, which is why transhumanists generally support euthanasia.
They also support cryothansia, where people freeze themselves while alive to be brought back in another time.
It’s another technology that I see coming on leaps and bounds in the coming years.
To me, the most important part of not having to die anymore is eliminating the spectre of death overhanging all our lives every minute. Humanity will be finally free of the one thing that frightens and harms us the most.
There is no doubt our culture will change.
Some worry about overpopulation, something that is a drain on our planet — if no one dies, should people still be having children?
Transhumanists think people will stop having kids once they know they can live hundreds or even thousands of years.
People may still have children, but they might wait hundreds of years first and by then some of us may already be exploring other planets and no longer drawing upon Earth’s resources.
Another institution, marriage, for example, might be transformed, as it could mean being wed for thousands of years.
It’s a more thorny commitment than ‘death due us apart.’ Still, for others, the concept of the soulmate might be realised for infinity.
It’s ironic that it is humans that are the thing preventing our future survival the most.
Humans are a species often ingrained in their ways and beliefs. Unfortunately, when people think of humanity’s future, they think of it through anthropomorphic lens—where humans always imagine themselves as mammals with the kilogram of meat we all carry around on our shoulders called a brain.