Saturday, November 17, 2007

Would you not like to live for 100 or 150 years?

Yesterday, I received a circular message from a friend:

"Hi Folks

"Dr Francis Collins was the head of the Human Genome Project. He jointly presented the findings at the White House beside President Clinton. I was given his most recent book in the summer and found it absorbing.

"This week he was interviewed on a programme on BBC 4 called “Visions of the Future” presented by Dr Michio Kaku.

"The implications of the writing of the DNA code unfolded in an extraordinary and challenging way.

"In summary the follow on medical research has already produced amazing results. A dramatic example was show of a child born three years ago with a severe combined immune deficiency which resulted in the child on being able to survive only inside a germ free bubble. The life expectancy was very short.

"As a direct result of the Human Genome research the doctors discovered a rogue gene and they were able to conduct a bone marrow transplant to restore the immune system.

"The film of this child leading a normal life was testimony to the power of the discovery.

"Francis Collins went on to explain the projects that were now underway into cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

"In cancer research alone there are12500 separate genome projects. He further explained that with the exponential rate of technological advance, answers would be found to the cause of these diseases within 3-5 years!

"The implications of this research are vast and have many ethical challenges.

"However the most remarkable possibility of all emerged when it was forecast that a dramatic increase would take place in quality life expectancy within ten years.

"Now get this!
"Scientists in this field are estimating the first person to reach 150 years old is probably in his or her 50’s or 60’s!

"Think about it. At my tender age of 61 I may have another 60 years of quality life left! (My wife has packed her bags!)
Work it out for yourself, be pessimistic and say you now have a life expectancy of 120 years. What changes would that bring to mind?
Thoughts would be appreciated!"

As he had asked for responses, mine was as follows: "I take it that you have enough money salted away to keep you in the style to which you are accustomed for the next 60 or 100 or whatever years? Most people do not. That is why these utopias disappoint most people, benefit only the rich, and therefore put disproportionate power in the hands of the rich (as the population drops, even in China, the population of the earth will get steadily older – and, among the old, there will be a disproportionate number of the rich, each with a vote and with plenty of money to influence the votes of those who do not have money....). Not a recipe for social harmony and peaceful progress, I'm afraid.... warm regards, Prabhu" Sphere: Related Content

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