There has just been an 8/30/17 NYT article about the FDA approving genetic therapy for a leukemia treatment.
Many may not realize it, but This is it! The first concrete, societal step toward clinical immortality. If we can heal genetic defects, why would we not eventually reverse aging itself?
"Clinical immortality" is where you can't die from old age or other diseases (if they don't kill you super fast), but you can still die from accidents, etc.
When we achieve it, we would have the the ability to free most people of infirmities (genetic or otherwise). And many would probably opt for "enhancements" by then, too.
Since the early 2000s, I've been saying we only need two things to achieve clinical immortality: Knowing the human genome well, and hella computing power. (Modelling the human body down to the molecular level. In other words, the ability to completely simulate people at the level of individual molecules.)
We've already got a good handle on the genetic part. And once we can model an entire person at the molecular level, it will be super easy to model what drugs work, what genetic changes to make, etc. - you'll have a real-person simulator that's 100% accurate, to experiment on all you want.
- It does not actually have to model a person down to every individual molecule; it only has to approximate it sufficiently well. For an oversimplified example: If you can model one particular type of pancreatic cell completely, you can multiply it by 100 million for all the other similar pancrea cells.
There really isn't any way society can prevent people from not wanting to die, if age-reversal treatments are found. (And they will be, eventually.) Indeed, senators will be the first to approve, since they're all old and dying, laugh.
I would like to think we'll be immortal by the 2050s. It may not be soon enough for me, but should be for many others. If society doesn't break down first. :P
A toast to the pending reality of immortality! 👍
That said, it will play hella fun with all kinds of things:
- Social Security and also all manner of pensions will become unviable, in their current state. They will fade away, because people will simply work. Or not.
- Unemployment will still do fine.
- Life insurance per se will die, but health insurance will not.
- Remarkably, insurance agencies will be all for age-reversal therapy. They will have seen the writing on the wall well ahead of the rest of us, and switched to being immortality insurers.