Think Out Loud

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Study says you can’t live forever … naturally

Kurzweil

In this photo taken by Drew Kelly for The Wall Street Journal, Ray Kurzweil, famed transhumanist, inventor and author of “The Singularity Is Near” and other books, poses for a picture. Kurzweil has stated on numerous occasions his intention to live forever thanks to the miracles of modern science.

A new scientific study published in the Journal of Gerontology by French researchers suggests that humanity may have hit a wall when it comes to longevity.

The study tracked thousands of long-lived individuals living between 1899 and 2013, including over 19,000 former Olympic athletes with notably long lifespans. After the year 1997, researchers said, lifespan seems to level out; there is no longer an upward trend in how long people remain alive. Humans seem to have reached an “invisible barrier” to longevity.

On a positive note for longevity-minded transhumanists, the researchers admit some limitations to their study in its relatively small sample size and the restricted time period in focus. Of course, this “invisible barrier” notwithstanding, there is still reason to believe that through advancements in nanotechnology (perhaps giving rise to tiny robots that could circulate in the bloodstream) and gene therapy, our natural limits might be transcended.

Resources:
AFP article about Journal of Gerontology study

Longevity and Health news from Singularity University

Some articles about nanotech and lifespan extension:
Nanotech could make humans immortal by 2030, futurist says

Life Extension Magazine report on nanotechnology and radically extended life span

A co-founder of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology‘s take on medicinal nanotech

Transhumanists believe that natural selection has brought us this far and it’s up to modern technologies to take us the rest of the way … to perfection. There’s no such thing as an au naturel transhumanist unless you make the argument that humans, as a product of Nature, are “natural” along with everything that they create. This perceptual trick, however, renders the term au naturel meaningless.

There’s a very interesting backlash against the transhumanist ethos. For example, this article advises against “drinking the Kurzweil Kool-Aid” and describes transhumanism as a “dangerous, irrational death cult.” 

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One comment on “Study says you can’t live forever … naturally

  1. John Cooper
    August 26, 2014

    A bit of a bait-and-switch here: on FB this was simply titled “Bad news for transhumanists” without the “au naturel” caveat which, like you point out in the afterwards, is an oxymoron.

    Studies are constantly cropping up which purport to have falsified Kurzweil’s predictions [1], or those upon which it rests [2]. We’re always at the limit of what can be accomplished through cognitive computing or biological augmentation. But then there’s inevitably a breakthrough [3] and it seems we’re back on track to the singularity. Technological evolution – which is how humans are now evolving – is progressing logarithmically; it’s speed and scope are both increasing. If I were an “invisible barrier”, I’d be nervous.

    [1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2012/03/20/ray-kurzweils-predictions-for-2009-were-mostly-inaccurate/

    [2] http://www.pcworld.com/article/2032913/the-end-of-moores-law-is-on-the-horizon-says-amd.html

    [3] http://www.cnet.com/news/ibms-truenorth-processor-mimics-the-human-brain/

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This entry was posted on August 23, 2014 by in Uncategorized.
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