But remember...that makes 'death' a personal choice too

In a statement from the United Nations today, it was confirmed that the world’s G18 nations had agreed to remove the idea of ‘retirement’ from their statute books. A study released last week confirmed a growing suspicion that death had (almost) become a matter of personal choice.

With some of the world’s oldest people now regularly celebrating their 125th birthdays, it has become clear that ‘death by natural causes’ can be prevented, and life can be extended, literally without limit.

Since the UN took over much of the economic and scientific mantles previously under the IMF and a myriad of scientific bodies, global co-operation has been networked outrageously and advances have come thick and fast.

My imagination was piqued by a quote from Desmond Morris, the world’s most celebrated zoologist, made in 2008 when this kind of thinking was really quite extreme:

“Death is just a way of keeping species genetically flexible”.

Well, genetic flexibility now comes from routine genetic manipulation, cloning and stem cell work – no need to rely on death to give genetic power to future generations.

Part of the UN team’s outstanding work is to propose a ‘life tax’ based on how long the individual chooses to live. The debate is furious at the moment and it will likely be tied to their personal commitment to ‘creating wealth’ during their lifetime.

We are heading into a regulatory world that we simply do not understand yet. In any event, retirement is just no longer an option – except when you make a decision to die in the relatively near future.

ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be

2005: A new theory of longevity
After publishing his first biological research paper in 1997, “A proposed refinement of the mitochondrial free radical theory of aging”, Aubrey de Grey formulates the theoretical means by which human beings might live thousands of years. He claims that aging is “something we have to fix” and believes that it may be possible to achieve this in 25 years.

He says there are seven distinct ingredients in the aging process and that molecular biology shows promise of providing appropriate technology by which each of them might be manipulated to our advantage.

The Seven Deadly Things: and the things that can reverse or obviate them
Cell loss, cell atrophy: Stem cells, growth factors, exercise
Nuclear [epi]mutations (only cancer matters): Whole-body lengthening of telomeres
Mutant mitochondria: Allotopic expression of 13 proteins
Cell senescence: Ablation of unwanted cells
Extra-cellular cross-links: AGE-breaking molecules/enzymes
Extra-cellular junk: Phagocytosis; beta-breakers
Intracellular junk: Transgenic microbial hydrolases

In parallel Ray Kurzweil is writing about the same thoughts around immortality.

2009: NoMoreGrey movement is launched
Kurzweil and de Grey collaborate on a new business venture NoMoreGrey. Their aim is turn ideas into research into reality in a ‘goal directed way’.
They plan to address two of the seven factors in the next ten years, and two each in each of the next five years. The goal is to knock off the final factor within 25 years.
As Baby Boomers now enter their 60th years, they have a ‘booming’ market eager for his solutions.

NMG is not just about anti-aging; it becomes synonymous with an active, young and vibrant lifestyle. The NMG focus becomes a movement as millions world-wide align with NMG objectives, their thinking, and their business.

Their stated aim is to ‘Rid the world of grey thinking!’

2011: Merger succeeds in extending mouse lives
NMG makes a concerted effort to enlist the support of cryonics companies world-wide and includes them as a formal part of the NMG ProLife Network.
NMG announces that they have been able to extend the life of a two-year-old laboratory mouse by four years. The first genetic update was actually performed in 2007 and on-going measurements have demonstrated that the results have been far better than anticipated.

2015: Row erupts over ‘non-aging’
“We are playing God with human life” claims one of thousands of posters that adorned the march on Capitol Hill.
With stem-cells providing constantly replenished young bodies everyone would eventually be the same physiological age. This realization brought out the protesters like never before. What would happen to families and family relationships if everyone was the same age, and stuck around ‘for ever’?
Churches had been strangely silent on this life-extension revolution, but now have suddenly entered the fray.

2017: EU government comes to the rescue
In a breakthrough statement, the EU declares that “Any inaction in not pursuing the extension of life, is in fact the same as hastening death. We should directly support initiatives aimed at prolonging life and improving health. It is natural and acceptable behavior to choose life extension over having children.”
The political value for low-birth-rate countries is not lost as even the US government gives the movement its blessing.
Suddenly protest movements ‘get’ the new message and a new ‘pro life’ movement emerges, in Europe, the USA, China and India.

2021: Death becomes “a matter of choice”
Death from run-of-the-mill diseases like influenza is now considered ‘premature’ at the age of 120. The wealthy have a myriad of life-extension options.
Kids born from 2020 now have an average life expectancy of 150. The idea of ‘retirement’ finally falls into disuse.
NMG holds a press conference to raise funds for further accelerated research, putting a specific price on another 50 years of life. The offer is at this stage available only to those 50 years and younger and NMG promises to ‘deliver’ within ten years.
The UN moves to support longevity with major scientific and economic funding. It launches a major study to verify the applicability of its proposed ‘Life Tax’ that is designed to enable anyone to balance their life expectancy with their contribution to the world economy.

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.