Would you like to live forever?

You'd better check how many years you can afford

Two decades ago, Ray Kurzweil and Aubrey de Grey were often considered the lunatic fringe of science. Living forever? What nonsense!

Then, ever so slowly, their new businesses started delivering the goods – they began to turn our dreams, and nightmares, into reality.

Through genetics, nano-technology, stem-cell research and cryonics their business NMG has brought the idea of immortality a lot closer.

Yesterday, at a press launch in Cambridge, they presented on stage two cryonics ‘patients’ who had been frozen since 2007, but have now been brought back to life after the discovery of a cure for their terminal disease.

What started as an opportunity to extend the life of specific organs has now grown into a broad-based business that is luring investors with an irresistible promise: US$10 million for another fifty years of life and US$1 billion for immortality! And, they promise to deliver in a decade.

Kurzweil showed off some of his own in-body ‘upgrades’: a personalized army of nano-robots that have replaced his digestive system.

EU and US governments have seen these developments as positive in light of their dwindling birth rates: “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.”

ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be

GERONTOLOGY is the study of the elderly, and of the aging process itself. It is to be distinguished from geriatrics, which is the study of the diseases of the elderly. Gerontology covers the social, psychological and biological aspects of aging.

BIO-GERONTOLOGY is the subfield of gerontology dedicated to studying the specifically biological processes resulting in senescence. Bio-gerontologists are scientists who study these processes and also include scientists who work to control, prevent and reverse aging in both humans and animals.

CRYONICS is the practice of cryo-preserving humans and pets (who have recently become legally dead) until the cryo-preservation damage can be reversed and the cause of the fatal disease can be cured (including the disease known as aging). Cryonics is not a widespread medical practice and is viewed with skepticism by most scientists and doctors today. However, there is a high representation of scientists among cryonicists. Support for cryonics is based on controversial projections of future technologies and of their ability to enable molecular-level repair of tissues and organs.

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
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.

2008: 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!’

2010: NMG and Cryogenics merge
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.

2011: Laboratory mouse life span trebled
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.

2012: US protests erupt 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 protestors 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.

2015: 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.

2025: Death now considered ‘premature’
Death from run-of-the-mill diseases like influenza is now considered ‘premature’ at the age of 200.
Kids born after 2020 now have an average life expectancy of 300. 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.

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.