Preserving your health and independence
The elderly of today aren’t exactly famous for their good health, nor for their ability to go about their lives easily and without help in even the simplest tasks. Old people have weaker bodies, weaker immune systems, are prey to a number of horrible diseases and chronic pain, and cannot take care of themselves with the same ease as they did when they were young. Pay attention next time you go downtown. You’ll see elderly people walking slowly and with difficulty, perhaps with the aid of a walker or a cane. They can’t hear well and they can’t see well. Climbing the stairs for them feels like more climbing a mountain. A young person can shake off the flu after a few days of discomfort; an old person may well die of the complications of it, because their weak immune system did not do a very good job. This is, in a nutshell, why young people can take care of themselves and old people end up in hospices or have to be watched over by their families. If you had the power to choose, is there any age at all when you’d rather be sick and dependent on others even to wipe your own butt? Wouldn’t you rather be healthy and in control of your life for as long as possible? Rejuvenation biotechnologies may offer this possibility. They may bring an end to the ill health of old age, and let you stay a young adult, biologically speaking, into an indefinite future. You may be 20, 40, 80, 100—even 1000 if we get good enough at rejuvenating—and still be as healthy, independent, and good-looking as you were in your 20s. (Maybe not good-looking if you weren’t such to begin with. Rejuvenation makes no miracles. You’d still look as you did in your 20s, though.)
Unlimited opportunities for personal growth
One obvious consequence of being healthy for longer is living longer. Now, forget for a moment all the catastrophist rubbish that people come up with to demonise the idea of longer lifespans and focus only on the good things of a longer life. A longer life (in good health) means longer time to dedicate to your passions, discover new interests, deepen your knowledge, try new things, theoretically without limit. Today, you have to worry about your limited time on this Earth; with rejuvenation, there’s no such limit, and you could keep becoming a better person for centuries to come. This would literally be the fabled wisdom of old age combined with the vigour of youth. (If you’re afraid that having unlimited time at your disposal would take away your motivation in life, I suggest you to take a closer look at where your motivation comes from.)
Never too late to make a different choice
How many people regret some of their past choices, and lament that it is now too late to change? Too late to study a different subject, too late to take up a different career, too late to learn a new language, too late to start practising a sport, and so on. An indefinitely long life in good health would eliminate this problem altogether. Time and energy would no longer be increasingly scarce resources, and a wrong choice or a missed chance would not turn into life sentences any more. Of course there might still be psychological barriers holding you back (even people in their 30s or 40s sometimes think it’s too late to change), but they’re easier to overcome than the ironclad barrier currently imposed by biological ageing. Without an upper cap on your lifespan and healthspan, you don’t need to be stuck in a career you dislike because retirement is too close or because you don’t have that much time or energy left. You can start working at whatever age, without need to worry that you’re no longer employable or soon won’t be. If you had, or didn’t have, children and wish you’d done the opposite, you are still in time for it.
Rejuvenation would expand the set of your possible choices, preventing some of them from being essentially mutually exclusive, ultimately giving you more control over your life.
Live to see the future
Once more, I ask you to set aside all the apocalyptic nonsense about the future that you’ve probably been force-fed by the media and other people. We don’t know what the future will be like, but we do know that the present is better than the past and thus have reasons to think the future may be even better. It probably won’t be perfect, surely not right away, but still worth living.
The way I see it, most people alive today sit in a spot that is both perfect and terrible. It’s like being on a ship sailing towards a golden land, when all of a sudden the destination appears on the horizon. It looks grand and marvellous, and so close you’d think we’ll be there soon—we just need to hang on a little longer. This might indeed be true, and it would be fantastic if it was, but there are two potential problems.
The first is that the ship is infested with all kinds of morons who might well blow it up before we reach the destination. The second is that the destination on the horizon is so grand and alluring that it might appear closer than it actually is. It is not very far, but it might be a bit farther away than we thought, enough for us to miss it and leave reaching it to the next generation of sailors. That would be quite the bummer.
Widely-employed automation, personalised medicine, rejuvenation, large-scale universal basic income, strong artificial intelligence, radical changes in the meaning of work, etc, are all possibilities that stand a respectable chance of becoming reality within few decades, or perhaps by the end of the century. This is why I say the point in time we’re at is both perfect and terrible. There’s a lot of great things we might miss out on by a hair’s breadth, and that would suck. Think about people who died before the 1400s. Sure, they were spared a lot of bad shit (like, two World Wars), but missed out on a lot of good things as well—new technologies, more prosperity and more peaceful times, increased quality of life, scientific discoveries, art and entertainment, etc. However, they missed out on them by a few centuries, not decades or years. They probably didn’t have any reason to expect especially exciting stuff happening even in their grandchildren’s lifetimes. On the other hand, people who died between the 1900s and the 1950s missed out on the same great stuff, but not by much. (And they endured a lot of bad shit on top of it.) I’d really rather not be like them and miss out on a better future by a few decades because of our imperfect biology.
Even the most primitive rejuvenation biotechnologies could buy us time to see that future, and benefit from ever-improving future rejuvenation biotechs to extend our healthy lifespans even further. I don’t know about you, but I dream all the time about the marvels that the future might hold—from efficient deep-space travel to meeting alien civilisations, to a clean, free world, to general artificial intelligence, to new scientific discoveries, to new forms of art and entertainment. Surely there must be something that you wish you could live long enough to see first-hand.
The future may also hold the promise of a normal life (for lack of a better term) for people ridden with presently incurable ailments. This is a special case and it probably doesn’t apply to you specifically, but if you can’t walk, or can’t see, or are stuck in a bed for the rest of your days, not only the ill health of old age is likely to make your condition even more difficult to bear with, but it may well kill you before science has found a cure for your disease. Rejuvenation would not cure your non-age-related condition, but it would keep your body biologically younger, making it easier to bear with it, and it may allow you to live long enough to see a future where your disease is treatable, allowing you to walk or see again. This is of course a very delicate topic. I understand that some people might simply not be willing to wait until science finds a cure for their conditions and might prefer death—either by ageing or euthanasia. I respect this choice, even though I would make a different one, and I care to stress that it is indeed of choice that we are talking about: If you were willing to wait for as long as it took for science to come to the rescue, rejuvenation would offer you the chance to make that choice. Today, ageing does not let you do that.
Even if you are a more down-to-earth person who is not interested in all the sciencey things the future might hold, and if you have no ailment whose cure awaits to be discovered by future science, you might still wish to see how the things and people you love today will change and evolve in the future. You could live to see your grandchildren have kids of their own, or how painting, music, theatre, etc will be like 200 years from now.
A longer, healthy life offers endless possibilities, and I would think twice before brushing it off. Make no mistake—there’s no certainty that any of this will actually happen in time for people alive today, but we do stand a decent chance. Our chances would look even better if more people got involved in the cause and did their part, big or small, to get us to the golden land as fast as possible.