Science & Technology

Extending Lifespans Won't Turn the World Into a Grey Dystopia


Reason reviewers have not been impressed with In Time, a movie opening this weekend in which time is (literally) money and greedy rich people hoard all the life years while working stiffs live (literally, again) paycheck to paycheck.

But would radical life extension actually result in grey, overly-literal dystopia full of extended chase scenes? Over at Slate, author and Singularity University trustee Sonia Arrison says no. Sample rebuttal:

While the film's fun, it falls into a dystopian trap, assuming that greater longevity would create a terrifying society. But it gets almost everything about human life extension wrong….

As breakthrough longevity technologies become available, the rich will certainly be the first to partake; they are the ones who will pay most of the early fixed costs for everything from flat-screen TVs to experimental medical treatments. Eventually, these life-extenders will reach everyone…. 

Even if there is a gap between the life expectancy of the rich and the poor, it likely would not be a case of the rich gaining extra years at the expense of the underprivileged. Instead, the opposite is true: The rich have an incentive to make the technologies accessible to everyone, because that means more customers. Hoarding the technology would offer no advantages and would result in an unstable world.

The whole thing is worth reading.

Or you could watch this excellent video where Arrison explains more about why living to 150 will change everything, and not for the worse:

Also, if you're in the mood to see a movie about people with digital timers embedded in their arms that doesn't totally suck, consider this modest rom com take instead: TiMER.