Envision the promise of longevity. I created this tagline when I re-positioned my storyline for Change Rangers six years ago. In a way, it was designed to be more of a question – what IS the promise? What are the possibilities and challenges in a world where people have greater potential for living extended lifetimes?
There are many aspects to this conversation, ranging from how society will accommodate the health and welfare of a significantly large older demographic group, to how we might extend human lifespans even more in the future. Of course, some of the dialogue on these and other questions is contained within the frame of an old narrative where expectations were different. We age, and then die – but as far as we can foresee it now, this process will just last a little longer.
From revolution to evolution
A Longevity Revolution as some of us would have it. Theodore Roszak 2001, his book subtitled “as Boomers become Elders” and Robert N. Butler 2008, his subtitled “the Benefits and Challenges of Living a Long Life” are two great reads. Round it off with The Upside of Aging 2014 compiled by Paul H. Irving and you have a reconstructing of a new narrative.
In the toss of all the dialogue on aging and longevity, there comes the phrasing of anti-aging and fighting aging, juggled with talk about elder booms and my least loved, silver tsunamis. At the same time, our lust and lure for finding cures for aging and extending life is arguably on an undulating and upward curve, where financial investment in the promise of longevity cannot go unnoticed. If not a revolution any longer, it is an evolution.
Last month for example, I talked about the collaboration with Calico and AncestryDNA. This is only one of hundreds of initiatives where the biotech world and other commercial or academic interests meet. A new generation, fast on the tail of Roszak’s “boomers becoming elders”, is taking longevity projects from behind closed doors to frontline tweets and while it is an elite group of thinkers and innovators at work here, it now could just as easily involve you or me.
The US based Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF) has just launched its new online platform Lifespan.io, a site that promotes longevity research – “crowdfunding the cure for aging”. There is only one project underway so far, called the MitoSENS Mitochondrial Repair Project, (yes – you have to read it before you back it). As of today it is nearly 60% funded. Backing this project, for a mere $50 you can get a reward of the MitoSENS t-shirt + a $10 award.
At last, the longevity revolution is online! You can tap into it over coffee at your nearest Starbucks. Too bad Theodore Roszak didn’t live long enough to see what he called the “disruptive wonders of biotechnology”. Check out the Lifespan.io Twitter feed. It will be cool to see how this takes off.
And – what of the promise?