Broader implications of age reversal

As we think through the longer-term impact we want to – and possibly will – have with this prize competition, I want to open up the discussion to broader economic, political, and social implications.

(For health and health-care implications, see @Roey’s discussion here.)

Say we are able to achieve 10 or even 15+ years of age reversal, which the majority of those of you who voted in our poll argued we should aim for, how, if at all, would that change our economy? Our politics? Our society? Would the pension age have to go up to match extended healthspans? Would agism disappear? Would we see more of a generational divide in terms of social attitudes and political preferences, or less? Would the gap in life expectancy between wealthy white Westerns grow? Or could longevity help usher in a fairer world? How?

@bjcooper, @NewWorldOptimist, @sangeetask, @wendyinfutures, @mayaelhalal, @Stefanie, @Ageing_Better, @hjforman, I’m curious what you think about this.

We’re currently designing an XPRIZE for Age Reversal (background here), which is a direct outcome of The Future of Longevity Impact Roadmap we worked on last year. One of the things we’re asking the XPRIZE Community’s input on is the longer-term implications of rejuvenation and longevity. How - if at all - would it change our economy, our politics, and our society?

Hello! Thanks for asking. The results of longer lives are a little hard to predict. Changes seldom happen in a vacuum. For example, people might work longer. But, if (as seems likely), we need a smaller workforce based on automation of many mid-level white collar jobs, older people might be left out of the workforce. Perhaps they could do philanthropic work in trade for social security. Climate or habitat restoration work, for example. If we were smart as a society, we might delay entry into the workforce for the young so they could do the service work and push retirement back. Change the typical working life to 30 to 90. Pensions are already changing and traditional programs are fading away. If not, certainly traditional defined-benefit programs would have to change.
We would have to be careful that such a development didn’t drive even more income disparity.
Young people might have a harder time getting started.
Altogether, I don’t see anything catastrophic as long as the added years are healthy. I’m ready to live longer!

We can look at what’s been happening in Japan where we are about 20 years ahead of the rest of the world in the aging population and society to take a glimpse of what might be possible challenges. Fairly significant barriers in the mindsets of people and society and, thus, the social systems that are in place now. In Japan’s case, there is a fundamental limitation stemming from the scarcity mindset that you are expected to age out of the productive member of the society at the retirement age and provide the younger generations opportunities to bring economic prosperity. The mandatory retirement age for big corporations and long-standing discriminatory labor laws to facilitate agism is well and alive in Japan to meet the cultural norm.

As with anything, the transition tends to be painful. Technologies will make progress on its course, but the society, systems, and culture shaped by people’s mindsets move at a much slower pace. How might we upgrade our mindset at the same pace as the rapid exponential evolution of the technologies?

With this, one of the biggest challenges is wealth and personal finance. As good as the Japanese social welfare system is for elderly, many still are suffering.

As much as I see challenges, I am sure that our collective minds, consciousness, and ingenuity of humanity will solve the challenges and create a brighter future. It must as I plan to live till 150. :smile:

<<Some of the stories that you hear on Japanese aging society>>


Thank you for your insight, @“Jun Suto”. Let me challenge you, and other members, to answer your own question:

I like @bjcooper’s idea of delaying younger people’s entry into the labor market to their late 20s or early 30s. That could solve several problems at once.

Here in Spain, we also have a growing old-age population as well as high youth unemployment. Many young Spaniards still live with their parents in their late 20s or early 30s. They’re unable to buy a home or start a family.

We consider this a “problem”, because our expectation is that people work from their early 20s to their mid-60s. We could shift that by:

  • Investing in education and job (re)training, which would address the skills mismatch that is at the heart of high youth unemployment in countries like Italy and Spain, and
  • By pushing back the retirement age to match life expectancy.
  • XPRIZE is working on #1 with Rapid Reskilling.

    #2 isn’t really our remit.

    What could we do, as part of a prize competition, including post-prize impact work, to change people’s mindset around age and life trajectory?

    @LifespanKeith, @jonathankolber, @ohjanet, @Ramsey, you may have thoughts on this as well.

    @taboma, @JoseCordeiro, you may also be interested in this discussion, about the broader and longer-term implications of age reversal. Please share your thoughts! How do you think a slowdown in aging would affect the economy, society, and politics?

    @taboma, @JoseCordeiro, @NickOttens, Age reversal would result to lower mortality rate hence lead to increased populations. Higher population growth rate leads to higher demand for resources, competition for the limited resources hence increase on the cost of these resources. Higher food costs means higher cost of living. These changes necessitate a rise of the economy.
    Not all the policies in place concerning age reversal fit everyone. There will be those against the practice. It is these individuals who will create a divide among societies and many families will break apart.
    Politicians who find themselves limited to continue serving based on their age will prefer reversing their ages so as to remain young and continue serving for longer. It is those countries under harsh rules from the serving political leaders that will suffer in different ways because the only way to be free would be upon the death of the currently serving leaders.

    I’m not worried about population growth. Societies tend to have fewer children when they get richer. If anything, we should worry about shrinking populations, which is what’s happening in countries like Japan and Finland.

    When it comes to medical costs, let me cite @SvenB, who argued at the time we were putting together The Future of Longevity Impact Roadmap:

    I do worry that age reversal will (initially) be the preserve of the rich. Rich people already live longer. We don’t want to create an Altered Carbon-like world where only the rich and powerful live long and fulfilling lives. How do we prevent that?

    Good questions that require good answers. I cover most of these topics in my Spanish bestseller, La Muerte de la Muerte, that you can read briefly here in English: La muerte de la muerte - H+Pedia

    By the way, some of these concerns are also addressed in The Future of Longevity Impact Roadmap. Specifically, concerns about overpopulation and about longevity treatments being available only to the rich.

    I think there is an aspect of culture that we need to focus on. When dealing with overpopulation, whatever clinical breakthrough that will be achieved might also be doped with contraceptive hormones. The back side of this is that the entire concept of age reversal will not be accepted among communities against any form of family planning method as a mode of limiting overpopulation.
    As highlighted in How Culture Influences Health:
    “The influence of culture on health is vast. It affects perceptions of health, illness and death, beliefs about causes of disease, approaches to health promotion, how illness and pain are experienced and expressed, where patients seek help, and the types of treatment patients prefer”.
    On the other hand, the cost of the age reversal procedure including consecutive follow up procedures will determine how the world handles the concept. If the cost is too high, the longevity treatments will only be available to the rich. But if the cost is moderate and made available just like other off-the-shelf medicines, the concern will be eliminated as this would ensure that the treatment is available to all humanity.

    Absolutely! This ties in to the discussion about achieving maximum impact. We want to make sure that whatever treatment or medication or innovation we incentivize with this competition will be adopted at scale.

    My “Longevity Dialogues” series on Seeking Delphi has been designed to address many of these questions. The first installment with Sergey Young, David Wood, and Jose Cordeiro is " Implementations and Implications, the Long View. Podcast #51: The Longevity Dialogues Part 1, The Long View, with Sergey Young, David Wood, and Jose Cordeiro | Seeking Delphi™
    back in January I had Aubrey de Grey, Keith Comito, David Wood and Liz Parrish discuss “Scenarios for a post-aging future.” Links to all the longevity related Seeking Delphi podcasts are here: Aging reversal research | Seeking Delphi™

    @NickOttens Older people are as diverse in their voting decisions as any other age group; their votes divide along the same partisan, economic, social, gender, ethnic, and other lines as those of the electorate at large. Old age interest groups do have some limited power; yet “they have shown little capacity to influence the votes of older people and have had virtually no impact on major old-age policy decisions”. One should not assume that “the old” will necessarily have a common set of political interests.
    Seniors who are wealthy might have different interests from those who are poor. Different age groups among the seniors – “the young old”, the “old old”, and “the oldest old” – might likewise have different stakes in social policies. Policy options could be deliberately crafted in ways that split the block of elderly voters. Moreover, many elderly citizens might not vote in their self-interest but rather in support of policies that benefit their children or grandchildren. In sum, there are according to @Binstock too many imponderables to make any definite predictions about the political consequences of effective anti-aging interventions.