Could Humanity Live Forever? Should We?

September is Healthy Aging Month, and as our life expectancies increase with stronger programs and research into aging, the maximum age to which any human could live seems limitless. But, scientists claim, human aging does have a ceiling, and we’ve already hit it. According to aging researchers in a study completed in 2016, the maximum age to which any human will ever be able to live is 125. Senior author of the study Dr. Jan Vijg explained to The Telegraph that progress against disease could extend average human longevity, it’s the number of genetic variants in the copying of genes that limit humans’ upward aging trajectory and suggests putting resources toward lengthening the human healthspan rather than focusing on length of life, because it would provide more people with quality of life while they have it. But why 125 years specifically? It’s something called the “Hayflick limit,” which states the hypothesis that there’s a limited number of times that a normal human cell population could divide before it stops completely. Leonard Hayflick, an expert researcher on aging, said in 1960 that humans wouldn’t be able to live past 120 and based his statement on the speed at which telomeres deteriorate. But despite the supposed limits, scientists are still looking into ways to extend our days here on earth through several novel potential methods, for instance by extending telomeres, as well as enhancing proteins that protect cells from aging. Still others point to robotics and the hope that humans need not be limited by their biological frame. Artificial Intelligence author Ray Kurzweil claims that by 2045, human beings and machines will become one, an anticipated societal change known as the Singularity. But given human beings’ propensity for cruelty to one another, the question here may truly be whether it’s a smart idea for humans to be able to live forever. Hayflick, for one, doesn’t think it is, largely because of the threat of tyrants and dictators living indefinitely and thus extending their cruelty. It’s an ethics quandary that’s hard to argue with.

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