Disappearing Dead: Economic Optimism about Immortality

BY Paul Solman  July 9, 2012 at 6:10 PM EDT


Will we one day be able to live forever? Interesting question, especially for a page where I usually take your financial, rather than science, questions. But what is the goal of economics if not the greatest good for the greatest number of people? Substitute “happy, healthy, never-ending life” for “greatest good” and you can see where we’re going with this.

According to inventor/author Ray Kurzweil, eternal life is now actually on the horizon — the near horizon. He predicts that by 2029, biomedical technology will be extending longevity faster than we age.

To optimize his own immortality odds, Kurzweil takes some 150 pills a day, maintains a strict diet, injects himself with a substance that keeps “cell walls supple” in babies but diminishes as we age.

“I mean, I can never talk to you and say ‘I’ve done it! I’ve lived forever!’ But the goal is to put that decision in our own hands rather than the metaphorical hands of fate,” Kurzweil told me.

Of course, some techsperts scoff at all this. If you want to be immortal, said Craig Venter, co-sequencer of the human genome and noted recently for having created a new life form, do something useful with your life.

This is the fourth installment of our occasional series on the future of technology. We’re posting it online ahead of Tuesday’s broadcast. The three previous pieces are available below:

Tech’s Next Feats? Maybe On-Demand Kidneys, Robot Sex, Cheap Solar, Lab Meat


Downloadable Gun Parts, Personalized Bioterror: the Downside of Innovation


Man vs. Machine: Will Human Workers Become Obsolete


This entry is cross-posted on the Rundown- NewsHour’s blog of news and insight.