Who Gets to Live Forever?


by Jeff Davis

Every now and then I like to discuss the likelihood that the medical and scientific knowledge to greatly extend or immortalize human life spans will either be discovered within our lifetimes or else is already known and simply being kept back from general knowledge.

The U.K. Independent reports: “The key to eternal life could be a procedure to lengthen chromosomes. The procedure would allow scientists to lengthen telomeres, the protective caps that are on the end of chromosomes and shorten with age. The telomeres protect chromosomes from getting damage as cells divide and grow. But as they do, they slowly become shorter and eventually are unable to protect the chromosomes. When that happens, they are liable to deteriorate — thought to be a key part of the ageing process.”

“The new process allows scientists to lengthen the telomeres, effectively turning back the biological clock and making the chromosomes — and the people that are made out of them — younger.”

Now that’s interesting. Not only eternal life, but eternal youth.

The Independent goes on: “When the cells have been treated, they behave as if they are younger and multiply quickly rather than stagnating or dying. The procedure could eventually be used to treat patients with genetic diseases that lead to the telomere being shortened before it should be, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy. It could also be used to treat more general symptoms of ageing, like diabetes and heart disease.”

Okay, now, here’s the rub: Suppose the secret of eternal life were to be discovered tomorrow. What would be done with it?

Would the world as a whole even be allowed to know about it?

Because then the problem would arise: Who gets to be immortal? Billions of Third World people? It’s a safe bet the rich will get access to this technology. At first the super-rich, and later perhaps mere millionaires might get access.

Would the secret be politicized? Would Hillary Clinton get to be immortal but not Rick Santorum? Would there be racial quotas for immortality? What would be done about new births if everyone was immortal? At some point people would have to realize that there’s no room for babies and a new generation if the previous generations aren’t going anywhere.


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