I was discusing to my son a few days ago about what he wants to do now that he’s graduated with a design degree. He’s talking about doing something that involves ‘making’. I said that if I had my time again I would love to have been a cabinet maker or a stone mason. Having the satisfaction of creating something beautiful with my own hands. If we had much extended lives then all those dreams become possibilities.
As I mentioned in part one, in science fiction people living for hundreds or even thousands of years is a given. I also believe that it will happen, too late for me alas, but it will happen. Then what?
The most obvious impact will be on the population, with fewer people dying (presuming of course that most people take up the opportunity). But that’s just one gross implication. It will alter the way we think about almost everything in our lives; relationships, family, education, careers where and how we live. You name it, it will change. Traditionally (and I accept this is in the developed world) we grow up being formerly educated; we get a job / start a career (hopefully); have a family; retire and then well we all know what’s next. However, even now I think we can see hints as to what an extended life might mean as we live longer and healthier lives. People are going back to education and starting second careers later in life. The boundary between a working life and retirement is becoming blurred.
So if we just look at a ‘working life’, what will that mean if we live for hundreds of years. Well for one thing what we now understand as ‘retirement’ will disappear. We are not going to work for forty years and then do what? for the next ‘x’ hundred. I can only imagine we will have numerous careers, be re-educated / retrain many times. If we save for a ‘pension’ as we do now we can take sabbaticals lasting decades. In my soon to be published book ‘Project Noah’ it starts with the accidental discovery of a ‘cure’ to aging. This enables people to consider a project that may last fifty, a hundred or even hundreds of years. Just think what human beings might be capable of. You never know even politicians may think long term, when they know they’re going to be around to see the results.
In another book ‘Ancestral Dreams’ the main character meets someone who is running a coffee shop for a few years, because that’s what he fancied doing for while before deciding what next. If you live for hundreds of years that sort of thinking is available to you.
The more I think about the idea of a much extended life the more possibilities present themselves. I’m sure there will be drawbacks and perhaps I’ll look into them in a part 3. What is occurring to me is that while we use the concept in science fiction, I’m not sure we really explore it. There must be a book there somewhere.
As always I’d love to hear your views .