Life, how long can we live (part3) – How will that affect society?

If we can live for hundreds of years will ‘young’ and ‘old will lose their meaning? How will that affect society?

In part 1) I give an opinion that in the not too distant future there will be a ‘cure’ for aging, too late for me I know, but I believe it will happen.  In part 2) I sketched a few ideas of how a that might impact what you could call a ‘traditional life’ (admittedly as viewed from a relatively affluent western society).  In part 3) I want to have a brief look at how this might affect the society we live in.

eastbourneI read an article recently, commenting that as more people live longer our culture is being defined by the older generation rather than the young.  The conclusion being that this will hinder progress as that growing demographic tries to hang on to a world it feels comfortable with.  So where does this leave us if, as I propose, we will end up living hundreds or thousands of years?  To extrapolate on that article we’ll end up living some ‘middle of the road,’ cosy, slowly evolving existence where we all strive to… feel comfortable?  The words the ‘younger generation’ will have little meaning.  Sounds boring doesn’t it?  It does to me and yes, I admit it, I’m in my fifties.  Perhaps, if we’re still stuck on this one over populated world where (to varying degrees) we’re all striving for similar things (I know you can debate that) that might be the case.

However, as a proponent of science fiction I believe we will be living on many worlds, planets, moons, habitats.  So for me the possibilities of how we might live those lives and in what sort of societies, are endless.  With hundreds of years, and a galaxy, at our disposal we will be free to try many different societal structures.  Perhaps some will choose a high tech end where the farmer_edited-1distinction between humans and machines is blurred beyond definition (a blog to come).  Others may choose to lead ultra conservative purely biological based lives centred on some idea of a past based idyll that never really existed.   Will that lead to conflict as different ideologies inevitably seem to do on earth?  I hope not, perhaps with all the galaxy to play in we’ll learn to leave each other alone to get on with it.

I also believe that free from the restraint of our short lives the current definitions of ‘young’ and ‘old’ will lose their meaning in a good way.  We will not live in a society that programs us to retire and throw away (or at least moderate) our sense of adventure.  Perhaps in my future worlds human beings will at last be free to give full reign to their inventiveness.

I thinks that’s all for now on this subject, although I know I’ve only scratched the surface.  It’s hard to do it justice in a short blog, so maybe I’ll return to this subject at a later date.  I also think there is a book or two waiting to be written.  My thanks to those who have commented so far.  If nothing else, I hope I’ve stimulated some thoughts and debate on where we human beings may be heading.  More comments please.

Ian Martyn

Author: Ian Martyn

Science Fiction Writer

If you have a view on this, let me know: