Currently a member of the working class has three distinct stages of life.
- Youth, which prepares you for the world including learning, growth, puberty, self-discovery and sexuality.
- Adulthood, in which your best years are spent living life and doing hard work, giving back to others in society including your own family, and citizens of this global village.
- Retirement, where your obligations to others taper off, the world asks no more of you, and it instead leans up to support and help you enjoy your time on earth.
Recently, powerful business interests and capitalists have invested millions of dollars into research around longevity: that is, extending the human lifespan and extending the time that we remain healthy in old age, also known as “healthspan”.
Personally, my first reaction to longevity research was similar to that of other harmless (albeit expensive) but occasionally helpful activities, such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture, neti pots, self help books, pre-biotics, and so on. Throughout human history (and no doubt, before), people have been promising, selling and convincing each other some variation of the fountain of youth, and yet despite a total lack of long-lived examples, the public continues to be deceived by every new snake oil that comes along.
Many pharmacies, local chemists and other small businesses have sold harmless vitamins and supplements for decades, even selling steroids that claim that they “may” increase well-being, but to take the outright step of directly claiming to prevent or reverse aging, it just another level of audacity.
So far, with such a long line of hucksters, fraudsters, scammers and con artists, I feel more than justified in claiming that the level of scrutiny that should be applied to longevity should be much, much higher than the burden of proof leveled at normal pharmaceutical drugs to treat actual diseases. A very analogous history exists with “perpetual motion machines”; a long line of believable characters promise to sell unlimited power and energy, are shown to be false or misleading, and as a result, the bar for such claims was raised in the future. To this day in the United States, you can apply for a patent for any invention whatsoever without providing a working prototype, with the singular exception of a perpetual motion machine. The bar must be higher for products and promises that have a higher potential to attract fraudsters. Better to not trust these claims.
There’s one more aspect to trust and longevity, along another train of thought. Older age is often used as a proxy for trustworthiness and stability. It’s understood (most of the time, making a bit of a generalization) that wild young teenagers are sometimes unpredictable and going through an emotionally turbulent time. On the other hand, a slow and steady old grandparent, with decades of experience behind them, simply exudes trust and stability. You can see this in life insurance advertisements and other areas in need of high trust, producers tend to opt for a male voice actor to give a sense of confidence and trust to the listener.
There are already many billions of people on this planet, and capitalists of course want more and more to be born, new people to sell luxury goods to, more people means more competition over jobs, which means lower wages and more profit for big business. I cannot help but think that part of the motivation of the global elite investing significant sums of money into longevity research is to cement their high position in the hierarchy of the world.
Let us assume this, in addition to the most obvious motivation for such capitalists: money. All human beings want to live, it is the highest and most urgent motivation that can be presented. Sex sells. Attractiveness sells. Bottled confidence sells. These are all well and truly tested in the market. Humans need a few basic needs met. However, one need more than any other is universally strong and desired: the desire to live. It just so happens that to date, there has been no product to deliver more life. As such, the market for such a product is universal, and the price to be paid is essentially limitless. Once you’re immortal, you can offer to mortgage a century of your labor to pay for it.
The point is, whoever discovers (or more accurately, whoever gets to sell) the elixir of life will become fabulously wealthy, naming any price in money, land, rights and power that they name. What could be more motivating to a group of powerful elites?
Fast forward to the point that anti-aging is widespread and available (via strong regulation, or by force) to the working class. Everyone is young again, strong again, and has boundless energy again. Suddenly many jobs that were once the domain of only young people are now back on the table, available for old and young alike to perform. What then? If your time to rest and enjoy life, your retirement years, are pushed off into the distant horizon of the future, what will become of the working class? If there’s no more need to save up for retirement, we may very well find ourselves forever enslaved to the wage, living our life in endless labor or drudgery. I can think of no worse scenario for underprivileged and powerless working class people.
Let us tread carefully and slowly, strongly considering the ethical and moral impacts on the people of earth, before we release the immortal genie from its bottle. Once it’s out, there’s no telling when we can put it back in. Let worldwide thought leaders and think tanks, advocates of the people, decide who and when may undertake longevity research, and with what conditions on its sale and use. One thing is for certain: the world will never be the same again, if left in the hands of reckless capitalists.