Here, we present a life-expectancy calculation
within the frame-work of the evolving science of Life-Extension. Keep in
mind that "life-expectancy" means the number of years remaining,
while "life-span" means the total number of years that are lived
in a life-time. We will be dealing mostly with the former - Life-Expectancy.
The first calculation of your Life-Expectancy
is "actuarial". This a standard calculation from government agencies
that is used for various purposes, including insurance coverage. In the
second calculation, you can refine your Actuarial Life-Expectancy by profiling
your personal "Risk Factors", which either increase or decrease
life-expectancy. Then, from that point, we proceed into various life-extension
scenarios - e.g. 1) if you were to participate in the Life-Extension Program
and change or mitigate your negative risk factors, how might that increase
your Life-Expectancy over the next 5 years? 2) assuming scientific progress within the next 10
years, what might be the consequences of such advances with respect to your
life-expectancy? and 3) in 15 and 20 years, what might be the consequence
of further progress toward a final solution - the invention of methods
to reverse ageing and restore optional biological vitality? These latter calculations may appear to be science fiction; but consider that much of yesterday's fiction is now reality.
As a first pass, these calculations can
be done in about 10-15 minutes. Each module contains some comments and background
information about that section; and it is worthwhile to redo, periodically,
I would venture to claim that there are
few exercises which can be more psychologically and
philosophically penetrating than doing a
calculation of your own life-expectancy. When presented with the idea of "life-extension" the immediate reactions are a reflection of one's personal identify and self-image - projecting that into the future. If a person's reaction to the idea of life-extension is
positive, then usually one has an optimistic personality (reasonably satisfied
with self and potential and looking forward to what the future might bring). The obverse is
usually the case. Taking the maxim of Socrates that
the unexamined life is not worth living, what, then, is the purpose of one's
life - rather, your remaining life? This calculation provides a quantitative
framework for addressing that issue in both practical and philosophical
terms. The future really belongs to those who will take it; and those who
are passive will be dragged along, kicking and complaining - "To be or not to
be, that is the question ...." using another quote from Hamlet.
Keep in mind that denial is one of the
main functions of the human mind; and certainly, the denial of death's inevitability
is the cause for much of what we believe and do. This denial may comfort
us, somewhat; but it also is the main cause, I would suggest, of many of
our personal and social neuroses.
It is easier to see the inevitability
of death as being a "natural act of God"; and it can strike people
as being cold, mechanistic, or arrogant when we say that the inevitability of death is an engineering
problem; that it is caused by biological ageing with biological ageing being
a genetically programmed decline in cell number, rate, and quality; and
that this process can be rendered to scientific understanding and eventual
reversal and control - given the intelligent application of expertise, money, and other resources.
The adjacent quotation from Shakespeare's Hamlet
captures, in poetic verse, the poignancy of this subject.
C. A. Everone
Shakespeare: Hamlet contemplating the skull of
Yorick - the Court Jester * & **
Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him .... A fellow of infinite jest, of
most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times. And
now how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it.
Here hung those lips that I have kiss'd I know not how oft. Where
be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment
that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own
grinning? Quite chap - fall'n? Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell
her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come. Make her
laugh at that ....
Dost thou think Alexander looked of this fashion in the earth? And
smelt so? Pah!
To what base uses we may return ...! Why, may not imagination trace
the noble dust of Alexander till he find it stopping a bunghole?
No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither with modesty enough,
and likelihood to lead it; as thus: Alexander died, Alexander was buried,
Alexander returneth into dust; the dust is earth; of earth we make loam;
and why of that loam (whereto he was converted) might they not stop a beer
Imperious Caesar, dead and turn'd to clay, Might stop a hole to keep
the wind away. O, that that earth which kept the world in awe Should patch
a wall to expel the winter's flaw!