Some say with bio-breakthroughs happening more often than ever before, people born in the last few decades may be the first generation with the option of avoiding death.
The founder of Australia’s first community science lab for citizen scientists, BioFoundry, said they had a number of biohacking projects underway, from implanting technology into a human body to gene therapy.
And along with those projects, the lab has been focused on human longevity, said the start-up’s founder Meow-Ludo.
“Live forever, or die trying. Personally my goal is to achieve escape velocity — that is to increase life expectancy by more than a year per year,” he said.
“Once you can get to that you are functionally immortal.”
It may sound far reached, but Meow-Ludo said it was not as far away as many believe, and pointed to the rapid development of computing as an example.
“I think if you’re born after the 1950s you have a pretty good chance,” he said.
A chance to live indefinitely, to not die of old age or disease, has been an area big on the list of moonshot ideas — big risk ideas with potentially huge payoffs.
“Google’s on board now, you have people from Amazon, you have some really big heavyweights from the scientific field and there’s billions of dollars being invested into this,” Meow-Ludo said.
“It’s kind of under the carpet a little bit, like behind the scenes. There’s not a lot coming out, but there’s a lot of work being done.”
Living forever is ‘one of our greatest challenges’
Peter Xing, a futurist, transhumanist, AI enthusiast and founder of Transhumanist Australia, said it was hard to put a timeframe on when they would be able to extend the healthy human life span.
“It’s going to take quite a few breakthroughs for us to get there, because right now our understanding of biology is still pretty primitive,” he said.
“But I think the advancements you’ll be able to see in countries like China, that are developing technologies like CRISPR (Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats), which is a gene genetic editing tool, so like the cut and paste of genes.
“So once you know what your genes actually do, then how do you actually treat that particular kind of diseases.”
Mr Xing described transhumanism as the integration of human biology and technology.
“So we’re looking at extending the healthy human lifespan through the exponential increase in change in technology that we have today,” he said.
So why would a person want to live forever, and why reach for something which may be unattainable, especially anytime soon?
“It’s one of our greatest challenges, I can’t see any greater purpose than something like this,” Mr Xing said.
“It’s an existential risk to continue to live healthier longer.
“I think it’s something that we’re trying to get out there as part of the community to spread the word and get more people to work on this.”