Google wants people (some people) to live forever.
Back in October, 2013, Google executive Ray Kurzweil announced that Google has started an initiative that will make it possible for him and others live much longer (forever?). Throughout history, living forever has been the Holy Grail of the wealthy and powerful. This is no surprise, given that what comes along with extreme wealth and power is the (perceived?) ability to control everything, to buy anything, to, in some sense, purchase happiness. The limit to what extreme wealth can buy is that people die and no amount of money can fix this problem . . . though Google seems intent on trying. When the announcement first came out I curated an article about it and added it to my list of things to write about, but ultimately other topics crowded it out.
The Quest Continues
Then, a few days ago, I came across an article titled The Business of Extending Life Goes into High Gear in which Kurzweil propositions the following:
- Over the past several centuries life expectancy has gradually increased.
- In the coming 20 years we can expect life spans to be extended much more rapidly.
- Our ability to improve human health is beginning to move up in an exponential growth curve.
- So, what does all of this mean?
Google presents an intriguing idea that has fascinating implications for society and senior living. Perhaps it even has moral implications.
There are huge societal implications that include some significant moral/ethical questions. They include at least these:
- It will undoubtedly be expensive, at least initially, to extend life. If it can be done who will be the ones who benefit? Will it be the wealthy and not the poor? Will it be the smart but not those with lower IQ’s?
- Every human who occupies space on this planet requires stuff that has to be earned or paid for. Covering the costs of people living longer could be a big challenge.
- Where will people live? One might argue that this will not be a problem, at least in the first world, where there are steadily declining birthrates.
- People living longer could easily result in higher healthcare costs over longer periods of time.
- Do we have an obligation to put resources into the poorest of the poor who just struggle to stay alive each day? How does this fit into the “live forever” model?
Senior Living Implications
It is kind of crazy to think about what this might mean to the senior living industry. I can see upsides and downsides:
- It might be that, if people live longer, they would need senior living for longer periods of time, which would be good for the industry.
- If they need senior living longer, there could end up being a significant need for additional care givers.
- It might be bad because there would be more people running out of financial resources.
- It is possible that people would live to be healthier, which would mean that the demand would go down.
So . . . what do you think? A good idea or a crazy idea? Good for our industry or disaster in the making? Do you think it is a good idea? Steve Moran
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