Sonia Arrison’s book 100 Plus is a fascinating look at how the majority of humans living beyond a century may not be too far away. She first makes the case that living 100 plus years will one day become reality, and then gives us the resulting implications. She explores how longer lives would impact family, finances, religion, and leadership. The book is very well written and engaging and helped me think of the future of our society in a very different way. By changing one central variable in the system, all others are affected.
As she puts it, “We are at a cusp of a revolution in medicine and biotechnology that will radically increase not just our life spans but also, and more importantly, our health spans.” I would add that this would also increase our invention spans.
Arrison is a founder, academic advisor, and trustee at Singularity University, a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute (PRI), and a columnist for TechNewsWorld. She has written about the impact of new technologies on society for a decade. I was excited to have the opportunity to ask her some questions that connected our two areas of research.
WAI:What if the top 1% in brains lived 100 Plus? What would the implications be for society?
ARRISON: If the top 1% in brains lived 100 Plus in a healthy state (health is key here, since without it it is difficult to be productive), society would see huge benefits in terms of innovation, since brilliant people would be around longer not only to create, but also to collaborate with others. Imagine, for instance, how much more Steve Jobs would have been able to do had his life not been cut short by cancer. It is innovation which ultimately drives economic growth over the long term, and much of innovation is driven by the top 1%.
WAI: Would their cumulative advantages across time grow even greater? Would the gaps between rich and poor become amplified?
ARRISON: Their additional innovations would likely contribute to a widening between the rich and the poor as you mention, but that might be mitigated somewhat by innovative new philanthropic initiatives that these types of people also seem to favor.
So what do you think? What would Steve Jobs have done with his life if he could have lived beyond a century? What would you do with yours?
© 2012 by Jonathan Wai