How do I get to see the future?
March 14, 2006 1:37 AM   Subscribe

I turn 20 in April. I figure if I'm lucky, what with advances in healthcare, I might just make it to 2100, when I'll be 114. What can I do to get further into the future than that? So far I've come up with (perhaps in order of likelihood) cryogenics, genetic modification, becoming a cyborg, and a faster than light round trip (time dilation). Any more?
posted by Orange Goblin to Technology (31 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
There is some evidence that chronic mild starvation lengthens one's life. Try not eating too much. Be sure to drink plenty of water though!
posted by qwip at 1:58 AM on March 14, 2006


What can I do to get further into the future than that?

Be careful when you cross roads and say no to drugs. Don't fly, get on a boat or sit under a coconut tree.
posted by twistedonion at 2:21 AM on March 14, 2006


Move to Okinawa?
posted by misozaki at 2:38 AM on March 14, 2006


You don't need a faster than light round trip... you just need a close-to-speed-of-light round trip.
posted by antifuse at 2:58 AM on March 14, 2006


Where 'close-to-the-speed-of-light' is entirely arbitrary - even orbital speeds contribute enough time dilation to be measurable. The real issue with travelling fast is that you have to survive the trip. Statistically, your expected end date probably comes later if you don't bother with that kind of riskiness.
posted by Chuckles at 3:13 AM on March 14, 2006


the technological singularity will occur within our lifetime. just hold off on worrying about it until then.
posted by jimmy at 3:52 AM on March 14, 2006


The standard method:

1. Be born with good genes.

2. Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, less red meat, more oily fish, fewer simple carbohydrates.

3. Exercise up to a sweat for at least half an hour a day.

4. Don't smoke or take anything your doctor didn't prescribe.

5. Drink red wine from arid regions, in moderation.

6. Get married, and maintain a wide circle of friends. Have sex regularly.

7. Maintain a positive state of mind.

8. If you must drive, buy a safe car and use it sensibly.

9. Arrange to have your head frozen within 10 minutes of your death, and hope for the best.

The life packing method:

1. Learn to live with 4 hours sleep a night - that buys you 25% more life for free! Easily done with coffee overdoses and plenty of drugs.

The proactive method:

1. Get into science, and do cutting edge research yourself. Don't just wait for the future!

The enabler method:

1. Vote for less regulation in the biotech industry.

2. Invest in blue-sky companies.

3. Cross your fingers.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 3:57 AM on March 14, 2006


Check out the article in National Geographic from a few months ago about groups of people who are long-lived; it identified some similarities they all share.

Also, a low-calorie diet seems to work, but it makes people cranky and prone to chronic bad breath. What's the point?
posted by Dasein at 4:08 AM on March 14, 2006


Eat in moderation, lay off the usual bad habits (smoking, alcohol, and other recreational drugs), more creativity and less couch potatoism, exercise at least twice a day but not in a dangerous sport, stay clean, brush and floss your teeth well, remain mentally active, get and stay happily married, be relaxed and happy.

Also, pay attention to what killed your relatives. There's a good chance you've inherited a lot of the same tendencies, so if you find that, for example, certain cancers are knocking off family members, those are things to look out for. Nip those tumors in the bud.

These are things you can do with current technology. With no technology.

Science, meanwhile, will be finding ways to improve your odds, so pay attention to what doctors are recommending. If a reasonable way to clean up your genes comes along, for example, you might want to get rid of some of the genetic tendencies you were born with before those tendencies become actualities.

But don't count on any "technological singularity" to make your life wonderful, and don't hope to download yourself into some damned machine. You want to be a healthy, happy human now in a delectable, renewable human body. Being human means living in this body. Do that as well as you can for as long as you can.
posted by pracowity at 4:11 AM on March 14, 2006


dont eat much, eat horsefood when you do, exercise daily, dont piss anyone off, stay in your house all day.

In other words, live an astonishingly boring life. Then you might get an additional 10 years. Of boredom. ;)
posted by jak68 at 4:13 AM on March 14, 2006


There are some larger issues then just living that long, like funding a life that long. While you may indeed live to 114, you most likely will not be able to function as an active member of the workforce past 65 or 70, depending upon your career path. There are a number of people close to retirement age in my job, and there's one 72 year old lady still chugging away without any problems in a somewhat physical job. That's fairly rare though.

Make sure your chosen profession is something that doesn't require a lot of physical work, as you may not be able to do industrial jobs like logging and steel working when you are in your late 70's and your bones start getting weaker. Invest now into retirement funds, and when you get to retirement, spend wisely.

I think the real issue is going to be that when we start living that long, retirement age will start going beyond what we are capable of working. Since the governments of the world would like to keep us in the tax generating pool of the populace as long as possible. I haven't done a lot of research, but from what I'm aware, eventually we'll be able to keep a body alive indefinitely through new genetically cloned organs and such, but we can't do much about the brain getting old, slow, and dieing, nor can we do much about the skeletal system aside from possible future cybernetics.

If this holds true in the future, we may be able to keep an average person alive past 100, but they may not be mentally able to work past 70 or 80, and certainly not past 90 or into the 100's. That leaves a large portion of the population taking up valuable tax money and resources.

So, maybe you should start figuring out where they are going to put you for those last 30-40 unproductive years, and decide if you actually want to live that long.
posted by Phynix at 4:40 AM on March 14, 2006


It's about quality, not quantity. ;)

Live well and enjoy the present.

You could easily get hit by a bus and that's all she wrote...
posted by bim at 5:41 AM on March 14, 2006


Don't vote for presidents that allow industry to write their own environmental policy. Pollution is a silent terrorist that kills 30-50k per year in the U.S. as we speak and that's after having some leaders in office that actually had a semblence of a conscience about curtailing the amount of poison the citizens of our nation should ingest in the pursuit of profit. Not anymore. Be prepared to see that number double and triple in the coming years.
posted by any major dude at 5:54 AM on March 14, 2006


From Centenarians who avoid dementia.:

In a retrospective cohort study exploring the timing of age-related diseases of >350 centenarians, three profiles emerged from the analysis of health history data [16]. Forty-two percent of the participants were ‘survivors’, in whom an age-associated disease was diagnosed before the age of 80 years. Forty-five percent were ‘delayers’, in whom an age-associated disease was diagnosed at or after the age of 80 years, beyond the average life expectancy for their birth cohort. Thirteen percent were ‘escapers’, who attained their 100th birthdays without diagnosis of any of the ten age-associated diseases studied. That most centenarians appear to be functionally independent through their early nineties suggests the possibility that ‘survivors’ and ‘delayers’ are better able to cope with illnesses and remain functionally independent. Thus, in the case of centenarians, it might be more accurate to note compression of disability rather than morbidity. This is not the case, as would be expected, with illnesses associated with high mortality risks. When examining only the most lethal diseases of the elderly such as heart disease, non-skin cancer and stroke, 87% of males and 83% of females delayed or escaped these diseases (relatively few centenarians were ‘survivors’ with such diseases).
These results suggest there might be multiple routes to achieving exceptional longevity. The survivor, delayer and escaper profiles represent different centenarian phenotypes, and probably different underlying genotypic and environmental interactions. It appears that most centenarians must have a history of markedly delaying or escaping cognitive impairment because in the very old, cognitive impairment has emerged as perhaps the most reliable marker of impending mortality


BTW, only 15% of centenarians are men.
posted by Gyan at 6:06 AM on March 14, 2006


If there were a mechanism for age donation, I would ve donated you part of my age. I think to live for 70-75 yrs is quite enough .. and again all depends on the quality of life.
posted by inquisitive at 6:08 AM on March 14, 2006


Read Ray Kurzweil' s Fantastic Voyage : Live Long Enough to Live Forever; there is everything you need to know about your health (and more).

Then he argues what jimmy said: the singularity should occur around 2040 meaning, among other things, that biology and engineering become one and all our problems are solved.

See you then.
posted by bru at 6:09 AM on March 14, 2006


Be realistic about your goals. There are no cyborgs. There is no travel at anything close to the speed of light. (Sheesh!) And there surely is not and never will be anything to cryogenics (in the sense of freezing a whole dead person with the hope of someday reviving him - dead is dead).

Seventy years lived well is far better.
posted by yclipse at 6:15 AM on March 14, 2006


I think to live for 70-75 yrs is quite enough

tell that to a 74 year old...
posted by any major dude at 6:16 AM on March 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


Do something memorable.
posted by LarryC at 6:31 AM on March 14, 2006


Mediterranean diet. Effective and tasty.
posted by fire&wings at 6:45 AM on March 14, 2006


If you were to say, join a silly website, spend lots and lots of time there, post often, and say things that were memorable and insightful (not inciteful, heh), you may in fact live forever. Ask Aristotle what he thinks of every single college freshman knowing him. I bet he thinks those kids should lay off the weed, man.
posted by zpousman at 6:50 AM on March 14, 2006


Start saving money. First off, the wealthy live longer. Second, living that long is going to take a lot of cash, especially if you aren't planning on working into your 80's.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:31 AM on March 14, 2006


On a side note:

Cryonics and Cryogenics are two different sciences.

Cryonics is freezing bodies.

Cryogenics, a more credible science, is the process of full tempering a variety of materials for improved strength, performance and lifespan. Example site: 300 Below
posted by mic stand at 7:31 AM on March 14, 2006


Pretty much what hoverboards wrote for the standard method for longevity, take advantage of modern medicine as it continues to improve, do whatever is humanly possible to avoid protein buildup in your brain as new research emerges, constantly learn whole new subjects in order to spur neurogenesis. Bear in mind that life-extension technology always buys you more time to live to see further life-extension technology.

I'm doing the low-cal/low-activity/small amounts of cardio thing as well. Fortunately my family has zero history of cancer - we tend to check out at 80 from stroke.

Combine all of this and your brain might still be reasonably sharp by the time some disruptive technology in consciousness-preservation emerges, be it brains in a jar or downloaded complete molecular scans of your entire nervous system. MIGHT.

Here's hoping.
posted by Ryvar at 7:55 AM on March 14, 2006


Then he argues what jimmy said: the singularity should occur around 2040 meaning, among other things, that biology and engineering become one and all our problems are solved.

Just wanted to respond to this: I don't really see a realistic model for the singularity concept outside of a truly sentient AI capable of continually rewriting better versions of itself leading to an exponentially more intelligent, hopefully benign, non-human intelligence. Most other explanations for how such an event would occur appear to involve a lot of hand-waving. As much as I'd love to see it, I don't really think that software engineering methods, understanding of neurotopology/neurochemistry and their roles in consciousness, etc. are sufficiently progressing to reach that point by 2040. Not by a long shot.
posted by Ryvar at 8:13 AM on March 14, 2006


  • Reincarnation?
  • Zombification?
  • Invest in biotech companies who are investigating DNA duplication errors, telomere activity, etc. - perhaps offer yourself as a guinea pig (although this may well shorten your life expectancy somewhat!)
  • Consume lots of antioxidants, bathe in similar substances.
  • Stay out of the sun. Completely.
There is some evidence that chronic mild starvation lengthens one's life.
Nope - it's just that feeling hungry all the time only makes it feel like forever!
posted by Chunder at 8:38 AM on March 14, 2006


Some good answers here, but maybe I should clarify: I'm not necessarily looking for MORE life here, but for it to end later, hence the faster than light (or rather, as I meant to say and antifuse pointed out, close to light) trip. I wouldn't mind living only 60 years if I got to do some of the living in 2200 because, well, it'd be cool. Imagine seeing the Industrial Revolution, and then comparing it to now.
posted by Orange Goblin at 8:55 AM on March 14, 2006


Just a note, there are certain things that will suck about living in two distinct time periods that you may not be thinking about, for example, take my great-grandmother.

She was born and raised in the late industrial revolution, rural farm country. Though she had been educated in urban schools in the 1890's, she did not move back to town until well into her 50's, the 1930's. By then the modern era of automobiles, telephones and electric lights was old news.

She never would believe that using the toilet indoors was sanitary, that electricity was safe. She never was able to figure out the telephone very well. Last, she was continually hit by cars because she never fully grasped the concept of looking both ways and timing her crossing.

Though I agree that it would be cool to check out the 2200's, I think there will be quite a difference in the way people live. Will you even be able to talk to people? Do you speak Chinese? Can you operate a hydrogen reactor? Telepathic communicator? Have you received the anti-avian aids nano-bot injection?
posted by Pollomacho at 9:09 AM on March 14, 2006


Just as an aside - faster than light travel would (in theory) take you into the past, if such a thing were possible. There's also a whole host of problems, causality aside, with FTL particles (tachyons) propagating through normal space - the whole bit about the amount of energy needed to approach c increasing until becoming infinite works - again in theory - on both sides of the equation. That is, FTL particles theoretically need increased energy to approach c, and speed up as they lose energy.

As far as near-c travel to reduce your personal timescale goes, unless you've got a few billion to fund the R&D of VASIMR, or some other *realistic* next-gen propulsion system, you should probably abandon this idea.
posted by Ryvar at 9:12 AM on March 14, 2006


I'm not necessarily looking for MORE life here, but for it to end later.

I think attempts to bring the future closer are valid ways to do this. Imagine if there had been no dark ages: we'd be in the equivalent of the year 3000 by now.

You're not even in your 20s. Why not get into nanomaterials research? There's SO much opportunity for a bright mind to make astounding discoveries in this field.

On a slightly more morbid and not entirely tongue-in-cheek note, it's just occurred to me that WWII was a period of amazing innovation. Perhaps the path to the future is starting a massive new war which will force invention upon us... One might even argue that if this war produces technology which brings a singularity 30 years closer, it would save 30 years worth of deaths, and hence potentially be "worth" spending billions of casualties on... I make myself sick sometimes :)
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 10:21 AM on March 14, 2006


Life is too precious to be enjoyed.
posted by lalochezia at 3:56 PM on March 14, 2006


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