I can’t recall the date on which I got this aspiration to live 200+ years, but if you go and check my profile on Rainmatter Discuss (https://discuss.rainmatter.com), the bio says: a human with an aspiration to live 200+ years. I don’t think I had the same aspiration until the age of 24 (just to remind you, I am still 23, lol). As I have experienced - we are what you think - a few days back, I found myself reading the book "Longevity: The Science Behind Ageing and Why We Don’t Have to." After reading the book, I was talking to someone from healthcare, and as soon as I mentioned - thanks to all the research, we might live 100+ years soon. His first reaction was - it looks unnatural. That got me thinking about Natural and Unnatural. Hence this essay.
Last year, I wrote an essay titled "Nature Vs Nurture: Why we as a society must stop making unconscious mistakes." The whole argument of the essay was - that we can’t define someone based on their nature because humans are the outcome of both - Nature and Nurture. In the mid of 2023, I also wrote an essay where I highlighted how everything that we see around us has been built by humans like us in the past few hundred years. Even though the age of our fundamental component - cells - is 3.8 billion years, the human species has been on this earth for 10,000+ years experiencing near-death situations many times.
So, I did this experiment with him that I am going to do with you as well (if you are reading this essay). This experiment has nothing to do with the place or the state you are in. In whatever situation, state, or location you are, just be attentive and look around you. Now take the names of the things that you are seeing in your head. Now ask yourself what those are - natural? Since I don’t know about your state - let me give you a list of mine. At the time of writing these lines, today is 2nd Dec, and it is 18:27, in the evening, and I am sitting in a cafe on a chair, typing on a laptop which is placed on a table. The charger of my laptop is connected to an electric board that is connected to electricity. There is one glass half filled with water on one side, a tissue paper, one pen, my mobile, water bottles, sticky notes, a couple of spoons, sitting on a chair, me wearing a t-shirt, shoes, and jeans. I can also see many other tables, other humans with the same structure, lights, decorative lights, paintings, music running in the cafe, glass, and the list goes on.
Since due to nature, it is a month of cold, I am wearing a sweater to protect myself from the natural cold so I can keep doing what I am doing. Also, this is night, and I am sitting in this cafe; the light proportion is more than compared to natural light. In fact, there is almost a 99% chance of me reaching back to my home thanks to public transportation. I am sitting in this cafe and typing all my thoughts at almost the speed of light (lol, I am exaggerating, I wish I could).
Now if you are done taking these names in your head, it is time to ask this question - how many of those things are natural? I am not sure about you, but in my case, the answer is just one. At this moment, there is nothing natural that I can see except one - me. I am natural. But my survival and me doing what I am doing and the rest of us are because we built all these unnatural things that we use every day. Can you tell me how many natural things you counted? One, two, three, or everything?
The fact is, and whether we accept it or not, today we technically survive on unnatural things. Of course, you can argue that the root of all those is still natural. For example, electricity comes from coal, sun, wind, water (all natural), the food we eat (natural), and the water we drink (natural). Again, the root is natural even though the water that I drink is purified through an unnatural method. Even if the day we will 3D print food - the ingredients will be natural or ingredients built from atoms and molecules will be natural. However, if we had just relied on the natural method/components - do you think we would have a strong 7 billion and have everything that we have around us? Of course, today, we have visible challenges (the Climate Problem is one of the biggest), but there is no way we can live on natural things.
Today, we are in trouble due to these unnatural things, sure. But there is no way any of us can survive without these natural things. Of course, the problem does lie in not knowing the connection between the visible aspect of unnatural things and the fundamental components that have made that possible. I can give you one example, mine. After seeing Kailash Nath (CTO of Zerodha) using a handkerchief, I almost stopped throwing tissue papers. In most cases, I use them multiple times, and I am not exaggerating. The seed of this behaviour was based on the realization that the fundamental components of these tissue papers are trees. I am still guilty of not carrying a handkerchief, yet. We have problems; however, from the intersection of space and time - returning back to completely natural things would be almost impossible provided our species ceases completely.
So, somehow, we need to make peace with unnatural things. Now this is also a good time to shift the focus of this essay on human longevity. I am not sure about you, but I aspire to live 200 years, provided I get the opportunity to do the work that I want to do and always be 23 years old biologically. I am fine with chronological age. :)
And that is only possible if we take deliberate steps towards longevity. The fact is the amount of work and the number of smart minds around the world are allocating to improve human lifespan - we are not very far from that goal where most humans would live 100+ years. I am also excited about the part where many of these tools will be available at almost zero cost to everyone in this world. This means most of the medical conditions which are age-specific will be pushed further or might be cured. And we might be living in a completely new world.
The prevention of NCDs due to age is super important from India and the world POVs. India has almost 45% of the population suffering from some form of Chronic disease and if longevity is vital, it can prevent and cure; we all should take that chance; otherwise, the combined medical cost of treatment would be unimaginable.
While writing this, I also got a sense of why most technologists are irrationally optimistic (except Kailash Nath) because our history is filled with such stories, and “The Field Of View” of most humans, including mine, is limited. On individual levels, we will always find humans complaining about and being pessimistic (if they understand the potential impact of Climate Change), and there is nothing wrong with that. The fact is I am following a few people just because they are pessimistic, and I am irrationally optimistic. Because I fundamentally believe diversity is civilization's strength and having one's voice gives us a sense of being human and also differentiation from the rest of the species. :)
In conclusion, we all have to agree, irrespective of whether we like it or not - none of us could slow down or prevent progress. And as the past 50 years are a testament to technological-driven progress. We all are going to experience massive progress in human longevity. So, at this intersection of space and time - we can’t complain about unnatural; rather, we should look for ways to keep nature in its original state and try reversing as many components as we can in its original state. And biological ageing seems fundamental.
Thanks for reading, and share this with someone who might be looking to read.
I shall see you all the next week :)