Highlander syndrome

Highlander syndrome

Highlander syndrome

According to Aubrey de Grey, the science already exists for humans to live more than 1,000 years. The question is, would we want to? After all, things weren’t always so rosy for the immortals of the Highlander franchise. Might we suffer a ‘highlander syndrome’, struggling to cope with our extended lives that are so out of sync with our history?

Time to get things done

I, for one, am a fan. Life already seems like a rush, with so many things I want to do getting squeezed in to the limited time available. Assuming I could solve the financial restrictions, it would be much nicer to take my time about things: work two or three days a week and devote more time to all the little pleasures in life.

I’d spend longer at the gym, enjoy a proper breakfast every day rather than a bowl of cereal at my desk; take time to read the papers, in fact just to read more of anything.

Not only could we devote more time to the little things in our every day lives, we could also try out more things over the course of those lives. Marriage might still be a strong institution but your bachelor years might last until you are 200 or more. Instead of one or two careers we could have 10 or 20.

With age comes wisdom

I’d hope people might also be wiser. There’s no guarantee of course, and the supposed wisdom that comes with age sometimes seems more like narrow-mindedness and prejudice. But we can dream. A government laden with wise old men and women who have had time to appreciate the world and its people, and can make rational, objective judgements on our behalf.

That’s the utopian vision, but the potential downsides of such a long life are also numerous. Population for a start: we’d have to start thinking about colonising other worlds pretty quickly. Health too: few people would want to spend 70 years living and 930 years dying.

Cultural adjustment

My rosy assessment of marriage is also likely inaccurate: we’d have to adjust culturally to the idea of a series of long partnerships throughout our lives (already happening to some extent).

The gap between rich and poor would become more marked, with the difference in lifespan being marked by centuries rather than decades.

Plenty of things to consider.

On balance I’d still love to live for a thousand years, for all the experiences I will otherwise miss out on. Although my love of beer and pies will probably limit my chances of being one of the first kilogenerians.

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This article is by Tom Cheesewright. This post forms part of the Future of Humanity series. For more posts on this subject, visit the Future of Humanity page.

Tom Cheesewright

Futurist speaker Tom Cheesewright is one of the UK's leading commentators on technology and tomorrow. Tom has worked with a huge range of organisations across a variety of markets, to help them to see a clear vision of tomorrow, share that vision and respond with agility. Tom draws on his experience to create original, compelling talks that are keyed to the experience of the audience but which surprise and shock with unexpected facts and examples.

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