The Next 50 years: Knowing our natural end


Welcome back.

By 2050, a typical medical exam will provide for us the full text of our genetic structure including a precise prediction of our natural end. That’s right, we will be able to know the “when” and “how” of our natural deaths (i.e. barring accidents).

What do you think? Is this information you would want to have? How will this knowledge affect the lives of future generations.

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5 thoughts on “The Next 50 years: Knowing our natural end

  1. I can tell you right now. It will be either heart disease (dad), diabetes (mom) or cancer (mom, grandma).

    Knowing the future always encourages us to try to change the outcome, so does that really mean that a definite statement can be made about our futures? It makes them seem more like plastic to me…

  2. I believe it will make it easier for society to come up with a criterion to end a person’s life. There is an episode of Star Trek that dealt with a planet whose culture called for a person to die at the age of 60. The idea was at that age the person would be young enough to avoid the pain and suffering associated with growing old. I could see it creating a whole new industry. Imagine people throwing huge fancy funerals for themselves! That’s what happened in Star Trek, I believe they called it “The Tribute”.
    It’s easy to justify a lot of things when people don’t believe in a God who is in control of our lives.

  3. In terms of risks, I think more than anything it has the danger of giving us a foolish sense of overconfidence that we won’t die till X happens, which we all know is silly. There are still many unexpected ways to die.

    Perhaps a related concern would be that it would draw us further into isolationist clusters that refused to take risks because they want to cling to life as long as possible.

    All that said, we should recognize that this is just one more innovation with pros and cons. Such things have tremendous potential to catch a good number of diseases in the early stages when they are more easily treated.

  4. I think Lori pointed out something important: peoples’ behaviors change based on their knowlege, and might do so in such a way as to prevent their death from occurring when predicted. If I knew I was slated to die of breast cancer at age 52, I might get mammograms frequently. This might catch the cancer early enough that, in fact, the doctors were able to stop its advance and I might then live another twenty or thirty years.

    This phenomenon has been explored in an interesting manner in the movie Minority Report. If we tell people their future, they still always have a choice: they can behave in manners that either cause it to come true, or cause it not to come true.

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