The future of longevity - not evenly distributed?

Image courtesy Aeon Magazine

Image courtesy Aeon Magazine

One of the key ideas which I always try keep in the back of my mind when engaging in futures thinking is William Gibson's famous maxim that "the future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed." For me, this quote is a reminder that the impacts of a technology depend as much on the social configuration in which it emerges as the technology itself. Or, more simply, it's not enough to extrapolate based on a technology's potential. You also have to keep the political and economic factors in mind, since these determine things like access. 

So - I was pleased to see this article in Aeon today looking at what's called the 'longevity gap.' This is the idea that while medical advancements are going to allow some people to live longer and healthier lives, this will only be available to elites, with access to money and power. The article provides a pretty good rundown of where things are at in the longevity game, but also contains a stark warning. In the words of the writer:

"As novel compounds slow or even reverse ageing, the longevity divide could become a gulf as wide as the Grand Canyon. The wealthy will experience an accelerated increase in life expectancy and health, and everyone else will go in the opposite direction."

The Longevity Gap (via Aeon Magazine)