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Discussing "The Science of Radical Life Extension" with TED Books author David Ewing Duncan

Continuing with our series of TED Book Chats.... How long do you want to live, and why?

For the next two weeks, we'll be discussing David Ewing Duncan's new eBook, "When I'm 164", on the science of radical life extension. Duncan surveys the increasingly legitimate science — from genetics and regeneration to machine solutions — and considers the pluses and minuses of living to age 164, or beyond. We'll look at everything from the impact of extended life on cities, services, and the cost of living as well as what happens to love, curiosity, and general health.

The book is available for Kindle, Nook, and iOS devices (which have a great new custom TED Books app):

Kindle copy: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008XB16ME/
iOS app: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ted-books/id511071050?mt=8

The New York Times also published an excerpt this week, you can read it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/sunday-review/how-long-do-you-want-to-live.html

Finally, author David Ewing Duncan will be joining us for a live Q&A at 4pm EDT on September 11th!

Looking forward to our discussion!


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  • Sep 4 2012: Humans have been engineering their environment and their capabilities with tools for 10's of thousands of years. It is a distinguishing feature of homo sapiens. We gained the knowledge necessary to engineer ourselves only 50 years ago (Watson & Crick) and the technology to do so maybe 20 years ago. Given the deep-seated fear of death that comes with the conscious ability to anticipate it and the inherent drive of life to sustain itself, there is no reason to believe that we will not put that knowledge and ability to use to extend human life spans.
    There are many moral, ethical, and environmental implications of this reality. Perhaps chief among them is the potential for accelerated resource depletion, as mentioned previously, a scenario with dire consequences. Peering further down the road, given increased competition for resources, there is a very real possibility that humans could speciate between enhanced and naturals in less than a millenium, particularly if the current trend of wealth disparity continues. Speciation would no doubt be accelerated if enhanced humans have significanlty expanded life spans that allow for more off-spring and the opportunity to multiply current material advantages for future generations.
    It is easy to imagine doomsday scenarios; we are predisposed to fear the unknown. The challenge is to imagine and elucidate a positive future where these capabilities are used to alleviate suffering, restore a verdant planet, and allow us to reach the highest expression of what it means to be human.Just think how you would live if you knew you were going to live to be 150 or more. And it may be that the full extrapolation of human life extension means having a body may be optional or even intermittent. Envisioning such possibilities is a good use of the intellectual stimulation provided by doomsday scenarios.
    Personally, it seems like I'm a slow learner. I could make good use of a life span of 150 years or so. All men die; not all men truly live.

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