How Long Do You Want to Live? –

Some observations from a study asking people how long they would like to live (the majority were happy with the current 80 year average) and some of the developments that may allow us to extend our lifetimes. The more interesting reflections are below:

Others were concerned about a range of issues both personal and societal that might result from extending the life spans of millions of people in a short time. These included everything from boredom and the cost of paying for a longer life to the impact of so many extra people on planetary resources and on the environment. Some worried that millions of healthy centenarians still working and calling the shots in society would leave our grandchildren and great-grandchildren without the jobs and opportunities that have traditionally come about with the passing of generations.

Long-lifers countered that extending healthy lives would delay suffering, possibly for a very long time. This would allow people to accomplish more in life and to try new things. It would also mean that geniuses like Steve Jobs or Albert Einstein might still be alive. Einstein, were he alive today, would be 133 years old.

That’s assuming that he would want to live that long. As he lay dying of an abdominal aortic aneurysm in 1955, he refused surgery, saying: “It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.”

How Long Do You Want to Live? –


Destroying Medicine to Rebuild It: Eric Topol on Patients Using Data – The Atlantic

A good interview on some of the potential for ‘creative destruction’, given increased data and technology. While some of this borders on obsessiveness (the ‘quantified sellers’), having ubiquitous real-time information can be helpful to some.

Those concerned with their health will use the increased data and tools, but will be the broader population be influenced by increased data? I think not – data on obesity has not changed trends, and common sense in terms of healthy diet, exercise etc is not that common!

But some of his points are all too true. Each time I go to the clinic, we follow the return of weighing me and taking my blood pressure, both which I track at home, and the lack of electronic health records, shared with patients, is frustrating to say the least.

The reviewer correctly notes the challenges of creative destruction:

I came away wondering, however, if there was going to be a Creative Destruction, Part II that delves more deeply into exactly how the destruction and rebooting Topol proposes will happen. As Thomas Kuhn wrote in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, changing paradigms is not easy. “No part of the aim of [traditional] science is to call forth new sorts of phenomena,” Kuhn wrote, “indeed those that will not fit the box are often not seen at all.”

 Worth reading

Destroying Medicine to Rebuild It: Eric Topol on Patients Using Data – David Ewing Duncan – Health – The Atlantic.