Friday, October 1, 2010

Get Healthy for the Future!

An experiment: a soundtrack for this blog post. Go here and listen to that in the background while reading! (There's no video to speak of, so don't feel you're missing anything while not watching.) It's THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE.

Speaking of the future...

I had a thought the other day while riding my bike for some much-needed get-out-of-the-house exercise. It's often said that our technological innovation increases at an accelerating rate. It's not a great leap to believe that within this century, we will see at least a few of the most mind-boggling amazing technologies from science-fiction and futurist prediction:

Space tourism, nanomachines (good ol' nanomachines), AI, teledildonics and giant mind-controlled mechas, virtual reality, mood organs, or, most relevantly to this post, curing aging.

So I thought:
Wouldn't it suck something awful if I got old, decrepit or died before these technologies were achieved?

We (I assume most readers are of my generation) may just be living at just about the cusp. There's no way to tell, of course, but it's entirely possible that these technologies - particularly ones that halt, cure or reverse aging and damage to the body - will be invented and implemented just in time for us to be too damn old to get any benefit from them.

I know I would be damn upset if, when I'm 60, space travel suddenly becomes as affordable and accessible to the average person as a trip to Six Flags... and I can't pass the physical. Meanwhile, folks just ten years younger than me - or folks who are my age or older, but in better health - can not only pass the physical and make the trip, but, thanks to medical improvements, will be able to remain in that state of health for decades and decades, taking weekly trips to Freeside space station to play zero-G hoopball with sexy robots.

So, methought... I better get healthy for the future!

The tricky thing about living when we live now is that people living in the time periods before and after us might be said to have good reason to treat their bodies poorly when they are young. The generations before us could argue that it was better to enjoy your body while you were young - rough it up with sex, drugs, loud music, tattoos and piercings, sports, junk food, weekend-long gaming sessions, etc. - than to be all prim and proper and careful with it, only to find out you'd gotten old anyways and your youth was wasted.

And the generations ahead of us might have the medical technology (easy body repair, mind-body uploading, nanobiomachinermagimechanicals, whatever) to abuse their bodies as badly as they wish, because the damage isn't irreversible.

But we, living now, may just have incentive to really do our bodies good so that we can preserve them until technology allows us to be more reckless.

The tricky thing, again, is that, barring a highly unlikely major breakthrough in the next couple years, we won't know until it's too late to change strategies.

Of course, I'm presenting a false dilemma here. It's not like it's not possible to enjoy yourself, party hearty and often, and still, as is preferred in our culture, keep in good health and keep your body looking good (the incentive being sexual appeal instead of personal health). The question is whether it's worth it to, I don't know, expend the effort to become a strict vegetarian gym-rat Zen monk marathon-runner on the off-chance that, when you turn 63, you'll be able to laugh in the faces of your run-down peers as your still-lithe body is now ready for decades upon decades of life-extended sex, drugs and space-adventuring.

I don't want to go on too long, particularly with all those links, and risk your awesomely retro Kraftwerk awesomeness background track run out, so I'll end somewhat abruptly here, by turning it over to you, Dear Reader, by asking you one question:

When you go about trying to improve your health (exercising, dieting, making New Year's Resolutions), are you doing it more so you can be fit and good-looking for Right Now, or are you doing it so you can be hale and hearty in Your Future?


B.Graham said...

Brett said...

Re: the fallacy presented by SMBC comic: EXACTLY. It could be in ten years, it could be just in our lifetime, it could be two centuries from now. Is there a point to trying to prepare for it happening within our lifetime, or what?

Jackie said...

I think I do it so I can be healthy for my kids future. My daughter currently has one set of great great grandparents, four great grandparents, and 6 grandparents alive. How awesome is that?! Also, how many of us can say their great great grandparents were alive in their lifetime? I want to know my grandkids at the least. It would be even cooler to know my great grandkids and so forth.

My parents on the other hand are almost 60 and not so healthy people. Their youngest kids are 19. The average age of people getting married is around 26. By the time my little sisters get married my parents could be in their 70's. The average life expectancy is 79 factor in their health and the odds of even seeing their youngest child's first kids aren't very high. Though not really a pleasant thing to think about that made me pretty determined to quit smoking for good once I gave birth.

B.Graham said...

Also, I want to be in shape so I CAN party hearty! I've put on some pounds since graduating college, destroying my knee, and getting a desk job, and I find that I'm tired more often, always feel sluggish, and can't clubdance into the wee hours of the morning like some of my more in-shape friends can.