When medical science cures aging, how should we regulate reproduction?
As we move forward in decoding human DNA, and learn how to harvest our own adult stem cells and reprogram them into IPSCs, we have created a new branch of medical science called regenerative or reparative medicine. At some point, medicine will clearly be able to extend human longevity to levels even Methuselah would have envied. We may or may not totally overcome death, but we will almost certainly extend life tenfold or more.
If, or more realistically when this happens, we will have some hard choices to make about longevity, reproduction and overpopulation. In my lifetime that is nearing seven decades, I have seen the population of Earth explode from 2.4 billion to 7 billion today. Given my current healthy state, I’ll probably be here to see it hit 8 billion as projected in 2020. Clearly we cannot maintain anything remotely close to our current birth rates if humans once born live not the 67.2 years that is today’s world average but for 1,000 years or more. Yet the desire to pass on our genes is a profound and powerful one.
What do you think the moral high road is? Should we leave nature alone, and just accept as a fact of life that a tiny handful live healthy, active lives of 100 years or more and most die well short of that? Should we keep the living alive as long as medical science is able, and limit the birth rate to prevent overpopulation? Or should we assume that evolution would best be served if humans lived thousands of years and reproduced as rapidly as rats to then compete violently in a King-of-the-Mountain game of resource acquisition? What future world would you like to see?