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Humans and technology

The topic of longevity takes after its name

This publication has been writing about human longevity for at least 90 years. In some ways what’s amazing is how little has changed.

August 21, 2019
Technology Review 1929 issue

November 1929

From “Forestalling Death”: Is it possible to extend life? If it is possible, is it worth while? In this advanced and enlightened era in which reckless and dogmatic assertions are rampant, is it presumptuous to claim that you and I and the rest us have hopeful prospects of living longer and possibly physically better lives than did our forebears? These are questions to intrigue philosophers and pundits and those superior individuals known as biologists, but the answers to these queries are also of some faint interest to the remainder of us, even the engineers, many of whom are reputed to be able to derive value and enjoyment out of salubrious existence and healthful longevity.

Technology Review 1954 issue

May 1954

From “Is There a Limit to Human Life?”: Throughout most of its history the population of the United States has been characterized by its youthfulness, but this is no longer the case. If the present rate of increase of older persons continues, as it should (barring atomic warfare or some other unforeseen disaster), the close of the present century will see more than 20,000,000 older individuals in the American population … Centenarians are, of course, always asked as to what they attribute their great ages, but invariably their answers are a bit weird, often absurd, and completely lacking in uniformity. In the olden days the few favored persons who attained to great old age undoubtedly did so through the operation of the law of the survival of the fit, but in our modern sanitary civilization the achievement of unusual old age is probably largely a matter of heredity—and luck.

Technology Review 2001 issue

February 2005

From “Do You Want to Live Forever?”: De Grey began reading the relevant literature in late 1995 and after only a few months had learned so much that he was able to explain previously unidentified influences affecting mutations in mitochondria, the intracellular structures that release energy from certain chemical processes necessary to cell function … By July 2000, further assiduous application had brought him to what some have called his “eureka moment,” the insight he speaks of as his realization that “aging could be described as a reasonably small set of accumulating and eventually pathogenic molecular and cellular changes in our bodies, each of which is potentially amenable to repair.”

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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