Imagine our old people weren’t all dying.
In every elections we see old, experienced and mature politicians facing the dilemma of whether or not to run for office.
“It’s my last chance” some of them might say. “I’m not sure I can handle it at my age,” others would say.
When looking at older candidates, the voters themselves are often conflicted. “Sure,” they might think, “he/she would be great at making rational, well-considered decisions after listening to all sides and considering the whole. Sure, they proved themselves over and over again in previous roles. But can they handle the crazy hours? The lack of sleep? The constant travel? Will their decaying body not end up being a distraction for them from the duties of office? And maybe, as in the case of Vice President Biden, we just respect and love them too well to wish them the challenges of a tough political campaign.
But what if our old people weren’t dying? What if they could continue running for office, starting businesses, leading charities?
What if the wisdom that’s gained from experience didn’t get repeatedly lost to the human race through death and disease?
I think this aspect might be one of the most under-appreciated aspects of anti-aging research. The gradual and inexorable wisening of mankind.
Old age itself, of course, is no guarantee for wisdom. But it is when it comes after decades of continuous learning and striving for self-improvement. Even in individuals where the learning and striving are not so dominant — very few are no wiser in old age than in their youth.
The greatest thing about all this, is that we don’t have to wait for a massive increase in longevity to benefit from this effect. Every four years or so, the average lifespan in developed countries increases by another year. That’s another year of wisdom times the number of older people we gain every four years!
Just another reason to be optimistic about the future potential of mankind.