A quick memo for today: you, who are reading this, you are poor. I, the one writing this, I am poor. We are poor as with the help of biomedical technology we could live much longer, healthier lives but at the current state of affairs we won’t. Most think … well they don’t think about it in the first place. Some think it is not within our reach. Wrong. Some think they are so rich in other respects, they cannot even be poor in any other respect. Their domain of rich is so poor they don’t recognise the domain, the playground itself has no obvious limits. How poor is that?
Before am getting too rhetorical, emotional, political here (why not?) let’s hash out this fundamental poorness conceptually a bit.
Comparatively we are poorer at least 2 major ways when it comes to our life expectancy:
- Compared to our own existing technological potential to live much longer and healthier. To re-phrase this in the philosophically rich idiom of possible worlds: Our current actual world is just one out of many highly probable possible worlds. We can switch this trajectory to another one getting us much farther away on the path to Open Lifespan, leaving our current closed lives behind. To put it more confusingly: we are self-poor, as we are making ourselves much poorer by the minute.
- Compared to future generations who will actualise this potential. Before you ask: It only makes sense to compare against to future, not past generations, in this respect. Those past generations were never in the position to understand biological aging enough to be able to modulate it. But we are in such a position. We are intergenerationally poor compared to all the future people to come, including our own descendants.