In the series of posts I've been writing where I couch my analysis of the developing age of genetics in the form of hypothetical stories. I always wanted to create an illustration of precisely what it would be like for the people who become the first super mortals. What will the pattern of their chronological age or years of life look versus their genetic age as it is defined by the quality of their genetic information as it undergoes the degradation that is associated with the aging process? I always had the image in my mind but wanted to take some time to create an info graphic defining what most peoples lives will proceed as.
Often the question has been asked "Will we be immortal" and that is ultimately the wrong question. Immortality inherently implies not only that one is impervious to death but that one is impervious to death precisely via the mechanisms of aging. This will never be the case for any human being living today and it is safe to say, that even for those that pine to be uploaded into artificial bodies that it will likely never be the case for them either so long as they do not repair and replace those artificial bodies and the key here is repair and replace. Until we get to the point where we can completely move our consciousness to artificial substrates we are stuck with the biology and while we have it it seems inevitable that we will be able to indefinitely push out the end date on our existing frame by replacing decrepit systems in place as they degrade. I described this process as *revigoration* over a decade ago, it involves a set of methods for en mass replacing senescent cells and tissues in a living host. This is not Science fiction, in fact it has already been done in several target organisms to limited degrees...restoring the youthful vigor and energetic function as well as extending life for worms and providing a much longer youthful state of life for mice. As the underlying genetic mystery continues to be unraveled we should expect these results to quickly translate into the human population. I detailed what will result of this technology in several posts linked below.
Still the question remains of how is it we will age once we are able to revigorate ourselves at our will? The graph below illustrates a general example. I will explain it's features below:
What does this show us:
1) The Y axis indicates the "Genetic Age" of the individual. This is basically correlated with their state of degradation as they get older, the greater your genetic age the older you look and the less fit you are. Today we have no choice but to follow a constantly increasing genetic age. This will change however once revigoration technologies are available for human beings as described in this post.
2) The X axis indicates the "Years of Life" simply a count of the number of years that the individual is alive, independent of their state of vigor as described by their genetic age. Today, most human don't achieve maxi um fitness until their early 20's and then from their lose vigor, most never make it to 70 and the octogenerian and nonagenarian and centarians on the planet can be counted in the thousands. This will change as revigoration technologies across the spectrum come online. As we discover methods for restoring mitochondrial energy stores and reversing key degrading pathways in their processing of ions this will increase vigor and possibly years of life, as we repair and restore other systems that are due to the accumulation of waste products and junk we will see continued extensions both in vigor into old age and as well the average end of life age...but even if we succeed in eliminating all the pathologies that are associated with age today using some treatment we will still be subject to slow systemic genetic age which will be a result of the constant low level attack we all suffer from mutations induced by the sun and other environmental factors. Hence, genetic revigoration will emerge as the optimal method for systemic restoration of youthful state across multiple systems using vector targeted delivery of genetic modifications to restore aged dna in key cells by pristine dna (possibly synthesized from stored or generated compliment of an individuals known pristine dna sequence) by the 2030's computing power given current trends will be more than sufficient to allow for instant or near instant sequencing of entire human genomes and sequencing and synthesis could be a process that takes hours.
3) The black line growing from the origin indicates the standard aging process with years of life that we currently enjoy. Illustrating the life line of a given individual. It grows upward until just about the late 20's for this persons life and then takes a sharp down tick back to a genetic age in the low 20's, this first down tick indicates the first revigoration event for this person. As indicated above some type of advanced vector targeted whole genome replacement is done where the persons genetic code is restored. It is believed that methylation of genes over time is a key factor in the general degrading process of multiple systems that is associated with age, it is also known that other pathways of directed aging (like telemore length modification) are in place but these stand apart from the constant slow process of accrued methylations. Repairing these to the an earlier state of youth may reverse entire systems fitness.
4) Note, after the revigoration process is complete aging continues again on the same slope of growth as degrading processes continue. This shows why immortality is not ever possible...degrading always happens and the best we can hope for is to dial back the clock periodically. In this example the individual gets into a cycle of aging about 10 years into their mid 30's and then revigorating back down to the "BRGA" which stands for the Base Revigoration Genetic Age. For all intents and purposes they would be that age genetically assuming revigoration technology works with the same efficiency every time but this is not guaranteed. It should be expected that depending on the level of revigoration that must be done there may be a need to perform multiple revigorations to allow an individual to revert to their BRGA and restore the vigor of an early 20 something across their tissues.
5) The process continues for several decades as this person virtually never ages more than 10 years and never genetically appears to look or achieve the fitness any lower than a 35 year old before being revigorated back to BRGA that is until the sudden fall off in the cliff at about 118 years old which marks the SDE, a sudden death event. An SDE can be marked by many things, it could be a stroke caused by a condition not previously genetically identified and unable to be treated before the individual is discovered. It could be an accident that catastrophically destroys the persons body...like being hit by a car or being trapped in a fire, many candidates exist for SDE's and we will still be subject to them even as we are *supermortals* oscillating our senescence about OUR desired levels of fitness as we see fit.
"As we see fit" being the key here, this particular graph had an individual suffer an SDE at nearly 120 years old while they were genetically about 24 years old, the quality of life that we will be able to experience when such technologies exist and many aspects of how the new reality will shape our behavior socially was described in this post. It is important to realize that immortality though technically not ever possible is virtually possible once we are able to live as super mortals...oscillating our senescence and living our lives to as full an extent as we wish until the inevitable SDE unmakes us.