1. Physical wellbeing

This page contains the opening portion of Chapter 1 of RAFT 2035.

Copyright © 2020 David W. Wood. All rights reserved.


1. Physical wellbeing

Goal 1 of RAFT 2035 is that the average healthspan in the UK will be at least 90 years (up from 63 as at present).

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The rationale for this goal is that good bodily health is the starting point for all other activities. Declining health diminishes human opportunities and curtails human freedoms, as bodies and minds become enfeebled. Declining health can also impose huge social and healthcare costs. Sadly, the healthcare budgets in countries all around the world are already creaking under severe stress.

However, there will be significant benefits, both socially and economically, to delaying the onset of chronic diseases of aging and thereby extending healthspan. These benefits are known as the “longevity dividend”. Happily, these benefits now lie within our grasp.

Boosting healthspan

Healthspan has been defined as the amount of time an individual can live independently, without being hospitalised or requiring regular support from healthcare assistants or family or friends. It can also be measured as the amount of time that someone would assess their own health as being “good” or “very good”.

The latest figures from the UK’s Office of National Statistics for expected lifespan in the UK are 82.9 years for women and 79.3 for men. The same data source states that “healthy life expectancy” is 63.6 years for females and 63.1 years for males. In other words, these figures predict that someone will, on average, be fully healthy for only 77 to 80% of their lifespan.

Unfortunately, the figures for expected healthspan are actually declining. For example, the expected healthspan for women has decreased by three months over a six year period (from 2009-11 to 2015-17).

But things don’t need to be this way. We can look forward to three overlapping waves of improvements in how people age:

  1. Technology that helps people to “age in place” better, so that, despite aging, people can lead fuller lives. This includes better monitoring systems to give early warnings of impending ill-health, better mobility solutions to reduce the need for people to rely on assistance, and better networking systems so that, despite diminished mobility, the elderly remain connected to their family and friends and have a rich social life.
  2. Technology that enables more people to live like the “superagers” who age more slowly than the average person. A superager might live like they’re 75, despite being 95 or older.
  3. Technology that enables people to be “forever young” (if they choose it): they could live like they’re 35, despite being 125 or older.

Learning from superagers

Superagers are defined as people who reach the age of 95 without being impacted by cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, cognitive decline. It’s notable that superagers are often siblings or cousins of each other.

As well as aging more slowly, superagers tend to require less healthcare, even in the twilight years of their lives. They typically experience what is known as “compressed morbidity”. A superager can utilise less medical budget throughout their long lives, in total, than a shorter lived neighbour who spends many more years in declining health.

A number of researchers are avidly studying superagers, to understand how they differ from the rest of the population, in terms of lifestyle, but also in terms of genetics and other biological features. The goal of this research is to understand what treatments and medical interventions might be made available to the rest of the population, so that superaging becomes the norm, rather than (as present) the exception.

As well as learning from human superagers, it is possible to learn from a number of animal species that manifest various kinds of superaging, and even, in some cases, negligible senescence.

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RAFT 2035 – a new initiative for a new decade

The need for a better politics is more pressing than ever.

Since its formation, Transpolitica has run a number of different projects aimed at building momentum behind a technoprogressive vision for a better politics. For a new decade, it’s time to take a different approach, to build on previous initiatives.

The planned new vehicle has the name “RAFT 2035”.

RAFT is an acronym:

  • Roadmap (‘R’) – not just a lofty aspiration, but specific steps and interim targets
  • towards Abundance (‘A’) for all – beyond a world of scarcity and conflict
  • enabling Flourishing (‘F’) as never before – with life containing not just possessions, but enriched experiences, creativity, and meaning
  • via Transcendence (‘T’) – since we won’t be able to make progress by staying as we are.

RAFT is also a metaphor. Here’s a copy of the explanation:

When turbulent waters are bearing down fast, it’s very helpful to have a sturdy raft at hand.

The fifteen years from 2020 to 2035 could be the most turbulent of human history. Revolutions are gathering pace in four overlapping fields of technology: nanotech, biotech, infotech, and cognotech, or NBIC for short. In combination, these NBIC revolutions offer enormous new possibilities – enormous opportunities and enormous risks:…

Rapid technological change tends to provoke a turbulent social reaction. Old certainties fade. New winners arrive on the scene, flaunting their power, and upturning previous networks of relationships. Within the general public, a sense of alienation and disruption mingles with a sense of profound possibility. Fear and hope jostle each other. Whilst some social metrics indicate major progress, others indicate major setbacks. The claim “You’ve never had it so good” coexists with the counterclaim “It’s going to be worse than ever”. To add to the bewilderment, there seems to be lots of evidence confirming both views.

The greater the pace of change, the more intense the dislocation. Due to the increased scale, speed, and global nature of the ongoing NBIC revolutions, the disruptions that followed in the wake of previous industrial revolutions – seismic though they were – are likely to be dwarfed in comparison to what lies ahead.

Turbulent times require a space for shelter and reflection, clear navigational vision despite the mists of uncertainty, and a powerful engine for us to pursue our own direction, rather than just being carried along by forces outside our control. In short, turbulent times require a powerful “raft” – a roadmap to a future in which the extraordinary powers latent in NBIC technologies are used to raise humanity to new levels of flourishing, rather than driving us over some dreadful precipice.

The words just quoted come from the opening page of a short book that is envisioned to be published in January 2020. The chapters of this book are reworked versions of the scripts used in the recent “Technoprogressive roadmap” series of videos.

Over the next couple of weeks, all the chapters of this proposed book will be made available for review and comment:

  • As pages on the Transpolitica website, starting here
  • As shared Google documents, starting here, where comments and suggestions are welcome.

RAFT Cover 21

All being well, RAFT 2035 will also become a conference, held sometime around the middle of 2020.

You may note that, in that way that RAFT 2035 is presented to the world,

  • The word “transhumanist” has moved into the background – since that word tends to provoke many hostile reactions
  • The word “technoprogressive” also takes a backseat – since, again, that word has negative connotations in at least some circles.

If you like the basic idea of what’s being proposed, here’s how you can help:

  • Read some of the content that is already available, and provide comments
    • If you notice something that seems mistaken, or difficult to understand
    • If you think there is a gap that should be addressed
    • If you think there’s a better way to express something.

Thanks in anticipation!

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