If you’re under 40 reading this article, you’re probably not going to die unless you get a nasty disease.
Those are the words of esteemed futurologist Dr. Ian Pearson, who told The Sun he believes humans are very close to achieving “immortality” – the ability to never die.
Humans have been trying to find a way to dodge death for years.
Ancient Greek alchemists tried to create a “philosopher’s stone” that would let people live forever, but humans have yet to beat death.
However, Dr. Pearson tells The Sun that there are a number of different ways we could live forever – as long as you can make it to the year 2050.
If you kick the bucket before then, you might be part of the last generation of humans to die of old age.
Method #1: Renewing your body parts
“There are quite a lot of people interested in living forever,” explains Dr. Pearson. “There always has been, but the difference now is tech is improving so quickly, lots of people believe they can actually do it.”
He reveals that one way to extend life would be to use bio-technologies and medicine to “keep renewing the body, and rejuvenating it”.
“No one wants to live forever at 95 years old, but if you could rejuvenate the body to 29 or 30, you might want to do that.”
This could be done in several ways, including genetic engineering that prevents (or reverses) the ageing of cells.
Alternatively, you could replace vital body organs with new parts.
Many scientists around the world are working on creating human organs using 3D printers loaded with living cells, which could one day make human organ donors redundant.
Method #2: Living in android bodies
But Dr. Pearson thinks it’s much more likely that we’ll extend our lives a different way: robots.
“A long time before we get to fix our bodies and rejuvenate it every time we feel like, we’ll be able to link our minds to the machine world so well, we’ll effectively be living in the cloud,” he explains.
“The mind will basically be in the cloud, and be able to use any android that you feel like to inhabit the real world.”
He says that in 50 years time, we might be able to hire an android anywhere in the world “just like a hire car”, and upload your consciousness into it.
“If you wanted to spend the evening in Australia, going to the Sydney opera house, you could use an android.”
This means that even when your original bodies dies, you’d still be able to use your digital mind – stored on a computer – and live in the world using highly realistic robot bodies.
“The current state of sex dolls are starting to look quite human-like. Give them another 30 years of development and they’ll be extremely human-like,” Dr. Pearson reveals.
“You can take any android body and they will look human-like, and download whatever mind you want. You could share one with someone else, or have one yourself, or own dozens of them.
“You might even have ones of different genders and different ages, some old, young, female, male – there might be new genders by 2050 as well, so several other ones you can pick too.”
He explains that we’ll have to wait until around “2045, 2050” before we’ll be able to create these strong brain-to-machine links, and says the cost will be very high initially.
The first people to use robot bodies to become immortal will be the rich, but then “the price will gradually come down.”
One day your body dies – maybe you get hit by a bus or a nasty disease – but it doesn’t matter, because your mind will still be there. You’ll be able to use an android body instead of the organic one you just lost.
For normal people on everyday salaries, it’s more likely that you’ll have to wait a little longer.
Immortality on the NHS
“By 2060, people like you or I will be able to buy it, and by 2070 people in poor countries on modest incomes will be able to buy it.
“Everyone will have a chance to have immortality, a sort of electronic immortality.
“After 10, 15, 20 years, the price comes down to hundreds of pounds, rather than millions.
“It could be provided as part of the NHS. You might be able to buy premium offerings on a private subscription, or you might get a basic presence on a network and be allowed to use an android body.”
Dr. Pearson says we’ll have to limit the number of android bodies people can own, however.
“You might be given one free on the NHS, but you might be limited to no more than two or three.
“Rich people that can afford it would probably want to have loads of different bodies, and if your mind is online, there’s nothing to stop them replicating it millions of times over.
“You wouldn’t want to live in a world where there are millions of Kardashians walking around, where they can afford to do it and nobody else can.
“We would need to limit the number of bodies for environmental impact.
“Imaging taking everybody in the UK. Once the economics allows everyone to have 10 bodies each, there would be 600 million people living here.”
Method #3: Living in a virtual world
But if our minds are online, do we even need robot bodies? We could all just live in a computer simulation quite happily, according to Dr. Pearson.
“You could spend most of your time online in the virtual world, of course anywhere in the world on any computer.
“If you’re online all the time, you could have a fantastic life online. It would be all virtual, so you could have anything you want. 72 virgins if that’s what drives you; all of that, because it’s totally imaginary.
“You could make as much fun as you could possibly imagine online. You might still want to come into the real world.
You could link your mind to millions of other minds, and have unlimited intelligence, and be in multiple places at once.
The cut-off – holding on for dear life
The tricky bit is surviving until the technology becomes widely available.
“By 2050, it will only really be for the rich and famous.
“Most people on middle-class incomes and reasonable working-class incomes can probably afford this in the 2060s. So anyone 90 or under by 2060.
“If you were born sometime in 1970 onwards, that would make you 48 this year. So anybody under 50 has got a good chance of it, and anyone under 40 almost definitely will have access to this.
“Most of your readers are probably going to live forever,” Dr. Pearson tells us.
This story originally appeared in The Sun.