More Botox Please: We're Gonna Live 700 Years


Peter Diamandis decided in medical school that he wanted to live as long as sea turtles. "So I set a 700-year lifespan goal," he told the live and virtual attendees at the 10th Annual SAS Health Care & Life Sciences Executive Conference yesterday.

It was a compelling statement, but raised more questions than it answered. Do sea turtles really live 700 years? Does any human other than Diamandis really want to live that long? How does the prospect of immortality -- or something close to it -- affect the natural population cycles of birth and death? And how will even the most sophisticated use of health analytics overcome the limitations of a healthcare system already struggling under the weight of rising costs?

But Diamandis is a visionary thinker, one more concerned with the big existential questions than the practical realities of day-to-day life. It's hardly surprising: When your mind is focused on things as complex as networks and sensors, robotics, artificial intelligence, computational systems, biotechnology, nano technology, and disruptive innovation, you probably have no time to worry about the things the average mind associates with a quest for immortality -- like "where will all those people live?"

Diamandis, 52, has been described as a "serial social venture entrepreneur." He is CEO of the X Prize Foundation, which leads the world in designing and launching large incentive prizes to drive radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity; an international leader in the commercial space arena, having founded and run many of the leading entrepreneurial companies in this sector, including Zero Gravity Corp., the Rocket Racing League, and Space Adventures; co-founder and chairman of Singularity University in Silicon Valley; and co-author of Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think.

Yesterday, he was the keynote speaker during the morning session at the invitation-only SAS conference that was streamed live from SAS world headquarters in Cary, N.C. The event convenes industry leaders to discuss the role and benefits of health analytics in the evolving healthcare world.

His speech was followed by a leadership panel discussion featuring some other heavy hitters: Dr. Michael Dulin, PhD, Chair, and Medical Officer for Analytics and Outcomes Research, Carolinas HealthCare System; Dr. Graham Hughes, Chief Medical Officer, SAS Center for Health Analytics and Insights; Dr. Charles Hugh-Jones, Chief Medical Officer, Sanofi US; and our own All Analytics blogger, Mark Pitts, Director of Data Science, Solutions and Strategy, UnitedHealthcare.

Even more health professionals took the stage in the afternoon, as well as a trio of SAS leaders, CEO Jim Goodnight, Jim Davis, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, and Randy Guard, Vice President of Product Management, who discussed how visual analytics can illuminate data in healthcare and the life sciences.

But let's get back to Diamandis, who explained that some 30 years ago, he watched a TV show that mentioned sea turtles represent some of the oldest living animals on the planet. "It was believed some of them live as long as 700 years. And I said, 'If they can, why can't I?'"

For the record, I'm not sure what TV show Diamandis was watching -- or why a man as obviously smart as he is apparently believed what he heard on TV. I have some doubts about sea turtles living for hundreds of years. As far as I can tell, they are estimated to live about 80 years. But maybe I'm just not smart enough to find Diamandis' sources.

So let's put the comparison to sea creatures aside and consider some of the other things he said -- including the fact that in the next few decades, we will unlock the secrets of human aging and we’ll be able to slow down, stop, and ultimately reverse aging. Human longevity, he added, "represents a huge marketplace in the future."

What else did he have to say?

Healthcare and life sciences should learn from the failure of Eastman Kodak Co. and find every possible way to innovate, embrace possibilities, and recognize that growth is no longer linear but exponential.

You can't stay still anymore if you want your company to thrive, especially in the critical areas of health and science. "You're either disrupting yourself internally or being disrupted externally, often by a start-up," he said.

And the days of data-driven decisions have only just begun. Right now, wireless devices embedded in objects are gathering huge amounts of data that can be modeled by people who are able to “ask the right questions.” But in the future, you will have the data and the data analysis to become the CEO of your own health. He explained:

    Today, my car, my airplane, my computer knows more about its health status than I do, which is insane. The future is one in which the fundamental health parameters of my body are constantly being monitored 24/7 as well as the air I breathe, the food I eat, the environment I walk through. There are no more excuses for not knowing about something.

    In the future, you know the instant things start to go off kilter and you have the ability to intervene early.

It's not far fetched to envision someone's Google Glasses advising him that he needs to leave work ASAP and head to the nearest emergency room based on data from any one of a number of body sensors, Diamandis added.

We’re at the dawn of an age when consumers will wirelessly monitor a variety of health metrics ranging from their pulse rate to their brain waves, which will be beamed to a user's smartphone (or glasses), putting that data in the palm of their hands.

It’s a world of exciting possibilities, he said, focused on collection of data that will dwarf even the largest amounts we are currently collecting. Think about it: 3D printing of human cells. personal digital assistants that are so smart they can tell people where they need to go next -- without even being asked or prompted, and robots performing all sorts of tasks that people once did.

There's plenty to be enthusiastic about... even if we fall short of his vision of living 700 years.

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Noreen Seebacher,

Noreen Seebacher, the Community Editor of Investor Uprising, has been a business journalist for more than 20 years. A New York City based writer and editor, she has worked for numerous print and online publications. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, the New York Post, New York’s Daily News, The Detroit News, and the Pittsburgh Press. She co-edited five newsletters for Real Estate Media’s GlobeSt.com and served as the site's technology editor.

She also championed the commercial real estate beat at The Journal News, a Gannett publication in suburban New York City, and co-founded a Website focused on personal finance. Through her own company, Stasa Media, Noreen has produced reports, whitepapers, and internal publications for a number of Fortune 500 clients. When she's not writing, editing, or Web surfing, she relaxes in an 1875 Victorian with her husband and their five kids, four formerly homeless cats, and a dog.

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Re: Maybe not 700, but...
  • 5/23/2013 3:33:00 AM
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That is a great question Noreen, what would I do with the extra time ?   Wow, I had not even considered it ( how sad ) but after some reflection, this would just give me more time to hone my skills in the area of technology and general business acumen. 

 

I have to leave some kind of ( IBM -Google-esque ) legacy behind.

Re: Maybe not 700, but...
  • 5/22/2013 11:19:34 PM
NO RATINGS

..

Noreen asks


For sake of argument, let's say we could productively double our lifespans. What would you want to accomplish?


 

Assuming I would retain an acceptable level of health and vitality, I'd probably continue to pursue goals of overhauling the world, while trying to advance my career reinvention at the same time. How much I could actually accomplish remains to be seen.

 

Re: Maybe not 700, but...
  • 5/22/2013 5:48:47 PM
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For sake of argument, let's say we could productively double our lifespans. What would you want to accomplish? Would you have multiple careers? Spend time on mission trips? Please share!

Re: Maybe not 700, but...
  • 5/22/2013 8:30:56 AM
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..

Broadway writes


Well, if there is a glimmer of hope, it's the growth of social capitalism, social impact, the triple bottom line -- whatever you call it -- applying "market forces" toward social good versus profit for profits/shareholders' sake.


 

Well, maybe. But I have the feeling that trying to promote "social" anything among the movers and shakers of the Power Elite is sorta like trying to bed down comfortably in the middle of a pride of lions...

 

Re: Maybe not 700, but...
  • 5/21/2013 11:00:22 PM
NO RATINGS

Well, if there is a glimmer of hope, it's the growth of social capitalism, social impact, the triple bottom line -- whatever you call it -- applying "market forces" toward social good versus profit for profits/shareholders' sake.

Re: Maybe not 700, but...
  • 5/21/2013 12:12:23 PM
NO RATINGS

..

Broadway writes


@Lyndon, Social Security? I don't think capitalism would survive if we all start living to 700 years old. As @Hospice noted, after a couple centuries, I agree that people would start to realize that capitalism isn't working for anyone but the few, even in America.


 

Actually, I don't think capitalism will survive, no matter what lifespan we reach (or regress to).  I really don't see how a modern global society can continue to function with the economic relations and structure of the Robber Baron era...

 

Re: Maybe not 700, but...
  • 5/20/2013 10:49:23 PM
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@Lyndon, Social Security? I don't think capitalism would survive if we all start living to 700 years old. As @Hospice noted, after a couple centuries, I agree that people would start to realize that capitalism isn't working for anyone but the few, even in America.

Re: Maybe not 700, but...
  • 5/20/2013 9:50:19 PM
NO RATINGS

..

Noreen writes in her blog


When your mind is focused on things as complex as networks and sensors, robotics, artificial intelligence, computational systems, biotechnology, nano technology, and disruptive innovation, you probably have no time to worry about the things the average mind associates with a quest for immortality -- like "where will all those people live?"


 

And how's about the Social Security to support them ... or maybe, with chained CPI, it would long since have dwindled to nothing?

If Pete Peterson and other Wall Street moguls are so worried to death about the impact of the Baby Boomers — with a lifespan of seventy-something — on the economy, they surely would be hysterical about the prospect of supporting 700-year-olds... 

 

Re: Maybe not 700, but...
  • 5/20/2013 5:05:15 PM
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I theorize that with longer life expentancies, we will see more changes regarding views of education, environment, health and other common societal issues.  It is one thing to think that "Well we are all going to die anyway." to realizing that one may be around to experience the cause and effect of today's behavior. 

Re: Maybe not 700, but...
  • 5/20/2013 9:02:03 AM
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@Seth That actually does make sense. When life expectancy was somewhere around 40, people did marry and have children in their teens. Now people tend to wait until their 30s for that. 

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