Sunday, December 18, 2011

Increased lifespans: we may be approaching a "singularity"


An Opinion piece in the New York Times Sunday wonders of we’re approaching an inflection point, were we unlock the key to immortality and all become angels – at least digitally, maybe on the Web, without bodies. “Omni” magazine had proposed as much in the 1990s. 
 
The piece by James Atlas is “Old Age – Life Goes On”, link here

Atlas discusses a book by Ray Kurtweil, “The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology” (Penguin, 2006).  There’s a physics question, maybe: if anyone were immortal, would that contradict the Second Law of Thermodynamics?  Entropy seems to make aging inevitable, but then what happens to the soul?
 
In the meantime, as biological lifespans increase sharply, Atlas writes, “One challenge my entitled generation faces is that many of our long-lived parents are running through their retirement money, which leaves the burden of supporting them to us.”  The term “sandwich generation” is still relatively recent, and nobody applies it correctly to the childless. 
 
In view of all of this, many of the proposals to fix Medicare sound meager indeed. But today’s Times has a major editorial and other materials on it. Generally, Congress is considering making public coverage v. subsidized private coverage a choice, giving states more control, trying to discourage first-dollar coverage, and trying to simplify reimbursements.   And it considers increasing means testing – some of which happens now. I wasn’t aware that those making over $85000 pay more premiums now. What about looking at accumulated assets then (as Medicaid already does)?

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