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On Human Progress: We Are Born Healthy and Age Comfortably

This last century has been extraordinary.  The human lifespan has more than doubled.  As a human our typical lifespan for the majority of our existence for hundreds of thousands of years has been mid to late 20s. 

The fact that when you’d reproduce at the age of 13, you’d live long enough to see your child grow up to reproduce and then you were a burden to that clan.  You were eating the food of the young ones, so you’d die off.  That’s what Darwinism told us.  But today we’ve doubled and tripled that lifespan.  So that’s because of healthcare.

The next thing is that I just had two baby boys and it hits me how amazing our ability to have safe birth and they’re upbringing.  Childhood mortality has decreased 90% over the course of the last century and maternal mortality has decreased 99%.  So it’s much safer to be able to be a child and to be a mom.

Now as people get older what is also happening is that our ability to take care of them is also going to be transformed.  As we get more and more octogenarians - people living into their 80s, 90s and centenarians into their hundreds, we have very little choice.  Either they’re going to have to go into old age homes at some point or we’re going to be able to develop the technology - mostly it’s the robots coming online - that will allow these individuals to be able to live at home in a comfortable fashion. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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