Essays on Infinite Lifespans
Michael R. Rose
Bob Shaw.  Shaw assumed that the cessation of aging
would require the termination of sexual function. But we have
no reason to accept such a connection between reproduction
and immortality at this time. When Shaw wrote his novel, the
idea of human immortality was literally science fiction. But in
my laboratory we now have data showing this type of transi-
tion in experimental organisms fruit flies using selective
breeding.  We have not fully eliminated aging, but we
have both decelerated aging and reduced the level of mortal-
ity during the immortal phase of life. Toward the end of life,
some of our flies even cease aging earlier.
The immortal phase can be manipulated, just as aging can
be. In particular, immortality can be made to come earlier.
This does not mean that the methods used to produce this
effect in the lab can be applied to humans, but the results
show what is biologically possible in simple animals.
What is the practical situation with respect to attaining
human immortality earlier, in better health?
Later life is not adaptive. It is instead a product of evolution-
ary accidents. Such accidents involve many bits and pieces of
biology, because they are not focused by selection. To attain
an earlier, more beneficent immortality requires the re-shap-
ing of multiple features of our biology, not a few. Unlike Bob
Shaws story, in real life, a single drug or treatment will not
be enough to give us immortality when we are still healthy
enough to enjoy it.
Fortunately, 21st Century biology can supply us with
thousands of pharmaceuticals and other medical treatments,
especially when the full power of genomics is applied to the
development of drugs. While the simple magic elixirs of horror