Since it doesn’t get much press these days, newcomers to our longevity science community might not be aware of the wager made nearly two decades ago between optimist Steven Austad and pessimist S. Jay Olshansky on the trajectory of future human life expectancy. The core of the wager is whether or not the research and medical communities will develop and implement means of radical life extension sufficient to result in 150-year old humans within next century or so. Given where things stand today, I’d say that betting against this outcome is tough to justify. Fifty years in technology is a very long time in this era of rapid progress in applied science, never mind a century, and the first rejuvenation therapies that work by removing a fundamental cause of aging are already heading to the clinic.
It is possible that someone reading this now will be alive to see the resolution of a $1 billion bet between Jay Olshansky, a University of Illinois at Chicago professor of public health, and Steven Austad, chairman of biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Eighteen years ago, the two friends began their