When we reach a certain age we come to realize that our time on this planet is seemingly finite. And yet ever since we learn this fact, many come to wonder about the specifics of their time allotted on this planet. How long will we each live? What is most likely to claim our lives? The answers to these questions are some of the most fundamental forces behind concepts such as fear. And now genetic scientists have figured out a statistical model based solely on the genetic factors in their DNA.
The model is a sort of “death clock” that works to develop the recipient’s life in order to better suit their likelihood of time of death. Such estimations are not always accurate, and in fact do not give the subject a sort of “Twilight Zone” inspired understanding of the exact day they are likely to die, but rather a statistical understanding based on their genetic makeup based on 150 different factors that seem to determine at what point vast numbers of people either live or die past 100 years old.
To live to the age 100 is said to be a centenarian, derived from the same word for century meaning 100 years. The traits have been statistically tallied up in Boston to reveal a person’s likelihood to reach this ripe old age. According to the US Census bureau, the likelihood of a person reaching this ripe old age is less than 0.06%. When Paola Sebastiani from Boston University led the experiment alongside Thomas Perls from the medical department, they found themselves wondering what sort of social impact a study such as this could have.
With social networking increasing, the information that is available to be shared is largely driven by those who find it comfortable to share, and not by those who are not. As a result, there may be an option to share your estimated age. In doing so, we could see a quick evolutionary model wherein a higher number on the test will be seen as a likelier candidate to pass on their genetic traits to the next generation while those who are said to have lower life expectancies will be unable to find appropriate mates by a dystopian socially based life expectancy cycle based in mathematics. Of course this is an extreme example, and the likelihood of something so Earth-shatteringly huge is fairly unlikely, but it’s one end of the spectrum to consider when taking the number a machine gives you seriously. Conversely, however, companies may decide that those who live longer are less desirable due to pension plans and retirement benefits. Insurance companies, upon getting a hold of this information may decide to deny an insurance policy to an individual simply because their genetics aren’t “good enough” to live to be 100 years old. The expectancy of a person’s longevity is a very socially related concept, and has an effect on each of our lives personally. Is our world ready for an accurate depiction of how long a person can be expected to live?