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August 3rd, 2008
It takes 20 years, give or take, for a new technology to move through multiple cycles of development, commercialization, and competition necessary to evolve from experimental prototype to widespread maturity. A look back at the past few decades of medical progress suggests that 30 years is more likely in that field - there's one effect of regulation for you, a slowing of the technologies that manage to make it over the regulatory hurdle in the first place.
What does this pace of progress in medicine mean for middle-aged and younger people today? It means that the 2030s will see widespread, cost-effective use of the medical technologies you presently read about in the science press. A small selection:
* Replacement organs will be grown to order from your own cells.
* Stem cells will be created, manipulated, and transplanted to direct extraordinary regeneration
* Age-damaged immune systems will be wiped clean and replaced afresh.
* Gene therapy will be a mature technology, and genetic disorders curable.
* Everyone will know their DNA sequence, and have access to a vast database of knowledge that describes risks, therapies, and best practices.
* Cancer will be detected early, and even late-stage metastasis cured with few side-effects by nanoparticle-based, viral, or other therapies.
* The important mitochondrial DNA will be replaced when damaged by disease or age.
* Many of the biochemical processes underlying the benefits of exercise, calorie restriction, and known human longevity-associated genes will be reproduced by cheap drugs.
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