Financial Planning | Technology & Social Media

Have you saved enough to live forever?

Road Want to blow your mind? Check out the Feb. 21, 2011 edition of Time.

Titled "2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal," the cover story speculated on a future dominated by hyper-intelligent machines -- machines with more computing power than the whole of the human race. When that day comes, machines will be designing the machines, and the age of human innovation will essentially come to an end. Subscribers to that theory have a name for it. They call it "the Singularity."

Science fiction? Maybe not. Proponents make a compelling case. As author Lev Grossman writes, engineer and futurist Raymond Kurzweil "likes to point out that your average cell phone is about a millionth the size of, a millionth the price of and a thousand times more powerful than the computer he had at MIT 40 years ago. Flip that forward 40 years and what does the world look like?"

Me? I usually can't see much farther ahead than lunch. But one section of the article did catch my eye.

Among these believers in the Singularity are a group of radical thinkers who view aging and death as merely two more problems to solve. In short, they believe the Singularity may eventually bring humans to the brink of immortality.

"The human body is a machine that has a bunch of functions, and it accumulates various types of damage as a side effect of the normal function of the machine," British biologist Aubrey de Grey told Time. "Therefore, in principal, that damage can be repaired periodically. ... The whole of medicine consists of messing about with what looks pretty inevitable until you figure out how to make it not inevitable."

And boy, wouldn't that turn the field of financial planning upside down? You think folks aren't saving enough now? Imagine planning for a retirement with no expiration date.

Or maybe retirement, like death, will simply ... disappear. If we're going to live forever, why not work forever?

My head hurts just thinking about it.


Bill Sheridan