WoD – Jonathan’s Law

(This was actually written back in 2007 but never posted until now.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about medicine and healthcare, and had a thought.  It’s in the same construct as the infamous Moore’s Law, which you all probably know or ought to know (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law), namely that the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit is increasing exponentially, doubling approximately every two years.  For those anywhere near the IT world (me), this is such a huge and fundamental and powerful Law — Moore’s Law is at the heart of all of the amazing technological advances we see and feel each day.

This is nothing like Moore’s Law, sorry about the hyped-up lead-in.  But I still think I am going to call it a Law.  Jonathan’s Law.  Ok here goes:

Like Moore’s Law, I think the average life expectancy of a human is elongating by approximately 3 months per year, every year.  Or, one year every four years.  (Maybe even faster than this.) 

This has been the case (probably even on an accelerating curve) for almost the last 100 years*.  I think we all think there’s no way this can possibly continue and inevitably our bodies will “hit a wall,” right?  After all we were not made to live to 120 years old.  Think about it right now – do you really believe that you can live to be 120 or 130?? (Not everyone of course, but some people.)  Won’t our bones or our heart or liver, kidney, or lungs just give out?  Could age 60 or 70 really only be half of our living years?

Well today, right here right now, I challenge this notion.  With advances in medicine like we have seen over the past ~50 years, and will invariably see over the next 50 (and by the way, Moore’s Law has played and will continue to play a HUGE role in these advances), I believe that we can, in fact, extend our life expectancy at this same pace going forward indefinitely.  (Thus the Law part of it.)  There.  I said it.

So what does this mean in numbers?  Average life expectancy in the U.S. in 1998 was 77.  Per this Law (ok ok, I admit I am using the “Jonathan’s Law” thing in this email for effect), this extrapolates to mean that by 2058, the average life expectancy in the U.S. would be 92.   92!   And this is just the statistical mean – the highest could be more like 120 or so!  (Remember, you heard it here first…)  So go ahead, eat that big juicy steak, smoke a few packs a day, and stay out all night partying.  Who cares… we’re all living until we’re 92!

(*  Yes, I dug up the data behind this for anyone more interested in the statistical nuances.  And in fact, there is one pretty big reason or driver that has led to the average life expectancy increasing from 47 in 1900 to 77 by 1998.  A big prize for any of you data hounds that can guess the underlying cause/reason for average life expectancy growth this past century…)



Nutty, crazy

Those tsedreyt kids tried to rob a bank, but got their getaway car towed!


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