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Which vision of your future - dementia or perpetual happiness?

On BBC4 Michio Kaku is currently presenting a vision of the future in which we all (or at least those who can afford the treatment) will live well into our hundreds with cures available for all our diseases.

On the other side of the coin, Dr Guy Brown, head of a Cambridge university working group on cell death in the brain and heart and in cancer. has published a book called The Living End: The Future of Death, Aging and Mortality, which presents a very different vision. (See The Guardian for 14 November.) We are living longer already but there has not been a corresponding increase in years of healthy living.

Average lifespan has increased by 2.2 years per decade for the last 100 years. UK government forecasts are for 250,000 people over 100 by 2051 and for 500,000 by 2071. There are currently 700,000 people with dementia in Britain and the figure is expected to be 1.75 million by 2051.

Your chances of acquiring dementia before you die are at least 30%. Of those who live until 95 or more 58% are demented and 80% have a moderate or severe cognitive defect.

Which of these visions of the future seems more convincing to you - Kaku's or Brown's?
But perhaps we won't have to worry about it; if Martin Rees is right (see Our Final Century) our civilization won't last that long anyway.


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