Our Body is Not Designed to Last 100-Yrs or More

In this very interesting 2015 Scientific American article What a Body Built to Last 100 Years Would Look Like, authors S. Jay OlshanskyBruce A. CarnesRobert N. Butler highlight the fact that how body is not designed for longevity otherwise they argue it would have looked or evolved very differently then they look today.

The living machines we call our bodies deteriorate because they were not designed for extended operation and because we now push them to function long past their warranty period. The human body is artistically beautiful and worthy of all the wonder and amazement it evokes. But from an engineer’s perspective, it is a complex network of bones, muscles, tendons, valves and joints that are directly analogous to the fallible pulleys, pumps, levers and hinges in machines. As we plunge further into our postreproductive years, our joints and other anatomical features that serve us well or cause no problems at younger ages reveal their imperfections. They wear out or otherwise contribute to the health problems that become common in the later years.

The authors summarized their study as follows:

  • “The process of human evolution has resulted in bodies that are optimized for successful reproduction and child-rearing but are not necessarily designed for healthy, long lives.
  • “Medical problems associated with aging are often described as diseases that are our own fault, but it is unfair to blame people for inheriting bodies that were not designed for extended use. We can shorten our lives, but not prolong them indefinitely.
  • “If humans were built primarily for longevity and perpetual health, our anatomies and even our bodies’ molecular processes would look very different than they currently do.
  • “The single-minded pursuit of life extension could actually be harmful to our species’ long-term survival.

The author argue “Had we been crafted for extended operation, we would have fewer flaws capable of making us miserable in our later days. Evolution does not work that way, however.”