Most people don't read scientific journals, but if they did they'd know the transhumanist field of life extension is repeatedly making major scientific and medical breakthroughs. Life extension science -- also called longevity research, biomedical gerontology or anti-aging medicine -- is the study of keeping people alive. It especially focuses on slowing down or reversing the aging process in order to extend lifespans. Few fields of study offer so much for civilization. Some results of life extension science are already being realized, and lives around the globe are being lengthened, better health is being achieved, and disease is being controlled or eliminated.
It all sounds great. Unfortunately, it's not. In our modern world of smartphones, robotics and jet travel, there are still 150,000 deaths a day. Furthermore, poor health and disease afflict billions of people, causing many of them to suffer. In the next 10 years, over a half-billion people will die, many enduring horrifically painful and degrading deaths as their bodies and brains stop functioning. It doesn't need to be that way.
If human society values the sanctity of life, it must ask: Is there another way? The answer is surprisingly simple: Yes, there is. Support a one-time 1 percent Jethro Knights Life Extension tax applicable to every adult human being on the planet. Dedicate just 1 percent of your personal net worth for life extension science, and in 10 years time, medicine, longevity and human health will be transformed. The world can conquer death in about a decade's time if enough resources are put towards it.
Some of you are asking: Who is Jethro Knights? Jethro Knights is the philosopher protagonist in the novel The Transhumanist Wager. What makes him important is he symbolizes every person on the planet, each who faces the same universal dilemma: human mortality. No sane and reasonable person wants to die if it can be avoided. In the 21st century, the age of unparalleled scientific and technological achievement, many scientists and futurists realize we are very close to medically overcoming biological death. Our human bodies and minds can be made to live indefinitely. Jethro Knights is the person who declares death can be scientifically overcome, and then makes an oath to do everything in his power to achieve this.
Few people want to address the fact that science and medicine are lagging far behind where they could be if adequate resources were given to them. Even fewer people would agree that they are responsible for that fact. But make no mistake: We are all responsible. To some extent, we are all responsible for our own deaths and suffering. We have not dedicated enough of our time, energy and resources to the advancement of science and medicine. We support trillion dollar wars in far-off lands, but not trillion dollar wars at home against cancer, heart disease, diabetes or aging.
There are many excellent research groups, university departments and companies around the world trying to eliminate aging and disease. SENS Research Foundation, Google's Calico, Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Maximum Life Foundation, Human Longevity, Inc., and USC Davis School of Gerontology are some of them. But all of them need more resources to speedily tackle the complexity of human longevity. Yet, nobody is giving enough money to these scientists and entities because nobody cares enough. The U.S. Government isn't doing much either to extend American lifespans. They spend just 2 percent of the national budget on science and medical research, while their defense budget is 20 percent, according to a 2013 Center on Budget and Policy Priorities chart.
What people don't realize is that with enough research money properly focused -- $50 billion dollars, some experts say -- human aging and the terror of disease can likely be halted. With a trillion dollars (the world's wealth is over $200 trillion), human death can be halted in 10 years time. In the end of the day, controlling aging and disease are just more science puzzles waiting for the modern world to solve. We could help that process along if we changed the psychology of civilization's culture -- a culture that largely believes human death is unstoppable and inevitable. Aging should be seen as a fixable problem, not as a destiny. The human race can overcome its biggest natural hurdle.
For all these reasons, I propose the 1 percent Jethro Knights Life Extension tax. Nobody likes taxes, especially not new ones. However, some taxes serve their purpose and can also change the world. Naysayers will say: Not everyone will support such a tax. That is certainly true. Perhaps a general vote could decide this. Others will say: Even if there was such a tax, many people will not pay it. That is also true. Nonetheless, only a fraction of this 1 percent world tax would need to be used to eliminate disease and aging in a decade's time.
Many other pertinent questions exist, too. Which scientists, universities, companies and longevity research groups would get the money? How would governments coordinate such a massive international endeavor? What life extension strategies would be most funded? Who or which countries would get the longevity benefits first? And how could the planet handle more overpopulation? These are questions to be answered by politicians, philosophers, scientists and the people of the world. But, rest assured, they all can be satisfactorily answered.
Most likely, an intergovernmental body, perhaps similar to the World Health Organization, would need to be set up to best coordinate and achieve such radical life extension aims. Of course, the first step to such a noble goal for the human race starts with a personal decision on the part of every human being. If you love your life, you will want to live longer and contribute towards conquering human mortality. You will want to support a one-time 1 percent life extension tax to end disease and death for yourself and your loved ones.