Promoting innovation in the age of longer life spans

Promoting innovation in the age of longer life spans

November 14, 2013

November 14, 2013

Can old dogs learn new tricks? How about old societies? In the face of plummeting fertility rates and rapid population aging throughout the developed world, the answer is yes, writesMichael Birt, director of the Center for Sustainable Health at ASU’s Biodesign Institute, in a Future Tense article for Slate magazine.

Birt argues that aging societies like Japan, China and the United States have an opportunity to take bold action and use their “graying” populations as a springboard for entrepreneurship and innovation.

Birt profiles Japan’s proactive response to its aging population, and considers social and political challenges in China and the United States related to aging, innovation and the workforce. He notes hopefully that despite major systemic challenges around health care and Social Security, the United States continues “to set the gold standard for entrepreneurship – or perhaps I should say silver standard – in the field of private-sector response to aging.”

Birt concludes by writing, “In the end, every individual and society has a choice about how to respond to this future of longevity. We can’t see the future now, but the very natural human desire to extend life could very well be the catalyst for innovations now unimaginable.”

To read more about the challenge of aging populations and how entrepreneurship and innovation are crucial factors in addressing it, visit Future Tense.

Future Tense is a collaboration among ASU, the New America Foundation and Slate magazine that explores how emerging technologies affect policy and society.

Finally, to give a bit more detail on the issues concerning aging, we provide a video link to a collaboration called the Tomorrow Project with ASU's Biodesign Institute, the Center for Science and the Imagination and Intel futurist, Brian David Johnson, as he talks with Michael Birt to contemplate a future in which people have a greater degree of personal control over predicting and preventing disease.

 

Written by: Joe Caspermeyer