Future life Spans: 150 years On?

What would cause you to make your most radical lifestyle change for the long term? Winning a lottery? Suffering from a serious disease or injury? How about finding out you could live to be 150?

As scientists delve into the secrets of human DNA and work with pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs to treat cancers, diabetes, and heart disease, one of the fascinating side effects could be a new understanding of the aging process and how to slow it down. (The Sirtris division of GlaxoSmithKline is already running clinical trials on a drug to treat inflammation and other aging-related diseases.) In the developed world, the life expectancy for men and women is already exceeding 80 years and some estimates predict that could reach 100 during this century.

But what if you knew you could live to be 150 or more—without feeling like an invalid for the last 50? Would you take it?

In his recent book When I’m 164: The New Science of Radical Life Extension and What Happens If It Succeeds, author David Ewing Duncan chronicled the results of his own informal poll. Duncan asked about 30,000 people how long they would want to live—whether there was a drug to ensure that or not. The choices were 80, 120, and 150 years, and forever. You might find the results surprising: 60 percent said 80 years, 30 percent picked 120, and about 10 percent went for 150. Less than one percent claimed they wanted to live forever. Well, that should help keep the global population at a reasonable level.

Potential future anti-aging drug names pharma marketers might want to consider: Immortalmax, Everlastol, and Methuselahtrin.

GSK Going NDR (No Desk Required)

In the new corporate climate where private offices, even for executives, are becoming as extinct as landline phones, GlaxoSmithKline has started taking things a step further—deskless offices. This past June, Forbes magazine reported that the pharma giant had completed a 200-person deskless office in Bogota, Columbia, and was in the process of constructing a similar space for 1,300 employees in their Philadelphia office. How does it work? According to Forbes, each employee gets a laptop with a built-in “soft phone,” a personal locker for their stuff, and a file drawer. (What, no mini-fridge?) In addition, the office space incorporates no-talking-allowed “quiet zones,” “quiet rooms” where employees can work alone or make personal calls, and shared workstations, where one can plug a laptop into a monitor.

“We found that only 35 percent of work activity took place in offices and cubes, yet we were dedicating 85 percent of our space to those,” Edward Danyo, manager of workplace strategy, told Forbes. “It’s about creating environments so people can do their best work, and we’ve seen a 45 percent increase in the speed of decision making. But our biggest surprise is that within two weeks most folks say they wouldn’t go back to cellular space.” Of course, saving space with the new office configurations is also good for GSK’s bottom line.

Could there be possible side effects of people working this way? It’s hard to tell now, but a future TV commercial might need disclaimers: “Lack of workplace privacy might cause headaches and leave you longing for the good old days.”

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