Written by Paul Leacock, Co-founder & General Manager, Blacksmith

I came across this idea about 18 months ago and it’s one I have picked up and just can’t put down – it’s called Longevity Escape Velocity and it’s going to change the game for many of us, particularly if you plan to live for at least the next 10 years.

Part of my role at Blacksmith is supporting leaders to connect with context – to look up and out and see what’s happening in the world so they are more informed and can make better decisions.  In my research I came across an idea called Longevity Escape Velocity and I wanted to share it with you as I reckon it’s a game-changer.

Although the name sounds like it’s comes straight out of dialogue from the deck of the Starship Enterprise, the idea has been around for some time and was first proposed by inventors and futurists David Gobel and Ray Kurzweil.

So what is Longevity Escape Velocity (LEV).  It is a hypothetical (or not so hypothetical if you look at what’s happening in healthcare research lately) situation in which life expectancy is being extended longer than the time that is passing.  Today, life expectancy increases slightly every year as treatment strategies and technologies improve.  At the moment, more than one year of research is required for each additional year of expected life.

LEV occurs when this ratio reverses, so that life expectancy increases faster than one year, per one year of research, as long as that rate of advance is sustainable.

The graph below maps this out and shows life expectancy gained via advancing technologies along the Y axis and the advancing technologies themselves along the x axis represented by the colored dots.


One of the folks that came up with the idea, Ray Kurzweil believe that in the next 10 years, so by 2028 – medical technologies will have advanced such that we will reach the point of LEV.  In theory, once we reach this point we may be able to live forever or at least to a few hundred years old.

Now when I talk with most people about this idea, their bulls**t radar starts beeping madly and they look at me as if I’ve just told them the sky is green.

So to give you some additional context to support the assertion of LEV, let’s take a look at a few technologies that are in the mix now:

  • Printable Organs – Are closer than ever thanks to three bioprinting breakthroughs
  • Human Genome Editing – CRISPR has been touted as an almost magical technology and rightly so. The technique allows scientists to alter the DNA of living cells and, it’s hoped, achieve a longstanding goal of science to treat disease at the genetic level.
  • Advances in medical technology such as the invention of the Tricorder as seen on Star Trek

These are just a few of the many, many advancements that are happening right now to extend our lives not just by a few years but by decades or even centuries.

So, a great question to ponder is, if you knew you were going to live a healthy life to the ripe old age of 200 what would you do differently now? What different choices would you make.

Whether its 10 years from now or 50, Longevity Escape Velocity is coming, what will it mean for you?