The age of the elderly is coming

Human beings are on the road of being able to live beyond 100 years in the richest countries, and then inevitably also in the rest of the planet Earth. A series of discoveries made almost exclusively in Western countries (hospitals, vaccines, asepsis, anesthesia, microscope, X-rays, etc.) are responsible for the number of human beings exceeding 7,000 million and that in Europe those over 60 years of age constitute 25% of the population. The great and unexpected beneficiaries, in numerical terms, of the free discoveries of the West, have been the nations that were once colonized. Only taking into account Alexander Fleming and Louis Pasteur,  Great Britain and France have returned, in new human lives, to their former colonies, much more than the raw materials that ravaged them in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

According to the report of the United Nations Perspectives on World Population 2017, the aging of the world's population is going to be one of the most dramatic social transformations of the 21st century. The group of people over 60 years of age grows faster than the youngest group, threatening to cause serious imbalances in the labor and financial markets, in social protection and in medicine. Only Africa is getting rid, for the moment, of this invasion of old people, so a massive migration of Africans would be a temporary relief for those countries  that are more aged as Russia or Scandinavia. In the richest countries of the planet, and especially in cities, people are less likely to be cheated by biochemistry and have children, while in the mother Africa the biochemical manipulations that produce pleasure continue to have an effect as in the past. In the meantime, Europe is filled with elderly people who demand greater pensions from those who have contributed, and consequently asking future generations to finance the pensions of their insolvent longevity with their work and taxes. 

According to biology, bodies die because it is more expensive and consumes more energy to repair them than to produce new living beings. For that reason some lethal genes are allowed to be part of us, just because they act late, past the reproductive period, which is as far as the interest of the genes for human beings (which are their survival machines). Thus, pleasurable sensations in the body (the only thing that makes people happy), with which the genes manipulate us (with biochemical tricks) are becoming scarcer and less diverse, with the passage of time, and in old age they are reduced drastically.

 Although the increasing longevity allows us to gradually experience the progressive decline of happiness (physical pleasures), it does not seem that a social tendency is emerging to put an end to life in a voluntary, planned and dignified way.  But, on the contrary, the elderly seem to prefer, overwhelmingly, to die unworthily as caricatures of the adults that they once were, collapsing hospitals and social care services. Perhaps, this illogical behavior is facilitated by the fact that nature has made us so that we prefer many small rewards than a few and formidable rewards. That is to say, our brain is well prepared for mediocre pleasures, rather than for exceptional places, as the great universal poet Constantino Cavafis warned us.

Neuroscience, in its advance of the knowledge of how the brain works, corners the consciousness in an increasingly smaller space. The instincts and the unconscious mind form very competent teams that manage most of what a human being needs (Nicholas Humphrey). Or as David Eagleman says, the brain directs most of its operations without awareness of consciousness. In 1959 Erwing Goffman public the sociological essay, The presentation of Self in everyday life, which defined us as puppets or actors throughout our lives, rather than as subjects possessing free will. Six decades later, magnetic resonances and laboratory studies are portraying homo sapiens as an automaton, ruled by zombie brain modules and with a small conscious part largely dedicated to rationalizing and inventing explanatory stories, of what makes the mind unconscious . What you see now is the magnetic resonances of the brain, does not fundamentally deny the sociological explanations of life in common as a succession of ceremonies, in which we appear as actors with different masks, interpreting a script appropriate to the occasion.  More than masters of our acts and agents of our biography, human beings are actors who use life to interpret various roles foreign to our deepest self. At the end of the days, in old age, the worn out roles lose strength and we become broken puppets unable to represent almost anything. These actors who have forgotten the script are the old ones Constantino Cavafis;

In their old finished bodies

live the souls of the elderly.
How sad are the poor
and how tired of the miserable life they drag.
How they tremble to lose it and how much they love it
the helpless and contradictory
souls, who live -tragicomic-
under the old worn skin

If human beings, or the vast majority of us, hardly make strategic decisions using free will, this means that the choice of profession, marriage, children, and political affiliation, falls into the hands of brain modules automatic, to a greater or lesser degree. The "no decision" to continue living a comicotragic life under the worn skinis as human and predictable as the unnecessary accumulation of fats and sugars that we all do in our lives. The intergenerational war for the allocation of resources would be served, if it were not for our enormous brain will again be able to deceive evolution and get others to work and pay taxes for our elderly insolvent. Robots, and artificial intelligence, seem more solvent candidates than young Africans.