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Imagine a future where time is no longer a constraint. How would it affect our life goals? Would having more time at our disposal make us better people? Better employees? And how would living in a post-ageing world change greater society and our roles in it?

Our final episode of The 200 Year Old, tackles the reality of living in a society where time is infinite, in the days leading up to Lesedi’s 200th birthday.

Starring Thapelo Mokoena (Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom) and Nambitha Mpumlawana (Generations), everything you hear is based on current science and future forecasts by leading experts in longevity, finance and the future of the world.


Life in the long term

In a society where we have a limited view of time, the concept of living to 200 gives ‘long-term goals’ a whole new meaning. Can you imagine setting 100-year goals?

Episode 4 begins with a conversation between Sam and his 10-year-old daughter who wants to live to 500. As she describes her (many, many) life aspirations, Sam can’t help but wonder what we, as a society, would do with all that time. Would we get bored and choose not to live so much longer, even if it’s scientifically or financially possible? Or would it liberate us to do the things we’ve never had time for?

“I think it’s incumbent on each one of us to reimagine how we will live these potentially longer lives and to ensure that they are filled with as much purpose, health, productivity and engagement as is possible.” – Paul Irving, Chairman of the Milken Institute for the Future of Ageing (2018)

Time is money. Or is it?

In episode 4, Lesedi explains how something radical happened when time was suddenly no longer an issue. In just a few decades, society went from being time-starved – always in a hurry, never with a second to spare – to something entirely different.

By the early 2040s, advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) meant they could replace human jobs with AI, who didn’t need to get paid. This resulted in a significant reduction in the cost of living. Governments had an opportunity to provide all citizens with a Universal Basic Income (UBI); a monthly stipend without any preconditions.

In a conversation with Sam, Lesedi explains how UBI saw people work longer, but with passion and purpose. Because without the financial pressure of earning an income, they were free to find work that’s more meaningful to them. Funny how those who were once anxious about being replaced by technology found themselves liberated by it.

The concept of Universal Basic Income is not a fictional concept. In fact, it’s been tested in a number of countries – with interesting results.

“We have seen experiments in countries like Canada, a number of Nordic countries, and Europe, and these smaller experiments with the UBI have shown that people who receive a UBI benefit were less stressed and had better mental health.” – David Tal, President of Quantumrun Forecastin (2018)

A rise in social consciousness

Leaving a better world for the next generation takes on a different meaning when you know you’ll be a part of that reality too. As society came to realise that they’d eventually face the consequences of climate change, there was a shift in personal responsibility towards others and the planet.

But it wasn’t just social consciousness towards the planet that grew. Older generations soon learnt that they would need to make space for bigger family trees. Having up to five generations alive at the same time changed everything – from housing markets to intergenerational relationships and parenting styles. The world was shifting towards a more community-orientated mentality.

“You are now going to have three, four or perhaps even five generations alive at the same time. Just the fabric of our society would be fundamentally altered with radical life extension.” – Professor Jay Olshansky, Professor of Public Health at the University of Chicago (2018)

What phase of life will Sam find Lesedi in?

As we reach the end of the episode, Sam’s curiosity propels him to find out why Lesedi is always hiding in one her virtual spaces. Why all the secrecy? When he finally tracks her down at the hospital, he finds something quite different from what he expected – an incredibly frail, old woman, who has not been taking anti-ageing therapies for quite some time.

No longer able to communicate in real time, Lesedi has been spending her few waking hours in virtual memories. As she invites Sam into a memory, he can’t help but feel sad that this will likely be their last conversation. In their final moments together, Lesedi speaks to Sam of the hope she has for future generations – that they may learn from their mistakes and successes, and he realises that Lesedi was truly happy and grateful for all she had experienced in her 200-year journey.

Lesedi Ndaba died on June 14th 2218. Six days after her 200th birthday. The first human being to live for two centuries.

“While the world will change dramatically, human nature will not. Our needs will stay the same. We’ll still seek lasting financial security, meaningful bonds with loved ones and purpose for our lives.”
– Lesedi Ndaba, The 200 Year Old

As a company, we want our lasting legacy to be about the prosperous tomorrows we’ve secured for people, through the decisions they make today. By envisioning the world of tomorrow, with the help of world-leading experts, we can begin planning for what that future will look like, and how we can continue to help people to build a lasting financial future. Now, and for generations to come.

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This podcast is fiction, set in a projected future. Based on current scientific research, it is supplemented by the opinions of present day experts. The expert opinions referenced in these podcasts are those of the experts themselves and do not necessarily reflect the official views of Sanlam.

To find out more about the research that went into this episode, ask The 200 Year Old a question on Twitter @200YearOld.



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