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What will relationships look like in a future where people could live to 200? Would you have more than one soul mate? Would marriage contracts come with expiry dates? Would you have friendships that last longer than a century?

Episode 3 of The 200 Year Old delves deeper into a post-ageing future where relationships aren’t what they used to be.

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.


What do relationships of the future look like?

As if relationships weren’t complicated enough, in the year 2218, family gatherings span 5 generations and wedding vows don’t include 'till death do us part'. In fact, nothing is what it used to be. Not partnerships, not families, and not even friendships.

When Lesedi first said ‘I do’, she meant it. That was before she realised she was going to live for so long, and that her husband would choose not to take part in the medical trials that would extend their lives. As he aged, and she didn’t, the distance between them grew. He died peacefully in his sleep at age 87 – a time where Lesedi’s longevity treatments had already taken her back to the mind and body of a 30-year-old. As Sam and Lesedi spend more time together, they uncover more about how much relationships have changed over the course of her lifetime.

The changing role of marriage

We’re also introduced to Bern, Lesedi’s second husband. The two were algorithmically matched, based on their personality and DNA profile. When you’re over a century old, it can get tricky to find a partner. Their marriage was one that we might find strange today - a Smart Contract lasting 10 years, with the option to renew. They added stipulations to their contact and, as time went on, were able to reflect on their marriage, glance into the future and decide if they want to continue with their contract or end it. Can you imagine a marriage contract that comes with T&Cs?

Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof of BitNation explained the prospects of Blockchain marriages and how it transcends international boundaries. Blockchain marriages function like a normal union – upheld and supported by community and legal rights – but liberated by being fully customisable and not bound by archaic systems and laws.

“I think it has much more humanity actually than the conventional marriage contracts. You can choose what code of law you want to follow, what you prefer – civil law, common law, Sharia law or whatever have you. You can choose how you prefer to resolve disputes, according to your own culture.”

– Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof, BitNation founder

Human companionship and the AI age

Another thought-provoking topic is how we interact with each other in the future if we all look the same age, but differ greatly in life experience. Relationship writer, Paige Nick, has talked about living in a time where people of radically different ages interact, date and work alongside each other. It’s interesting to think how you would interact with people when their emotional ages differ so vastly, but they are biologically the same age.

“We carry our experiences and emotional baggage with us, no matter how young we feel. You might look like a 20-year-old hanging out with other 20-year-olds, but your soul is still 185.” – Paige Nick, relationship writer for the Sunday Times (2018)

In Episode 3, we also discover how important artificial intelligence (AI) has become in daily life. In fact, it is one of man’s most important life relationships. AIs can keep track of personal data and marriage contract details, assist in memory recall and give perspective on different situations when needed. Lesedi’s known her AI companion longer than any human and Sam’s AI assistant is also one of his closest friends. With AIs, loneliness becomes a thing of the past.

Will Sam ever meet the real Lesedi?

Sam had previously been meeting with Lesedi in virtual memory spaces, before discovering that she is in Mthatha. He wrestles with the idea of going to see her in person, even though she asked him not to. While the journalist in him feels compelled to go, he is hesitant to disrespect her wishes. Will he finally see and speak to Lesedi in the flesh? Subscribe to find out next, in episode 4.

At Sanlam, we’ll continue to look ahead at what fundamental changes might take place in the world, so we can build a better world 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 on @200YearOld.



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