Speakers debated questions including: "How will humans re-engineer the human body?" and "What is natural about us and does it matter?"
One of the speakers, Dr Aubrey de Grey - a geneticist at Cambridge University and described as "perhaps the most optimistic" of the scientists who want to lengthen human life - believes that many of us who are fairly young now will live to 120. He told the conference there's probably someone alive today who will live to be 1,000.
Meanwhile, a new book - Designer Evolution: A Transhumanist Manifesto by Simon Young - aims to explain how science, done well and properly, can help to "eliminate disease, defeat death and enhance both body and mind beyond the limitations of the human condition".
This article suffers from a common misconception: that life extension will allow many those of us alive today to live to 120 (not a particularly fantastic feat given the potential technologies at our disposal) or else it will allow us to live 1000 years (a substantial step up, to be sure, but essentially an arbitrary figure). But if we can reach the "1000 barrier," what's to stop us from extending life another thousand years? Or 10,000? Or a million . . . ?
Any humans around a thousand years from now should have the ability to reinvent life itself on their own terms; we have no accurate way of foreseeing what form our species will take, if we remain a "species" at all. My best bet is that we'll become multiplex and effectively unrecognizable, in which case speaking in terms of hundred- or thousand-year lifespans becomes trite and anthropomorphic.
If we can make it to 1000, we will have achieved immortality. We won't have to worry about "illness"; we'll worry about altogether bigger threats such as the lifetimes of stars, the hard radiation of supernovae, the gnarled topology of spacetime, and, ultimately, the fate of the universe itself.