As a self-proclaimed IT geek, I’m fascinated at how quickly artificial intelligence (AI) continues to evolve after going mainstream seemingly overnight. For example, ChatGPT is now ubiquitous and used across generations for everything from travel recommendations and meal planning to content generation, language translation and even writing computer code.

Long before AI began to dominate daily news feeds, our company was evaluating how to securely harness its potential to drive hyper-personalized customer experiences and better retirement outcomes—and this work continues today.

As we strive to ensure more of the millions of Americans reaching retirement age can achieve financial freedom, I’ve been closely watching the AI space, interested to see how it begins to impact the way we live, work and conduct business.

There’s another area I’ve been monitoring closely that’s advancing at a similar pace. I’m referring to the rapid breakthroughs occurring in the world of science related to aging and longevity that are just as impressive but receiving far less attention. As quickly as AI will change business, amazing advancements related to aging could radically change how we retire. Life spans of 100 years may even become commonplace.

If this sounds like science fiction, think how you would have reacted a year ago if you learned tech leaders wanted to pause the development of large-scale AI systems over fears of “profound risks to society and humanity.” This really happened recently.

Rise In Longevity Could Be A Great ‘Social Disruptor’
The fact is science and technology are moving faster than most of us ever imagined. This is certainly the case with longevity research. Harvard Medical School researchers recently reversed aging in mice using proteins that turn adult cells into stem cells. Separately, after some early setbacks, doctors are optimistic immunizations against various forms of cancer will be available within the next five years. These are just two of many examples.

“We have the technology today to be able to [live] into your hundreds without worrying about getting cancer in your 70s, heart disease in your 80s and Alzheimer’s in your 90s,” says David Sinclair, a molecular biologist on the Harvard team. “This is the world that is coming. It's literally a question of when and for most of us, it’s going to happen in our lifetimes.”

The research is advancing so fast that aging expert Dr. Michael Roizen predicts within the next decade we will see an increase in longevity of 30 years or so, which would make 100 the new 70. Roizen, who is chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic and a New York Times best-selling author, credits the Human Genome Project—which mapped the human genetic blueprint in 2003—with driving the advances we’re seeing today, 20 years later.

Roizen says increased longevity will be a great “social disruptor” with clear implications for people, their families and finances. Even with the many advances in science and medicine, he says we will need to take proactive steps to maintain our own health to support living longer, healthier, more productive lives. This means following advice many of us learned as children, including eating well, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep and managing stress.

Longer Lives Reinforce The Need For Retirement Income
Regarding stress, financial worry can be a top contributor that’s often chronic. And because mental and financial health are closely linked, financial well-being is vital to aging well. Longevity risk — the possibility of outliving one’s savings — is already a significant concern. The decline of the private pension has many Americans highly reliant on modest Social Security benefits as a key income source. The popular social program is expected to run short of cash to pay those benefits in about 10 years and its future funding remains unclear. A reduction in benefits of even 20% could put significant financial strain on millions of retirees.

The reality is, with longer lives comes even greater longevity risk. Just imagine having income to last until you are 90 years of age and living to age 120 instead. The important message for financial professionals now is to use longevity illustrators and other widely available tools to help clients understand their own personal risk of outliving their financial resources and help them plan accordingly. 

Just as AI is working to change how we communicate and move through the world, longevity planning is the next era of American modernization. Jackson is doing its part to better understand longevity risk by partnering on a new research initiative with the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College that will take an in-depth look at the issue and the strategies financial professionals and their clients are using to manage it. We are confident the results will help foster greater awareness for our customers and industry and look forward to sharing the findings in the coming months.

The research makes good business sense for us and will serve to reinforce the value of our products and the urgent need to help ensure more Americans achieve financial freedom.   

This can free them up to focus more on enjoying today’s longer retirements and even the exciting possibility of living 100 years or more.   

Dev Ganguly is executive vice president and chief operating officer for Jackson. He is an award-winning leader and frequent presenter and author. He has led various operations and technology functions for more than 25 years and is heavily involved in industry-wide efforts to digitally transform financial services.