April 29, 2007
Aubrey de Grey: We Should View Aging As Curable

Reason at Longevity Meme points to a new paper by biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey where Aubrey argues that biogerontology's ultimate goal should be the defeat of processes which cause aging. We should view aging as ultimately curable just as cancer researchers view cancer as ultimately curable.

An interesting position paper from Aubrey de Grey via the Annals of the NYAS: "The early days of biogerontology were blessed with an undiluted forthrightness concerning the field's ultimate goals, epitomized by its leaders. Luminaries from Pearl to Comfort to Strehler declared the desirability of eliminating aging with no more diffidence than that with which today's oncologists aver that they seek a cure for cancer. The field's subsequent retreat from this position garnered a modicum of political acceptability and public financial support, but all biogerontologists agree that this fell, and continues to fall, vastly short of the funding that the prospect of even a modest postponement of aging would logically justify. "

Aubrey goes on to point out that the last 20 years of advances in genetic manipulations that extended life of model organisms make the prospect of reversing aging a lot easier to imagine as doable. I would go further and argue that the general advance in biotechnology, with the continuing development of much more powerful tools to measure and manipulate biological systems at the molecular level, makes the idea of rejuvenation seem much more attainable.

The nature of general line of advance in biotechnology (e.g. in microfluidics and in nanotechnology) should lead us to expect orders of magnitude more powerful tools in a couple of decades. Just as the shrinking size computer technology allows computer chips, hard drives, fiber optics, and transceivers to go through long series of doublings in capability so does the miniaturized level at which biological instrumentation advances.

Why shouldn't we treat aging as curable? The amazing physicist Richard Feynman gave a speech in 1959 entitled There is plenty of room at the bottom where he argued that we can develop the ability to manipulate matter at the molecular level. A continuing trend in technology since that speech has been the development of tools to better measure and manipulate increasingly smaller amounts of material. That trend made possible the sequencing of whole genomes and will eventually make possible sequencing of each person's genome for a very low cost. That trend is also going to lead to technology that allows us to make nanodevices that can repair human tissue at the level of individual cells and molecules.

Given this miniaturization trend and how far Feynman thought it can go I do not see why rejuvenation therapies are either impossible or a distant prospect. For many parts of our bodies we will develop the means to grow replacement parts. For other parts we will develop the means to send in stem cells to replace lost cells. For still other parts we will develop the ability to repair individual cells using gene therapy, nanodevices, and other methods. We need to start looking at aging as curable and start demanding bigger efforts to develop the cures.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 April 29 04:00 PM  Aging Debate


Comments
David Mathews said at April 29, 2007 4:46 PM:

Hello Randall,

> We need to start looking at aging as curable and start demanding bigger efforts to develop the cures.

1. What sort of priority does immortality merit on a world which is filled with so much violence, bloodshed, impoverishment, oppression, pollution & the wholesale destruction of Nature?

2. If you knew the future you would know that living forever is the worst possible fate for a person. If you live forever you will witness & experience suffering on a truly apocalyptic scale. More likely than not, aging won't cause death to the "immortal" ... these fools will likely die like everyone else will die: starvation, violence and warfare.

3. How long does a person need to live in order to verify that science has made him/her immortal?

PacRim Jim said at April 29, 2007 6:43 PM:

It's not necessary to learn immediately how to rejuvenate. It's only necessary to learn how to keep alive until rejuvenation becomes possible.

Randall Parker said at April 29, 2007 7:45 PM:

PacRim Jim,

Learn how to keep alive until? You or I might get a fatal disease tomorrow. We are at risk until we have the rejuvenation therapies.

David Mathews,

Who said anything about immortality? Rejuvenation advocates understand that accidents, murder, and suicide will still happen.

Kurt9 said at April 29, 2007 8:33 PM:

Not only is aging curable, but I think curing it would be far cheaper than the amount of money spent per person on medicare and old age benefits in the U.S. Curing aging will create a "prolongivity dividend" similiar to but far larger in scale to the "peace dividend" following the end of the cold war.

An even bigger benefit to the coming post-mortal society is that people who are rejuvenated will be more self-reliant compared to people today. The dependency ratio (which is usually around 50% in present day society) will be radically reduced in a post-mortal society. Self-reliant post mortals will demand less government services in favor of paying less taxes.

50% of the federal government budget is dovoted to social security and medicare. The single biggest thing that libertarians can support in order to reduce the size and cost of government would be to advocate curing aging. Anything else the liberarians advocate is small peanuts compared to this. I think curing aging is the only realistic chance of creating a libertarian society.

Some people say that if we live forever young, that society will become staid and conservative. This is horse-puckey. Young people take more risks and are more likely to be entrepreneurs because they can handle the risk of failure. Older people cannot, because they must prepare for their retirement. Once old age is eliminated, the downside risk of ewntreprenuership goes away for everyone.

A post mortal society will be a much more bohemian one. If you can remain physiologically age 25 into the indefinite future, you are likely to revel in the freedom and openess that most bohemian 25 year olds tend to live. The pressure to "settle down" and have kids will be removed. Contrary to popular thought, most people do not "settle down" willingly. They do so because they are either 1) pushed into it by their girlfriend, friends, or family; or 2) because they start to fear growing old without doing this. Elininate the fear and pressures of growing old and people will want to live the expanded personal freedoms offered by an indefinitely extended youth.

I honestly do not understand why anyone would be opposed to curing aging. Being opposed to curing aging is as stupid as being opposed to curing cancer or smallpox. All technologies are initially expensive and become cheaper in time. The rich do not have better computers or cell phones than the rest of us. I see no reason why they will have better biotech and nanotech than the rest of us.

Kurt9 said at April 29, 2007 8:39 PM:

BTW, curing aging will not make us immortal in the true sense of the word. We can still die due to accidents, homicide, and suicide. The word immortality is not appropriate. I propose the word "post-mortal" as description of someone who has been cured of aging, but can still die of other causes. A society comprised of such people, whose institutions have evolved to reflect the lives of such people, would be called a "post-mortal" society.

It has always been my contention that a post-mortal society will be more libertarian than the one we have today. It has also been my contention that post-mortality is essential for libertarianism. Libertarianism and dependency are mutually exclusive.

Russ said at April 29, 2007 9:32 PM:

At the risk of being tongue-in-cheek, what deGrey really needs is a bevy of ladies who

a) are hot
b) have money

and

c) want either personally, or for their daughters, to remain both hot and intellectually/physically capable of manipulating their worlds.

Socialites *hate* anything that takes them off the scene, and that can be harnessed as a force for good.

Nick said at April 29, 2007 9:58 PM:

Russ,

You have a point. I really think that when the rich begin to believe in the possibility of radical longevity that enormous resources will begin to be available for research. It's astonishing how little money is spent on this, and how cost-effective it would be.

David Mathews said at April 30, 2007 5:23 AM:

Hello Randall,

> Who said anything about immortality?

The people who speak this anti-aging lunacy claim immortality as their goal. Ray Kurzweil in particular doesn't want to die.

Given that all of these people are going to die, the anti-aging movement is nothing more than science-fantasy and lunacy.

Incidentally: I am opposed to Americans living forever. Americans damage the Earth enough in a hundred years, I can only imagine how much more damage Americans would do if they lived a thousand years.

rsilvetz said at April 30, 2007 11:02 AM:

David,

Why are you even here? I say this in kindness. To be a future pundit you have to at least believe that there is a future...

Biologic immortality is not lunacy -- it's the logical end to an obvious chain of thought. And since this goal doesn't violate natural law, it falls under the rubric of what is not prohibited is mandatory. It can and will be done. It just requires people to create the demand side. Which is why I want us to shift from a statist anti-life anticivilization to a libertarian free-economy pro-life civilization.

While maximal life-span has not yet been impacted, technological advances have doubled the average life-span for most folks on the planet. I'm sure that would have been considered lunacy in the 1700's.

I'm 100% with Randall on this one as to goal (we disagree on route to make it happen). We need life-extension tech, rejuvenation tech and eventually need to squash death entirely. Incidentally, as a historical note, long before de Grey started evangelizing, as far back as the early 80's these ideas were being floated by libertarian writers like L.Neil Smith and by I&O Publishing. The former made great stabs at showing some life-extension/rejuv tech at the end of the novels as a logical extension to the novel's content, the latter was the first clear stake in the ground that biologic immortality was not only good but feasible.

(Oh, and in terms of the environment, upon reflection, I am perfectly happy if the Earth gets converted into ecumenoplis like Trantor or Couruscant. Sorry guys -- couldn't resist the temptation!)

Cogsys said at April 30, 2007 4:05 PM:

Re:"I am opposed to Americans living forever."

It's difficult for anyone who cares about technology or the modern world to be that anti-American. The U.S.'s utilization of natural resources is proportionate to the technological leaps it's pioneered. There may be greater environmental issues in Malaysia because of the U.S., but when it comes down to it, people (in Malaysia and everywhere else) still like having cars, computers, internet, modern medicine etc.

Doug Collins said at April 30, 2007 7:45 PM:

Suggestions that there are too many people in the world are couched in environmental terms, but deep down they are a matter of (mistaken) economic perceptions. When someone starts complaining about other people's environmental costs, they usually are more worried about there being less for them, than about any mystic Gaian damage. Cherchez the money.

A lot of the opposition to curing aging would evaporate if one simple change were to be made to the tax system: Give an income tax credit equal to the foregone social security benefits to anyone who chooses to keep working and who skips collecting social security. They would earn more than they would cost in income tax credits, their skills and knowledge would continue to be available to the productive economy and they would be helping to solve rather than exacerbate the social security crisis. With the aging of the population and the dearth in births, the old New Deal argument that we need to clear out older workers to make jobs available to younger ones is now no more than a fallacious relic.

Once everyone stops worrying about old folks costing them more taxes, we can relax and get on with living longer.

Nathan Kaiser said at April 30, 2007 7:52 PM:

I am a proponent of "curing aging" as well. To 'Kurt9's' comments, individuals who do cure aging will be far more productive than anything we have seen today. They will most likely have the education, experience, and network to be far more efficient than we can imagine.

The key question is simply, will our ability to delay aging and ultimately eliminate natural death happen in our lifetimes?

Steven Den Beste said at April 30, 2007 7:57 PM:

Every technological advance has bad sides to it. Usually there are good sides as well. Sometimes the good outweighs the bad. Sometimes the bad outweighs the good.

My own personal opinion is that the "defeat of aging" technology would be one of the worst things to happen to the human race.

Irrespective of how difficult or expensive it is, dictators will have access to it and will use it. Do we really want future Maos, Stalins, Kim Il Sungs, Mugabes, Castros, Khomeinis to have the ability to live forever? Absent outright war, right now there is always at least one solution to such people: you outlive them.

What if you can't? It's been said that "friends come and go, but enemies accumulate." If the human race achieves the ability to indefinitely prolong life, monumentally bad guys will accumulate. They will continue to turn their countries into hell-holes with massive rates of premature death (viz North Korea and Zimbabwe right now), and it will only be possible to remove them by bloody war. Sometimes they will be the ones who will start those wars. And eventually some of them will have nuclear weapons for deterrence and will become unsolvable permanent problems.

I will gladly accept that I will die of old age if I know that Mugabe, Castro, bin Laden, and Khamenei will, too. (Hopefully sooner rather than later.)

Randall Parker said at April 30, 2007 8:15 PM:

Doug Collins,

I think the overpopulation concern is quite valid. Do you want to live in a world with 3 or 5 or 10 times the number of people? I don't. On the other hand, I'm not willing to die so that other people can have babies.

Steven Den Beste,

So you billions of people to die for the benefit of those who live in the worst countries in the world. How ridiculous.

Mugabe: We could overthrow him with $100 million paid to some mercenaries. You want us to die to save $100 million?

Kim Il Sung is kept operating with Chinese aid. Convince the Chinese to join us in an embargo and down will come the hermit kingdom.

David Mathews said at April 30, 2007 8:25 PM:

Hello rsilvetz,

> Why are you even here? I say this in kindness. To be a future pundit you have to at least believe that there is a future...

You people don't believe in a future. Your Universe is entirely contained by consumerism and gadgets and your own self-interests. You don't even know what is happening in the world today.

> Biologic immortality is not lunacy -- it's the logical end to an obvious chain of thought.

It is the logical end of an obviously lunatic chain of thought. You should at least wait until you live two hundred years before entertaining any delusion of immortality.

> While maximal life-span has not yet been impacted, technological advances have doubled the average life-span for most folks on the planet. I'm sure that would have been considered lunacy in the 1700's.

Have you read the Bible? According to the Bible humans were living nearly a thousand years before the flood. Back in the 17th century people actually believed that. So doubling human life spans would probably not impress them so very much if that meant that the oldest humans would only reach 120 years old.

> We need life-extension tech, rejuvenation tech and eventually need to squash death entirely.

We'll need a lot more than that to squash death.

> (Oh, and in terms of the environment, upon reflection, I am perfectly happy if the Earth gets converted into ecumenoplis like Trantor or Couruscant. Sorry guys -- couldn't resist the temptation!)

I need not worry about any such dreams. Homo sapiens will go extinct and Nature will erase the memory of humankind's existence from the surface of the Earth swiftly (from a geological standpoint).

Your technologies are destroying humankind's future. You people are driving humankind extinct. Such is the price that Homo sapiens will pay for its foolishness, violence, destructiveness and lunacy.

David Mathews said at April 30, 2007 8:27 PM:

Hello cogsys,

> It's difficult for anyone who cares about technology or the modern world to be that anti-American. The U.S.'s utilization of natural resources is proportionate to the technological leaps it's pioneered. There may be greater environmental issues in Malaysia because of the U.S., but when it comes down to it, people (in Malaysia and everywhere else) still like having cars, computers, internet, modern medicine etc.

Humans want all of these things because humans are fools. The price that humankind will pay for billions of humans attempting to live like Americans is extinction.

Needless to say, the punishment fits the crime.

James said at April 30, 2007 9:51 PM:

Dave,

Why even bother? These people have a far more optimistic and determined view of the future than you do. The vision of the future you wish is a dream, nothing more. Seriously, the question put to you was a valid one. Why are you even here? We're just not interested in humans-raping-the-planet finger pointing. If you feel humans are such fools, then please start with removing yourself as a source of the problem as an inspiration to others. Those who see humanity as such a scourge should do the honest thing and Join a group like VEHMT and depart.

As for Mr. Den Beste, he should know very well that relinquishment never works. The bad guys will have it sooner or later, either directly or as an offshoot of other research. I'm quite surprised at his opinion. The USSR had no problems outliving Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin etc etc. One single man is rarely the issue. The system always is. If Saddam had been the single problem in Iraq, we'd have fixed that country by now.

We'll simply have to suffer dictators less in the future, which is no bad thing at all. Relinquishing technology is a poor excuse for cowardice.

AnneC said at April 30, 2007 10:00 PM:

David said:

Your technologies are destroying humankind's future.

...so sayeth he who is *posting on the Internet*. Anyone who goes online in order to complain about technology is henceforth strongly encouraged to go make their home in a cave in the woods somewhere.

dave tweed said at May 1, 2007 12:02 AM:

I'd sort of hope for a substantial increase in human lifespans (eg, where 120 is equivalent in health, etc, to current 50) is perhaps the best hope for preserving the earth as a livable habitat. My reasoning is that we currently don't have people who actually viscerally remember the past. Eg, the young policy analysts at the American Enterprise Institute who propose the solution for Iraq as the imposition of a General Pinochet like figure without any understanding of what Chile was like in the 1970s; I hesitate to think what neo-neo-con or neo-socialist or whatever policies will be in effect 2050 will be like if there aren't people who lived through the turn of the millenium involved in policy. Likewise, with a current lifespan people feel comfortable leaving problems for future generations to solve, whereas if people were to truly believe they'll be likely to still be around in a hundred years they'd be less inclined to assume the future will clear up their messes. Sure, there's a problem of how long-lived people will adapt to the capacity of the earth, but I'd put that as much more likely to be surivable than current lifespan humanity ever with more powerful tools but without the experience and long-term self-preservation motivation. (I'm a guarded optimist about the future: if we actually _work_ on making the future better it will be, but don't have much sympathy for blog postings assuming the future _must_ inherently be better without any effort on their part.)

I seem to recall reading somewhere de Grey saying that when he properly realised the difference in acutarial curves when you remove biological aging based causes -- leaving accidents as the cause of death for most rich, western people -- he became much more careful about accident causing behaviour (eg, getting his bike's brakes regularly checked). One might hope for the same rexamination of behaviour on a larger scale as lifetimes lengthen.

David Mathews said at May 1, 2007 1:38 AM:

Hello James,

> These people have a far more optimistic and determined view of the future than you do.

These people have no vision whatsoever. The future that they are seeking is not the future which they are getting. Too bad for them.

Their dreams of techno-immortality are as vain as the fundamentalists dreams of heaven. These people might as well be called techno-fundamentalists.

> We're just not interested in humans-raping-the-planet finger pointing.

Undoubtedly, the Nazis didn't consider themselves strictly genocidal lunatics. They were interested in doing something great on the Earth and hence justified their bloodshed as a necessary evil.

> Those who see humanity as such a scourge should do the honest thing and Join a group like VEHMT and depart.

It is quite amusing how the people who are actively committing suicide wish that those who object do the same.

Destroying the Earth for the sake of technology is nothing more than Homo sapiens committing suicide as a species: Our extinction is self-inflicted and entirely voluntary.

David Mathews said at May 1, 2007 1:44 AM:

Hello Anne,

> ...so sayeth he who is *posting on the Internet*. Anyone who goes online in order to complain about technology is henceforth strongly encouraged to go make their home in a cave in the woods somewhere.

Needless to say, those people who are jumping off a cliff become offended because those objecting meet them on the cliff to discourage their foolish action. "If you are on the cliff why don't you jump off like everyone else?"

Anne, you people are destroying your own future. But you cannot see the future. Your addictions to technology and selfish self-involvement have rendered you blind to the dangers which are fast approaching.

Homo sapiens is a primate species which doesn't have a future. The present generation of humans have destroyed humankind's future. Too bad for humankind, but the party must go on.

David Mathews said at May 1, 2007 1:49 AM:

Hello dave tweed,

> I'd sort of hope for a substantial increase in human lifespans (eg, where 120 is equivalent in health, etc, to current 50) is perhaps the best hope for preserving the earth as a livable habitat.

Ha!

Are you acknowledging that humans have made a mess of the Earth?

If only we lived longer, we wouldn't have made such a mess of the Earth ...

That is about the most ridiculous idea I have ever heard. If humans lived longer -- that is, if the wealthy lived longer -- they would have more time to destroy, consume and pollute the Earth.

No one on this thread is talking about Nigerians or Mexicans or Chileans living longer. You people are seeking immortality for your own self only. You would allow billions of humans to die horrendously so long as you could preserve your own life and privileged status.

dave tweed said at May 1, 2007 2:28 AM:

One response to David Matthews before I abandon this thread: look at human behaviour in actual life. People who are relatively cavalier in their treatment of their parents homes suddenly become much more careful when they're paying the mortgage on their own place. People who don't care what phone calls they make on their companies uncontrolled phones seem to become careful about the calls they make that they pay the bills for. Strange how I care more about pensions legislation the closer I get to the point where I think I might draw my pension. There are thousands of cases where people alter their behaviour when exactly they feel they have a personal stake in things. I'd contend that lots of rich western folks don't feel enough of a personal stake in the world at large to modify their behaviour.

If you're contending that the world is at risk from the appetites of rich western people, you can do all you want for the Nigerians or Mexicans or Chileans and it won't help things: you have to do something to affect the behaviour of the rich western people because by assumption they're the ones overwhelmingly affecting the world. The post-war status quo hasn't worked to reduce consumption for the past fifty years, so why is it suddenly going to start now? Given that I want to actually change the future rather than luxuriate in righteous indignation, the only way I can see to give westerners a feeling of a stake in the state of the world as a whole that might actually work is to extend lifespans. So, if we extend the lifespans of everyone in the world we'll still have issues to work out, but they seem more tractable to me than assuming keeping lifespans short will somehow encourage people to consume less than they do now.

David Mathews said at May 1, 2007 5:18 AM:

Hello dave tweed,

> Given that I want to actually change the future rather than luxuriate in righteous indignation, the only way I can see to give westerners a feeling of a stake in the state of the world as a whole that might actually work is to extend lifespans.

If international travel, globalization, 24-hour cable news, the internet, and the cellphone have failed to provoke the obese hyperconsumers of the West to alter their behavior on behalf of the world & humankind's survival, how will extending their life or giving them immortality accomplish this goal?

> There are thousands of cases where people alter their behaviour when exactly they feel they have a personal stake in things.

Doesn't the existence of children & grandchildren provide these people with a personal stake in the future health & well-being of planet Earth?

Immortality would, at best, only provide an opportunity for selfish self-involved fools to spend eternity shopping & consuming & travelling & polluting. Americans have done enough damage to the Earth with their hundred-year lifespan, they do not merit a thousand-year lifespan.

Anyhow -- and most importantly -- the future ain't pretty. No one will want to live as a techno-immortal on a hellish, inhospitable Earth. Death is a gift to the mortal.

Kurt9 said at May 1, 2007 8:39 AM:

Guys,

It should be obvious to all that David Mathews is either a troll or a nutcase. Either way, it is a waste of time (and bandwidth) to argue with him.

Rob said at May 1, 2007 9:38 AM:

Troll OR nutcase?

Why can't he be both? Though I would like to know why he is so prejudiced against the overweight.

No one is talking about Nigerians living forever because they can't manage monogamy to avoid AIDS, grow enough food to feed themselves, build sewage treatment plants. In short, die back will start in Africa in 20-30 years.

While I'm all for a long and healthy life, I disagree that Life Extension is the most important biomedical issue. I would have to go with intelligence Increase. For one thing, with a 10-15 point IQ gain, Life Extension will happen much more quickly.

T M said at May 1, 2007 11:05 AM:

Why are you discussing with guys like David?
I think discussion with such people make anti-aging movement look not too serious.
People who post such comment are usually in their teenage years and have no idea what aging for gerontologist is.

Instead of spawning pointless arguments about immortality gerontologist should aim to cure this:

http://www.benbest.com/lifeext/fertile2.gif

just as dentist cure tooth decay without a need for justifying anything special.

Thanks.

David Mathews said at May 1, 2007 11:40 AM:

Hello Rob,

> No one is talking about Nigerians living forever because they can't manage monogamy to avoid AIDS, grow enough food to feed themselves, build sewage treatment plants. In short, die back will start in Africa in 20-30 years.

It is remarkable how the people who commit crimes against others blame their victims for their own suffering.

Do you even know what is happening in Nigeria, Rob? You ought to open your eyes because Nigeria today is America in a century.

As to the dream of immortality: You are a lunatic if immortality is your goal.

Those who worship the techno-God enjoy the hope of techno-immortality. Yet I don't see anyone living forever, do you?

Before you people begin entertaining delusions of immortality, you really ought to at least reach the 200th year of your own life. Of course, living two centuries is still not immortality. But I set the bar pretty low for lunatics who dream of eternal life on the Earth.

I went to California and visited the Sequoia forests. These trees a thousand to two thousand years old, perhaps even older. Yet they are not immortal.

Don't you know, The Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and the sun will shine for another five billion years. Very ancient but not immortal.

So how long do you have to live in order to validate your insane dream of techno-immortality? A very, very, very long time.

And it is a pity that regardless of all your non-existent technologies, you still could die while crossing a road. An SUV driven by an impatient and obese American might run you over. Dreams of immortality - dashed!

Or worse, you might find yourself immersed in warfare or in the company of some gun-nut like the unfortunate people of Virginia Tech. Dreams of immortality - dashed!

But what is most likely is that you will die like everyone else. Succumbing to some minor illness in your old age, 70 or 80 or 90 or 100 years old. Dreams of immortality - dashed!

David Mathews said at May 1, 2007 11:46 AM:

Hello Rob,

> Though I would like to know why he is so prejudiced against the overweight.

Obesity is a moral failure on a world filled with perhaps 1,000,000,000 impoverished, undernourished people.

Obesity is also an evidence that Americans aren't especially intelligent.

Obesity also indicates that corporations are not looking out for the health & well-being of Americans.

Obesity is also an evidence that Americans drive too much and walk too little. Blame the SUV & consumer culture!

Obesity is a moral failure which is also known as gluttony, selfishness and laziness.

Does anyone believe that obese Americans could live forever? No, I didn't think so.

Kurt9 said at May 1, 2007 12:13 PM:

Aging is a medical condition, nothing less, nothing more. To make curing aging into a political issue is no more acceptable than to make curing cancer or any other disease into a political issue. Those of us who seek to cure aging have no need to justify our intent and actions any more than anyone who would seek to cure any other disease.

It is a medical issue, period.

This Dave Methews guys is either mentally ill or a troll.

David Mathews said at May 1, 2007 12:25 PM:

Hello Kurt9,

> Aging is a medical condition, nothing less, nothing more.

Such a statement is a perfect demonstration of lunacy on your own part.

Of all the humans who have ever existed, how many have lived forever?

Of all the animals that have ever existed, how many have lived forever?

Of all the plants that have ever existed, how many have lived forever? (Yet there are trees which have lived for over five thousand years. Methusaleh was a child compared to the bristlecone pines!)

Okay, techo-addicts, who among you is going to live forever?

Jim said at May 1, 2007 1:42 PM:

Such statement is a demonstration of understanding what aging process is (though I hate to call it "aging")

Of all the humans who have ever existed, how many did have proper dental care few hundreds years ago?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dental_caries

"Dental caries, also described as tooth decay, is an infectious disease which damages the structures of teeth.[1] The disease can lead to pain, tooth loss, infection, and, in severe cases, death. "

None.

Okay, techno-troll, do you brush them? I think not. That's why you talk through gritted teeth and via the internet ;)

David Mathews said at May 1, 2007 2:21 PM:

Hello Jim,

If you are going to live forever by brushing your teeth, I wonder why all of these other people have died.

Yet you know that you are talking nonsense. You need something else to live forever, but you aren't going to find it. Are you?

People have been looking for a cure for aging since the beginning of history. Some of the earliest myths of humankind were about this very subject. Are you familiar with the Epic of Gilgamesh? Have you read the Bible?

So don't start talking to me about your dreams/delusions of immortality. Until you have lived forever you cannot claim eternal life. Until you have reached your two-hundredth birthday, you really cannot speak at all.

There are no eternal people here at Futurepundits. Those who imagine otherwise will be disappaointed to discover otherwise soon enough.

Jim said at May 1, 2007 2:47 PM:

>"People have been looking for a cure for aging since the beginning of history. Some of the earliest myths
> of humankind were about this very subject. Are you familiar with the Epic of Gilgamesh? Have you read the Bible?"

Ah I see.. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to join Jehovah's Witnesses church. Thanks for proposing. Have a nice day. Bye :)

David Mathews said at May 1, 2007 4:00 PM:

Hello Jim,

The question was simple. Was it too difficult for you?

The Bible promises eternal life to Christians.

Technology promises eternal life to those enamored by science-fantasy.

There is no reason to draw any sort of distinction between these two sets of myths.

Brian Wang said at May 1, 2007 4:21 PM:

Bowhead whales and turtles can live to over 200 years of age.

New heart disease protocols have reduced heart deaths by about half from 1999 to 2005.
http://advancednano.blogspot.com/2007/05/heart-deaths-nearly-halved-from-1999-to.html

Curing heart disease and cancers would provide a combined elimination of about 50% of medically preventable disease. Combined with effective rejuvenation techniques would provide a 151 year life expectancy. Eliminating 90% of disease deaths along with effective rejuvenation would provide lifespans of 512 years.

There are some indications of success with oral vaccines against Alzheimers
http://advancednano.blogspot.com/2007/03/medical-progress-summary.html

In spite of obesity death rates are declining.
http://advancednano.blogspot.com/2006/04/health-us-death-rate-declines-by.html

I think we are entering a new age of curing, early detecting and preventing disease. (which disease cures / [new more correct detailed understanding of processes for better public health and prevention] would have the most impact are in data from the Center for disease control and the world health organization and the national center for health statistics.)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/bv.fcgi?rid=healthus05.chapter.trend-tables

the US population in 1980 was 226,542,199.
In 2003 it was 290 million.

So the 1980 deaths of 1,989,841 was a death rate of 0.88%
the 2003 deaths of 2,448,288 was a death rate of 0.84%
the 2004 deaths of 2,398,343 was a death rate of 0.82%
So total deaths is falling now to go along with a falling death rate (falling for decades).
Statistics also show that people are getting richer.
So those with an optimistic view point have the trend going for them.

There is still a lot of work to do but the science and the numbers support those who believe that
significantly longer lifespans are going to be created.


A couple of dozen other countries have higher life expectency than the US.
Plus different groups within the US have different life expectency.

Adopting healthy lifestyles can provide a reasonable shot at a current life expectency of
95 to 105.
http://www.bluezones.com/

Randall Parker said at May 1, 2007 5:41 PM:

Brian Wang,

Once we can entirely avoid heart disease and can cure cancer then I expect brain aging will become our biggest problem.

Then once we can grow replacement organs then for sure brain aging will be our biggest problem. Most people in their late 80s have amyloid plaque accumulating in their brains and by 90 have some degree of dementia.

Vaccines against Alzheimer's: They'll be useful. But I suspect we need to fix the underlying decay that causes the plaque formation in the first place.

Randall Parker said at May 1, 2007 6:19 PM:

Kurt,

You are right. Answering David Mathews is not conducive to productive debate.

Brian Wang said at May 1, 2007 6:28 PM:

I think the biggest tools for increasing lifespans and treating brain diseases are cellular repair (pre-nano and/or full mnt-nano), gene therapy (also helped by the cellular surgery devices for deployment), better vaccines will still matter (especially when combined with some of the other techniques such as using other techniques to weaken the diseases or mitigate symptoms) and SENS treatments and other ways to boost immune systems and to prevent the problems from developing.

Getting clear early detection so that agressive treatments and interventions can jump and get an early start on mitigation or complete cures.

David Mathews said at May 1, 2007 6:50 PM:

Hello Randall,

What sort of productive debate is possible among those who are so deluded as to imagine themselves in the process of acquiring immortality.

Brian Wang presents a really impressive argument:

"So the 1980 deaths of 1,989,841 was a death rate of 0.88%
the 2003 deaths of 2,448,288 was a death rate of 0.84%
the 2004 deaths of 2,398,343 was a death rate of 0.82%
So total deaths is falling now to go along with a falling death rate (falling for decades).
Statistics also show that people are getting richer.
So those with an optimistic view point have the trend going for them."

Okay. You've convinced me. You people are on the path to immortality.

Since you are going to live forever, will you remain employed forever? I can just imagine how boring life will become once you reach your 352nd year of retirement. Do you suppose that you will still receive Social Security benefits circa 2300 A.D.?

I know, it is impossible to convince prospective immortals of their mortality. You might be right, for all I know, in which case expect an apology from me on May 1st, 9007 A.D. I hope you don't become impatient. You have to at least outlive a Bristlecone pine tree before I acknowledge your immortality.

Randall Parker said at May 1, 2007 7:21 PM:

Brian,

I'm hopeful about useful therapies before we get either neural gene therapies or nano repair devices. Short of repairing the individual neurons I can see a number of therapies that'll help with brain aging:

1) Replacement organs that improve blood quality. For example, a younger replacement liver (especially one genetically engineered to optimize blood lipids) will improve blood quality going to the brain. Replacement organs can both up the nutrient content of the blood and decrease the amount of reactive oxygen species in the blood.

2) Youthful replacement stem cells for the vascular system. Bad blood flow in the brain might be a major contributing factor for dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. The stem cells might also excrete chemicals that send useful signals to neurons.

3) Youthful replacement stem cells for various neural stem cell reservoirs in the brain.

4) Youthful replacement stem cells for growing glial cells and other support cells for the neurons.

5) Immune therapies that clear out the trash.

Since both neural gene therapy and nano repair devices for cells are going to be hard to get working we need these other measures to buy us time.

Brian Wang said at May 2, 2007 9:02 AM:

I agree about your list of possible early treatment along with more mundane things like
more fact based analysis of lifestyle management.

For point 1 and 2.
there are nanoscale membranes and several companies that are making good progress now to process
blood outside of the body ala dialysis.
http://advancednano.blogspot.com/2007/02/better-nanoscale-membranes.html

So points 1 and 2 about blood cells and stem cells: it could end up being like a 3 month
oil change to get blood completely cleaned and get a stem cell top up.


Biophiltre is one of the companies working towards this. Gayle Pergamit (who helped write
Unbounding the Future with Drexler) is one of the executives of Biophiltre.
http://www.physorg.com/news6334.html

Tj Green said at May 6, 2007 4:13 PM:

There might also be a chance to regenerate damaged organs. According to Professor Ellen Heber-katz and her mutant mice. If she is right,and we all carry these genes,then why have they remained switched off? Could it be because of cancer?

Joel Hickman said at June 11, 2007 9:59 AM:

The objections about research about healthy life extension usually run along the lines of:

Even if it were possible to extent life, is it right? How can it be justified in the world we have? Wouldnít it merely exacerbate the (insert problem here) problem?

I submit hat many of our problems either originate from or are exacerbated by short range planning and the false comfort that the short term gains are more important than the long range problems. The problemís creators know they will be immune from the eventual cost of their current course of action. If this was not the case, different, more forward thinking strategies would become more popular. The Y2K problem provides a new example. The problem was well known. The horizon was defined, and the potential costs enormous. In spite of this knowledge, little was done until it became obvious that Y2K would impact the current generationís careers.

Even if the original two number years were a temporary necessity, were was the modular approach that would allow four digit years it be inserted later. If that was not feasible, where was the strategy of gradual program of well planned upgrade as the technology became available? Instead, the effort required to solve the problem spawned a frenzy that should never have been required. Consider all of that lost human effort and the opportunity costs. Perhaps redirected, the internet boom could have lived up to more of its potential, and the world might be a better place than it is now.

Another objection:

What right do we have to alter the natural order of things? Should we play God?

The boundaries of playing God have continued to be pushed back as human abilities have grown. Some who would have been blind can see. Some who would have been crippled can walk, and my daughter who should have died of pneumonia will start at a university next year.
I do not mean to trivialize these concerns, but the Natural Order, and the philosophical and religious matrix that this order is embedded in is different for each of us. There does not seem to be a universal standard.
Personally, I believe in a loving God, and just as He requires me help those around me, I can not believe that He would take pleasure in an effort to consign my fellows to being sidelined just as they became wise or to a short life usually ended in suffering.

Wouldnít a long life be a curse?

If it was a reasonably healthy life with opportunity, in short, no. Life usually has to get pretty bad be for it not to be sweet enough to continue.

Donít we have a duty to the new generation to get out of the way?

Perhaps, but even with a longer life, we will not last forever. Nothing does. Perhaps the new generations would come a little slower and be born to wiser, better adjusted parents. That might not be such a bad thing

Longevity Science said at June 14, 2007 9:46 AM:

Thank you for your interesting post and a subsequent discussion!
Perhaps you may be curious to see this info on related topic:
New Books Discussing Aubrey de Grey Ideas
http://science-library.blogspot.com/2007/06/new-books-discussing-aubrey-de-grey.html
Shorter link:
http://tinyurl.com/29dt5o

god is myth-research and see said at July 15, 2007 9:19 AM:

The world of humans is spoiled by those of limited thinking, stupid and aggressive.
Utopia is only a concept because enough of us keep it down-
but there's little reason to think that will change. Some of us fail
to realize how profound politics, culture and education are.
They miss the real prize of a mentally and physically healthy society.
Longer life is clearly the only choice. So is planned population.
But then, not making war, taking care of your own, and protecting the
environment are also vital. Hmm.. all liberal concepts,- imagine that.
To all those who spoil our potential utopia with doubts, opinions, aggression, unethical greed
(health insurance, certain corporations, for example),apathy,
and asinine religious concepts: short miserable life to you! (unless you're still young enough to change)

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