Debating SENS

Jay Fox comments on debates over SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) within the healthy life extension community.

The important thing to keep in mind is that, in debating how "good" an anti-aging treatment is, we only need to consider whether it will allow people to live long enough for something better to come along. In other words, the first effective anti-aging treatments don't need to completely cure aging, they just need to buy us time for something better.

In that light, Dr. de Grey has admitted that his 7-point strategy is likely not going to be a true cure for aging. It's not good enough to cure aging, but he believes it will be good enough to buy us time, so much time that future advances will continue to buy us more time, etc. In effect, once his 7-point plan is achieved, future biomedicine will always stay at least one step ahead of the aging process. This is what Dr. de Grey means when he says "escape velocity".

I do not doubt that Dr. de Grey's plan will work, and so it may be perceived as somewhat hypocritical that I am sometimes critical of Dr. de Grey's plan. What needs to be made clear is that I don't doubt that Dr. de Grey's plan will work; what I have reservations about is whether it will be available soon enough, and broadly enough, to save the most lives possible. That is, I believe that there are other strategies which will make escape velocity occur sooner, for more people, and in effect, save more lives.

My position on these sorts of discussions is that we are still in the stage of needing many more qualified and useful people (e.g. scientists, folks with money to spend on research, advocates with a large audience, etc) to take part. It's never too early to critique and improve ideas - especially when it comes to getting to the end goal more rapidly - but we still need to devote much more effort to raise awareness and bring new faces to the debating table.


I agree. We definitely need more people. It would be counterproductive of me to spend all my time critiquing SENS. It would counterproductive for Harold to spend all his time doing so. But I see no harm in us spending some of our time, as long as we continue our efforts in other areas of advocacy. I don't want to take up too much of Dr. de Grey's time, which is why I hope that this debate can be settled in the next couple weeks. I definitely do NOT want it dragging out for months. Which, by the way, the debate already has in some form or another, so settling it head-on now instead of slowly in back-channels may be the best for the whole community.

Also, it would be beneficial if a protege of Dr. de Grey could fill in for him, by proxy, leaving only the more important details to Dr. de Grey. In other words, someone with a Masters or Ph.D. preferably, who is well versed in all 7 areas of SENS research. Alas, if such a person exists, he or she is probably deeply involved in important research and may have as little free time as Dr. de Grey. Until then, we have only Dr. de Grey to address these issues with.

Posted by: Jay Fox at February 10th, 2005 5:15 PM

how incredibly true
this is why as soon as I has a 6-digit sum at my disposal I chose to use it to hire Michael Rae, who is better equipped both to respond to criticisms of SENS and to come up with cogent ones of his own than anyone on the planet except me, and is fast becoming better at the latter than me. I've been worried for years about being my own only educated critic. You'll all be hearing a lot from Michael shortly (he only started a week ago).

Posted by: Aubrey de Grey at February 11th, 2005 5:25 AM

It's terrific to see more life science educated people entering into this debate. We need as much of this as possible to refine SENS.

Posted by: Harold at February 20th, 2005 5:14 AM
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