Predictions, Predictions

We all have our thoughts on - and hopes for - the timeline for healthy life extension (and radical life extension). Here are some from Stephen Gordon at the Speculist:

Last year I speculated that a simple form of life extension therapy would be available within a decade. With less than nine years left to go, I stand by this prediction.

Aging is a very complicated problem. But age therapy is coming soon because the beginning of the answer to aging will be much simpler than a more complete solution that addresses all seven of Aubrey de Grey's age problems.

As Aubrey de Grey has repeatedly pointed out, we don't have to have a complete solution to benefit. In fact, we might live to see a complete solution to the age problem if we live to see the first true therapy for aging. This "bootstrapping" idea means that the time we gain from the first age therapies might help us live to benefit from second-generation therapies, second-generation therapies bootstrap us to the third generation, etc.

I think this is overly aggressive as a timeline for widespread availability of therapies, given the problems caused by regulation and increasing socialism within medicine. I do expect to see some very impressive lab work taking place in 2014 - especially if we research advocates do our job.


I share your short-term skepticism but not because of socialism. Rather, aging, or the distributed breakdown of bodily functioning, strikes me as an especially thorny engineering problem. Our best near-term hope is a CR-mimetic or gene therapy, such as those Miller advocates. But these will buy us a few years or decades at most (that, however, may be all we need to reach escape velocity). On the other, actually solving problem from an engineering perspective strikes me as a Herculean task. I'm not an expert, and I can't provide the criticism Aubrey needs, but his SENS project sometimes strikes me as too optimistic (especially when he talks about timelines, funding, and widespread panic after a ~10 year old mouse). So I would also agree that Gordon is too optimistic. None of this, of course, suggests that the *ethical* case against aging is mistaken in the slightest.

Posted by: Kip Werking at July 5th, 2005 9:55 PM

Gordon is obviously talking codswallop. We will not see any sign of an aging intervention in 2014. Not even for at least forty years after that.

Posted by: MysticMonkeyGuru at July 5th, 2005 11:17 PM

Monkey-man, you're back! Long time no read! I wondered where you had gone.

Mr. Guru (or is it Ms. Guru?), you never did answer my question about
how George W. Bush got re-elected in 2008, or how technological
progress came to a stop in 2006. Care to enlighten us? If you have
forgotten your visions of the future, allow me to refresh your memory:

> I have actually seen the near-term future and I'll prove to you
> that the first half of this century will bring more of the same
> as the last half of last century, just slightly faster computers.
> Technological progress will remain at a plateau - that it has
> hit in the year 2006 - for several decades afterward. The
> skeptics will come out and laugh at those naive predictions
> about how people expected extended lifespans during this
> time...
> George W. Bush is re-elected in 2008, and him and Leon Kass
> immediately begin a program demonizing scientists in the
> media. Creationism is taught in schools, and science of any
> kind is viewed as terrorism...

Great stuff! It goes on, you really do have a flare for the dramatic.
I don't know why you don't drop by more often, we do relish these

Posted by: Jay Fox at July 6th, 2005 8:18 AM

Is that for real??

It reminds me of the quote from the Patent Office director (or whatever the actual title is) in 1904 or thereabouts, who opined that everything that could be invented HAD been invented.

Posted by: Jim Thomason at July 6th, 2005 4:18 PM

Drop the sarcasm Jay. You won't be laughing when you die of old age later this century.

Posted by: MysticMonkeyGuru at July 6th, 2005 8:19 PM

There probably won't be any publically available break-throughs in the next 10 years.

However the foundation is there, in the form of the info provided by the mapping of the human genome, the SENS framework and nascent developments in bio-tech now confined to the lab (such as for instance Rafal's work on Mitochondria). Given this foundation, I think some real life-extension therapies might be avaliable by 2015. This is not out of the question. And someone on the extropy list working closely with bio-tech confiend that 2015 is not unreasonable for the first true anti-aging therapies.

However the first therapies are likely to provide only modest gains (potentially adding only a few years here and there). I base this on the complexity of aging and there are evolutonary reasons for believing that treatments that work in mice are likely to have a much smaller effect in humans. For instance Aubrey de Grey has said: ' I don't really think there's much scope for increasing human life by more than a year or two with caloric restriction.'

So some real treatments by 2015, but don't expect too much to begin with. Real gains in longevity probably require advanced medical nano and artificial intelligence, which may take another 15 years after that to start getting real results (2030 is the average projected date for the emergence of advanced nano and ai).

So by 2030, it is not unreaonable to suppose that we may have reached the 'break-even' point. I'm going to stick my neck out here and state that if we can just hold on until 2030, we're home (indefinite lifespans from then on).

Posted by: MarcG at July 7th, 2005 2:03 AM

Well hold on a minute. Agree; agree; agree; STOP! 'Socialisation' of medicine?!!!

My friend, isn't medicine for everyone. Shouldn't everyone then have a chance to treat aging? Do you believe that this will become a reality if the private sector continues to control medicine? Surely the rich will continue to control and receive all the benefits.

I would respectfully suggest that you turn your eye upon the poor people of America and their needs. Whilst I firmly subscribe to antiaging research I believe that it is a little like liberty. It cannot and must not be bought from the misery and deprivation of others.

I believe that the real issue here is winning the public debate about the necessities and possiblities of antiaging research, not continuing practices that deprive and even oppress the poor.

Just my brief flirtation with humanity there..

Posted by: Dave at July 7th, 2005 3:27 AM

Socialization of medicine buys short-term "equality" of access and distribution, and hence a short-term increase in the quality of medicine available to the most people. However, medical progress as a whole is typically stifled, which means that in the long-term, everybody loses, rich or poor.

The medical technology available today to the lower middle class is far better than the medical technology available to the top 1% less than half a century ago. Halting medical progress will eventually mean more lives lost. There's room for some degree of "socialization", some level of effort to make medicine more broadly available. But the more we socialize, the slower medicine progresses, and we hit a point of diminishing returns where more socialization doesn't mean a better system, it just means more suffering and death in the future.

Posted by: Jay Fox at July 7th, 2005 10:07 AM

"Just my brief flirtation with humanity there.."

Yes, those who oppose socialized medicine are inhuman. Everybody knows that.

Posted by: Jim Thomason at July 7th, 2005 3:14 PM

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