As I'm sure you've noticed, both this blog and its parent site the Longevity Meme aim as much at providing a guideline to newcomers to healthy life extension as catering to advocates and those in the know. If you come here often, you'll see certain themes repeat themselves - and one would hope that you'll see few items that would be challenging for a new visitor. These websites exist because there are certain collections of ideas, memes, that I think need greater play in our culture of information. Interesting and useful repetition, restatement and elaboration are the stock tools of the advocate who seeks to persuade and educate, and I certainly indulge myself.
I've long noted that the future is not a conveyor belt of ever more wonderful medicines and technology. The future is an ongoing product of all our actions - just because the futurists propose to see something on the horizon doesn't mean that it will be built. Building requires investment, and significant investment only happens in the presence of widespread support and understanding of the intended goal. If we all sit back in expectation of a conveyor belt future, we'll end up with nothing. More pertinently, we'll all end up crippled, suffering and eventually dead from age-related conditions that could have been cured if we'd just stood up in support of medical research back in the day.
What are the memes I am attempting to promote? I think that the following division of ideas and concepts is helpful:
1) Radical life extension is possible:
There is every reason to believe, based on the best available science of the present day, that the healthy human life span can be indefinitely extended - given the tools and applied technologies to do so. How long will it take to develop these technologies? That's up to us.
2) Stay healthy today in order to extend your healthy life span further with the technologies of tomorrow:
The concept of escape velocity in healthy life extension has been getting a lot of play in the past six months. We don't have to - and won't - jump to radical life extension in one go. Medical technology will improve a little at a time, giving us a year here and a year there. These years add up: each of them is another year in which scientists can come up with better, more effective life extension medicine. Eventually, the medical research community will be adding years faster than aging can take them away - escape velocity! Will we be alive and healthy to see it? That's up to us.
3) Support the medical research most likely to lead to healthy life extension:
The future is up to us. Public acclaim and desire leads to funding and investment in new technologies. If you want to live a longer, healthier life, then be an informed advocate, and informed consumer. Snub commercial "anti-aging" nonsense. Support stem cell research, tissue engineering, mitochondrial science and Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence. Donate to the Mprize for longevity research. Speak out, give the world your views on living a longer, healthier life - because the future of healthy life extension medicine is up to us.
4) As I may have mentioned once or twice, it's up to us:
If we all shirk and backslide, then we'll all age, degenerate, suffer and die - it's that simple. If we want a future of better medicine, cures for age-related disease and far longer, far healthier lives, then we have to stand up and do something about it. It's up to us.