You may recall I had previously mentioned the November 1st discussion with biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey; if you take a look today, you'll see that the transcript is there. One of the interesting items for discussion is this:
Question from Mark Jones, U. Western Ontario, Canada:
Allow me to set the obvious ethical implications of your claims aside for a moment; can you give examples of the progress science has made already that persuade you to believe that the length of human life on earth can be extended so extensively already? In your opinion, this progress is not being held back by lack of scientific intelligence, so what do you believe are the reasons for the lack of progress in this area so far?
Aubrey de Grey:
I think that until recently the science of aging had not progressed far enough to let us design plausible interventions, but in the past 5-10 years it has reached that point. The main reason for lack of progress today is that most of the acknowledged experts in the biology of aging are being slow to take on board our improved understanding of what aging is and the available techniques to fix it. That's why I spend so much time debating these issues with my colleagues in biogerontology -- educating them, as I see it. When the biogerontological consensus "catches up with me" (as I see it), funding will be easy -- the public will believe aging is defeatable, so there will be votes in it.
Aubrey believes that the last generation did the best they were capable of, given the knowledge and tools to hand; I suspect that this is more of an open question. Could we have come further in the time we have had, if the resources had been applied and the will to cure aging existed? Or does slow progress of cancer research - up until fairly recently, at least - point towards fundamental limitations in our understanding of biochemistry and technological capabilities that have only recently been overcome?