Insight Into the Life Extension Foundation

Brief summaries never manage to convey the interesting subtleties and history of an organization, but a brief summary of the Life Extension Foundation (LEF) is probably in order here. The LEF is one of the half-dozen or so more responsible vitamin and supplement suppliers in the healthy life extension community - which is not to say you should take anything at face value without doing your own research. Vitamins and supplements, as for so many other things in life, can form a deep - and ultimately wasteful - rabbit hole to vanish down if you fail to keep a sense of proportion. In any case, this large, visible business is the money-generating engine that supports efforts to provide health and longevity optimization advice to LEF members and the public, as well as fund a modest amount of scientific research. Calorie restriction studies and cryonics research are amongst the funding recipients. In other words, the LEF is the archetypical old school life extension venture, an outgrowth of the past generation of the healthy life extension community.

Two recent articles from Life Extension Magazine provide insights into the mindset and goals of those steering the LEF.

Death by Neglect:

The people in the photograph on this page all had a common problem. Despite being the most powerful group in the world at the time, they did little to protect their own lives. As a result, they all died.

Before the 1960s, few people even thought about the idea of radically extending the human life span. As medicine evolved, however, people began to realize that the length of their own lives is highly dependent on the rate of scientific progress. Those in the federal government who control the funding of medical research have a great deal of influence over the extent to which scientists are able to challenge aging and death. Regrettably, government leaders have paid scant attention to protecting Americans from the ravages of aging.

To me, as a libertarian of the minarchist persuasion, the folk running the LEF have a fascinating perception of government. You have to read up on some of the backstory here - the founders were stepped on by the federal government back in the early 1990s in a typically heavy-handed, unnecessary and underhanded way. The LEF won in the end, a very unusual outcome, but it certainly can't have been any fun at the time. For those of you who view government as benign, this should be an eye-opener - but this sort of abuse (and a thousand other examples from the FDA) is the predictable result of a lack of accountability, i.e. an entirely usual state of affairs in a Western style democracy.

Despite this history, here we have an article that is supportive of the very government structures that lead to FDA abuse. The author simply bemoans the way in which past tax revenue was used - i.e. not to further the extension of the healthy human life span. In a way, it mirrors my comments on the use of resources by the past generation of healthy life extension advocates - the LEF founders amongst them. Is this an example of practicality in the face of structures you cannot tear down? You decide.

Life Extension's Visionary Plan to Conquer Aging and Death:

In 2035, it is apparent that major breakthroughs are on the horizon: gene therapies to prevent aging; intelligent nanorobots to repair dysfunctional brain cells; neurostimulatory therapies to regenerate organs and other body parts; young tissues developed from stem cells to rejuvenate life systems; and new technologies to improve vision, hearing, strength, intelligence, sexual prowess, and other attributes.

Unfortunately, it is also apparent that it will still take decades to fully implement these advanced breakthroughs, which will be too late for you. The thought has begun to cross your mind that your generation might be the last to face death before a greatly extended healthy life span becomes commonplace.

...

However, all is not lost. Suspended animation, an advanced technology that was perfected in 2030, is readily available at hospitals throughout the world.

LEF founder Saul Kent's long term vision, as for anyone in his generation interested in living very much longer lives, hinges on cryonics technology. For those of us young enough to live into the era of working anti-aging medicine - capable of repairing age-related cellular damage and thus achieving rejuvenation - cryonics is an important insurance policy. Are we going to make it? Will medical science advance rapidly enough? For older folk, cryonic suspension is the only viable alternative to the grave - and a great deal of work and funding is yet required to develop a thriving, healthy cryonics industry from the present small beginnings.

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Comments

I think that the federal government is absolutely TERRIFIED of people living longer, especially the poor. Technology already is holding out the promise of exponential increases in computing power - meaning that all non-creative jobs (perhaps 90% of ALL US jobs, even more in the developing world) being more economical to do with machines. The 'scarcity mindset' camp probably think this means that in a few years, we will need a global war to cut the population of 'surplus' unemployable people. I think this is evil and wrong, as people deserve a rest after thousands of years of toil. And the falling global population will naturally begin around 2050. We CAN last that long. However, it requires a shift to the 'abundance mentality'

As education levels rise, birthrates fall. There are also glimmers in the world of physics implying that travel to the stars may be more feasible than most of us had thought.

This will force us into the right decisions.. People will demand access to life-extension technologies, especially those that promise extension of healthy lifespan..

More and more people will go into creative fields like the sciences because they will be the only areas in which one will be able to get a job..

Basic human needs - which are actually inexpensive, when they are taken care of in time, will be taken care of by society..

No redistribution of wealth will be necessary.. however, we will need to bring back the estate tax.. thats all..

Within 20 years, energy will be free and communications will be so good that people can live anywhere they want.. so prices will fall, as people wont need to live near their jobs.. (most wont have to work.. the only people who will work will be people who really and truly want to and enjoy their jobs.. People will live to an average of at least 120, perhaps much more..

Posted by: Radagast at January 11th, 2006 3:28 PM

Hello: I have found people, in general, not to mention doctors, too, are not hearing and are not receptive to most of what we are talking about concerning one's responsibility for taking some control for our health issues. People agree we should take vitamins, but many w/ tongue in cheek. Their idea currently is: " if you want to do it, fine, if not, that's fine too. Eating healthy is not a subject with many doctors--they simply look at you like you speak a language they don't know. God forbid we take away their drugs which they sponsor and drug co's make millions on. This is the current thinking out there. I feel like Columbus, who, when he went to seek the new world, was told, "you fool, don't you know there is nothing beyond the soil you stand on!"

Posted by: arlene at February 6th, 2006 10:57 AM

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