The Tomorrow's People event is presently underway; the more interesting sessions for those interested in healthy life extension took place today. Webcasts in RealPlayer format can be found here:
- "Longer?" with Sarah Harper, Tom Kirkwood, Aubrey de Grey, Jay Olshansky, Richard Miller and Paul Hodge
- "Stronger?" with Bill Sharpe, Ellen Heber-Katz, Kevin Warwick, Xuetao Pei, Toshio Fukuda and Zhanfeng Cui
UPDATE: A better collection of links to video and audio streams, plus powerpoint presentations, can be found in the Immortality Institute discussion thread for this event.
Aubrey De Grey believes that people can live much longer through a different approach - rejuvenation. "If we start repairing the damage caused by ageing early enough, we stand a good chance of reversing the devastating effects of ageing for good." For De Grey it follows that partial and periodic repair yields more ageing delay than partial prevention, thus it's more effective. But other scientists worry that such - in their view - unwarranted optimism will put off policymakers and the public.
Richard Miller fears that prospects of sufficient funding towards gerontology have been eclipsed largely by misrepresentation and lack of public trust. "We are essentially dealing with the syndrome of gerontologiphobia. That means fear of what might anti-ageing drugs do to society." Even more so, he urged us to think about the way gerontologists are portrayed by the public. "Most people think that gerontologists are crackpots and who wants to hang out with that sort of person?"
Let's be clear here: you don't engineer great strides in technological progress by watering down the message and intent so as to stay within any existing comfort zone. The way forward is to work on extending that comfort zone through education, awareness and outreach, while gathering the support of as many people as possible who are already in your camp. We have made great strides in extending the comfort zone in the past few years; articles that would have been unthinkable in 2000 appear in the mainstream press on a regular basis.
Radical life extension is a plausible medical engineering project - not easy, not cheap, but plausible. Moving away from that truth will not make our lives longer and healthier any faster; rather it will just excuse slower, less ambitious programs, and otherwise avoidable aging and death. That's certainly not the plan I have in mind for the next few decades.