George Dvorksy ran up a long, sensible post on the topic of the SENS Challenge today - well worth a look. He brackets some of the items I've meandered over in the past, albeit from a more skeptical perspective on the science, and perhaps a little more neatly than I managed:
First, regardless of the outcome, it is extremely important that both de Grey and SENS be put under this kind of scrutiny -- even if the contest is a tad sensationalistic. If de Grey is guilty of propagandizing pseudoscientific beliefs and establishing a cultish personality around himself - and I am not suggesting that he is - it is important that this be considered and brought to the public's attention. More importantly, however, the ad hominem that has in no small way characterized this contest has similarly got to be fleshed out and exposed; as Reason aptly pointed out in his Fight Aging review, "SENS is not de Grey." This heated debate has brought out the worst in all parties as far as I'm concerned.
To all you de Grey groupies on the edge of your seats in anticipation of The Big Decision, it's time to take a chill pill and a deep breath. The outcome of this contest will have no bearing on the work to come against the ravages of aging. A ruling by the judges against de Grey would have no bearing on anti-aging research, and would at worst cause de Grey to have to revise his strategy (or his approach). But he needs to do this anyway as SENS should at no time be considered a static document. Twenty years from now we may laugh at the naivete of SENS, but I highly doubt we'll laugh at the maturation of real anti-aging interventions that will have sprung from this seed of an idea.
When all is said and done (whatever that means), it may be that de Grey will have had very little to contribute to bona fide anti-aging advances (although I doubt that). De Grey will not cure aging by himself and any assertion that he will is patently ridiculous. The war against aging will be a concerted and protracted effort that will in all likelihood take many decades, numerous researchers and vast resources. Further, the efforts to halt the aging process will be the result of converging therapeutic interventions that will address aging related pathologies on an individualized basis. While an all-reaching overview like SENS is laudable and even practical, it will still come down to the specialists working on their focused aging related problems.
Glenn Reynolds is somewhat more concise, as usual:
They've gotten some submissions, and judges will announce their opinion next month. I predict that no prize will be awarded.