Immortality 2.0

My attention was drawn today to an article I missed from the latest FUTURIST magazine, the author painting Silicon Valley as the hub for modern transhumanism, including advocates for engineered longevity. Insofar as transhumanism has a geographic hub, I'd say Silicon Valley is as good a guess at it as any:

Aubrey de Grey, an English biologist with a doctorate from Cambridge University, is head of the Methuselah Foundation and one of the world's foremost antiaging champions. With high-profile partners like Arizona State University's new Biodesign Institute, the Methuselah Foundation is trying to reverse degenerative cell damage. Little in the way of usable research has been produced, but the unabashed ambition of his work (and his creeping mainstream acceptance) has made de Grey something of a guru to the transhumanists of Silicon Valley. He visits the Bay Area every couple of months, often speaking at the offices of Yahoo and Google.

On an unseasonably warm winter's day, de Grey was at Brickhouse, the product-innovation division that Salim Ismail runs for Yahoo. De Grey had come to promote his new book, Ending Aging. Wiry and fidgety, de Grey spoke in a distinct English accent, avoiding eye contact. A rust-colored beard hung nearly to his waist, and his hair was pulled back in a long ponytail. De Grey set up a projector and screen as 50 employees gathered around during lunch break and started munching on catered gourmet sandwiches.

The lights came down, and de Grey began a talk titled "Prospects for Extending Healthy Life--A Lot." While the audience idly chewed away, de Grey told them, "I think that many people in this room have a good chance of living to one thousand." That got the Yahoo workers' attention. Several in the audience put down their focaccia and took out notepads. De Grey launched into a sermon about the inhumane effects of aging.

It's a neutral piece, as you might be able to tell - the author is clearly one of those who remain to be convinced that change is afoot, healthy longevity is good, and the biotechnology revolution will take us all to far places. The movement for engineered longevity is, however, a movement, and it's steadily growing. That growth means an increase in advocacy, fundraising, funded research, and other metrics of success.


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