To Live is to Change, and So We See the End of the Longevity Meme

The silliest of all arguments raised against engineered human longevity have always been those involving forms of stasis - the unlikely specters of boredom and stagnation, for example. But to be alive is to be a force for change. No-one is static, not even those folk who try to be or who think they are.

It recently occurred to me that one could build a fairly strong counterpoint to the "immortal dictator" form of stasis argument by pointing to the politics of past centuries in times when life expectancies were much shorter. The spans of governments and leaders back then were not all that different to what we see today - but today the life expectancies of people at every age are notably longer. So why don't we suffer empires to put the span of Rome to shame, and nations in which the commonplace span of social and political power is far longer than just a few years?

The answer of course being that life is change. Carpe diem!

So it was in the spirit of change and improvement that I turned off the Longevity Meme website this past weekend: switched the DNS to point to Fight Aging!, cancelled the hosting service, and then sent out the first weekly newsletter to go out under the Fight Aging! banner rather than that of the Longevity Meme. This has been in the works for a while, but here we are now with the deed done.

The Longevity Meme had a ten year run as a project, first assembled in a crude format back in 2001 - when I'd had enough of just thinking about longevity science and wanted to actually do something about it. As a non-biologist, writing and advocacy seemed like a sensible path forward. Evidently I'm not cut from the same fabric as folk like Aubrey de Grey and Kevin Perrott, once non-biologists, whose response to the same urge was to take a hard right turn in life and become biologists working in the field of aging research. The scale of the challenge is such that we need as many such motived people as we can get.

Ten years of managing the Longevity Meme spanned my observer's education in the biology of aging and longevity science, as well as the rise of the present younger generation of advocacy groups such as the Methuselah Foundation, SENS Foundation, Immortality Institute, and many others. I can't claim anything in this beyond it being the zeitgeist of the last decade: it was in the air. In ten years we've moved from a fringe environment - in which the main course of action was persuading people to take seriously the prospects for longevity science - to a more mainstream environment in which raising support and large sums of money for work on rejuvenation biotechnology is the primary, plausible goal. The Longevity Meme was more a project for the old environment, and Fight Aging! is more a project for the new.

I am beginning to think the the waters of education and public awareness have risen far enough for the act of raising money for longevity research to be a work of advocacy in and of itself. The process of raising funds - of networking, education, and persuasion - conveys a message in and of itself: that this ideal of defeating aging is real and here and moving. It isn't an abstract future, a vague something, but rather tangible progress that is taking place in laboratories right here and now.

Life is change.

So I will be thinking more on the topic of how to steer money towards the best research facilities and goals in the years ahead. For now, Fight Aging! is as you see it: a source of news and opinions on the topic of engineered human longevity. One of those opinions is, as always, that you should head on over to either the Methuselah Foundation or the SENS Foundation and make a donation to support their work. Or persuade a friend to do the same: that is where the future starts, by voting with your wallet.

Comments

As good a milestone as any to say thanks, Reason. That you are able to maintain this blog at such a high standard, with daily posts no less, is an astonishing achievement. There is no better resource on the web for learning about longevity science. Your commitment to solving history's greatest problem is a source of tremendous inspiration to me, as I'm sure it is to others. As you say, the retiring of the Longevity Meme newsletter is emblematic of our cause having progressed sufficiently well that such forms of outreach no longer need to be prioritised. Much of this progress is because of you.

Thank you so much.

Posted by: Ben at February 15th, 2011 2:12 AM

Yes, thanks! You're fighting the good fight.

Posted by: Will Nelson at February 15th, 2011 8:34 AM

Congrats on the ten years. Great job, much appreciated.

Posted by: shegeek at February 15th, 2011 2:53 PM

Hopefully people stop their BS cargo cult spirituality, and turn to spirituality like that of Kurzweil, embracing change.

Who can heal an amputee? They say wait for god? I say wait for scientists, if god heals an amputee that would be unfair now wouldn't it?

Same deal with aging, antiaging science has strong foundations, even small isolated tribes survive for thousands of years, even clonal ant colonies last for even longer. Some queens in some species are said to die of murder because they ran out of sperm, while seemingly keeping reproduction going like a production factory.

Posted by: Cameron at February 16th, 2011 4:58 PM

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