Reminders

This short post at Business Insider serves as a reminder of two items. Firstly, the author notes that 'Silicon Valley billionaires are pouring money into gene research and modifications' - and I wish that were the case! There are very few philanthropists and investors amongst the wealthy of the technology industry who are doing this, and Peter Thiel and Larry Ellison are outliers in having devoted millions to this end. Journalists who cover the tech industry sometimes wake up momentarily to see instances of the comparatively rare funding of longevity science - and then assume it to be more commonplace than it is. In fact, progress in this field is absolute limited and determined by the lack of funding for programs like SENS: the path ahead is very clear, and availability of funds for the research and development is the bottleneck. The second point is illustrated by glancing at the article comments, in which we can see that it is still very much the cultural norm to decry efforts to extend healthy life - and to be expected to decry efforts to extend healthy life, to conform to this view or suffer censure. Consider this for a moment: we still live in a society in which the mainstream view is that people must suffer horribly and die on schedule, and to do anything about that is wrong. Personally, I blame much of that required-attitude-in-public on the pervasive influence of Malthusian, hair shirt environmentalism, coupled with some of the less pleasant aspects of human nature in all of us. For the foreseeable future this is the great act of persuasion we must undertake: convince a large segment of the population to agree in public that we can use biotechnology to do away with the suffering of old age, and that we should use biotechnology to do away with the suffering of old age.

Link: http://www.businessinsider.com/peter-thiel-death-is-a-problem-that-can-be-solved-2012-2

Comments

As much as it hurts to say this - not a chance! I have spent three years actively encouraging and talking to friends, colleagues and family about SENS and how it could lift our lives dramatically.

A few people "get" it immediately, but the consensus amongst the vast majority is that I am/it is Barking Mad. In particular, religious people seem to view it as an affront to their self-image. It is almost as if they want to die/are scared of living. Even poor old AdG seems to be ever more timid - backing away from life extension towards "relieving the suffering of old age". It is as if he feels that he has something to apologise for.

After three years of head-banging advocacy, I have reached the conclusion that SENS supporters are gong to have to "stealth" the medical authorities and present them with a fait accompli. Whether this is done through "Open Cures" or some "dark pool" of money (or the putative Vegas Group) I have no idea, but the brutal truth is that a perfectly coherent and rational plan has been completely ignored by all and sundry for what seems forever.

Where we get this "dark pool" from I do not yet know - but a clandestine effort will be required if we are to detour around the many social/medical/legal roadblocks.
Sorry to be so confrontational, but we are running out of precious time and I have no intention of laying down and dying.

Posted by: Tom C at February 10th, 2012 10:36 AM

Tom C,

Roger that - saw a post on fa! not too long ago where AdG seems to be backing away from defeating aging in a sense, and it's becoming more of a "side benefit" than anything else I presume. It's like our commanding general is waving the white flag of surrender already. I don't mind getting the message out there, but damn it, be unwavering about your convictions! If we can defeat aging through SENS - stick with it!

I think we're all right there with you, albeit I've only been around this work for about a year, and I do agree people look at me like I have 2 heads when I mention this, but I do find solace on this site for us like minded individuals, in fact I come here more often then the SENS forum anymore. But these people that look at us weird are the same types of people that thought the world was flat, the earth was the center of the universe, etc. etc.

Oh and FYI - not all religious types are against SENS-ish research. I did a bit of digging, and it turns out that there is a Mormon Transhumanist group, and the head of it was on h+ magazine. Kinda interesting. But they are a minority - but hey you have to start somewhere I guess.

Hey Reason - your thoughts?

Posted by: VV5 at February 10th, 2012 1:30 PM

AdG talks about a time when, once the public sees convincing evidence that curing aging is possible, public pressure on people in power to make these life-extending therapies available to all will grow exponentially. I imagine this pressure would eventually materialize in form of crowds protesting in the streets rather than just online. Perhaps it would be helpful if we assumed this attitude already and started organizing protests that would attract, at least, attract attention to the cause, just like Occupy movement attracted attention to economic inequality issues. I'm convinced that the main problem with lack of research money is lack of awareness that there exists a convincing path to ending aging. I don't think 99.9% people in the world realize this at all. Perhaps an online campaign in which people would keep posting the same, well crafted slogan conveying the meme over and over again on every online forum possible might work too.

Posted by: Heartland at February 10th, 2012 8:43 PM

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