An Interview with Michael Batin

The 2nd International Conference on the Genetics of Aging and Longevity is presently underway in Moscow, organized by the active Russian arm of the longevity research community - such as the folk behind the Science for Life Extension Foundation - and well-attended by notable life science researchers from around the world. Earlier this month, the Moscow News ran an interview with Michael Batin, one of the organizers. His views are representative of the Russian community, whose members tend to be forthright and direct when it comes to the end goals of longevity science: to defeat aging entirely, banish the suffering it causes, and usher in an era of ageless humans. More power to them - we could do with a lot more of that sort of outspoken advocacy here in the Anglosphere.

The quoted passages below are run through Google's automated translation engine, which unfortunately still butchers Russian:

Q: What is the real goal that we set ourselves right now? Can you say, talk about extending the life of ten years from now?

MB: In ten years? It is not even present, and yesterday. It has long been proven that reducing caloric intake [and even] just a healthy lifestyle [lead to a longer life]. Our goal is different - a victory over an aging, it is by and large the whole purpose of medical science. After all, if you think about all of the doctors [dedicated to the] prolongation of life, the estrangement of death. A person does not want to die right now, well, anti-aging does not differ fundamentally, it is also the struggle with death.

Q: So you're talking about immortality?

MB: Yes. This is the ultimate goal. In the coming ten years, you can raise the life expectancy [to] 150 years, with adequate [resources and large enough research community]. If, for example, to do research megaproject like the American lunar program. And if we know in ten years that will live more than a hundred years, this will give us more time to find a way to further extend [life].

Q: But how? Are there any pills?

MB: If you're talking about a miracle pill, then, of course not. Aging depends on many factors, and is now the main problem is just that we do not know them all. And the proposed mega-project just involves a systematic search for the causes of aging.


Q: And it's all in the mega-project? [It's] going to cost [a] quite impossibly high sum.

MB: But now we are spending huge amounts of money on arms - you've seen defense spending in Russia? - And do not invest in [biogerontology], fundamental research on the causes of aging. Even in the U.S., [where] gerontology takes a billion dollars, [that is] their total spending, of that billion is spent on Alzheimer's disease, [on] geriatrics, and [only a small fraction of it on] the fundamental work on finding the root causes of aging.

Research is always the red-haired stepchild of human endeavors, small and neglected behind the bread, circuses, and cathedrals of destruction. But what can one person do about that? Best not to be too weighed down by the essential insanity of the human condition as we have collectively managed to engineer it. It won't actually require more than a few tens of millions of people to decide they want to make a difference and devote some modest effort towards doing something about aging - a community that large, distributed around the world, could assemble the necessary funds and researchers to, for example, complete the SENS project to demonstrate robust rejuvenation in mice. Everyone else can go on building bombs and monuments if they so desire, but the things that matter will still get done, as they have always done, by a motivated tiny minority.

Long after the time in which anyone can easily recall who was US president in 2011, or what party was in power, or which wars of declining empire were fought, and then long after anyone even cares about that ancient history, and later, long after the whole downward slope of the history of the US is but a footnote of interest to scholars of the transition from second to third millennium, and later still, long after anyone can even find out with any great reliability who was US president in 2011 ... long after all these things are forgotten, the first half of the 21st century will still be clearly recalled as the dawn of the era in which aging was conquered.

Progress in science and technology is really the only thing that matters in the long term.

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