A machine-translated interview with Aubrey de Grey, cofounder of the SENS Research Foundation and author of the SENS proposals for developing biotechnologies to repair and reverse the root causes of aging:
Interviewer: Why should we stop aging?
de Grey: The fundamental reason why we should develop a drug against aging is that aging is bad for you. It makes people sick. There are many views on how people should live, but there is really no debate about the fact that people do not like being sick. That's the main reason. It is also important to emphasize that the human body is just a machine. It is a very complicated machine, but a machine after all, which means that if you can stop people becoming sick, then you're also avoiding the increased risk of death that comes with being sick. A person has a very low probability of dying anytime soon if he avoids becoming ill. There will be a side effect of increased longevity that comes with the medical defeat of aging, but it is only a secondary effect. I do not work on longevity, I work so that people will not become sick.
Interviewer: Who are the supporters of aging, the opponents of longevity research?
de Grey: Most people, I think, is little concerned when talking about the defeat of aging. The fear of the unknown overwhelms them. They forget that we have a problem today, and prefer not to think about the tremendous costs of Alzheimer's disease or heart problems and the like. They instead remain concerned about the kinds of hypothetical disadvantages envisaged for a post-aging world such as overcrowding, dictators living forever or inability to pay pensions, or whatever it might be. I find this extremely frustrating because it is a complete abandonment of any sense of proportion. I find it extraordinary that people are willing to enjoy this kind of denial. But it is not extraordinary from a psychological point of view because until recently - until I came along - it was perfectly reasonable to consider that the defeat of aging was a long way distant because many people had tried and failed.
Interviewer: What question would you like to be asked more often?
de Grey: "How big do you want the check to be?" What I do is work on the science behind the development of anti-aging treatments. This requires three things. The first is that it requires a solid scientific basis. So the reason why we can make predictions about the future, although speculative, is that we can describe in detail what already exists and where we go from there. So a good level of precursor technology must exist. The second is that people who are better placed to further develop this technology should be excited about it. They must be aware of the potential applicability of the work of others for the defeat of old age. The third is that you have to have the resources to make this happen.
I realized about fifteen years ago that we now have the technological foundations in place, and it was then when I developed the SENS concept. The second case is something I've been working on, meeting with the world's scientific leaders in the relevant fields. We do not lack people who know what they are doing. So the only missing link is the number three, the financial resources to do the job.