Born Too Early?

Practical human rejuvenation lies in the near future: the means to reverse age-related degeneration and restore youthful function to the old, thereby extending healthy life and eliminating age-related disease. With the right sea changes in scientific funding, so that organizations like the SENS Research Foundation become the mainstream of the aging research community, rejuvenation therapies could well arrive by the late 2030s. If the present mainstream focus on gently slowing aging continues as is, however, then it will take much longer to realize rejuvenation. But however long it takes, some fraction of those people presently alive will have been born too early.

A friend of mine in the life extension movement who is approaching age 65 once lamented that he might be part of the last generation that will not be able to take advantage of the rejuvenation biotechnologies that become available to the next generation. I wish I could believe him because it means that I may still be in time! Unfortunately, interest in anti-aging research and cryonics is rather low (to put it mildly), even among baby boomers who one might expect to be painfully aware of the aging process. It is rather disturbing to me that the aging process itself is not being identified as a source of misery, disease, separation, and oblivion. Then again, perhaps I am just too impatient and unable to see the larger picture.

The practical production of liquid nitrogen from liquefied air was first achieved by Carl von Linde in 1905, although liquid nitrogen only became widely available commercially after World War II. The idea of cryonics was introduced to the general public in the mid-1960s. Since liquid nitrogen (or liquid helium) is an essential requirement for human cryopreservation it is interesting to recognize that there was only a difference of roughly 20 years between cryonics being technically possible and the first efforts to practice cryonics. Is this an outrageously long delay? I doubt anyone would argue this.

Similarly, while the idea of rejuvenation has always appealed to humans, I doubt anyone can credibly claim that there has been a long delay between our recognition of biological senescence and the desire to see aging as a biotechnological challenge to overcome. While there is no massive global movement to fight aging yet, the desire to conquer aging is as old as the exposition of (secular) modern evolutionary biology itself. Are we too impatient?

What is disappointing, however, is the widespread passive acceptance of aging and death by the majority of people. Thinking about this issue, it struck me that until recently our (educational) institutions and research programs were shaped by generations that were perhaps eminently amenable to accepting the inevitability of aging. Expecting these institutions and research programs to change their objectives overnight may not be completely realistic. It is undeniable, however, that the idea that aging is not something that is to be passively accepted but something that can be stopped and reversed is gradually winning more converts.

From where I stand, the best thing to do is not to agonize over the odds but rather work to help shape the odds. Donate to research, persuade your friends, advocate for rejuvenation science, help make cryonics an ever more viable alternative for those who do not have enough time to wait for life-extending therapies, and more. There is plenty that can be done, and still all too few people working on it.



I've seen a few arguments put forward on here and in SENS presentations about why there isn't more widespread support for anti-aging research amongst the general public. The usual arguments are that people aren't that aware of it, and that people don't want to think about death.

I think they are contributing factors, but I personally think the major reason for apathy is that it just seems fastastical and a bit ridiculous. It would be a bit like if I told you that I could build a warp drive if only you gave me a hundred million dollars a year for X years. If you didn't laugh at me and walk off the first thing you would ask me for is some proof that my theories could work.

So Aubrey is correct in aiming to produce a mouse with indefinite lifespan. If researchers could do this they would be given a lot more funding. The only problem is they need a lot of funding to do even that. So the whole field is in a bit of a slow chicken and egg phase.

Posted by: Jim at November 5th, 2013 8:42 AM

Here are two ideas that have been covered here before, but may need reiteration in order to keep all the war on aging ducks swimming in a row and in line with the currents of the recent "sea changes."

What about motivating, bribing, whatever it takes to get celebrities to advocate radical life extension. We learned during the "Occupy Wall Street" happening (a recent political movement that swept across the U.S.) that public apathy was what lead to it's fading. "Occupy" also lacked a cohesive central plan of action, consisting of factions interested in furthering their own agendas finally leading to a fractured anarchy.

In contrast, the war on aging has both a leader and a workable plan in Aubrey de Grey and his Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS); what is missing is the political will to take action. Big media influence (propaganda/brainwashing) of public opinion would build public support for the war on aging.

Moreover, why not win over the 1% (wealthiest people in the world) to the war on aging? They will be the ones who will actually afford and benefit from future anti-aging therapies. They are they ones who really rule the planet. They are the ones with all the power. They have all the wealth. If the war on aging had the support of the 1%, Aubrey de Grey might have to revise his time table for real anti-aging therapies from 20 down to 10 years!

Posted by: Frank Rummel at November 5th, 2013 1:45 PM

Putting responsibility on politicians or the wealthy is a cop out. Donations to SENS were something like $45,000 last year. There are 10x's of thousands of SENS supporters strewn across the world. Obviously there is a huge disconnect between support and actually "supporting". This is a problem that needs to be solved. Everyone reading this site, including myself, is responsible for a shitty effort. We CAN control the destiny of this research, but we don't.

Frank. "They will be the ones who will actually afford and benefit from future anti-aging therapies. They are they ones who really rule the planet. They are the ones with all the power. They have all the wealth."

First, like all technology cost will go down. Second, it's in the best interest of politicians and the wealthy to mass produce the technology when it becomes available. Third, wealth isn't something that one person can sweep up and keep to themselves. Value can be created from literally nothing. has created value without taking anything from anyone else.

Posted by: Jonanthan at November 5th, 2013 4:56 PM

I really wish that i was born much Earlier since meeting a good old fashioned woman like we once had are no longer around anymore, and many of us men that are still Single really Don't want to be. Many others have been very Blessed to find the love of their life with a family which many of us Weren't, and many of us men hate being Alone.

Posted by: TheRealTruth at March 28th, 2015 6:32 AM
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