A Motivating Fear of Stagnation
Permalink | View Comments (5) | Post Comment | | Posted by Reason

Will the same thing happen to the promise of extended longevity as happened to the space program in the past half century - an early push, and then lack of interest and stagnation? I don't think that this is a likely model, due to the very different institutions and costs. It is comparatively cheap to contribute to progress in medicine, and many groups have the ability to do so usefully at this time.

Nonetheless, this is one of the nagging fears that motivates us to action - that present public disinterest in enhanced longevity will spread to the medical community, rather than giving way in the face of clear signs of progress and benefits emerging from the lab. That no new groups will arise to carry forward the torch of progress.

Again, I don't think that this is as plausible as a future of continued progress. But will that progress be fast enough to help us? That depends on what we do - progress only happens when it is made to happen. We build the future. If you want something done, you have to work on it:

My greatest fear about the future is not of technology running out of control or posing existential risks to humankind. Rather, my greatest fear is that, in the year 2045, I will be 58 years old and already marked by notable signs of senescence, sitting at the kitchen table, drinking my morning coffee, and wondering, "What happened to that Singularity we were promised by now? Why did it not come to pass? Why does the world of 2045 look pretty much like the world of 2013, with only a few cosmetic differences?" My greatest fear is that, as I stare into that mug of coffee, I would recognize that it will all be downhill from there, especially as "kids these days" would pay no more attention to technological progress and life-extension possibilities than their predecessors did.

My greatest fear is that they would consider me a quixotic old man, fantasizing about a future that never was, while they struggle to make ends meet in an ever-more hostile economy (which would look much like our own, except farther along in the sequence of gradual decay, because nobody cares), strangled by labyrinthine restrictions arising out of Luddism and change-aversion within the widespread society. In short, my greatest fear is that our present will be our future, except that I and the present generation of longevity activists will lose our youthful vitality and will ourselves be rapidly approaching the abyss of oblivion.

Link: http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/stolyarovii20140105

Comments

That hits home, for sure. And from what I've heard so far from the SENS community, there are seemingly 3 things to do:
1. Fund SENS/Methusaleh
2. Advocate for funding/attention to rejuvenation
3. Be part of the rejuvenation research teams and do actual science

...but there's got to be more than that. Many, many people spend 40hours each week working at jobs that contribute to, well, any number of things that do not directly, or even indirectly, help the Cause. Is it worth it for those people to look to change careers? Or just donate and advocate, and, self-educate?

Thanks,
Eugene

Posted by: Eugene at January 8, 2014 3:10 PM

Ok, I get it. Good article, also.

But how many of 7 Deadlies are being addressed by existing efforts? In a recent Cell (volume 153 June 6, 2013) "The Hallmarks of Aging", it seems those overlap considerably with a SENS approach. How can it be that these preeminent scientists agree with SENS, in essence, but are not actively working on anything? Is that what you're saying? (I'm not sure there's a good answer to that previous question--perhaps it's rhetorical :) )

i.e. Is SENS covering 4 of 7 Deadlies totally on its own right now, until a biotech can come along and see a way to profit from the effort?

From what I've heard from fightaging so far, the top scientists agree that SENS is the right methodology, but they, for some odd reason, are unable/unwilling/etc to write grant proposals to get this most-important work funded...how can that be?

If anyone should and can convince the funding floodgates to open, I would think it would be the very experts who think this is a viable option for alleviating suffering in the world, don't you think?

Eugene

Posted by: Eugene at January 9, 2014 12:08 PM

If scientists were any good at fundraising and publicity, there would be no need for patient advocacy and research charities. But it really isn't in the institutional DNA - it's a quite different set of skills and focus from those involved in working within the system and biases that presently exiss to raise funds for projects in areas that are generally approved of. Indeed, the scientific community tends to look with great suspicion upon any one of their own who turns to the public and philanthropy instead of or in addition to going through the established channels.

Understanding why medical research doesn't focus on optimal courses is really a key thing in grasping how the research community operates. This is true of all fields, and I believe it's primarily driven by the presence of regulation. Researchers work on what they can get funding for, and there is a system of incentives and groupthink that changes only slowly with time because large institutions and government regulators are involved in so much of the pipeline and ecosystem. Many researchers work on what they can get grants for, not what they would be working on if they could raise funds in accordance with their view of the world. This is pervasive in the research community, and it's why philanthropy is necessary to break out of the continual rut.

Posted by: Reason at January 9, 2014 6:10 PM

Peter Thiel is good at that stuff, is he not? I wonder how he became convinced to spend millions of his own money, with no ROI in-sight? Perhaps that answer helps, in its own small way, to solve the funding problem...did he just take a certain scientist's word for it? That's what I'm getting at. Some convincing needs to be done, *by experts*, to their peers and others in authority.

All a guy like me (and maybe lots of SENS-supporters) can do is point to Ending Aging, etc, and give modest amounts of cash...drops in the bucket of the supposed billions this will actually need? (but maybe those billions are taken care of after momentum is built). However, a gaggle of experts, whose opinion actually has real weight, is far better suited to convince and debate the merits of this methodology...versus other methods such as curing specific diseases (which SENS should be touting that it does, by the way).

Otherwise, it seems not likely to be convincing, and to the right people. Which is why it's great to see Aubrey doing serial-interviews. (Look at that, a Computer Engineer turned Chief Science Officer, doing public relations and fundraising!)

Much thanks, Reason. Please don't construe my comments as argumentative; I'm just trying to strategize and break new ground on this effort, perhaps in my own way.

Kind regards,
Eugene

Posted by: Eugene at January 10, 2014 5:19 AM
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