Change for Radical Life Extension Starts from the Bottom Up

Change starts from the bottom up and the top down and meets in the oblivious-to-the-very-last middle. Make no mistake, however, the bottom up initiatives always start well in advance of any top-down efforts, and it is the individuals making up the grassroots of any young movement who do most of the hard work to create growth and success. Their job is to prototype, to take the risks, to forge the path on a shoestring, to spread the word: and eventually those at the top finally notice that there is something to see and put their weight behind the movement.

This is the past fifteen years of the rejuvenation research movement in a nutshell. We're doing pretty well, I think, though of course everyone is impatient for much faster progress. We can point to tens of millions of dollars in philanthropic funding, to dedicated research institutions like the SENS Research Foundation that are now a similar size to many mainstream labs in aging research, and to many online and offline communities whose members take seriously today's efforts to treat and control aging through medical science.

When the public view of of aging research and extending healthy life spans finally slips over into approval and support, so that they feel much the same way about it as they presently do about cancer research in the abstract, it will be a sudden thing. All those years of hammering at the door will suddenly turn into a landslide in which everyone agrees we were right all along. That point is growing close thanks to the advocates, donors, and other supporters of longevity science.

Here is a recent post from Maria Konovalenko; while I don't agree with the specific details of the types of research she tends to champion, I agree with the overall sentiment that it is the time for collaboration, work, and growth in the grassroots of biotechnology to match similar progress in other fields. Costs have fallen tremendously in the past five years, to the point at which biotech startups are blossoming, and open biotechnology and garage biotechnology can have a meaningful influence on the overall pace of development. The future here looks a lot like the recent past of software development. In less regulated parts of the world, that means medical biotech can also experience a renaissance, allowing dozens of distinct attempts to produce solutions for every problem, and may the best win.

What Should Be Done to Achieve Radical Life Extension?

Delivering 5-7 gene vectors simultaneously carrying longevity-associated genes into an old animal could prove to be quite beneficial, because similar approach already works. It is also clear that there are several experiments in the area of therapeutic cloning that should be done immediately. There are about 20 other research directions in the area of radical life extension.

Right now it has become obvious how to find the money for radical life extension. It's crowdfunding. 200-300 campaigns need to be created on various crowdfunding platforms on the topics of fighting aging and regenerative medicine. Of course, we may not be able to find the necessary amounts of money right away, but we will be able to delineate the scope of goals, most importantly not using just the general words, but particular scientists, labs and research plans.

Even by only preparing the campaigns we will influence the society by once again providing the proof of the possibility of significant life extension. Unfortunately, molecular biology is not part of an every day's person background. We will make people more educated, show them how diseases originate, progress, and how they relate to aging. We will also tell the people what can be done.

While working on the crowdfunding campaigns we will mobilize our supporters by giving them a concrete tool and a plan of action. Fighting aging crowdfunding will become a very powerful transhumanist organizational solution. In the end we will gather the money, implement our projects and win!

If you are interested in bringing this plan to live, let's collaborate. Every single project requires a manager, analyst, scientist, director, operator, a guy who owns a car and a guy who writes a lot about this on the Internet. There is work for everybody, so let's do this.


I don't think significant treatments for aging will happen until we utilize some form of artificial intelligence. It doesn't have to be "strong AI"; narrow AIs will help a lot. Machine learning seems to be really taking off and I think they can be utilized to help research the genetics of aging, cell biology, proteins, and all that other stuff. Imagine if scientists had a virtual assistant that constantly read all of the scientific literature and could answer questions about the topic. Then imagine if it could not only answer questions, but also bring things to the scientists' attention that they didn't know about, and help them make connections. Then imagine things like automated laboratories with robots performing the actual experiments. That should speed things up.

Posted by: amazingperson at July 19th, 2014 4:25 AM

Basically, the marketing for life extension is horrible. I understand that the SENS foundation itself isn't primarily intended as a vehicle for garnering mass support - but I think that they could certainly do with an at least somewhat associated organization that fulfilled that role.
I mean, at the moment you've got 1,700 people subscribing to the SENS youtube channel, which is about what a relatively interesting and enthusiastic guy making his own videos in his bedroom could achieve.
They need a mass organization and a marketing effort.

Posted by: Mark at July 20th, 2014 7:28 PM

Until AI becomes reality, SENS can use a mixture of human brains and computational power. That is what CALIco is doing. They extract lots of data from Google searches that simple people or researchers are doing it over the net. That data can be filtered and very interesting results can be drawn. This is the new way of pushing research further.

SENS has to change their marketing strategy, if they want to have enough funds to be at the forefront of research and also get soon real results in humans. There are already lots of large corporations interested in age reversal, and those guys play hard ball.

Great/genius ideas are worth nothing if they cannot be implemented in real life. I rather suggest that SENS will have a short term focus in "cosmetic" research, as that could lead to products that can be on the market very soon. That will bring them a lot of money and allow them to run at a high speed the fundamental research in the background. If they put on the market products that reverse aging in skin/hair/bones/muscles (and I'm talking the "surface" of bodies, mean "cosmetic" products), just imagine how much revenue will come just from Hollywood. All those guys will buy a product that - at least - make them look young again.

Investing in cosmetic products, will also increase the trust of people in SENS. People that do not understand well that the change has to be internal, will buy easily a product that has visible results. Once they are convinced a product work for skin/hair/muscles, then those people will open their wallet much easier when is time to donate/sponsor other fundamental research done by SENS.

While, I'm not into cosmetic products, I know how business in general is run, and you have to sell something what the market buys, then from the profit you make you can do R&D that you can have breakthroughs.

Posted by: alc at July 20th, 2014 9:01 PM

I finally have reason to believe that ageing research has attracted the right type of technology, stewardship, and vision to be viable in the short- and mid-term. Concepts rarely mentioned in this blog include computational power and cutting edge technology mixed with the type of bio-engineer-VC-business-leader visionary that demands technical respect as he pursues truly epic industry-changing goals with money and innovation-centric ambition. He cares not for those who do not want to take part in the future, advocate to the government for policy or money, or those who waggle ethics-based arguments-he does not even dignify those with a response. Finally:

Posted by: Jer at July 21st, 2014 6:53 PM

Computational power is all well and good but you still need some biological mechanism to remove damage. Dr Venter does not work on that and any DNA modification that attempts to prevent it from occuring is not going to be as successful as fixing the damage. It's also worth noting 100 would be the new 60 if you applied these mechanisms very early in life or if they were so successful that they slowed damage to a near standstill.

Posted by: Michael at July 22nd, 2014 6:27 PM

@Mark: as I said in a previous post, this mass organisation must come from us, the general public.

As long as the researchers do it by themselves, they will:
1) Dilute their efforts and relatively meager resources
2) Be seen as pursuing a non-important "researchers' pipedream"

If we group outside of them, and lanage to get visibility, it will bring more credibility to SENS' quest - and more funds.

Posted by: Nico at July 23rd, 2014 8:46 PM

Post a comment; thoughtful, considered opinions are valued. Comments incorporating ad hominem attacks, advertising, and other forms of inappropriate behavior are likely to be deleted.

Note that there is a comment feed for those who like to keep up with conversations.