Marty Nemko: You claim that the public is indifferent to, even resistant to, efforts to extend lifespan. Isn't there strong evidence to the contrary, for example, people's commitment to exercise and the massive dietary supplement industry?
Aubrey de Grey: The public is terminally conflicted about life extension. Yes, they desperately try to stave off the ill-health of old age by already available means but are scared by the idea that we might some day have anti-aging medicine that actually delivers. This irrationality arises from fear: fear of the unknown and of getting one's hopes up prematurely. So they put the issue out of their mind.
MN: What about people who oppose extending longevity because they believe overpopulation is bad for the environment?
AD: That fear is based on a misconception: that the defeat of aging would occur without other progress. We are already addressing issues such as overpopulation by developing renewable energy, nuclear fusion etc. Birth rates are falling and maternal age at birth is rising as women become more educated and emancipated worldwide.
MN: You and those at your foundation and allied scientists believe there's a 50 percent chance that your proposed strategies for repairing age-related cell damage will come to fruition within 20 to 25 years. What's your evidence for that?
AD: It's the same kind of evidence that any pioneering technologist has: We have a concrete idea of what real anti-aging medication would consist of plus detailed knowledge of what technology already exists that constitutes the starting-points for developing that medication. So we have a reasonable sense of how hard it is to get from here to there and thus how long it will probably take.