Achieving Immortality by Ending Aging

Some people do seem to like to jump straight to talking about immortality as soon as the topic of extending human life comes up. Immortality here is meant in the sense of complete resistance to aging through medical technology capable of repairing the cellular and molecular damage that causes degenerative aging and all its symptoms and conditions. Near perfect repair is a long way out into the future - we'll get there by degrees, with prototype rejuvenation treatments that are steadily expanded and improved step by step over decades or centuries. Each new advance will allow us to live long enough to benefit from the next. We don't even have the prototypes yet, however, and most of the research community is not heading in the right direction to produce them. So there is a lot to be done yet in order to produce any meaningful benefits for those who are old and suffering, and that includes persuading the surprisingly large majority who think that aging and all the pain and death it causes should be left untouched:

The dream to live forever has captivated mankind since the beginning. We see this in religion, literature, art, and present day pop-culture in a myriad of ways. But all along, the possibility that we'd actually achieve such a thing never quite seemed real. Now science, through a variety of medical and technological advances the likes of which seem as far fetched as immortality itself, is close to turning that dream into a reality. This hour we talk with experts who are on the cutting edge of this research about the science and implications of ending aging.

What exactly is aging anyway? A natural process which is best, albeit unfortunately, left to itself? Or should we think of it more like a fatal disease - something to be cured at all costs like cancer or Ebola? And why not think of it as such? The fact is that aging kills more people and causes more suffering than all other sources combined. Does not the Hippocratic oath therefore compel medical experts to find its cure if they can? Or should the guiding principle, do no harm, more appropriately be applied to those who'll suffer the consequences if we were to actually end aging?

Whether you love life or simply fear death, chances are you've imagined what it would be like to live forever. What would you do with all that time? How would the world around you change? And speaking of the world around you, could it even sustain an immortal population? With densely packed mega-cities and resource shortages plaguing us already, how would society manage the extra burdens incurred by radical life extension? Some believe that longer life spans would lead to increased productivity and innovation; enough so to hedge against the burdens it would create. Others see longer life spans as a sure fire way to make an already challenging resource management problem even worse.

Link: http://wnpr.org/post/achieving-immortality-how-science-seeks-end-aging

Comments

I had the following comment on the wnpr website:

Of the three presenters, Aubrey de Grey is the only one who does real work. He has a foundation that is developing the therapies that are being discussed here. The other two appear to be academic pundits who do essentially nothing. One of the current problems of our society is that the role of the critic, someone who does nothing of their own, seems to have been elevated to the same status as someone who does productive work.

Posted by: Abelard Lindsey at October 31st, 2014 11:06 AM

"Of the three presenters, Aubrey de Grey is the only one who does real work. He has a foundation that is developing the therapies that are being discussed here. The other two appear to be academic pundits who do essentially nothing. One of the current problems of our society is that the role of the critic, someone who does nothing of their own, seems to have been elevated to the same status as someone who does productive work."

I concur Mr. Lindsey. Even Ray K. does not provide detailed info on moving forward, though I will credit him for working with Google on AI/Brain issues that will help us in the right direction.

Posted by: Robert Church at October 31st, 2014 4:54 PM

@RobertChurch and others, I attempted to post a plug for the current fundraiser on the NPR forum but the moderator seems to have not approved it so it was deleted. It was very similar to other plugs that I have put out such as this http://ask.lef.org/14041/Triple-your---Support-Anti-aging-Research-Today and this http://www.kurzweilai.net/forums/topic/progress-on-reverse-aging-what-year-decade-are-we-looking-at. I toned it down slightly to not use caps or exclamation points but they still deleted it. Might you and all other readers post something on the widely read NPR site at least mentioning the SENS website so that others might be aware of the campaign? If nothing else, more eyes will be upon SENS and more minds may change their attitudes towards aging. This is a free, easy way to promote SENS.

Posted by: Morpheus at October 31st, 2014 9:39 PM

I've only been following this stuff and donating to SENS for a couple of years now, and already I am getting tired of the same old arguments getting trotted out against lifespan and healthspan extension.

I think it is a bit harsh to call the other two interviewees "academic pundits who do no real work". But I do think they go way overboard on assuming that no new technologies will come along to solve problems facing humanity today such as climate change or a lack of fresh water.

Posted by: Jim at November 1st, 2014 11:39 PM

I think Stephan Cave is about as far away from an academic as a person can get. He has no capacity for insight and his conclusions are something I would expect from a teenage boy that had a lot of time to think.

The fact is even if the two other guests were purely academic they are not academics in the fields of emerging practical Gerontology. How can they be expected to have any informed opinion on the subject?

Posted by: Michael-2 at November 3rd, 2014 4:35 AM

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