You Speak to the Audience You Have

Steve Aoki is a successful musician, but also, of late at least, an advocate for transhumanist goals for the near future that include rejuvenation research after the SENS model. This scientific paradigm is a path towards radical life extension: not just a mere few years gained, but decades at first and soon thereafter indefinite healthy life spans, as the ability of medical technologies to repair us overtakes the ability of aging to damage us.

Advocacy is not a profession. It isn't something you plan on, go to school for, follow a laid-out career. When it hits you that a particular goal is important enough to talk about, to take the people of the world by the shoulders and shake them - and it still amazes me that the slow and painful death of everyone you know is a non-issue to most people - then you speak to the audience you have and with the tools you have to hand. For my part, I'm a technologist. Whatever I chose to do in life was probably going to involve web sites: it's hard to avoid being swept up by the biggest wave in your field. So here I am, and here you are, reading what I write.

In Aoki's case, there is a much flashier platform and an entirely different audience: electronic music and young club-goers. I think this is a good thing, and I'm encouraged by the existence of individuals who choose to speak about rejuvenation research in ways and to listeners entirely unrelated to whatever I, the online futurist community, the aging research establishment, and others are ever likely come up with. Many approaches means many chances to reach more people, and thus persuade more people to materially support the cause of defeating all age-related disease. That's really all any grand and sweeping change requires: just a little persuasion, and each mention of the subject raises the water level just a little more, leading to a more receptive public. Many quarters of the science fiction community, for example, have for decades forged a path to set down the seeds that later grew into early support for the defeat of aging. All of this has value to my eyes, though of course it is very hard to directly measure the results of any particular instance of a spread of ideas through popular culture. The more that people talk about using medicine to directly tackle aging the better off we all, I say, and if that message is first seen in fiction or music, what does it matter for so long as it still leads some people in the right direction?

An Interview With Steve Aoki

Although Steve Aoki is best known for his shameless EDM anthems and unusual habit of covering his fans with cake, the L.A. DJ is also a cunning label head and enthusiastic techno-futurist. His latest album [is] a 10-song journey into a world when humans merge with technology, live forever and party even harder than they do now. Google engineer and The Age of Spiritual Machines author Ray Kurzweil speaks on the intro and Ending Aging wiz Aubrey de Grey riffs over the New Age closer.

"I started reading books on singularity and the progress of science and technology, and that was all really exciting to me because, being a science-fiction nut growing up and reading comic books. When you start seeing that some of the science-fiction - some of these ideas are actually real trajectories that are going to happen in our lifetime - at least notable writers and people doing research that you trust and respect, then my interest starts lighting up. Then when you start finding information all you want to do is share that information.

"Extending our lives, extending our creativity, opening up the mysteries of the brain. All those things that are really exciting - that's kind of the basis of [the album], and that's why I interviewed Ray Kurzweil and Aubrey de Grey. I'm also doing a companion set [where] I'm interviewing different scientists, authors, writers - interesting people who have written books that have inspired me."

In the years ahead we'll be seeing ever more of this sort of thing as the tipping point of public support for longevity science comes closer. More people are persuaded, more people are thinking on the topic, and ever more of them will work in fields and communities that are very distant from the audiences of today's supporters and advocates.


Well of course, it is the same thing I intend to do although... I did hit a snag along the way which has delayed it a couple months, I was supposed to work my magic on august. Now i'm hoping I can do it in onctober.

Posted by: thatperson at October 4th, 2014 12:38 AM

It is a pity that most of Steve's audience are gurning for England...

Posted by: Jim at October 4th, 2014 8:34 PM

I disagree Jim. Electronic dance music isn't what it was in the 80's-90's. The audience, like hip hop for example, is pretty broad. You would be surprised. And even if it was what you think, in fairness, the longevity community isn't exactly flawless either. Many are smart but many also have the social skills and motivation level of a rotting log.

Posted by: johnathan at October 6th, 2014 11:58 AM

@johnathan - yeah I wasn't actually being that serious, just an attempt at some levity.

Still it would be a lot better if, rather than just talking about SENS, Steve Aoki donnated $1 million dollars to set up another SENS lab somewhere, or boosted the funding of an existing lab, or hired a few more researchers. They could call it the Aoki lab or Aoki scholarships or something. Then again I am not to sure what Steve actually earns in a year... he might be giving all that he can already?

I think this falls into the "Why aren't billionaires/celebrities giving more?" area. Probably because it is still a bit too out there for them to stake their reputations on with constant endorsement until those first few technological (in animal) demonstrations come through and what seems like a mass of scientists start talking excitedly about rejuvenation biotech allowing them to talk freely without fear of trashing their reputations and getting labeled as nuts.

Posted by: Jim at October 6th, 2014 6:39 PM

@jim Gotcha.

According to Forbes he makes 12-15 million a year.

I don't think billionaires/celebrities donate because we don't. If the community could pump out 10-25 million per year on a consistent basis it would be a different story. Our core is one notch above non-existant.

Posted by: johnathan at October 7th, 2014 9:02 AM
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