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?
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.