Today is Giving Tuesday and Aubrey de Grey is Matching Your SENS Rejuvenation Research Donations

Giving Tuesday falls on December 2nd this year, today in fact, and I have to say that this is a far more admirable manufactured publicity event than the preceding Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In this case the motivation is to encourage more people to do good by helping charitable causes to meet their year end fundraising goals: a little mainstream social pressure to make the world a better place to add to that already present in many communities. We could all do more, of course, but the person without a charitable urge is, I think, no more than a person who hasn't yet found the way in which he or she wishes to change the world. When you do find a goal that speaks to you then generosity comes easily: there are always many fellow travelers to discover, and some of those people will be further ahead in the game, having organized to the point of setting up non-profit initiatives to advance the cause. If you want to get anything done in earnest there must be collaboration, networking, research, and sundry other projects, and to be effective in the long term all of that must be funded in some way, shape, or form. Hence the drive for donations.

There are many causes in the world for which the limiting factor on speed of progress is not money. Those are the truly hard jobs. For everything else, helping things along can become very simple: write a check, click the PayPal button, make a donation. Provided you've done the legwork to ensure you are donating to a sound charity performing proven good work, then congratulations - you are helping to make the world a better place. Funding the efforts needed to get the job done is a vital part of the bigger picture for any cause.

The charitable cause I favor above all others is the medical research needed to bring about the end of frailty, disease, and death as a result of aging. Aging is by far the greatest cause of human suffering in every part of the world, even those with other terrible problems. In a more reasonable world we wouldn't find ourselves in the position of having to persuade anyone that, yes, researching the means to treat and reverse aging is the most important goal in the world at present, the goal that will help the most people at the least cost. We are in that position, however, and progress in this research is absolutely limited by funding and little else. There are hundreds of researchers in the present life science community who, if given grants, would gleefully drop their present research in favor of working on ways to repair the cellular and molecular damage that causes aging. It is ever a challenge to bring funding into this community however: aging research is a small and comparatively unattended branch of medical science, and longevity science is a tiny field of that tiny branch. The public at large have not yet woken up to realize that the possibility of turning back the painful consequences of old age is, given sufficient funding, just a few decades away.

So it is Giving Tuesday, and you are sitting there with a few dollars in your pocket, and there is a PayPal button on the SENS Research Foundation donation page. Make a donation and it will be matched at $2 for every $1 you donate by the Fight Aging! matching fund founders, and also by a further $1 for today only by Aubrey de Grey personally. If you're here reading this, then there is perhaps a certain level of interest on your part in helping to assure a personal future that involves less disability, less pain, and less age-related disease. The only way that will happen is if the best and most promising research programs - such as those funded by the SENS Research Foundation - achieve more traction in the years to come. The way that starts is with more public interest and more grassroots donations: so it is up to you.

We know you share our conviction that a world without age-related disease is possible - and our commitment to making that world a reality.

So we would like to encourage everyone who is able to make a donation to SENS Research Foundation on #GivingTuesday and post, tweet, blog and let others know about how your are celebrating #GivingTuesday.

Today only the first $5,000 of your donations will be quadrupled thanks to our ongoing Fight Aging! Challenge Grant and the generosity of Aubrey de Grey, who will match every donation made today up to $5,000.

Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.

Comments

I just donated $300.
Did I make it in time?

Posted by: Carl at December 3rd, 2014 12:29 AM

I have never, ever understood why these kinds of small-donation fundraisers were ever considered necessary for this.

For an example, let's take Alice Walton, Heiress of Wal-Mart, who, Wikipedia informs us, has a net worth of 33.9 billion dollars, a birth year of 1949, and a history of philanthropy (including a position on the University of Arkansas, Medical Sciences). She could flood this entire fundraiser by herself and not even notice.

Would someone with the required access please kindly inform her that she may potentially *dramatically* increase the number of years left to her with judiciously chosen grants? She could outfund Google's foray with a twentieth of her net worth. Perhaps she's saving all of that wealth for something, but what *other* projects does she intend to be spending her money on in 40 years, I wonder?

There are so many people in her position, although few quite as dramatic, and it would only take a couple to dramatically change the funding game.

I doubt that this comment is ever going to be read by anyone with a net worth of eight figures, let alone eleven, but the pecuinarily challenged are throwing dollars into a tip jar (or, as in the previous comment, a whole three figures) while billionaires with the same fundamental mortality problem are casually ignoring their own slow deaths; how exactly does this make any sense?

Have I been playing too many video games, is that it? Because it doesn't matter how many chests you loot, your game is just as over when you die if you have 10 rupees or 999, and last I checked, real life has the same problem. (Mario had it right. He bought an escape from death the instant he got the cash.)

The only logical conclusion is that most of the extremely wealthy either don't know about emerging research, don't trust anyone who says "I might cure your old age problem", or simply don't want to invest into an unsure thing. That's understandable, but there's a definitely sure thing waiting for them if there aren't any treatments.

You can't take it with you, and the life you save might be your own!

Posted by: Slicer at December 3rd, 2014 5:19 AM

@Carl: I'll see about making sure you did.

@Slicer: The grassroots leads the way. Large numbers of supporters, by necessity of modest means since most people are of modest means, is a prerequisite for reliably attracting the interest of high net worth individuals. People in that position almost always only lend their support to research already in the later stages of widespread knowledge, approval, and funding. For example, the stem cell research community has really only recently reached the point at which very large charitable donations turn up, and consider the level of support and attention that field has.

https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2013/11/when-will-the-100-million-donations-start-to-arrive-for-rejuvenation-research.php

We are still in the stage of building a support base for rejuvenation research large enough to attract the attention and interest of entities capable of large-scale funding.

Posted by: Reason at December 3rd, 2014 5:36 AM

There's a critical difference, and I'm surprised you haven't mentioned it in your article. You frame human longevity as a cause, as a field of medicine, and a human good; it is all of those things, but there's a different framework that I'm not sure if you're intentionally overlooking.

That framework, of course, is effectively raw extortion. Saying "Please fund this for the good of mankind" works well for diseases that the donator might never experience, but when you're talking about senescence, it might be better to frame it somewhat more like this:

"If you don't pay the right people enough money right now, they might not be able to stop you, personally, from being inevitably, slowly tortured to death later. They might not succeed even if you do pay, but your money is going directly to you not being slowly tortured to death, and you can be assured of this because they will also be slowly tortured to death if they don't succeed. Please give generously to the You Not Being Slowly Tortured To Death Fund."

Posted by: Slicer at December 3rd, 2014 6:23 AM

It doesn't matter if I didn't make it in time. If people already donated $5000 before I donated, that's great news! And if Aubrey gets to keep an extra $300 of his, I'm sure it will either go to the cause at some stage anyway, or go towards boosting Aubrey's morale.

@Slicer, you are right. But I'm sure Alice Walton gets a lot of pressure from different groups all wanting her money, and it's going to be hard/impossible to convince her that we are worth it.

Perhaps what we should do is each try to convince one of our friends/acquaintances who is just a little bit wealthier than ourselves, and then encourage them to do likewise.

Anyway, how is the end of year fundraiser going?

Posted by: Carl at December 3rd, 2014 6:35 AM

@Carl: The end of year fundraising will go as people decide it goes: a lot of people have been helping drive donations and attention in modest ways along the way, all of which is appreciated. The current total was a little out of date but is up to date as of today - looks like we made the $5,000 total for the day. There are also a few thousands I know of that are working their way through the international charitable donation system or otherwise held up by bureaucracy and so may just be counted at the end if they don't complete in time: we'll see how that ends up.

Posted by: Reason at December 3rd, 2014 7:09 AM

But still at a population of +300 millions living just in US, I was expecting that those 50k to be quickly donated.
This shows that the field of rejuvenation is not known, and worst than that, people do not believe in it. We need something soon that prove this is not snake oil business. Let's hope things are going to pick up in speed.

Posted by: Adrian Crisan at December 3rd, 2014 11:51 AM

Carl: Which is why I've gone on about what makes this stand out from other donation requests.

And there's an entirely different set of purse strings that deserve mention. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that members of Congress, regardless of which animal Thomas Nast gave them, have a vested interest in anything that might reasonably be expected to reduce the chance of members of Congress being slowly tortured to death. And love him or hate him, it's probably safe to say that Barack Obama would not particularly favor going the horrific way that Ronald Reagan went, nor would he want the same for his wife.

After it's better developed, and this might seem a bit redistributive, the country can spend a fraction of the money it spends on Medicare and Social Security on making those programs largely unnecessary for the entire U.S. population. (And then you don't have a vast underclass worried about being tortured to death.)

Adrian: Agreed. Most people suspect it's bunkum; how many other people have gone around making similar claims throughout history? Which is probably why we need more people with impeccable medical credentials to step up. Claims that there are potentially real cures are more difficult to dismiss when they come from someone who can talk about having developed treatments for horrible diseases in the past tense.

Posted by: Slicer at December 3rd, 2014 1:35 PM

I've been told that SENS was never intended to benefit people living today, but rather that it's for the benefit of future generations. Well, sorry, but I have a hard time getting excited about that. If I'm not going to benefit, then I won't give any money. Show me that it is possible to do this within my own lifetime, and I will give money. Give me a spiel about how it's for the "benefit of future generations", and I'll roll my eyes and get on with my finite life.

Posted by: APersonOnline at December 3rd, 2014 6:49 PM

If you've been told that then you've been told wrong. The whole point of SENS is to develop therapies for people already alive.

You're not understanding that SENS is a panel of therapies developed in the within SENS and outside of it. Immunotherapies and stem cells therapies are already in clinical trials and guess what, that's the regenerative medicine/SENS approach in spite of having perhaps no affiliation with SENS.

The only way that SENS differs from any other is that it is a co-ordinated regenerative medicine approach to solve all the damage to a perons's body when they are approaching or in a state of illness.

Posted by: Michael-2 at December 3rd, 2014 7:33 PM

@Apersononline - depends on how old you are. Would you mind telling us your age? If you are already 65 or older then fair enough being annoyed about a bunch of 20 or 30 somethings thinking they will get extended lives.

Posted by: Jim at December 4th, 2014 4:18 AM

Jim-
I am 31 years old.

Posted by: APersonOnline at December 4th, 2014 5:11 AM

You can't garauntee how soon even some of this stuff will arrive. The only actual garauntee there is, is that if you do nothing then nothing happens.

Posted by: Michael-2 at December 4th, 2014 11:23 PM

Well, you've got roughly 2 decades till you are 50. Do you really expect no advances to come along in that time? Particularly if 150k is raised each year for basic research along SENS lines.

Posted by: Jim at December 4th, 2014 11:28 PM

@ Jim - 150k might sounds a lot, but donations can be scaled up.
Let's just do some numbers: if we consider 5 most large metropolitan areas in US: NYC, LA, Chicagoland, DC and SF. These metro areas have a total of about 70 mil (28+18+9+9+8 mil). If just 1% (720,000) of these people show a minimal interest in reverse/rejuvenation technologies and donate 1 dollar per month, donations can reach to +8 mil/year. Which starts to be a decent budget for SENS and I guess they can seriously accelerate their work.

So the problem is how the word can be spread and increase the donations?
I suggest posting about SENS on most progressive locations: colleges, grad schools, libraries.

Do not get e wrong, I donated small sums to SENS and I hope every year donations will increase, but while $150k is a nice amount, it is very small for what is really needed to create the critical mass.

Posted by: Adrian Crisan at December 5th, 2014 7:21 PM

@Adrian, I agree with your comments that people don't believe in SENS. I posted news of the fundraiser on Next Big Future, http://www.kurzweilai.net, and Life Extension forums. I received little written response although I hoped they donated to the link to the SENS site. What little response I received was about half skepticism and half approval. These are sites filled with people dreaming of flashier ideas like fusion reactors and strong AI. Those posts turn into elaborate threads with many opinions. I included some links to the SENS research page to enlighten them about the progress of SENS but it still didn't generate discussion. Perhaps these sites need news of SENS studies posted year round so as to hopefully attract interest and donations at the end of the year.

Posted by: Morpheus at December 5th, 2014 7:40 PM

@Adrian, The outreach and funding is increasing year by year. Not as much as we all would like but increasing none the less. The matching grant last year was only 15,000 and was only doubled.

The annual report outlines all the progress funding has made, especially in the way of individual donations and with promotion of the idea extending outside of Aubrey de Grey I'm sure funding will increase this year.

Posted by: Michael-2 at December 7th, 2014 3:22 AM

Next year run a $50,000 fundraiser every two months (so 6 in total). Use each to fund a SENS area other than cancer. You can but dream...

One thing I would like about this is that I would be able to tell my friends about it as the goals are much more specific and seemingly near term than "ending aging" which is both somewhat nebulous and also suspicious due to all the snake oil products out there. "Ending macular degeneration due to mitochondrial mutations" is an easier sell from my perspective.

Posted by: Jim at December 7th, 2014 9:03 AM

@ Michael-2,
I know it's increasing and that is good indeed, however the sum is very small to fulfill the needs of serious research. And in truth, SENS should not rely on donations, these can be just extra. Serious cash can be generated if some of the ideas work indeed and they are implemented in the real world soon.
So SENS should take the bull by the horns and start implementing things in real world (I know rejuvenating mice is the first step, and the proof of concept). While rejuvenated mice are nice they will not donate money neither will create revenues for further research - but humans do.
If SENS will start implementing real rejuvenation technologies in humans, couple things will happen for sure: there will be serious cash revenues, that can be channeled to continue and perfect the technologies, and secondly, lots of disputes around theories will disappear and many of the researchers will join. On the other hand, if things won't work, then better we find out soon rather that going on a wrong path another 10-15 years.
As for donations, one thing that will help a lot will be re-designing the web site. As of now, it is confusing. People are not sure what SENS does, etc. from visiting first page. Would be nice to have live progress charts (like there is one now with the donations), so people can see how much projects move up since one-two weeks ago. Things should be pretty straight forward and done with KISS concept in mind. That will ease the donation process.

Posted by: Adrian Crisan at December 7th, 2014 9:49 PM

@Slicer, Barack Obama and members of Congress will be slowly tortured to death no matter what. Either they die of old age, or they live long enough for everyone to clearly see how badly they have destroyed the western world, and then their constituents will slowly torture them to death in revenge and belated justice. I hope it's the latter. Obama will go down in history as one of the most evil people who ever lived. Politicians count on the fact that they will die before the long term effects of their policies become apparent.

On the topic of being redistributive, I think it is a bad idea to give SENS treatments to people who don't control their reproduction and who don't contribute to society even when healthy.

@APersonOnline, that is weird. Most people give money to charities that they know won't affect them, like earthquake victims or starving children in Africa. People like giving money to charity, it makes them feel good. And stopping people from deteriorating with age is the best charity you can give to future generations.

But if you are 31, then the chance of SENS producing a meaningful result in your lifetime is approximately 100%! I honestly can't imagine that 50 years from now nobody will have done anything to treat aging, even with the damage to the western world done by people like Obama.
Even if they can't keep you alive to 150, there will almost certainly be a cure for Macular Degeneration for example, and other diseases of aging. SENS has made a lot of progress already.

It won't be "Ending macular degeneration due to mitochondrial mutations", it will be by clearing out lysosomes to end macular degeneration:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUgmzy-58bE

And I will be shocked if there is no increase in life span in the next 50 years.

Posted by: Carl at December 8th, 2014 7:00 AM

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