Tomorrow Will Be Different From Today

We live in an era of very rapid change driven by technological progress. Today's world is enormously different from that of three or four decades past: consider the pervasive effects of the revolution in communications and computing technologies that has taken place over that time. Yet, human nature being what it is, most of the people who lived through this profound shift in capabilities and culture are nonetheless very skeptical of claims that the future will look radically different from today in any important aspect. It is strange.

In particular the concept of actuarial escape velocity leading to thousand year life spans is a very hard sell. People look at the large number that is very different from today's maximum life span and immediately reject it out of hand, no matter the reasonable argument behind it. Any medical technology that produces some rejuvenation in old patients buys extra time to develop better means of rejuvenation. At some point the first pass at rejuvenation treatments will improve such that remaining healthy life expectancy grows at more than a year with each passing year. At that point life spans will become indefinite, limited only by accident or rare medical conditions not yet solved.

It doesn't help that most of the public has very little knowledge of the present state of medical research in any field, never mind the specific details of how aging might be treated and brought under medical control. The only solution to that issue is to keep on talking: educate, advocate, and spread the word.

It is likely the first person who will live to be 1,000 years old is already alive today. This is according to a growing regiment of researchers who believe a biological revolution enabling humans to experience everlasting youthfulness is just around the corner. At the epicentre of the research is Aubrey de Grey, co-founder or the California-based Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) Research Foundation.

"The first thing I want to do is get rid of the use of this word immortality, because it's enormously damaging, it is not just wrong, it is damaging. It means zero risk of death from any cause - whereas I just work on one particular cause of death, namely ageing." de Grey said his research aims to undo the damage done by the wear and tear of life, as opposed to stopping the ageing process altogether. "If we ask the question: 'Has the person been born who will be able to escape the ill health of old age indefinitely?' Then I would say the chances of that are very high. Probably about 80 per cent."

"The therapies that we are working on at the moment are not going to be perfect. These therapies are going to be good enough to take middle age people, say people aged 60, and rejuvenate them thoroughly enough so they won't be biologically 60 again until they are chronologically 90. That means we have essentially bought 30 years of time to figure out how to re-rejuvenate them when they are chronologically 90 so they won't be biologically 60 for a third time until they are 120 or 150. I believe that 30 years is going to be very easily enough time to do that."



As an engineer, I find that the 'main' way that things work and continue to work is based on the robustness of the system, redundancies at every stage, and the likelihood of low and rare maintenance requirements. There has to be a natural 'push' or tendency towards 'working' with varying acceptable levels of imperfection. The worst possible machine is a Rube Goldberg-type system where several complex systems must work near-perfectly to give a narrow definition of success at the end. Many would argue that such is with life - it is way, way easier to be dead and deteriorating and having realized full loss of self (memories, abilities, etc.) than being alive, irrespective of how alive (read: quality of life) one is. Is ageing a rube goldberg-esque type of machine where with deterioration comes an increasing number of repairs, bypasses, adjustments, and replacements? If a machine has 500 parts whose individual 'ideal' life spans (in isolation) range from 10-50 years, though the machine has a recognized life span of 15 years, then extending another 5 doesn't make it easier to push for another 5, it just opens up the window to all the other parts which will soon be failing. My point is that with increasing life is an exponential increase of parts whose individual life spans will be met which likely necessitates deterioration of other systems. So, I would argue that with increasing time passing in a persons life comes an exponentially increasing number of parts that will need work. Also, a replaced part does not necessarily prevent other adjacent and related parts from increasing their life span, though the replacement may allow other parts to more fully realize their full life spans. This may be untrue or an exaggeration especially when considering biological organisms, but I would say that a car with unlimited access to parts and service will still have an exponentially increasing number of repairs into and past its regular 'system life span'. So, my instinct is not to believe that 20 years extension of life is a compelling reason to believe that enough tech will have developed to prolong it another 20. But of course, some extra is better than nothing -and- nothing ventured is nothing gained. The key idea is whether the individual parts have their own tendency to live apart from the organism itself. Which way is the momentum of a repaired body? - towards life or away from it? Increased, linear, or decreased repairs with time? This may be more important than the rejuvenation strategies themselves - what is the warrantee and likely timeline of re-work on each of those strategies?

Posted by: Jer at April 15th, 2015 8:13 AM

I do not see anything new in that article. Those claims are at least ten years old.

Posted by: Martin S. at April 15th, 2015 9:14 AM

@Martin S - what about senescent cell clearance in mice. This has now been demonstrated.

Posted by: jim at April 15th, 2015 10:33 AM

I think Gene Therapy is going to blow the field wide open very soon. Its a fast pathway to epigenetically controlling the body and addressing various SENS type damage to boot.

Posted by: Steve H at April 15th, 2015 10:33 AM

@Jim - I missed those last three sentences because I stopped reading in middle of the article. Those last sentences are indeed somewhat fresher, only a few years old informations.

Posted by: Martin S. at April 15th, 2015 12:07 PM

@Martin S.: Somewhat to my point. A lot of the work of advocacy is delivering the same message over and again to a broader audience; you have to keep plugging away at it in order to bootstrap greater support that enables research to make progress. Which is happening, but slowly.

Posted by: Reason at April 15th, 2015 12:44 PM

Steve H:

How soon? I know advances in CRISPR-Cas9 have been made, but every scientist working with it has emphasized that we're still a long way from using it for human gene therapy.


That's an interesting perspective. It may very well not be possible to achieve Longevity Escape Velocity.

Posted by: APersonOnline at April 15th, 2015 1:46 PM

Next year or so you should see some gene therapies roll out, there are a few biotechs taking their stuff abroad and bypassing FDA red tape. I think there will be a few more moving offshore to more conductive climes before long as the US system is stagnant.

Posted by: Steve H at April 15th, 2015 2:33 PM

Also not necessarily talking about CRISPR there are other more simple methods like AAV delivery that are effective at bringing in single genes. Could easily use AAV to bring in TERT, Myostatin inhibitors, GDF-11 etc... Ok its not a total fix but it would help mitigate some aging effects. So its not a case of not having the technology to do certain things its more a case of getting anything funded/approved takes decades which is just not sustainable. I think medical tourism to places like Mexico, SA and other countries will increase as companies develop techniques outside the US/EU.

Posted by: Steve H at April 15th, 2015 2:39 PM

There sure is a lot of natter in the comment section at that link. They're preoccupied with class warfare rhetoric and most comments are frankly misanthropic.

Having read my share of articles about anti-aging research, I get the impression that the Australian audience is among the least receptive.

Posted by: José at April 16th, 2015 7:16 AM

Its the usual mix of only the rich will get it(based reasonably on what happens in the world now)which they will initially as only they can afford to pay for experimental therapy until the price falls.

The usual I dont want to live a long time and there wont be enough food arguments. In other words the usual brain washed nonsense.

Gene Therapy will start changing the game very soon, I know of at least one Biotech moving into Human testing offshore for TERT/Myostatin inhibtor combo. Price is high of course but then there will be rich people who will test it.

The rich will almost certainly obtain any new therapies first but good for them I say let them play Guinea pig for the rest of us :)

Posted by: Steve H at April 16th, 2015 7:57 AM

@Jose & Steve H I was just reading the comments section. Makes my head want to explode. It boggles my mind how these people are so willing and eager to die. Not even going to delve into the religious comments. I foresee a lot of hypocrites in the future.

Posted by: Ham at April 16th, 2015 10:22 AM

Thank you Jer. It's most gratifying to see an actually thoughtful challenge to the LEV concept - one of my biggest frustrations is that it is so ubiquitously dismissed out of hand as farcical without any actual analysis of the argument.

However, there are some aspects of the LEV idea that I think might make you more optimistic. First and foremost is that, even though design-wise life is indeed about as Rube-Goldberg-esque as can be imagined, robustness-wise it is not: the unpredictability and variety of the circumstances that an organism must survive in order to maximise its ability to contribute to the next generation is vast, and has driven evolution to develop exceptionally powerful homeodynamic tools that recover the organism from all manner of insults. This applies to internally-derived insults (i.e. aging) as well as environmental ones: even though the body creates a huge variety of types of damage in the course of its normal operation, nearly all of them are automatically repaired as they arise. The only ones that aren't are those that accumulate too slowly to impair function until middle age or later, when evolution no longer cares.

Secondly, it seems that the number of types of damage that start to impair function at age N does not actually rise exponentially with N. Why this is is perhaps just inherent in the underlying biochemistry of life - but the fact seems to be that the extremely elderly, who through luck or judgement avoid the major diseases that kill most of us, seem to have not many more things wrong with them than the average person. Indeed, maybe it's not even peculiar to biochemistry: going with your mention of cars, it simply doesn't seem to be appreciably harder to get a car that was designed to last 10 years to last 100 years than it is to get it to last 50. Perhaps the exponential relationship is in fact a sigmoidal one, being exponential at first but then levelling off.

Third and very importantly, the LEV concept rests on the classification of damage that is the starting-point of SENS. That classification exists not just for discursive convenience, but because for each category there is a generic therapeutic approach that is claimed to be likely to work for each example within the category. Thus, as long as the classification remains supported and we don't discover an eighth deadly thing, but only additional examples within the existing categories, our therapeutic challenge reduces to retooling the details of the therapies we already developed for the first example within the category, to work for the new ones. And retooling details is a great deal easier and quicker than developing a new therapy from scratch.

Taking these considerations into account, I conclude that LEV is indeed very nearly certain to be exceeded and maintained following the development of "SENS 1.0", i.e. the therapies that we're already working on and that I have discussed in Ending Aging and elsewhere. But please feel free to come back on the above if you still disagree.

Posted by: Aubrey de Grey at April 17th, 2015 3:07 AM

Jer, Dr. de Grey, I think both of you are neglecting to mention the important human factor in LEV.

Let's take a world in which mechanics could do some fixes to car parts (and in which you can't buy another engine, ever), but were only just beginning to replace or restore them in an enviroment of skepticism. "Restore a used part to factory condition? Can't happen. Only people who claim to do that are selling 10W30 snake oil."

Now let's say that one machine shop actually managed to do it to one part, any part, probably one of the parts that gets worn out the quickest. People drive into the experiment with a busted transmission and drive out shifting smooth as silk.

Suddenly, the number of mechanics interested in doing restorative work explodes. "Holy crap, they restored a transmission?! Can they restore a busted headlight?" "I'm going to see if we can get steering and brakes fixed, my dad's car is barely driveable!" Why the change in attitude, why all the money being spent on making it work? Because it has been proven to be a functional concept instead of more of the same "anti-aging" bullshit peddled over the centuries.

You're right, Jer, the number of human issues that might need fixing will likely grow extremely quickly as things we didn't even know could wear out start to wear out. However, there will also be an even greater growth of people willing to spend time and money to fix the problems because, again, we will know they can be fixed.

Posted by: Slicer at April 17th, 2015 12:56 PM

"Perhaps the exponential relationship is in fact a sigmoidal one, being exponential at first but then levelling off."

How can you reconcile this with mortality statistics? Only 1/1000 of people who live to age 100 live to age 110, and practically nobody lives to 120. If damage accumulation is really sigmoidal, what's killing these people?

Posted by: Slicer at April 17th, 2015 1:11 PM

""Perhaps the exponential relationship is in fact a sigmoidal one, being exponential at first but then levelling off."

How can you reconcile this with mortality statistics? Only 1/1000 of people who live to age 100 live to age 110, and practically nobody lives to 120. If damage accumulation is really sigmoidal, what's killing these people?"

@Slicer - AdG was talking about types of damage I think, in response to Jer's conjecture that types of damage increase exponentially with the age of a system. Types of things that can go wrong level off over time, damage levels increase stochastically, risk of death as a function of damage levels is exponential. But I think we are now torturing mathematical analogies a bit too much.

Posted by: Jim at April 18th, 2015 2:59 AM

Thanks, Jim, that makes more sense.

I still conjecture that it's likely for new and undiscovered problems to pop up when some types of damage are fixed but not others; unless you fix all the damage in all the cells and extracellular structures in all the organs and systems, the damage you don't fix will rear its ugly head in unexpected ways, similar to how senile systemic amyloidosis appears in old people who manage not to die of anything else.

By the way, Dr. de Grey, did you ever get those details on supercentenarian autopsies from Dr. Coles? Are you ever going to publish the "full version" that Dr. Young asked for? How many supercentenarians are dying of senile systemic amyloidosis, and how many are dying of conventional geriatric issues?

Also, I said it before to Michael, and I'll say it again to you: Just get something, anything, into clinical trials that can affect any aspect of aging and any resulting medical symptom. The severity doesn't matter. You are effectively the Tesla of the modern era. Very few people who aren't hip-deep in this already are going to believe you unless you can show that a therapy developed with your approach works in human beings.

Posted by: Slicer at April 18th, 2015 10:04 AM

An aspect of this that I used to mention occasionally but have omitted to do so here is primates. Since non-human primates (NHP) age faster than us but in every other way age extremely similarly to us, an obvious route to improving our chances of maintaining LEV is to ramp up very greatly our research into NHP aging, specifically by giving the NHP colony the same rejuvenation panel that is being given to humans. This will mean we get an increasingly large advance warning of our own future aging problems, with correspondingly more lead time to develop therapies.

About senile systemic amyloidosis: that is, of course, an example of what I mentioned earlier, a new discovery that hits us only slightly later than the things we already knew about, but which fits clearly into an existing SENS category. I'm certainly interested in publishing a more thorough account of that work, but Steve Coles's death may have put paid to that possibility. I don;t think we can answer the question of how many supercens die of what, any more accurately than that short paper did, until we have more data.

To address the earlier posts briefly: Jim, yes, you are right that I was referring to types of damage rather than the trajectory of the rate of accumulation of a given type of damage. Slicer, you too are right in regard to the human factor - this is part of what I mentioned about its being so much easier to develop the second in a family of therapies than the first. In my TED talk (the one I gave at TED itself, in Monterey in 2006, not the one at that I gave in Oxford in 2005) I made this point the centrepiece of my presentation, actually - I talked about how success would empower us by curing our fatalism and lack of ambition.

Posted by: Aubrey de Grey at April 18th, 2015 11:34 AM

Slicer: to be clear, it's not only likely that new and previously-undiscovered problems to pop up when some types of damage are fixed but not others — it's a virtual certainty. Dr. de Grey and I talk about this all the time: it features in any detailed discussion of LEV, and it gets substantial play in Ending Aging. Notably, currently-unknown forms of aging damage are one component of the "hard" aging damage that it isn't necessary to repair in order to make the first great leap in life expectancy, but will eventually need to be repaired in order to continue to make progress in life expectancy.

Dr. de Grey has already emphasized that the medical repair and maintenance of an aging body is facilitated and leveraged (I use the term properly) by the body's self-repair and maintenance machinery; this is unlike an automobile, which can be built more or less robustly but cannot maintain or repair itself. But additionally, an important way that the aging human body is like a car is that damaged parts in both cases cause ongoing secondary damage, as when malfunctioning crankshafts cause additional wear and inefficiency in the operation of the pistons, or when a cylinder misfire causes power loss, leading drivers to push harder on the accelerator, forcing the damaged parts to work faster, and with more friction and at higher temperatures, further exacerbating the wear on the engine.

This means that when we remove aging damage, we are not just leaving the organism in the same trajectory it was on before we intervened, because the clearance of that damage will both reduce the production of aging damage occurs as downstream sequelae of that damage, and also (b) enable the body to mobilize its self-repair mechanisms to repair the sequelae of primary aging damage that has been cleared of damage, just as the suturing of a wound or the removal of shrapnel from an injury facilitates wound healing.

Note that there are two distinct kinds of mechanisms whereby the removal of primary aging damage facilitates the activity of our inbuilt maintenance and repair machinery. First, the sheer removal of damage enables access to the site of cellular, molecular, or tissue injury that was previously impeded by the ongoing presence of the damage itself. Second, the effects and metabolic responses to primary aging damage themselves impede the regulation and action of those mechanisms, as eg. when oxidative stress deranges redox-regulated signaling in the cell, or when inflammation downregulates the activity of DNA repair machinery. This is clearly evident in parabiosis experiments by Irina Conboy in which the restoration of the youthful signaling environment restores the youthful ability of muscle satellite cells to mobilize from the niche in response to injury, and exerts similar rejuvenative effects in the and haematopoietic stem cell niche, the heart, and microglia in the brain.

For these reasons, repairing existing primary aging damage will quite confidently decelerate the rate of formation of new damage (known and unknown), whereas I see few plausible mechanisms whereby we would increase the rate of its formation.

It's also worth remembering that the forms of damage that we haven't yet identified ipso facto take longer to accumulate to pathological levels than forms of aging damage we have already identified and characterized: if they formed rapidly enough to cause pathology within a currently-normal lifespan, we would know about them by virtue of that very fact.

So when you combine the facts that (a) we not only get to apply the first generation of the first panel of rejuvenation biotechnologies over and over again; (b) the clearance of such damage both reduces the formation of secondary aging damage and enables and facilitates the organism's ability to repair its sequelae; and that (c) the forms of aging damage that we have not yet identified as such by definition take longer to accumulate to pathological levels — all of this tells you that the implementation of the first generation of rejuvenation biotechnologies buys you substantially more time in which to identify, characterize, and develop next-generation rejuvenation therapies to remove, repair, replace, or render harmless that damage.

But wait — it's better than that! Because in that time window, (a) scientific progress generally is continuing to make more progress, giving us more powerful tools to identify and develop solutions to newly-identified forms of aging damage; (b) the public and politicians will be firmly on board, as the notion that aging cannot be tackled biomedically will no longer be holding us back and the "Tithonus Error" substantially refuted; and (c) we will for the first time have a good experimental model in which to uncover that previously-masked aging damage: seeing what limits the lifespan and healthspan of nonhuman primates and other model organisms with shorter lifespans than ours in whom other aging damage has been cleared via the same rejuvenation biotechnologies that are extending our own lives and health.

Posted by: Michael at April 18th, 2015 12:53 PM

(By the way: Slicer, Jim, and others: it often takes me a while to respond to an intelligent question here, both because the questions from FightAging! regulars (and occasional well-informed teleportees) are often quite technical and require time to address, and because of other duties to which I must attend. For future reference, may I have your email addresses or other contact info so that I can ping you in cases where I suspect you're likely to no longer be following the comments? You can reach me at firstname dot lastname at sens [period] oh-ahr-gee).

Posted by: Michael at April 18th, 2015 12:58 PM

In 2006, [...] I talked about how success would empower us by curing our fatalism and lack of ambition.

Posted: April 18, 2015

I'm sure all the reasons are good ones, but none of them change the fact at hand.

Posted by: Slicer at April 18th, 2015 1:08 PM

@Slicer - um, what? I was agreeing with you - can you elaborate on what fact you are referring to?

Posted by: Aubrey de Grey at April 18th, 2015 2:59 PM

Michael: I'm a nobody on the Internet and I prefer it that way. Any time you could spend responding to me one-to-one (and not enlightening a larger group of people) is time better served doing something else.

Aubrey: I was trying to highlight the years. In 2006, you talked about how and why success would lead to more success. In 2015, you're referring to... something you said in 2006. The fact is that not much has changed for SENS from then until now, despite general global advancements in stem cells and other areas. I represent the public here, and the public only cares about what their doctors can give them right now. Unless and until the research building blocks developed under the SENS model (preferably stated by their creators to be SENS-related) are known to the public to have gotten at least one thing actually built, nothing's going to change for the SRF.

By the way, you might want to promote oxytocin as an effective remedy for sarcopenia, because its clinical effectiveness means that SENS money will have funded something that can be described as a real-world success. Take the credit.

Posted by: Slicer at April 18th, 2015 3:25 PM

Ah, OK - well actually what I was referring to in 2006 in my TED talk was comprehensive success against aging, which I certainly was never claiming was imminent. The dilemma you describe is indeed very real: a divide and conquer strategy will never give appreciable benefit until all its parts are reasonably well implemented. However, I agree with you that we may have ways to toot our own horn more than we have been. I would be grateful if you would offer your views at the website, so that I can more easily ensure that they are seen by my most relevant colleagues.

Posted by: Aubrey de Grey at April 18th, 2015 3:37 PM

Sorry, I'm not seeing any user input on that site beyond a Reddit link and a generic Contact Us page. Like people telling George R. R. Martin to get his books done before he croaks (life extension won't be around soon enough for him), I can't possibly be telling you anything that other people haven't told you before. Your colleagues should probably be showing up on this blog anyway; Reason generally offers the newest research as soon as it's posted (although he seems to have a problem with linking to old articles). I'd much rather talk to you here (and make no mistake; I'm very, very pleased to be able to talk to you, as you, of all the 7 billion people on this planet, are probably the most recognizable name in actually doing something about the all of us are going to degenerate to death problem!)

"The dilemma you describe is indeed very real: a divide and conquer strategy will never give appreciable benefit until all its parts are reasonably well implemented."

It won't? Which parts are you talking about, and how do you define a part? Because I can name several individual parts that affect atherosclerosis, for example: glucosepane, 7KC and foam cells. Why wouldn't attacking just one of those targets yield a benefit? Why wouldn't clearing a single type of senescent cell from a single tissue, all by itself, lead to improvements in function? We know that stem cell injections, properly prepared, are a valid form of therapy (and I'm still waiting for the day that I can show up at the clinic and get my brain injected with some fresh neurons).

Even if a single part doesn't give appreciable benefit in the clinic, if you can create a research paper on that single part, you can at least say "Here's our research, here's what we did, and here's what it's good for."

And if you can actually create something that can impede ALT cancers, and you make it clear that it was SENS that got it done, that's an immediate, tremendous benefit to the organization as a whole (not to mention all of humanity). This one probably needs to be highlighted more right now: "Your donations go towards curing rare cancer." It works for a lot of other charitable organizations, doesn't it?

My point with the oxytocin was that you seem to already have funded something that has an excellent chance of demonstrating a near-term clinical benefit. Not even really one of your seven targets, it's just a hormone injection- but it's an actual therapy that you can point to and say "We have done this." Which is what a 15-year-old charitable organization needs to promote, front and center. "Here's where your money goes. Here's what donating to us creates. Here's what we're working on now, and here's what we're going to be working on in the future." Even if it fails in trials, you can at least point to it as proof of reputability: "This was a serious endeavor, and the government also helped fund this."

Seriously, a brief Google search shows the problem here. Googling for oxytocin and sarcopenia yields a lot of clickbait sites referencing the UC Berkeley press release, not a single one of which mentions the funding sources- including SENS.

Meanwhile, this research, which could actually be put into clinical trials any day now if it hasn't been already, is nowhere on

See the disconnect? (Did SENS even actually fund this, or was this an error?)

You're spending a lot of time and money promoting an overall model instead of focusing on what your organization can actually accomplish in the near term and has actually accomplished. People don't donate to "One day we will...", they donate to "Here's what we're getting done"!

Michael has said before that SENS generally focuses on things that no one else is focusing on, and medical science is always slow, but you need to tackle defined goals that an organization the size of yours can actually get fully funded in a reasonable timeframe. Otherwise, why bother? Someone else with a bigger budget is going to eventually get to it and your investment will have been a total waste of time. It's quite possible that your ideas have inspired people and other organizations to get things done, but that's not a funding source.

By the way, Calico's budget is a few hundred times that of SENS; do you know anything about what they're doing in there?

Posted by: Slicer at April 18th, 2015 5:31 PM

@Slicer - You seem to have the time and, more importantly, energy to help out voluntarily.

If you think that the website could be better, why not offer to get involved and write some content? If you think the membership page and features could be better, why not offer up some time to improve these features?

I don't know if repeated questioning of the SENSRF approach to marketing will actually bring any dividends to you, given that most of the people involved in that marketing are already busy with several other roles.

Regarding Oxytoxin, why not ghost write a blog post about the SENSRFs involvement in that research that someone over at the SENS website can then proofread/improve and then publish? You've got halfway there on that in the above post.

Theoretically any charity or organization could be run more efficiently and effectively, particularly with the benefit of hindsight. But I think you could contribute more by providing the resource of your time.

Posted by: Jim at April 18th, 2015 7:00 PM

Thank you Jim - I completely agree. Slicer - the Contact Us link is not so generic as all that, since one selects a topic when submitting a message. I only come here when someone prompts me to, whereas I see everything submitted to the site at once.

Posted by: Aubrey de Grey at April 19th, 2015 3:34 AM

Wait, seriously? Is this a conversation we are actually having right now? You're the most famous person involved in the ultimate prevention of prolonged, hideous, and agonizing death for every single person on the planet, and you're actually agreeing with the sentiment that some anonymous guy on the Internet, who has actively and repeatedly told you that he's just an anonymous guy on the Internet, to write something for you?

Okay, fine- I will! Or I'll make a somewhat decent stab at it with the information I have. But seriously, the fact that you need to have anonymous guys on the Internet, or other volunteers, write anything for you (as opposed to a professional with a degree in marketing and experience with science writing or signing a contract with a firm whose job it is to do exactly this) speaks volumes about what SENS is and isn't doing to promote its vision.

You wouldn't hire someone without credentials to perform research. You wouldn't even hire someone without certification to wire your house! Why, then, would you not rely on someone who has been thoroughly educated in the subject of marketing to do your marketing (and as I told Michael before, not outreach, marketing), something that obviously, desperately needs to be done to get you the money you need to fund vital, life-saving research? Does it cost money you don't have, as you're underfunded? Sure, but somebody who costs $40K could quite possibly get you a hundred times that, and I guarantee that if you don't get serious about marketing, advertising, and professionally directed self-promotion, you're going to stay underfunded.

Posted by: Slicer at April 19th, 2015 3:13 PM

@Slicer: we were all random anonymous individuals on the internet, de Grey included, until we were not. That is a point he has made fairly consistently over the past ten years - that it isn't as hard as it looks to learn enough about the science and medicine involved to have valid, useful opinions on the subject, especially when it comes to furthering advocacy. It is what he did, and it is what more of us need to do to some degree or another.

Even on the topic of working in a lab there are those who over the past decade have gone from anonymous individuals on the internet to going back to school to working on research programs in this field as a result of their interest and connection with this community.

So yes, write something. I think you underestimate how useful it is for more people in the community to take that step, and greatly overestimate the gap between someone who can write a coherent comment on the topic of medicine and someone who went to school for marketing. For a start, the marketing graduate isn't fired up to make a difference, and that's a big deal.

Posted by: Reason at April 19th, 2015 3:46 PM

I did write something. It's fairly sparse, but fleshing it out should not be too difficult, as the full paper was made available to the public on February 2.

Reason: If professional marketing was as unimportant as you're purporting it to be, corporations would not hire professional marketers. It wouldn't even exist as a field; who would pay for it?

Think of the marketing pros hired by, say, McDonald's, Philip Morris, and M&M Mars. These companies sell people slow and painful death in the form of atherosclerosis, cancer, and diabetes, and yet they're all extremely successful companies. Would their advertising and marketing budgets be so high if marketing didn't work? If amateurs were just as good as professionals, why do they spend so much money on professionals?

Meanwhile, SENS, a charitable organization in the business of making people not die slow and painful deaths, ought to rely on volunteer advocacy and that alone? We ought to rely on a community so mind-bogglingly small, especially in comparison to the number of people who need anti-aging, that Aubrey de Grey himself has time to respond individually to blog comments? Boy, that community advocacy sure has worked well!

Sorry, but this whole line of thinking- that a bunch of plucky amateurs can do as well as professionals whose education and experience is in making the public buy things- is absolutely ridiculous.

Posted by: Slicer at April 19th, 2015 4:50 PM

@Slicer: For many purposes in advocacy amateurs are in fact better than professionals. And vice versa. It isn't a single scale of better or worse, it is better or worse for the approach and circumstance at hand. Advocacy covers a very broad ground, everything from political lobbying to producing glossing baseline materials to grassroots awareness, and a bunch of other approaches, and I see no one approach as being more important than the others. In the absence of a huge money pump none of them can really get too far ahead of any of the others.

Professional marketing people are very much involved in things like the Palo Alto Prize, have been involved in the past in many of the Methuselah Foundation's efforts, and continue to be involved in efforts like the forthcoming Supercentenarian Awards, and honestly I don't see much of a difference between those and the more amateur/grassroots efforts in terms of results at the end of the day; it's still been very incremental. It's about the fitness of the approach to the circumstances, about slowly raising the water level so that more boats / approaches can float.

But anyway, we can disagree on these things and it doesn't hurt anyone.

Posted by: Reason at April 19th, 2015 5:14 PM

"But anyway, we can disagree on these things and it doesn't hurt anyone."

Yeah, it's not like this business is a matter of life and death.

Posted by: Slicer at April 19th, 2015 10:41 PM

I agree with Slicer's comments above though and whilst I appreciate that the layman can make a difference if they apply themselves I think a professional marketeer is definatly going to get superior results. There is nothing wrong with involving the public of course, that can lead to increased advocacy but I dont think its a substitute for professional marketing.

The horror is the majority of the public either dont think about aging or dont think it can be changed and that is going to take serious work to get the message to the masses. Yes the study of aging and its possible reversal has become more accepted but grass roots can only get us so far.

I dont wish to besmirch the good work SENS does but I think you should be taking credit where its due at the same time or you wont ever have the funding you need. But unless the signal is seriously turned up on our cause the FDA will continue to sit on research and slow it to a crawl and it wont see the light of day for decades.

Posted by: Steve H at April 20th, 2015 6:04 AM

Quote: "We need to make step by step breakthroughs in all the seven categories, but the big breakthrough in terms of publicity will be when we can take middle aged mice in the laboratory and rejuvenate them," he said. "Once we can do it for mice, people are going to know that its only a matter of time before we can do it for human beings. So that's where I want to get to and I think we have a fair chance of getting there in six to eight years from now." (Aubrey de Grey in the article on Motherboard which is linked in the article from Reason has quoted in his blog entry above.)

@ Aubrey de Grey: So, „a fair chance of getting there in six to eight years from now"!? Robust Mouse Rejuvenation (RMR) doesn't need TEN years any longer what was the time frame I was used to for so many years and with a „fair" chance of 90%? And what about the funding background that is usually mentioned in this context (and is also the topic of this blog discussion here) - but not in these two articles? Is it still 1 Billion Dollar or has the sum changed in one or the other direction?

By the way: I remember an old forum discussion at the Immortality Institute aka Longecity about ten years ago about your vision of an Institute of Biomedical Gerontology (IBG), where you, Reason, John Schloendorn and others took part in:

Now, does there in the meantime exist at least a concrete business or research plan for such a major institution? How should the demanded funding money be spent for the different parts of the SENS project, how many researchers and other staff should be hired, what about the costs for a building, the equipment for the laboratories, the administration and so on? What about the timeline, the milestones, the whole research process also in an economical perspective? En detail! I don't think that you can expect to get so much money at least from wealthy business people and the like without being able to offer a concrete and systematic and written down conception of how exactly(!) all this money should finance and structure the research work to reach the aspired goal. Small donations by every day people may be different.

Posted by: Lothar at April 20th, 2015 6:43 PM

Isn't hoping for a super star marketing fund raiser person the same as hoping that a billionaire will come and drop a billion dollars on this research effort? Both are exceedingly unlikely to happen. It would be nice if they did, but dwelling on it just distracts from the real work of building grassroots support.

As well as chastising SENS for not hiring a "marketing guru" who will solve all funding problems, you could also chastise them for not chatting to enough billionaires who will solve all funding problems. They don't do much of either because both are mirages.

Fightaging raising $50,000 which is then spent on hiring a researcher in a lab to try and create a technological demonstration of a necessary enabling technology is a far better use of that 50k than hiring a marketing person who has nothing solid to market. Research, unlike consumer goods, is a tough sell for a number of reasons, one being that you don't immediately get a solid product in the 'donators' hands.

Posted by: Jim at April 20th, 2015 7:04 PM

@ Jim:
I cannot judge whether it is unlikely in general to get the needed money from multi-millionaires or billionaires, but Aubrey de Grey has got already some millions by investor Peter Thiel (who could afford to finance the SENS project nearly all alone or at least with the help of just a handful of wealthy friends!). But even if you look for grassroot support for instance with crowdfunding tools and the like - just another form of marketing, by the way - you have to communicate to your potential funders how you want to spend the donated money, for which specific purposes, concrete projects and so on.

Aubrey de Grey has said so many times in the past, that all his time frames and predictions for the arriving of the first SENS like therapies in humans are only solid with sufficient funding. And he has always set limits at least for the dimension of this funding: 1 billion dollars only for the robust mouse rejuvenation - one hundred million dollars a year for ten years. In this perspective 50.000 dollars are nothing, even 5 million dollars, a hundred times more of your example, would be nearly nothing! I'm sorry, I can't help it, I'm just quoting or repeating Aubrey de Greys old numbers (and asking for new ones if there has been a relevant change meanwhile). Calico, the newer company founded and funded by Google (and some pharma multi), alone has a budget of 1.5 billion dollars.

The whole robust-mouse-rejuvenation-approach was always just exactly to „create a technological demonstration of a necessary enabling technology" you are speaking of - but on a much more elaborated scale you probably could imagine. And that's not by coincidence because we are talking here about the overcoming (or the indefinite postponing) of AGING which is a dream of mankind throughout history! So we are in fact talking about a project like the Apollo Project or at least the Humane Genome Project and the like, especially if we think about the huge additional costs and challenges when human trials come in and nobody has calculated until now.

Posted by: Lothar at April 20th, 2015 9:02 PM
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