More People are Considering Radical Life Extension

Despite the fact that the public is largely indifferent or even hostile to the prospects for extended healthy longevity in the near future, there has been considerable progress in advocacy and awareness for this cause in recent years. It is now the case that more people than ever outside the scientific community are thinking seriously about this topic. Of course many will have important facts wrong, or misunderstand aspects of published research, or disagree with positions such as support for SENS research being the best way forward, or feel that there is little hope for meaningful progress in the next few decades, but all in all a broader public conversation on aging can only be a good thing. The more often that people encounter these ideas, the more supportive they will be towards research and development in this field:

I am very optimistic regarding my kids. In forty years, they are likely to be still healthy and relatively young. So they should probably plan for a very, very long life. At least 150 years, but possibly a lot more. If you believe that my prediction is silly and unlikely to come true, I am willing to grant you that it is highly speculative. However, from what I can see, lots of highly regarded biologists do take seriously the possibility that we could defeat aging in a few decades. So it is not entirely unreasonable. And the more decades I add to my prediction, the more likely it becomes. I would argue that the probably that I am correct grows exponentially with each decade I add. I have a really hard time imagining that we will still grow old 500 years from now. I do not have a lot of faith in biologists, but there are many of them and they have better and better tools.

But here is something interesting: we never imagine a future where people do not grow old. In Star Trek, James T Kirk grew old. Even the fierce vulcans grow old. In Star Wars, people grow old. Moreover, we still grant public employees pension plans based on limited longevities. There is a very serious risk that we are grossly underestimating the life expectancy of 20-year-old employees. I believe that it is because defeating aging is a taboo. Not even science-fiction writers want to consider it. In a sense, it is not surprising that only a few outliers like de Grey and Kurzweil talk about it. Sure, they are probably wrong in many important ways, but they are not wrong in the way that matters: aging can and will be defeated.

Link: http://lemire.me/blog/archives/2015/06/09/aging-software-bug/

Comments

Let's hope the trend continues. More recognition means more funding!

Posted by: Nate at June 15th, 2015 7:15 AM

I was surprised yesterday to see a Spanish astronomy blog that has a banner to SENS donation page.

Posted by: Antonio at June 15th, 2015 8:11 AM

This is all well and good, as it looks like this guy has more than a few people who follow or read his articles. However what we really need is just 1 (more is obviously better) big celebrity who will advocate for this. With the following that some of these people have in today's society, it could be huge.

Posted by: Ham at June 15th, 2015 10:16 AM

"In a sense, it is not surprising that only a few outliers like de Grey and Kurzweil talk about it. Sure, they are probably wrong in many important ways, but they are not wrong in the way that matters: aging can and will be defeated."

I really like this line, it's ok to be wrong about some things but the important thing is people like SENS, Buck, Stanford, Harvard, Calico, Kurzweil, Bioviva, Telocyte etc... are out there and they are trying to bring that technology to us. In many cases important progress is being made.I am seeing a change in many people I talk to, they appear to accept age reverse as a matter of fact and merely time before it is done. Sure there are deathists and those who oppose the work but I think they are steadily becoming the minority.

I like what Dr Fossel said during an anti aging lecture at the NIH:

"Anyone who leaves this room thinking we can reverse aging is naive but anyone who leaves this room thinking we cannot reverse aging is even more naive"

I paraphrase here but the sentiment is that at the time (20+ years ago) the mainstream said it was impossible to reverse aging. This is now patently not true and is being demonstrated on a frequent basis by Stem Cell researchers, various Telomerase and other signal research etc...

However as I have said before I think the Catalyst that will change mass opinion and win popular support for the field will be a clear demonstration of an age reversal therapy in a Human. Not a mouse, not a fruit fly or a flatworm but in a Human and then you will have people's attention and they will pressure governments to change. I believe that Grassroots can achieve this and as soon as we do the tide will turn.

Posted by: Steve H at June 16th, 2015 1:56 AM

Steve,

I hope you're right. One of the common arguments against reversing age and extending life is "finite resources on the planet" along with the other arguements. I don't know how to change peoples minds on it, since so many people are stuck in their ways on their beliefs. Will people really change their belifs when they see proof of concept? I hope...And you know a lot of people vote against others having things that they personally do not want or believe in. I think people misunderstand how life extension is going to work... At least initially.

Posted by: Ham at June 16th, 2015 7:31 AM

I would highly recommend the arguments Aubrey De Grey uses as ways to combat these tired and frankly flawed arguments. Reason has links to a number of counter arguments on the front page here and I am very much in agreement with them.

I often counter "its playing God" with so is antibiotics, so is blood transfusion in fact so is virtually any medical intervention that prevents illness or injury running it's cause.

"Overpopulation" A hundred years ago people rioted in the streets protesting Antibiotics citing they would end the world if people lived longer (average was low as 30s in Victorian Britain for example) due to overpopulation, it did not of course because man did what it always does, adapt! The US alone could feed the world if it turned to farming en masse, the planet could sustain a lot more people. You might also mention that people living longer has on average led to a decline in number of children raised and that many countries eg, Japan and many EU countries are now in negative population decline. There is every reason to believe that this trend would continue should lifespan increase radically. Also again mankind would adapt to any crisis and birth control and even limits on children could be imposed ala china for a period of time to manage population. Population management is something we have practiced for considerable time this is no different. Dr Fossel also quips in an interview about those concerned with population "so far not a single person who expresses concern for over population has volunteered to help by committing suicide".

"Aging is natural" this argument is understandable because on paper it is tempting to fall into the trap of accepting it is. Yes aging is natural and part of our biology and seems like an acceptable idea, until you are the one with heart disease, until you are the one with crippling arthritis, until you are the one struggling with AL etc... I tend to find people are not so accepting once you couch the consequences in personal terms. ADG often uses a similar argument at talks "hands up if you want heart disease. Hands up if you are in favor of Alzeimers"

There is also the every classic "well if you are that against such technology you always have the option not to take that medicine or if you are fed up you can stop taking it"

I am convinced the majority of people if given direct evidence of longevity therapy would be lining up to get it and I bet some of the most opposed to it would be at the front of the line caps in hand. It does not concern me overly to be honest, I try to convince when I can but focus on helping get the technology tested and into the public eye. Watch when the first pass therapy comes out it will be the catalyst.

Posted by: Steve H at June 16th, 2015 8:10 AM

I point out those arguments, and then they just link something else saying overpopulation is in fact a problem, and that we're already feeling the effects of it, or something along those lines... Like I said before, it's pretty hard to reason with people. Though I guess they feel the same way about reasoning with us. The playing god one is one of my favorite arguments though. Or they question why I think it's OK that I be able to live longer and "gobble up resources" and say I'm selfish... It's like people eagerly await death. I don't know. I really hope people do change their minds on this though when there's proof of something. If something like this ever comes to a vote, I don't know how that will turn out if opinions don't radically change.

Posted by: Ham at June 16th, 2015 11:58 AM

I think it would be a good idea to count us. I mean the transhumanists or whatever name we choose. It could be a generic manifesto and then we sholud sign on it. To know how many we are. You could talk with the kurzweil people, Ai researchers, etc. And then make some common action together to spread pur ideas. Don't you think it is a good idea?

Posted by: Josep at June 16th, 2015 2:12 PM

I have been referring people to this web site both to educate them for what is possible and maybe that they would eventually contribute to the cause.

I like the name of Reason's blog, it is easy to remember and spell, important for marketing purposes.

Posted by: Robert Church at June 16th, 2015 8:32 PM

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