There is something about the prospect of treating the causes of aging and greatly extending healthy life spans that makes otherwise sensible people throw common sense out of the window. If I had a dime for every time I saw incoherent predictions and conspiracy theories suggesting that rejuvenation therapies would be developed in secret and restricted to the wealthy elite, I'd have a lot of dimes. There is something ugly and irrational in human nature when it comes to this sort of topic.
In reality it is impossible to build new medical science in secret. It is impossible to build anything in secret that requires a community of tens of thousands, an entire supporting industry, global collaboration in research and development, and the active participation of the scientific community, relentlessly focused on papers and publication. The rejuvenation treatments that will result from from SENS-style repair approaches will be mass-produced infusions akin to biopharmaceutical medicines that today cost a few thousand dollars for a course of treatment, administered by a bored clinician once every few years. After a couple of decades of market action they will be far less costly, like the older drugs produced today that are so cheap even the third world has access.
In short we all win together or we all lose together. This is a cooperative game, not a competitive one. This is all obvious and right in front of our noses; there are scores of examples in medicine today, demonstrating exactly how development and price works out over the years. Yet people are still willing to believe strange things about the future of treatments for aging, building castles of fearful fancy in the clouds.
Concerns about the advance of life extension science research and development frightens many people. Particularly, the level of private investment pouring into the industry. The most extreme of prophecies argue that there will be an absolute divide between the handful of super rich who can afford life extension treatments, and those who can't. The fear is that this divide will permit a world in which a new social order is established planted in financial wealth, but rooting from access to life-prolonging medicine.
Life extension science is at the forefront of this debate, with critics arguing that scientific research should be led by a social contract, rather than a fiscal objective. However, supporters believe that commercial input, especially in life extension, is accelerating the overall momentum of scientific research.
Ultimately though, life extension science is suffering from a complete lack of federal funding, and so if an anti-aging community is to be created, whether the result will benefit us all or just the richest in society, it must first be born out of big business and philanthropy. So then, if this is the case, how much truth and evidence are there in the claims from either side of the debate, and should we be afraid of private entities taking hold of the anti-aging industry?