Radical Life Extension is the Right Idea

Here I'll point out an article of mixed quality - there's plenty to complain about, regardless of your views - but let me direct your attention to the core point being made, rather than the wrapping of that point, which is that working to end aging and greatly extend life is the most rational response to the situation we all find ourselves in. Radical life extension is the name given to the goal of postponing the degeneration, medical conditions, and death due to aging for decades or more, living far longer in good health. This outcome will require rejuvenation therapies that can repair the known forms of cell and tissue damage that cause aging. The first of these therapies are presently in development, the rest at various early stages in the laboratory. This should be a cause for celebration, massive funding, and accelerated development, but sadly not everyone considers it obvious that we should be heading down this road. The response from the average person in the street is usually that of course he or she doesn't want to live any longer than his or her parents, that of course this person wants to age and die on schedule. Yet that very same person will take full advantage of medical science now and in their old age. That striving to put an end to the suffering and death of aging is widely considered fringe or outlandish, that we have to advance arguments and advocacy to make progress towards this goal, is another sign that we humans are just not particularly rational.

Peter Thiel has plenty of crazy ideas, but his commitment to radical life extension isn't one of them. He has invested millions in the Methuselah Foundation and SENS Research Foundation, research organizations dedicated to extending the human lifespan by advancing tissue engineering, genomics, and regenerative medicine. Now, while much of the mainstream media will try to discredit the tech mogul on this seemingly outlandish issue, I'm not one of them. On this point, the man is right on target. Death is awful, and we need to get rid of it sooner rather than later. We also need to lose this idea that not wanting to die is somehow crazy or deviant. Not wanting to die is actually one of the most rational beliefs a person can have.

Thiel is not alone in his desire to stave off death. Inspired by advances in genetics, regenerative medicine, cellular biology, and cybernetics, an increasing number of people are calling for an end to aging and mortality. Aging, these self-proclaimed immortalists claim, is a disease that can and should be stopped. They argue that it's not an inexorable process, and that the human body, like any other machine, can be modified and restored to a former glory. And indeed, the science is starting to bear this out. There are things we can do to dramatically slow down aging, from the use of advanced "senolytic drugs" and the destruction of worn-out cells, through to mitochondrial and blood rejuvenation therapies. And by studying supercentenarians, we're learning about the genetic prerequisites for a long and healthy life.

Armed with these and other tools, doctors of the future will matter-of-factly prescribe these therapies to extend the lifespans of their patients. To do otherwise would be a violation of that famous oath they all take upon graduation. Organs worn out? Perhaps it's time to grow some new ones. Cells not reproducing properly? Let's replenish them with younger versions. Brain cells failing? Get yourself some synthetic replacements. Indeed, this tired idea that we'll eventually come up with some sort of magical longevity pill is nonsense; radical life extension will come in the form of multiple interventions and procedures, and few will question it.

Link: http://gizmodo.com/peter-thiel-is-right-about-one-thing-1785104345


Very first sentence of the article : "Billionaire douchebag Peter Thiel has plenty of crazy ideas (...)"
... eh. Nice journalism here.

But at least the author explicitely mentionned SENS. Unlike most other better respected publications, as of late. With this mere mention, the article became worthy of attention - maybe even more than the rest of the hypocritical publications who'll peruse convoluted roundabouts to avoid mentionning SENS and the SRF.

Posted by: Spede at August 12th, 2016 9:05 AM

I generally dislike Gawker, but it's great to see ideas like this getting attention and discussion. The comments have become, as expected, a battleground over the idea. The fact that people are seriously thinking about RLE is a great step forward, even if it's not 100% positive.

On a completely side note - Reason, do you have a Twitter or an Atom/RSS that sends out alerts for new articles on this site?

Posted by: Seth at August 12th, 2016 1:16 PM

Hey there !

'' That striving to put an end to the suffering and death of aging is *widely considered fringe or outlandish, that we have to advance arguments and advocacy to make progress towards this goal*, is another sign that we humans are just not particularly rational. ''

(Almost nothing to add, very true), therein lies the problem. It's because humans forget what's important or decide other things may be more important. Like AdG said : ''Would you like dying of Alzheimer's, cancer, heart Attack ?'' Everyone would say no, but if AdG adds : ''If not having Alzheimer's, cancer, heart Attack means lifespan extension and very quite possibly, infinite life, would you like lifespan extension ?'' Then people will say no. (lol). ''It's not Okay.''

So death is Okay ?...
For tons of reasons (ethics, overpopulation, boring life too long, fake science quackery/snake oïl until proven wtih Results that speak from themselves, non-existent tech/therapies, 'make belief', it will fail everyway you see it, costs ridiculous amounts, 'it's not natural to 'not die - you must die, we want to die just like 'regular' on clock before 122. Ok? If you are LEV infinite immortal you are selfish and don't let the new generation Replace you. Stop being selfish and die for the common good/for the others. You are overcrowding the Earth and resources will be scarce in the future because you live infinitely'').

Infinite lifespan, and lifespan extension, as a concept just cannot be believed because humans have been dying forever; thus death is 'normal' 'ingrainedd' in collective conscious and DNA from birth. It's 'part of human nature' part of human DNA to die. So try to go against human nature since a thousand years, good luck. We just don't believe it. Death seems an irreversable process in our mind. To just suggest we could post-pone it or, god almighty, say to 'Reverse' it; is like talking againt the Bible sacro-saint religious outcome - that we all die at around 100 or so. It just is a 'fact' (people say a 'fact', well SENS and other therapies are about to make it a Non-fact, when RHR and then LEV are finally achieved (possibly in our lifetime).

Posted by: CANanonymity at August 12th, 2016 4:06 PM

Those comments... They make me sad, and wonder how hard people will ultimately fight against this, should anything materialize in the near future.

Posted by: Ham at August 12th, 2016 5:42 PM


Hi Ham !

I share your point of view, sometimes I just don't understand it, but then I tell myself; it's the old stubborn human nature, it's so ingrained, down to our cells, it's our subconscious that tells us we are only fooling ourselves if we think we are not aging/getting old and will not die; it's then really hard to convince people with any argument you can make up. In their head : '' I die, you die, we die. Period. You can spout as much scifi bs my way, it won't change my mind. There is a start (birth), a middle (aging) and an end (death). And that end rolls up at around 100 or before''.

People will ultimately fight this tooth and nail because it is single hugest thing EVER. Life or Death. Life is what gives everyone the power to live to be even be capable of doing anything in the first place - you need to be Living, first. Thus life is an extreme subject, higher than sex, higher race, higher than religion, higher than Everything. People act very hypocritical to 'make it not important' (''oh...aging...it's not important. We all die anyways...so why bother/make a mountain out of a tiny mole (cause aging is tiny mole right).
No deep down they know Aging/Life/Living/Death sure is no little tiny mole, it's biggest $%?$%? mountain ever since it'S the sole one that keeps you breathing to read this. Due to ingrainnesss people are so sure of themselves on Life/Death Subject - ''one thing is sure - I'm dying and we all die'' that they never question it/refute it - they merely accept it and rejoyce it in it (don't be a selfish fearing death....love it don'T be afraid of death, accept it and accept that you will die. Perhaps tomorrow or perhaps at 122 years old but never much beyond that since in humanity no known/recorded human reached 150-200 years, mkaing human erroneous maximal specie individual 'limit' to 122-135 or so).

People will litterally be willing to kill to not let infinite lifespan a possibility (when you think about it...Killing is about ending life...infinite lifespan is about Eternal life...a perfect inverse Relationship that people will pick up immediately - people will want you to die and willing to kill you to take away your life that has been extended.) Many will seek LEV indefinite lifespan and many will stop them, either kill them or destroy SENS or any possible future for that (it could get very ugly..people fighting each other to get the 'Magical Elixir Potion of immortal life if you will' (I know you say which should just aim for lifespan extension but whether we like it or not, immortality#/infinite lifespan will be one day the future - we have what it takes to make it happen and that's what scare people - 'to not die anymore is so Strange - it shouldn't Be'). People that live to 120 are legend heroes..imagine people living 500..they would be Elder Gods. People will flock to them for their secret SENS sauce. MAny will oppose that and act in very disturbing ways to make sure 'Humans Continue To Die On Schedule Like It Always Was - Because It's So Much Better'. I fear the future too, it will most likely not be so rosy (get your SENS and all is cool..it would be the best thing if it could work out that way...highly doubtful, it costs a lot there will be $$$ issues, rich vs poor access, rich living eternally and poor dying even quicker/removed from gene pool). Perhaps, one therapy that gives hope is the one Bioviva telomerase, it shows that perhaps if kept low-radar it 'could pass Under the radar of fatalists', and people will accept it later on and say 'hey I'm tired of seeing people dying, I want to live much longer and for you too'.

Posted by: CANanonymity at August 12th, 2016 6:44 PM

Yeah. The more I read comments about it, the less hopeful I am on this end for sure. We'll see, but I expect bans and uphill battles on things. Unless it's a gradual rollout and people don't realize that lifespan will be extended for a long time. After all, people won't become 150 overnight, and it's not like there will be one magic bullet "immortality treatment" like people like to portray.

Posted by: Ham at August 12th, 2016 8:12 PM

@Spede: Agreed, their wording is not very professional. Also, yes, it is good they briefly mention SENS. BTW, the reporter for the Mercury News never did reply back, not surprised.

@Seth: I was thinking about this over the last couple of years, and I agree. If more news especially mainstream continues to publicize extending aging, even via CR, or Metiform, I think it is overall good because it starts to give the general public a warm up if you will, towards extending life. I don't think it is a stretch to go from extending life another 20 years, to 50 years, to 100 years. But going from living to 75 years to 150 years or 'forever' will scare most people. I certainly want SENS to continue with their progress on their work.

Posted by: Robert Church at August 13th, 2016 12:05 AM

I predict that when it does happen (radical life extension, literally seeing people rejuvenate) that there will be religious fundamentalists bombing clinics to stop it.
Also movements to question it, various farsical "ethicists" and all sorts of charlatans there to tell us how wrong it is (while they sneak off to the clinic).

Posted by: bmack500 at August 13th, 2016 9:15 AM

@Robert : Thank you for the feedback. Could be that the reporter will reply late... or won't at all. Both cases are to be expected, as you point out.

@bmack500 : Definitely. The same kind of people who keep rant about "playing god" , "respecting the cycle of life" and other insanities.

Posted by: Spede at August 14th, 2016 5:11 PM

@bmack & Spede,

Yeah this is how I've been thinking. I don't doubt science will be able to do it, but I really have my doubts on society letting it come to pass. We'll see though, I guess. I'm expecting the worst, but hoping for the best on this front. The general attitude of any comments section on this type of research will show you all you need to see about the general publics opinion, sadly.

Posted by: Ham at August 14th, 2016 6:05 PM

@Ham: I think there will be places where treatments can be received. Consider for example GMO crops. They are banned in Europe, but planted almost elsewhere. Also, nuclear energy is stalled in the US and the EU, with few new plants contructed, and prohibited in some countries like Germany, but it's growing very fast in Asia.

Posted by: Antonio at August 15th, 2016 10:08 AM

Then again, skin repairing could win over a good number of people. Once their wrinkles are gone, they'll realise the true potential and joys of rejuvenation.

Posted by: Spede at August 15th, 2016 11:20 AM

We'll see. Religious fundamentalism is strong. So is environmentalism nowadays, with a lot of people saying things like people are already living too long, and are destroying the planet etc, etc. Basically the sentiment of any aging articles comment section. I'm sure there will be places to go but who knows. I mean for individual treatments (think senescent cell removal) I don't think will cause too much of a stir. It's when (if) people go in and start getting the whole lot done at once that's going to raise eyebrows and cause problems. Just what I think. I hope for the best.

Posted by: Ham at August 15th, 2016 12:58 PM

There will definitely be major uproars down the road. But I believe people will be torn between their convictions/indoctrinations and their inner desire to be younger. One study estimates the cosmetics industry will reach 265 billion USD worldwide in 2017. That speaks volumes.

Posted by: Spede at August 16th, 2016 7:59 AM


Skin repair could definitely have an impact on people's perception on aging, but I strongly believe what will truly convince the public that we can reverse aging, is a cure for Alzheimer's disease. Many people in the world have at least one relative who suffers from the disease, and if curing it means making our loved ones younger, people will support it. I'm very eager to see Telocyte succeed with their proposed telomerase-therapy.

Posted by: Eric at August 16th, 2016 11:22 AM

I'm not so sure that this would be the trigger, Eric. Alzheimer's is viewed as an old person's disease (which it mostly is), so whilst curing it would be fantastic, the promises of rejuvenation still won't enter the minds of the general population IMHO.

Posted by: Spede at August 16th, 2016 11:42 AM


You may be right, but I have two reasons to believe a cure for Alzheimer's could be the trigger:

- A 2011 study indicates that when only 10% of the population holds a minority belief or political opinion, it rapidly becomes the majority opinion: http://news.rpi.edu/luwakkey/2902

A little over 5 million of the U.S. population has Alzheimer's (roughly 1.5% of the population). But the disease also affects their families, making the impact much larger than just 5 million.

- The human suffering caused by Alzheimer's motivates us to spend large fortunes on researching treatments which only postpone its symptoms. For the families of those with Alzheimer's, if they knew there was a cure, I know they would 100% support it. If that cure reverses aging, then they would become vocal proponents for biorejuvenation-medicine, and if the 10% study above is correct, their advocacy is all that would be required.

This is why I'm convinced a cure for Alzheimer's could be what pushes biorejuvenation-medicine into mainstream thinking.

Posted by: Eric at August 16th, 2016 2:21 PM

I agree Eric,

They are putting alot of money into research for Alzheimers. I certainly hope a cure or treatment could come very soon. My mother has it and though not too advanced, I am sure anything down the road would be too late for her. But, I hear so much in the news about working on cures for Alzheimers, that I would expect something in the not too distant future.

Posted by: Robert Church at August 16th, 2016 11:10 PM

I don't think that the effects of political/mythical beliefs can be extrapolted to the issue of Alzheimer's, those fields are quite separate and old medical habits die hard.

Also, the reversal of Alzheimer's coupled with that of general health would not have as much impact as, say, reversal of cancer and general body repair. The way I see it, Alzheimer's is still too much of a niche within the public relations realm (again due to its preponderance within a select group of people - older ones).

Anyway, even if we don't agree on the particular tipping factor, it's just guesswork and either (or both) of our intuitions proven right will help further the rejuvenation cause.

Posted by: Spede at August 17th, 2016 3:30 PM
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