Giving Tuesday is two weeks away, on November 28th. As manufactured celebrations go, I think we could do far worse than a holiday that encourages philanthropy. While most people are basically well-meaning, and I think would agree in principle that support for medical research is to the common good, we all lead busy lives and need prompting.
So here is a prompt, to remind you that we are all still aging, that aging causes an enormous toll of suffering and death, and that, absent progress, you too will be one of the victims. To offer material support to the research groups that are working to treat the causes of aging is not just the most compassionate thing you can do for the millions suffering today, it is also in your self-interest for tomorrow. If you are organized enough to save for retirement, because it will make your life easier decades from now, then you should also be organized enough to help establish the new medical technologies that will reduce or eliminate the age-related disease that also lies ahead, waiting.
The most effective way to help make progress through charitable contributions is to give to the SENS Research Foundation or their allies such as the Methuselah Foundation. This year we have put out a call for SENS Patrons, people willing to pledge a monthly contribution to the SENS Research Foundation. Josh Triplett, Christophe and Dominique Cornuejols, and Fight Aging! have put up a $36,000 challenge fund to encourage new supporters, and we will match the next full year of your donations if you sign up before the end of 2017.
There is a growing movement that calls itself Effective Altruism, a reaction to the haphazard nature of most philanthropy, both at the small scale and the large scale. The core of the argument is focused on the individual choice, and suggests that instead of giving to charity on impulse - obtaining a short-term flush, the feeling of having done something, but with the high likelihood of actually having achieved nothing - we are better served by taking the small amount of time needed to choose high impact causes and organizations. To have greater certainty that our contributions do the most amount of good, in other words.
Obviously this is not a binary choice, rather a spectrum of effort, but the central point is that it doesn't in fact take a great deal of effort to prevent a donation from being largely wasted. It also doesn't take a great deal of effort to move a fair way upwards on the curve of utility, the measure of just how much good is achieved for a given amount. What causes the greatest degree of suffering and death in the world today? Aging. Hundreds of millions must live with age-related disease and declines for which there are no effective therapies, and more than 100,000 lives are lost each day, most of those struggling, painful endings. Enormous sums are spent on trying and failing to cope with the consequences of aging. The burden falls most heavily on the poor, as in all such matters. Thus if you identify competent organizations working on treatment of the causes of aging, a donation given should be far more effective when it comes to improving the human condition than is the case for near any other cause.
When it comes to competent organizations working on the treatment of aging, the SENS Research Foundation shines. It is a part of a network, including the Methuselah Foundation, that has made enormous strides over the past fifteen years towards launching a rejuvenation research and development industry. You might take a look at the summary of progress in the Fight Aging! FAQ for a sense of just how much has been accomplished with the charitable donations of past years. There is so much left to achieve, however! The SENS Research Foundation is powered by our donations, and that has proven to be a very effective vehicle for progress. This is why I ask you all to help keep this wheel turning, and why I devote significant amounts of my own resources to this organization and its allies.
An end to the disease and frailty and pain and death of aging can be engineered, and indeed the first rejuvenation therapies are edging their way towards the clinic. But comprehensive, significant success in our lifetimes is only possible given widespread support and far more funding. We lead the way towards making that happen.