Vitalik Buterin is the originator of Ethereum, but also a strong supporter of research and development aimed at bringing aging under medical control. He recently stepped up to make a $2.4 million donation to the SENS Research Foundation to support the scientific programs there, and thus help to hasten the advent of the first generation of working rejuvenation therapies. This is very welcome support at a critical juncture in the development of means of human rejuvenation, biotechnologies that will be based on periodic repair of the forms of cell and tissue damage that cause aging. The Life Extension Advocacy Foundation volunteers arranged this interview with Buterin, one of a number of articles resulting from the recent Undoing Aging conference that they hope to publish soon.
Wealthy people usually donate money towards research into and treatment of cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and other diseases. Why did you decide to donate Ethereum to the fight against aging?
The first reason is just because there are many other people who donate to fight against cancer and other specific diseases, which, of course, is very important and necessary. The second reason is that there is strong scientific evidence that aging is the root of the most serious diseases.
It turns out that if you slow down aging or even reverse it, you can save people from serious illnesses such as malignant tumors, stroke, and Alzheimer's disease.
Exactly. After all, if you do not prevent these diseases by eliminating aging, you will have to provide treatment to people who are already sick and suffering and whose quality of life is worsening, and the economy will be under enormous pressure because the treatment is often expensive, caregiving is needed, etc. These problems could be avoided. Studies of aging are very important right now, yet there are still very few people who invest money in this field, unfortunately.
Why do you think that is so?
Most people simply do not know or do not believe that aging can be successfully manipulated. However, I have read Ending Aging by Dr. Aubrey de Grey, I'm interested in scientific discoveries, and I see that this is plausible. Researchers can already extend the life of laboratory animals significantly, and it is necessary to refine these technologies in order to transfer them to humans. And research and full-scale clinical trials of anti-aging therapies in humans requires money.
Do you have plans to continue supporting research projects on aging and life extension, or is your current contribution of 2.4 million dollars likely to be all?
Of course I'm ready to invest more into it. However, right now, I am mostly investigating what the scientists are working on, what the most promising directions are, and what else should be supported.
What, in your opinion, is the main problem currently hampering the fight against aging on Earth?
There is not enough public support. Huge resources, as I said, are invested in research and treatment of single diseases, but the problem is that if we focus only on specific diseases, this will only slightly improve the lives of people who are already chronically sick. Only a few years will be added to their lives.