Ladies and gentlemen, we are all dying. Our bodies and brains will fail gradually over the next few decades, rendering us first incapacitated, and later dead. Our children will not be spared; they too will suffer this fate a few decades after we do. We face nothing less than a rolling, continual apocalypse. Everyone we know will die. Everything we maintain will crumble in our absence. All we understand and feel, save for the tiny portion of the human experience that we can record, will vanish. We will end.
Do you like life? It is being stolen from you. Inexorable physical processes are degrading the bodily systems needed to walk, think, and enjoy a sunny day for what it is. Muscles weaken. The mind slows. The skin becomes fragile. A billion tiny failures in our cells and their chemistry cascade forward over the years. We rust like iron, distortions and accretions and structural failures taking place in an accelerating and ultimately fatal corrosion.
Ah, but we are complacent in its slowness! To be young is to take function for granted. The old are not real - to be old is not real. Yet the day will come when you can look back and remember a stronger arm and faster mind. The grasping delays when a word or a concept will not come to you, because the internal mechanisms of your brain are faltering? That will happen sooner than you would like. You do not have as much time as you might think. How many summers are there in a life? How many victories? Countless when they lie ahead. All too few when they are half done.
Friends, the progression of medical science from idea to therapy in the clinic is the work of a career. Fifteen to twenty years can pass from start to finish. The young adults who today look upon the opening years of rejuvenation research with interest will no longer be young when the first generation biological repair toolkit of the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence is complete. They will be discovering the first small and concerning failures of their own personal supporting infrastructure. The researchers who led the effort will be retired or retiring, insofar as researchers ever choose to do that. The watch will have changed, the apocalypse taken place, another part of the world lost, destroyed, and mourned again.
And the new young people will be immortal, in their own slow time.
To live is to change. The rolling apocalypse will not go away, but it will be made kind, almost gentle. All that we build will crumble in time, as interest is lost, individuals will evolve to the point of disavowing their earlier selves, knowledge will come and go, and the time after will always be a foreign country to the time before. But there will be no death, no suffering on the vast scale that causes our present world to end over and again. To effect this transformation is the point of our efforts, to sustain human health for as long as we choose through periodic repair of the biological damage that causes aging.
How could we do otherwise? To let aging continue would be barbarism, a rejection of the core precepts of medicine and progress. If we are not building a better world, then why act at all? The capacity to build a better world is the only thing distinguishing us from a rabbit or a rockfall. Everything other than this we do because we must, driven by the biology we inherited, rolling downhill for no reason other than gravity. Are we to be human in truth rather than only in name? Then then we must break all of our physical constraints, not just the few achieved so far. We must prevent all of the suffering, not the little so far addressed. We must bring an end to the poor hand that nature has dealt us, and indeed stop playing the game entirely. In this new era of biotechnology, it is time to grow up, to become adult, to take ownership.