The Life Extension Advocacy Foundation at Undoing Aging 2019

The Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF) volunteers were all at the Undoing Aging conference in Berlin this last week. Given that they, like most of the insiders, were spending much of their time interviewing and networking, they are little better a source than I am when it comes to reporting on the actual content of the presentations and announcements. Clearly we need to assign someone with a notepad to a seat next year, and make sure he or she stays there. The LEAF folk carried out a great many interviews, and we'll no doubt see those posted in the weeks ahead.

The atmosphere of the event was very much friendly and informal, with plenty of opportunities to join conversations with researchers and advocates during the breaks while having a bite or a drink. The lineup of speakers included many big names, including Mike West, Judith Campisi, Vadim Gladyshev, Jerry Shay, Nir Barzilai, Kelsey Moody, Julie Andersen, and Ruby Yanru Chen-Tsai. Everyone I asked said that the presentations were all top notch, but I can't really say anything about them, given that I spent nearly every moment of my stay running after researchers who were being pulled left and right by people who needed to meet them for whatever reason.

Even though I'd gotten used to asking people for interviews fairly quickly, it still felt funny to have breakfast every morning while Nir Barzilai was sitting with other researchers a few tables away, hearing the unmistakable voice of Aubrey de Grey as he entered the room, or knowing that I could easily bump into, say, MitoSENS lead Matthew O'Connor, as I walked around the hotel. Speaking of MitoSENS, at the end of her talk, Dr. Amutha Boominathan mentioned the upcoming MitoSENS 2 campaign on, which will be aimed at testing allotopic expression in mice, providing proof of concept that the technique can work in mammals; in other SENS news, during the conference, Aubrey de Grey announced the tenth anniversary of the SENS Research Foundation, and a shiny new website was recently launched in celebration.

Personally, I think the best part of Undoing Aging 2019 was the feeling of being together with so many like-minded people who all agree that aging can and should be defeated; they may all have different reasons to want to see the end of aging, and they may even have different opinions on how and when this will be accomplished, but they're all working together, each in his or her own way, to achieve this common goal. It was heartening to see that they all agree that aging can be brought to its knees, even if they might disagree on methodologies and timeframes; their optimism is what we need to convince the public that a life without aging isn't a pipe dream anymore.



Malthusian BS again?

Posted by: Antonio at April 2nd, 2019 10:26 AM

@Antonio: These developments shows us (and hopefully) the Malthusians that this will never be a problem.

Posted by: Norse at April 2nd, 2019 10:47 AM

You said that "Life extensionists should also be concerned about population growth" and that simply doesn't have any connection with the real world. It's surreal BS. Also, we have contraceptives since long ago.

Posted by: Antonio at April 2nd, 2019 2:53 PM

One can extend that argument that any medical advance has the same problem. So does having enough food for all the mouths to feed. In some societies during the centuries, the population size was touching the carrying capacity of the respective agricultural ( it Hunter gatherer) environment. Any shall hiccups v inevitably led to famine and deaths...

So does it mean that all the advances we already have is a bad thing? Should we ban vaccination, sanitation and all medicine? Let wild beasts town the streets and kill everybody weak. There will be no sick people... At least they won't survive for long.

Or probably what we do have now is grandfathered and has to be grudgingly accepted. But no me medical advance should be allowed.

That's what the modern deathists want. Well, v guess what? It ain't gonna happen, barring a nuclear war. The medical progress will go on. Some advances will pop there and there and will trickle down the masses. The only question is will it happen in the next 10 out 50 years. For me that makes the difference between the life and death. For humanity, as a whole not much...

Posted by: Cuberat at April 2nd, 2019 6:21 PM

@Cuberat: Good points. Life extensionists should also be concerned about non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. As Nicola Bagala once wrote in a LEAF post that when he became a life extensionst problem after problem raised which he felt he should be worried about. Its useless to have a cure for aging if you are killed in nuclear war.

Posted by: Norse at April 2nd, 2019 11:42 PM

Can we please stop using words like "deathists" it is not helpful and makes dialogue and convincing them impossible! You cannot convince anyone by calling them an idiot.

And yes, there are other problems we as LEs should be concerned about, climate change is a major one. Appreciate we are already working on aging which is a huge issue but certainly there are other problems we need to overcome.

Posted by: Steve Hill at April 3rd, 2019 3:38 AM


There is some hierarchy similar to Maslaws. First you need to have enough food to care about getting old. Then you have to make predation, infectious diseases and the violence insignificant enough, so the aging becomes a problem.

Then if, it rather when, the aging is solved we will have to deal with the unlikely but inevitable over a long live accidents. It is quite possible that when or average lifespan becomes a few hundred to thousand years that we might discover some psychological issues that affect everyone. It that the human memory/brain has hard limit of either but being able to form new memories after a point or start losing the existing ones at fast rate. That for us seams to remote and fantastic. The same way to some one 5 years old, who's starving and had lots interest siblings to infections, the mother at the old age of 30 to some casual violence, etc... Is to worry about dying of old age. And back then the old age was probably 50 to 60. Something perfectly manageable by our modern medicine.

Not of we since the accidents and the brain capacity and psychological problems we will have to worry about planetary issues like being hit by a big asteroid, which is a kind of accident on a planetary level. Then next thing coming to mind is that your sun will change in a half to a couple of billion years making Earth uninhabitable. Suddenly we will have to become a space faring species. With indefinite lifespan we will be able to tolerate the plong time needed for an interstellar flight. That means that even with today's science and almost today's technologies we could colonize the galaxy within a few million years. Half a billion, if we take our time...

There will be a bunch of existential level issues in between but now either I cannot imagine them or cannot even comprehend.

In fact, it is hard to imagine even living a few thousand years. After that, probably, we will stop being meat bags . And we have a good , plausible, chance of reaching LEV and then the rest described above. But as selling points all this should not be mentioned since the difference of living to be 150 in good shape and LEV is not so vast from a technical point of view.

Some of our customs and mind set comes from the brightest times when getting old wasn't a given.

For example, on war, it during military campaigns it was normal to lose up to 40% of the people to non combat treated reasons like infections, accidents, scurvy and such. After all, there are still places in our planet with famine, ebola , and war.

On the other hand, the biggest killer in North America are cardiovascular diseases and Cancer. Terrorists can be compared to that only using a logarithmic scale. Yet people are more afraid of terrorist attack than of 3 decades of suffering and eventual inevitable death.

Posted by: Cuberat at April 3rd, 2019 4:00 AM

@Steve Hill
I got carried away. One to argument I like to bring against the overpopulation is to ask what is the minimum human population that still can carry and keep all the human knowledge we, as s civilization , have today. The books and written media can store a lot of knowledge but there's a lot of things that are only in our heads. Like language, experience and professional knowledge.

If we are to build an arc to restore the human civilization. How many specialist would we need, if allowing for some knowledge redundancy in case of accidents? Do we want to keep all the knowledge like Klingon. What about the boring details of US vs EU trade treaties? It turns out that we need quite a few heads to keep ALL the knowledge.

Posted by: Cuberat at April 3rd, 2019 4:15 AM

All life extensionists should work to minimise existential risks. Read book Global Catastrophic Risks by Nick Bostrom and Circovic
Whats lack in the book I think we need a dynamic web site where experts can work on all risks and they are weighted against each others on what most critical. Ex if we reduce nuclear stockpile that might not be no 1.

Posted by: Norse at April 3rd, 2019 5:34 AM

Nuclear weapons stockpile is a risk but it comes with MAD deterrent. But we have so many tools for efficiently killing each other that nuclear is of many. And in a way it has displaced all other development as redundant. A total war with weapons( not necessarily nuclear) of mass description on both sides would rollback the civilization back to middle ages. For the humankind that risk is still quite high but much lower than in 70s. And longevity will work against the risk of war. Longer living people have less desire to die for any cause. And with she comes wisdom (even a bit) which helps resolve conflicts. I would say that a total/nuclear war is the most immediate and likely existential threat for the humanity as a whole. Everything else is comparison is just a nuisance... And longevity can help with everything. Healthier longer living people will care more about the environment. Scientists if can stay at the peak, or rather plateau, of they productivity for many decades can bring many useful discoveries. Artists create more art. Party goers will part for much longer (that's ok). Probably the crime will go down as most of it is about stupid mistakes of young age, so proportionally people will have more experience.

Posted by: Cuberat at April 3rd, 2019 7:13 AM

The yield per acre on farm land in the USA has been rising at 3% a year since at least 1900. Since the US population is rising at 1% a year, it means we have a growing potential for surplus food production through time.

What the USA is doing to prevent farm land from returning to wild nature, is the insanity of the corn ethanol fuel legal mandate and subsidy. Each year as 2% of the farm land becomes surplus for food production, it is being transferred to making crop to burn as fuel.

In some alternative world that the Malthusians wish we lived in, where population was growing by say 2% a year and the yield per acre growing at only 1% a year.. then we would need to take draconian measures to avoid starvation. That is basically what happened in Maoist China, where because of poor Communist agricultural management crop yield was not growing, and meanwhile their population was growing rapidly, they inevitably faced food crises.

Posted by: aa3 at April 3rd, 2019 7:18 AM

@aa3: The key point is not population growth but birth rate. There is a very long delay between them. If you look at birth rates in the last centuries, all the Malthusian fears look insane.

Posted by: Antonio at April 4th, 2019 1:11 AM

In fact, if the birth rates in Africa drop the same way as in OECED countries, without rejuvenation we will have peak human in 30 years.

Posted by: Cuberat at April 4th, 2019 6:06 AM

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