The chick from “Conan” once asked.
Hmmmmmm… I don’t know, but I wouldn’t mind a few extra centuries added on.
Seems far fetched, but, people are hard at work, today… This exact moment, as I type this, looking for ways to prolong healthy life. Gains have been made, but as of today the promise of gains outweigh the actual gains in the lab.
Ponce de León is reborn! Well, maybe not, but the magic of the story about his quest for eternal life has been. The Spanish explorer today is played by Aubrey de Grey and Ray Kurzweil. Both, of course are not the only players involved, but both are the leading faces of their respected, similar but different, approaches to strategies in expanding the human life span.
Similar in the sense, that they both seek ways to prolong life; different in the approach. Aubrey de Grey is looking for the fountain of youth inside of our bodies meanwhile Kurzweil wishes to create the fountain of youth through technology in what is called: Transhumanism.
The Aubrey de Grey Biological approach:
Aubrey de Grey is not your stereotypical scientist, which is exactly why he is at the forefront of the battle against aging. Whether it is his uncanny resemblance to Rasputin, his love of beer, or the fact he didn’t even go to school for the field he has caused such a stir in… It is abundantly clear Aubrey de Grey has been a breath of fresh air and fresh ideas to a stagnant field.
So he is a refreshing eccentric character,in the usually dull world of gerontology, but what about his ideas.
De Grey describes a moment late into the night where the SENS idea came to him, or as he explained: “Grabbing a notepad, I jotted down the molecular and cellular changes that I could confidently list as important targets for the new class of anti-aging therapies that I would soon call SENS, the ‘Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence’.”
After coming to the conclusion, that, the fields of Gerontology and Geriatrics were plagued with issues, that make it extremely difficult to be successful in achieving any kind of worthwhile senescence, de Grey, decided to attack the issue by focusing on the moderate middle ground:
“At root, I was addressing a simple question: if geriatrics fails because prevention is better than a cure, and gerontology fails because our understanding of metabolism is so limited, then might an intermediate target be the best of both worlds? Might it be possible to repair damage after its been laid down (hence avoiding the need to understand the details of how laid down) but before it spirals out of control (hence also avoiding the losing battle that is geriatrics)?”
De Grey describes this as the “Engineering approach”:
By dealing with the middle ground…The damage de Grey proposes the problems left to deal with are only 7, rather then the countless issues involved in the Metabolism and Pathology stages, de Grey suggests we focus on the 7 stages of damge:
(1) damage: Cell loss, cell atrophy-Possible solutions– Cell therapy, mainly.
(2) damage: Junk outside cells-Possible solutions: Phagocytosis by immune stimulation.
(3) damage: Crosslinks outside cells- Possible solutions: AGE-breaking molecules/enzymes.
(4) damage: Death-resistant cells- Possible solutions: Suicide genes, immune stimulation
(5) damage: Mitochondrial mutations- Possible solutions: Allotopic expression of 13 proteins.
(6) damage: Junk inside cells- Possible solutions: Transgenic microbial enzymes.
(7) damage: Nuclear[epi] mutations (only cancer matters)- Possible solutions: Telomerase/ ATL gene deletion plus periodic stem cell reseeding.
Aubrey de Grey goes into details about the science and theories behind his SENS plan, in his book : Ending Aging
A SENS challenge was offered to anyone who could prove de Grey’s theories had no base in reality. 20 thousand dollars were put up and panel of judges, not attributed to either party, have to this day awarded no one the cash.
What de Grey believes is not just simply cracking the human code in our life time and living forever, but rather a prolonging of life, followed by another break through, and more prolonging of life on top of that and so on. This is what de Grey describes as “longevity escape velocity”
“longevity escape velocity” is highly dependent on something that Kurzweil also depends on and that is the : “law of accelerating returns” , which basically means: the rate of change in a wide variety of evolutionary systems (including but not limited to the growth of technologies) tends to increase exponentially. Which is just piggy backed off Moore’s law, which states: in the history of computing hardware whereby the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.
For example, after years of research, scientists extended healthy living another 20 years, and within those extra 20 years, with technological advancements and knowledge growth, another breakthrough happens that extends healthy life by 30 years this time, and the process continues on.
De Grey likes to bring up the process of humans learning to fly… Explaining, that it took thousands of years to figure out how to fly, but once we did figure it out, in a relatively short time, we had fighter jets and spaceships. This is how de Grey and Kurzweil think things will go in their own feilds… After the first major breakthrough, there will be many to follow in a relatively short amount of time.
Aubrey de Grey:
Aubrey de Grey VS Richard Sprott (1/6) Debate
Kurzweil and Transhumanism
From science to science fiction! Tranhumanism would seem to be science fiction,if it were not for the simple fact the ideas of Tanhumanism are very plausible. Ray Kurzweil is an inventor, author, “futurist” among many other things. His inventions aside, Kurzweil is most know for his belief in the “singularity“, which is when Humans merge with technology, kinda like the Borg from Star Trek.
Like with de Greys beliefs the steps to complete Transhumanism starts with basic steps, first we will have nanobots placed in us, which will help prolong our lives, by attacking diesse, curing inflammation, and whatever else is needed… Or how about Google in your brain? To be able to do a Google search by simply thinking to do so. The law of accelerating returns is also implied here for the continual advancement in technology.
But these amazing possiblies are not even Kurzweil’s endgame; he foresees a day when we can actually download our consciousness on to a hard drive, much like the cylons from the recent Battlestar Galactica series.
Is it even possible to be able to do such a thing? If it was it would shatter allot of peoples view of the “soul”; so we could imagine allot of concern and downright fear from many people (esp religious types) if such a thing were ever close to becoming reality. But more-so then that, what would become of man;we would essentially stop being human, and become artificial intelligence ourselves.
Kurzweil believes many of these things will take place by 2045.
Kurzweil, all his accomplishments aside, is quite the interesting character…The more virtually real cyber life becomes the more he can build his online ego of a famous female pop star singer. What was that Weininger was saying about Jews and femininistic nature? Despite his freakness, many of the things he has predicted has come about, which leads many to believe allot of the things he is saying now will come to fruition.
Personally, call me paranoid, but I am not allowing a freaking Google chip in my head or nanobots in my body. The possibitly for the powers that be to abuse these possible inventions is just too great.
Mankind, must not be short sighted in the hunt for AI and Tranhumainsm, after Pandora’s box has been opened it might be too late. When I read books like “the singularity is near” it makes me think the “terminator scenario” is all too real.
While many questions and hesitations keep me weary of the possible singularity, the exact opposite can be said for my enthusiasm towards de Grey’s work…Call it a more natural path to longevity. The possibly of man, through the mastering of his body,and eugenics, being able to expand life span by 100’s or even 1000’s of years is quite magnificent, and, in my belief, the proper path towards Overman.
Outside of drugs, supplements, HGH, etc, what can you do to prolong your life? EAT LESS! Yes, really it’s that simple… The 20% rule, eat 20% less then you daily suggest calorie intake for your BMI. So far, that is the only clinically proven natural method of generally prolonging your life…Always good to keep the body, a little hungry, is the rule.