TCS Daily

Living Forever: Is It Possible? What Will Get Us There?

By Arnold Kling - September 19, 2007 12:00 AM

When I say "amyloid," of course, almost everyone thinks of beta-amyloid protein (also called "amyloid beta"), which accumulates as the waxy "senile plaques" that cluster around the brain cells of people with Alzheimer's disease.

--Aubrey de Grey, Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime, p. 134

Aubrey de Grey is so deep into geek biogerontology that using "almost everyone thinks of" in the sentence quoted above does not strike him as rather generous. In reality, most of us are thinking "'re talking about the singer, right? No, no...what am I saying...Wasn't she the actress in that movie...?"

Four years ago, I reported that de Grey foresees a not-too-distant future in which humans can reverse the effects of aging, raising the possibility of living healthy lives for hundreds of years. He has not backed away from that position, and this book, written by de Grey and his research associate Michael Rae, represents an update from his perspective. In brief, he says that

1. The latest scientific research indicates no flaws in the theory that aging can be eradicated.

2. However, getting the required techniques developed will require institutional changes relative to our current system for conducting medical research.

As an economist, I am most interested--and most qualified to form an opinion about--the second point.

Accessible Metaphors

De Grey makes state-of-the-art scientific issues accessible to an intelligent layman. He uses metaphors, as when he describes the role of mitichondria in terms of a power plant analogy (p. 53).

"But while hydroelectric dams are (for the most part) environmentally benign, mitochondria are in one key aspect more like conventional power sources [in that they] create toxic wastes during the conversion of energy from one form to another...oxygen is also the sink for the electrons that are not fumbled--that are properly processed by the mitochondria--but that process loads four electrons onto each oxygen molecule...Adding one electron, by contrast, transforms benevolent oxygen into a particularly important free radical, superoxide. With your mitochondria generating ATP day and night continually, the ongoing formation of superoxide is like having a constant stream of low-grade nuclear waste leaking out of your local reactor."

De Grey's overarching metaphor is that the body is like a machine that, if properly maintained, can be kept running forever (p. 21).

"we have hundred-year-old cars and (in Europe anyway!) thousand-year-old buildings still functioning as well as when they were built--despite the fact that they were not designed to last even a fraction of that length of time...the precedent of cars and houses gives cause for cautious optimism that aging can be postponed indefinitely by sufficiently thorough and frequent maintenance."

However, maintenance of a car or a building often consists of replacement of components at a macro level. You replace whole tires and lightbulbs. You rip out a transmission or a kitchen and put in a new one.

What de Grey is talking about for humans is not macro replacement--giving you new organs or giving your cardiovascular system the equivalent of a transmission overhaul. Instead, he is talking about maintenance at a molecular level. For a car, it would be like having nanobots that repair corroded parts by reversing rust molecule by molecule. For a house, it would be like having shingles that when damaged by wind or wear are able to grow back to their original shape.

Internal Evolution at Work

De Grey sees aging as a byproduct of an evolutionary process that takes place within the body. Mutations occur over time within your cells, sometimes randomly and sometimes stimulated by external events. This evolutionary process changes the balance between what I might call "good stuff" and "bad stuff" (here I am taking the technical caliber of the scientific exposition down several levels). Sometimes, the "good stuff" gets stronger, as when we develop an immunity to a disease. More often, however, the "good stuff" gets weaker and the "bad stuff" (like arterial plaque or pre-cancerous cells) gets stronger. It is this shift in the balance that leads to the symptoms of aging, including susceptibility to disease, which ultimately proves fatal.

Because aging is a natural outcome of the body's internal evolutionary processes, de Grey argues that the standard paradigm for fighting the diseases of aging one by one is flawed. Prevention of one disease, in the form of slowing the processes that cause it, is a doomed strategy.

First, there is the fact that the processes that cause disease are the very processes that make life possible and enjoyable. The prevention paradigm amounts to lengthening the life of a car by keeping it in a dry, climate-controlled garage forever without ever driving it.

Second, there is the fact that if one age-related disease does not get you, then another one will. In my research into the causes of rising health care spending, I learned the sad truth that as we have achieved success in the battle against heart disease, we are increasing the chances that people will die of diseases like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's, with the result that expenditures on institutional care and full-time home care are soaring.

Only Seven Types of Damage

De Grey argues that there are only about seven generic forms of damage, in which our body's evolutionary processes cause it to lose "good stuff" or produce more "bad stuff" (again, those are my dumbed-down expressions). De Grey's approach to reversing aging is to stimulate the body to throw out the bad stuff and grow more good stuff, maintaining a youthful balance.

For example, his approach to eradicate cancer is particularly radical. Cancer consists of "bad stuff" that has won the evolutionary battle and is now reproducing like gangbusters. He wants to make it impossible for any type of cell to take over the internal ecosystem, so his proposal amounts to programming all cells to self-destruct after they reach an expiration date. Obviously, this creates a problem in that we need some of our cells to be able to last longer, or we will run out of "good stuff." His solution is to use periodic stem cell implants to replenish our inventory of "good stuff." Along the way, he makes a clear and compelling case that we need embryonic stem cell research.

(As an aside, I did not find his argument against the conventional cancer-fighting paradigm fully convincing. I find it more appealing to hope that there is a way to give every cell a "suicide pill" that it takes only if it recognizes that it is about to be captured by the cancer-enemy. Instead, killing off every cell, good or bad, and then trying to add new good cells strikes me as inelegant.

De Grey expresses the concern that when a conventional therapy goes after cancer (and the approach that appeals to me is more conventional), the laws of evolution suggest that a few cancer cells are likely to mutate and survive. Those that survive will be drug-resistant and therefore much more dangerous. However, I think that this is not like the mutation of germs, where a drug-resistant bacteria or virus can get started in one person's body and continue to evolve somewhere else. The fact that a cancer cell evolves in my body to evade a particular drug does not make that drug any less effective in your body. If your body is going to develop a drug-resistant form of that cancer, it is going to have to start from scratch. As a result, there may be a limited number of such mutations, and therefore we may need only a finite set of anti-cancer drugs. Of course, I have absolutely no expertise in this area. It is more likely that I misunderstand de Grey's argument than that he is wrong.)

A Crash Course

Too often, academics use their credentials to spit out biased polemics dressed up as science. Ending Aging is the opposite. It is a crash course in state-of-the-art science dressed up as a polemic. De Grey wears his passion for undertaking a war on aging on his sleeve, yet most of the book consists of scientific analysis that, although simplified to enable a layman to follow, is conscientious in reporting doubts and objections to the author's point of view.

I would recommend giving Ending Aging to any scientifically-inclined youngster. It gives a sense of the possibilities, drama, and frustration of scientific inquiry. Also, it might inspire some young geniuses to undertake the sort of investigations and experiments that de Grey thinks will help win the war against aging.

New Institutions

The polemical component of de Grey's book is aimed primarily at the institutions and incentives that currently govern the medical research process. Some of the changes that he proposes are radical, and some are subtle.

The first institutional problem, from de Grey's perspective, is that the incentives lead researchers to focus on specific diseases rather than on general-purpose technologies to fix cell damage. In scientific research, the usual distinction is between "basic" research and "applied" research. Almost everything that De Grey is talking about is in the "applied" arena. We can always use more basic research, but I think he would regard the basic research that we have today as sufficient in many respects.

The distinction between disease-specific and general-purpose fits under applied research. Within the category of applied medical research, there are discoveries that attempt to treat specific diseases, such as prostate cancer or Parkinson's. However, the technologies that de Grey advocates developing might reverse the processes that are implicated in many diseases.

Today, the incentives to experiment with general-purpose anti-aging technologies are limited. Only if a technique can be demonstrated as helping to treat a specific disease can its development be funded and its efficacy tested in humans. Of course, many of the techniques necessary to achieve de Grey's vision can be shoehorned into a disease-fighting agenda somewhere, which is why he can report results that justify his belief in the potential to conquer aging. However, there remains the fact that the current system gives too much incentive to find stopgap solutions to specific diseases and too little incentive to develop general-purpose anti-aging technologies.

The second institutional barrier is risk aversion, which is hard-coded into regulations pertaining to research and to clinical trials. De Grey writes (p. 323-324),

"Regulation of experimental drugs and based on one abiding principle above all others: the minimization of risk that the therapy might make the patient worse...

"I take the view, quite simply, that Hippocrates has had his day...the psychological effect of possibly causing harm...skews the objective cost-benefit analysis of a given treatment...I believe that the 10:1 (at least) ratio of lives lost through slow approval of safe drugs to lives lost through hasty approval of unsafe drugs is no longer acceptable.

"...[Laws and regulations will change.] People will die as a result; the 10:1 ratio mentioned above will probably be reduced to 2:1. And people will be happy about this change, because they'll know it's wartime, and the first priority--even justifying considerable loss of life in the short term--is to end the slaughter as soon as humanly possible."

What de Grey is saying is that today's cautious approach to experimental medical testing significantly slows the rate of progress, which means that many people will suffer and die unnecessarily. However, those people are unseen and unknown, whereas those who suffer and die as a result of medical experiments are identifiable and visible. I think that trying to sell people on the idea of taking more risks in order to advance medical progress is not as straightforward as de Grey makes it sound.

As an economist, I immediately think in terms of paying people to undergo risky therapies. For better or worse, this might appeal more to people who are very poor--perhaps even people living in other countries. However, those citizens who are squeamish about de Grey's proposal to expose more people to harm now in order to reduce harm to others in the near future probably would not feel any less squeamish just because those who undergo the experiments are well paid.

At a more subtle level, de Grey wants institutional changes that wrest control of the research agenda from the medical establishment, which is vested in the existing paradigm. Here, the fact that so much medical research is under government auspices makes the outlook discouraging, in my view. If there is one thing that you can count on government to do, it is to protect incumbents and move with great reluctance to support upstarts and innovators.

My guess is that de Grey will have better luck if he tries to mobilize wealthy philanthropists. If instead of donating buildings to universities our billionaires would donate money for prizes that reward general-purpose medical technologies, we might not have to wait for government research to adopt a paradigm shift, which is almost surely not going to happen. Wealthy (and not-so-wealthy) philanthropists who are reading this should check out de Grey's organization SENS and look for ways to contribute both to his institute and to a prize fund.

Let me give de Grey the last word (p.328-329):

"Just as people were wrong for centuries about how hard it was to fly but eventually cracked it, we've been wrong since time immemorial about how hard aging is to combat, but we'll eventually crack it, too. But just as people have been pretty reliably correct about how to make better and better aircraft once they had the first one, we can expect to be pretty reliably correct about how to repair the damage of aging more and more comprehensively once we can do it a little."

Arnold Kling is an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute and the author of Crisis of Abundance: Re-thinking How We Pay for Health Care, published by Cato.


Not possible
With full socialized medicine around the corner, this is all moot.

Island of Dr......fill in blank
That's all we need is some rich guy(s) who want to live forever to buy their own island, or better yet, buy one of those huge retirement ships being planned, and start their research on themselves or any other suckers they can con.
They made a movie about that. It was called "The Island", clones ready to be harvested when needed.

As Spock told Ston, having is not as exciting as wanting, or something like that.

Better read the book

You need to read the book and familiarize yourself with the SENS concept. It does not involve cloning or any other bioethically controvercial methods. In case you haven't heard the news, scientists are close to being able to convert regular cells into stem cells without cloning or creating embryos. We are rapidly moving past the point where we need to create life only to destroy it.

If I choose to experiment on myself, that is my choice and my personal business. It certainly is not yours. Life extension is a civil liberties issue, nothing more. Also, the idea its only for the rich is quite silly. Computers and electronics used to be expensive. Now they are quite cheap and the poor have computers just like the rich. This is because of Moore's Law. Well, biotechnology also has a Moore's Law progression. Its called Carlson's Curves and promises to make biotech cheap in the next 30 years just like Moore's law did for semiconductors in the last 30 years.

I think that when the SENS therapies become available, they will actually be cheaper than the "band-aid" stuff that is currently done for old people in the hospitals. Who knows? SENS might be so cheap compared to the alternative that it may even be made a mandate for people to undergo the therapies.

Trust me on this one: having really is as good (if not better) than wanting with regards to healthy life extension. I'm an older GenX. The stuff I am reading on the "boomer" blogs about aging makes it clear to me that aging sucks and that any technology that allows me to get free from it is my friend.

Read some books
Experiment on yourself all you want. I don't care.

The only literature I have read about the possible psychological implications are from science fiction.

When man starts playing god, even on himself, the consequences can be uncertain.

Better be sure about that
"Trust me on this one: having really is as good (if not better) than wanting with regards to healthy life extension."

to me it all depends on just how "healthy" those life extensions are. Also, BTW, no one will live forever no matter what the best science on the subject comes up with. Within the next century I would say a "healthy" 150 years (and healthy is a very relative term in this case) would be a pretty good accomplishment. However, if the science progresses enough, the first double centurian might be a child born in the next five to ten years.

But how good will those extra years be?

Look, unless you kind find a way to completely halt the body's aging process at around the 25-35 years mark, or really begin to retard the process at about that time (say 30) what's the point? If my body goes through the progressiion I began to notice in my mid to late 30s, I'm not sure it will be worth it it be, even a healthy 60-70, for 70-100 years.

And, unless you can completely stop or reverse the aging process, that is what we are looking at. I doubt there will ever be a time where we are completely "free" of the aging process.

but you are right, getting older is no picnic.

You and I are probably around a decade apart in age, I'm a "last of the boomer" (born in 1959) aged individual. I have yet to experience the real "aging" process being discussed by Boomers 55-65, but I can say 35ish sucked and 45 was another milestone. Why? At about 35 it started to become harder and harder to enjoy some of my favorite past times (wrestling old timers tournaments, playing football on the weekends, water skiing, cliff diving, etc.). At 38 I found I could no longer go as hard as I liked without a more constant conditioning program, and, at 40, I seriously injured my shoulder just drilling with a 17-year old high school kid in wrestling practice. At 45 I finally found that I have to pick my recreational activities a bit more carefully and I no longer have the endurance I once enjoyed.

But there are up-sides. I can still enjoy "toned-down" versions (usually meaning shorter games) and go pretty hard, I can still coach, and I can still kick my 21-year old step-sister's butt on the tennis court (as long as we only play a single set). I just can't play basketball uninterrupted from sun up 'til sun down and I can't do live wrestling drills or get into the boxing ring and spar with guys that out-weigh me by 20-50 pounds.

Hey, I hope to be able to play somewhat hard until I'm 90, but that's not impossible even today (I once got my butt kicked on the tennis court by an 89-year old, and that was 5-years ago). It all depends on genetics, how much you work at it and injuries, especially injuries that occur when your over 60. If you "play hard", avoid injuries and have the genes to live longer, you can have a pretty enjoyable old age now, and for those people living to be 150 or even 200 will probably be enjoyable.

However, most of the last 70 years has been spent extending the "golden years" (what an oxymoron that is) and who really wants more of that. If the science is really on the verge of extending youth-middle age, without extending old age, I'm all for it. Time will tell.

Living forever
Read the last chapter of Revelation. No more illness. No more dying.

The only problems are most of the chapters before that time!

The conquering of physical aging, which is simly THE greatest disease of mankind, is inevitable.

Right now, wise and profound minds tell us that the coming of death makes life precious. That's true, but only because for the time being we are FORCED into accepting it; if we do not take up the concept that death's inevitability makes life precious for now, then we go insane. (I consider the relatively high levels of apathy and nihilsm present in our current society to be a form of insanity.)

But once we conquer or at least greatly postpone death, we won't need that outworn creed. We'll have new things that become precious to us--like the gathering up of untold amounts of knowledge, or the capability to actually have the time realize all of our dreams. The wise ones then will talk about how actually living, as contrasted to merely just existing, is precious (they do that already, too, but few listen; in the future of longevity, many more will be brought around to that perspective).

Once upon a time, only the gods could fly. Now mankind flies. Next to come is immortality.

But why...
...should we live forever?

Let's use the example of the automobile. If the original autos just kept going and going (ignore, for a minute, population growth), then we would all be stuck with driving model Ts. Look at how much safer, more comfortable, and prettier cars are today!

Would it really be a good thing for humanity to have individuals liver forever? Image a world where there is no room for children, and where everybody is a cynical old man. Maybe we can stop the aging process, but I bet that the aging of the mind is more than just a biological process. Let's face it, most innovation comes from the young becaue they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. They are willing to take risks. Should we create a world where those who have already "made" it live forever? I do NOT want to live in that world!

Although it may be possible to have people live forever (although I have my doubts), I don't think it is necessarily DESIRABLE! We must have that debate!

As a final thought, some of the author's comments about focusing on the greater good and less on the good of the individual (e.g., eliminating the hyppocratic oath) sounds an awful lot like the eugenics mindset of the National Socialist Party! Dare we tread there? There is a reason why we shun the philosphy of "the ends justify the means". This is dangerous territory here.



Many will try to kill themselves
either with drugs or high risk activities for the andrenaline rush.

Or, if you like watching Star Gate, they have a machine that can regenerate a body shortly after death.

How many times do you want to die and feel every moment, over and over and ....?

Once you realize your dreams, then what?

Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it.

Don't you worry...
Oh, don't you worry! Having thought about it for over 20 years, I know exactly what I want and I definitely intend on getting it.

No worries, mate!

Check this out...
Many of you have cencerns about SENS.

All of the concerns are neatly answered on the sens website at .

what joy!
wow! i hope i can live for hundreds of years! i could watch a new season of american idol over and over and over...and just think of all the undiscovered britneys and lindsays still to come! fascinating developments on the internet, like the video of the skateboarding dog! and politicians who just keep getting smarter all the time!

um...they better legalize suicide first.

The Logical Connection
Timothy Leary was preaching immortality, excuse me, "indefinite life extension" in the 1980s. Good to see that the world finally caught up with him. But Dr. Leary saw also that immortality would have to be accompanied by another development: SPACE MIGRATION. How else to avoid overpopulation?

The nuances are explored at

Joy to the world
That's a stupid message. Even now you don't have to watch american idol or britney. don't you have any other channels? Guys who are negative or miserable can easily commit suicide now, even if it's against the law; what are they going to do, put you in jail? But for joyous people like me, I'll be happy to live to 150 or more because I enjoy life and always appreciate all the breakthrough stuff they're inventing(as a guy in his 80s already, I'm particularly happy that they invented vitamin V, viagra! So even dirty old men can keep on boom-booming in old age.

physical aging is in many respects due to parts wearing out.
A heart can only beat so many times before it wears out, a joint only perform so many movement cycles. That's a main reason why some species live longer than others (all environmental factors being equivalent for them).

Unless you replace those muscles and bones, the strongest of bodies will not exceed that limit (and weaker ones won't even reach it).
Healthy living and healthcare can prevent other factors from speeding up that demise, but without massive transplants (which realistically can only come from either clones, mechanical parts from factories, or to an extent executed criminals) you're going to wear out physically after a while.
Maybe that limit can be jacked up a bit, but it's never going to be extended indefinitely.

And even if it were, the social repercussions would be massive.
Either you'd get a small upperclass of eternals to whom all others are indentured slaves with limited lifetimes (and effectively used as walking organbanks for the eternals) or you end up with a society where everyone has to work for all eternity without ever having the prospect of retirement.

I wouldn't want to live in either society...

In some countries suicide is a capital offense.
Does solve the problem of it being illegal nicely for those wanting to die :)

If you can live forever, why have children?
Children are such bothers, they are expensive, messy, cause so much worry and hassles, and get in the way of people living life to the fullest.

Living Forever! Good Grief!
If I thought I had to live forever, I would kill myself! Right now I am on the down-side of 50-60-70 and joyfully counting . . .

But this comment on landing in the After-Land is not why I am posting. Arnold -- one of my favorite and smartest writers -- I am posting because of this paragraph you wrote:

"As an economist, I immediately think in terms of paying people to undergo risky therapies. For better or worse, this might appeal more to people who are very poor--perhaps even people living in other countries. However, those citizens who are squeamish about de Grey's proposal to expose more people to harm now in order to reduce harm to others in the near future probably would not feel any less squeamish just because those who undergo the experiments are well paid."

No experimentation to find the effects of disease in human beings -- or lack thereof -- is conclusive of anything. No advertised or doctor-prescribed results of the efficacy of any drug can in truth be depended upon by anyone.

Human beings are just now coming to understand the wide variances in how DNA constructs their body/brains and, because of this, how their body/brains physically react to anything they ingest by mouth, or by needle injection.

You write: "this might appeal more to people who are very poor -- perhaps even people living in other countries." But think how radically different their DNA would be because of their forebears' and their nutritional habits. I am not implying that a sample of wealthier would test people with better nutritional habits; the amount of cola drinks and corn syrup consumed by human beings in this country is enough to skew all medical research for all time . . .

When "medical science" -- actually the art of medicine, testing the latest trial or patent for a medical cure in a lab or on a patient -- begins to work FIRST with the idea that every human being, alive on earth, is staying that way by consuming products from the earth -- those products that evolved over time, along with us, to interact with our cells to keep them healthy -- then I will pay attention to the so-called learned's ideas coming out of our universities.

Every one of us is an individual in how we think, and in what we do, based upon how we interact on a daily basis with nutritional needs supplied to us by "mother earth."

Live Forever, Work Forever
No retirement.
No social security.

One way to resolve the issue of social security.

That's correct...
If you guys were to read the link to the SENS website (like none of you have), you would see that this issue is already covered.

Curing aging will eliminate the need for old-age entitlement programs such as social security and medicare. This will reduce the federal budget by 50%. Some pundits are already talking about a "prolongevity" dividend, similiar to the "peace" dividend we had following the end of the cold war in the early '90's.

Aubry thinks (as do I) that once we cure aging, people will no longer work in set job or career paths for an "entire life time". Rather, people will have a series of "mini' careers, with taking time off for education, extensive travel, or to do something like mountain climb in Alaska for a year.

Your average 25 year old does not think about retirement and social security. They are busy bouncing around trying out all kinds of funky stuff. I knew 25 year olds who were application engineers working with customers in Asia and I knew others who were English teachers. I knew still other 25 year olds who were doing the "lonely planet" thing in S.E. Asia.

The point that does not seem to be getting across here is that curing aging will eliminate the need for people to live the fixed life-pattern that many people live today. This is the primary motivation for curing aging among those of us who seek freedom and openess above all else.

They want us to work forever so they...
can dump social security instead of letting people retire! The idea of everybody having to pay taxes forever appeals to them as well. If the government hadn't been able to see any benefit in it for them, they'd have banned it already. Hillary needs everybody she can get to pay into the health care fiasco she plans on saddling the country with. Clue: Throwing more money into the school system hasn't resulted in either more intelligent grads or better spellers. What makes them think throwing money at the insurance companies will result in healthier people? I take care of my health. I don't want any mandatory healthcare payments to cover those who expect somebody else to take care of them. When they've worked all the energy out of people, they'll die of exhaustion. I'm not believing anything about any living forever propaganda if we're expected to work forever with no retirement. (enough to worry a person to death)

"freedom and openess above all else."
What does this mean?

Freedom bo live like Hugh Hefner or freedom to live like Mother Teresa?

Freedom to have hundreds of children or freedom to only be responsible for yourself?

What's your freedom?

Definition of Freedom and Openess...
Specifically, freedom and openess is about being able to live life free from the constraints that are imposed by a fixed life-span and the conventional life-cycle that results from it.

Economically, freedom and openess is about pursuing entrepreneurial business opportunities and the development of pioneering technologies such as biotech, nanotech, and anything related to space development. More generally, freedom is about innovation and creative human endevours.

Personally, freedom and openess is about pursuing those activities and hobbies that I enjoy most. I like outdoor sports such as hiking, scuba diving, and plan to try kite-surfing. I also enjoy international travel as well (especially to tropical beach places - I'm a basic "beach and bar" guy).

If there is a hot business or career opportunity in, say, Japan or Singapore, I like to be free to pursue it without having to think about stuff like "gee, I'm X years old, can I really do that?" and other such stuff. I do not think that this kind of time limitations are acceptable.

Radical life extension is really about the freedom to pursue what ever dreams and goals you have, without any restraints on time and what not. Its about doing what you want and where you want for as long as you want, then moving on to the next interesting and fun thing that strikes your fancy. I lived as an expat for 10 years and will probably do it again. The point of curing aging is to have that open feeling in life (like when you got out of school at 22 or grad school at 28) that you can go where ever you want in life. It is this feeling of openess that I value more than anything else in life.

Freedom and openess, in the context of life extension, is really about getting free from the constraints of the conventional life-cycle. Some of us really do find the conventional life-cycle to be way too confining. I really cannot handle the idea of having to live life within a fixed boundary. This is the reason why I am into life extension. People who are not into life extension seem to have a hard time comprehending this.

Just as I thought.

The birds could fly...

You said: "Once upon a time, only the gods could fly. Now mankind flies. Next to come is immortality."

Well...actually...we knew we should be able to fly (with heavier than air mechanisms) because we saw that it was possible. Birds and bats and insects do, indeed, fly.

Just as with any technology that is understood enough to be practically applied the underlying science must be well in hand before we can start the work. We need the math. We need basic research to be developed. That's why they call it R&D.

Aubrey de Grey is a scientific crank. He is educated enough to seem authoritative but he is well off the reservation regarding anything we are anywhere close to doing today.

Our various cells are programmed to divide only a finite number of times. Thereafter, they cannot replace their deceased sisters within a particular tissue and, ultimately, the organs involved simply stop working and ultimately atrophy away.

A disabling malfunction regarding this cell division mechanism is know as cancer whereby a particular cell starts reproducing itself without such limitation.

De Grey's proposed self-destruction "structure" designed to keep cancer from such misbehavior really is a fun idea, isn't it? Of course...wouldn't that be nice, someday? Moron.

Stem cells to replace the fabric of aging tissues...Wow. Such insight.

Look. De Grey no longer wants to do the hard work required of his own science. He now wants to become a high priest. So he is reinventing himself as a charlatan. This is simply a career change decision.

We are not going to be living forever. We are probably not going to be living substantially longer than we do today until certain fundamental break-throughs in genetic science have been accomplished. When we are able to significantly extend life then only a very few of us will enjoy that luxury.

Million years from now? Immortality for everyone? We'll see.. Stay tuned.

One hundred years...
You are right. For all of this we have only been able to increase the number (%) of people who live as long as some of us lasted all along.

My great grandmother was 101. Her daughters got into their 90's. My grandparents on both sides got into their 80's with ease and without senility. My parents are both 80 and solid. For people like me there seems to be nothing that medicine can do to get us past 90-100 years.

Some people are genetically inclined to die in their 50's-70's. With a lot of effort those folks can be kept around until they are nearly 80...but they are falling apart fast by then.

We look at the rising "life expectancy" staticstics and we extrapolate those into 150-200 years for all of us within the next century...But there is simply no such science yet that might be developed to get us there. When there is, then we should talk some more about this immortality business.

Kind of what I thought too..
Hey, Marjon!

Too bad
Too bad the people who want to live forever don't want to follow in the footsteps of Mother Teresa or the millions of others who aid the sufffering every day.

They would rather have the 'freedom and openess' to play forever.

How mature!

What's it to you?
Mature? Being mature means accepting responsibility for ones own life and choices, which is something I have done since 17.

As long as I'm not causing harm to you or anyone else, what's it any of your business what I do with my life anyways?

Not true...
This is not true at all.

The only technical criticism of SENS that I have encountered is that it does not address the possibility of stochastic mutations in genomic DNA. Aubrey does not believe this is an issue (within anything resembling current lifespans). Others believe that it is. I think this is an issue, but is epigenetic rather than genetic.

The fact that cloning does work and that the cloned animals live as long as their "parents" suggests that if this mechanism does exist, that it is epigenetic rather than genetic in nature. Robust stem-cell regeneration (which is being worked on all over the world) will deal with this problem.

The key point is that, despite improvements in instrumentation resolution over the past 20 years, no new damage reaction mechanism has been identified since 1982. This suggests that SENS may, indeed, be exhaustive.

If you look at the list of abstracts of papers presented at the SENS3 conference, you will see that there is significant R&D being done in this area. The number of papers (and amount of research behind them) has grown substantially from SENS1 to SENS2 to SENS3. So, yes, real work is being done in this area.

The rest of your comments seem to be an ad-hominin attack on Aubrey de Grey and life extension, in general, devoid of technical argument.

Do what you want. Why do you care what I think?

Sure they are working on it...
But none of what Aubrey de Grey seems to assume is ready to roll out to extend human life into some sort of perpetuity is simply not well enough understood to be developed into therapies or even to imply that such treatments would be effective.

De Grey would like to imagine that he lives hundreds or thousands of years from now when we will know much more about what might be possible regarding genuine life extension technologies. Too bad. He will not live long enough to see any of that. Not even close.

In the meantime, the good doctor has abandoned actual science and moved into the cultural arena of religion, politics and L. Ron Hubbard.

Sorry, Kurt...them's the facts...but dream on if you care to. And you are certainly free to drift through your own life...much as you like. (What happened to you? We all had such high hopes...)

We all have kids like this...
We tell them to "be happy" rather than to work hard and to "pursue happiness" as nature intended. This is our own fault as a mature society without a culture of behavior or ethics.

If it wasn't for low morals we wouldn't have any at all!

To live forever...and never die...indeed.

"A heart can only beat so many times before it wears out, a joint only perform so many movement cycles."
This is just plain contrary to fact. Successful experiments have already been performed using stem cells to repair damaged hearts. And joints do not have a fixed number of cycles as a limit, damage depends upon loads and many other factors including nutrition.
I think you are allowing yourself to be deceived by current limitations, instead of thinking about ways to get around those limitations.
Your pop sociology/distropia is without rational basis. People in the US now work between 20 and 60 or thereabouts, supported by their parents in the early years and living off their savings from 60 to 75. There is no good reason to believe that our future Methuselahs couldn't work every ten years out of twenty, and what's so bad about that?

You completely missed one of the most important areas currently enjoying research and success: nutrition. What goes into your body can have a dramatic effect on your health and longevity.

The same objections apply to pets, and people have them also, and pets don't happen "by accident".
People have children because they want them, and in raising them they achieve a great sense of satisfaction and pride that probably cannot be achieved in any other manner. I'd say that if you don't have children, you can't live life to its fullest; and if you don't understand that, you are shallow.

"Mother Teresa"
You need to learn more about this thoroughly nasty person.

Risky remedies
There is no lack of people willing to try risky ways to stay alive. Hardy a week passes that I don't read at least one story of someone trying desperately to be included in a study of some experimental drug, and usually dying after not being admitted.
On another subject, I am astonished by the number of people opposed to long lives. I think it would be instructive to note who these people are, who oppose long life, and compare this belief with their other political positions.

More imbecility...
Just more imbecility here. You know nothing about concepts such as "culture" Or "ethics". There is nothing that I could ever possibly learn from someone like yourself.

Proving the point.
Yes, you know everything.

I am not opposed to long lives
I don't believe humans are any wiser than they were 100 years ago.

Living longer has not made us any wiser. It seems to have prolonged adolesence.

Just what the world needs, teen-agers that live a 100 years.

Those who want to live forever
Why do they want to live forever?

So they can play? Then why bother with children. They are such a burden and worry.

And if you live forever, there is no need for children to perpetuate yourself.

TCS Daily Archives