Healthy Life Extension
What Will Humanity (You) Look Like in 2045?
Dear Future Centenarian,
There's been tons of publicity, even in mainstream media. This is surprising on one hand, since the 2045 initiative is so extreme. But it shouldn't have surprised me, since sensationalism sells newspapers and magazines.
Also, the organizer, Dmitry Itskov, is a Russian multimillionaire who made his fortune in online media. So he's not a rookie when it comes to promotion.
In a nutshell, his initiative is developing mass production of lifelike, low-cost avatars that can be uploaded with the contents of a human brain by 2045, complete with all the particulars of consciousness and personality.
Obviously, he needs lots of money to realize his dream. I met with him and some of his team last year, and we discussed the funding needs among other particulars. He wanted to solicit billionaires to join him in his quest.
My advice to him was that he will turn off nearly every person he talks to outside of the transhumanist and futurist communities with his ambitious goal. I encouraged him to use a more understandable and more easily assimilated approach, such as extending healthy lifespans, and then to work his way up the ladder once he has established relationships with potential funders.
Apparently my advice fell on deaf ears, and I totally underestimated this young quiet entrepreneur.
He has attracted a spectacular lineup of 34 speakers, many of whom are internationally renowned scientists and spiritual leaders. These associations give him tons of credibility which will make it easier to open billionaires' doors.
And if influential people take his proposal seriously, that will make it all the easier for us to propose something as "conservative" as the end to aging. So the best of luck to you Dmitry.
Is it personal wealth that he's after? Seemingly not. He's already well off. What he may be is one of the world's more ambitious utopians. As he stated, "We need to show that we're actually here to save lives. To help the disabled, to cure diseases, to create technology that will allow us in the future to answer some existential questions. Like what is the brain, what is life, what is consciousness and, finally, what is the universe?"
I wish I could attend the fascinating conference. If any of this interests you, it may not be too late for you to get a ticket.
Meanwhile, I'll plug away on the biology of human aging. I'll be 102 in 2045, so I need to help make something happen long before then. 🙂
Latest Headlines from Fight Aging!
More on Dmitry Itskov and the 2045 Initiative - Monday, June 3, 2013
The technological aim of the program is to move out of our biology and into durable, ageless machine bodies and minds as quickly as possible - though of course an upload of you is not you, but rather a distinct copy.
That will not prevent people from choosing to create uploaded copies of themselves when the option becomes available, and will not diminish the enthusiasm of those who belief that a copy of you is you. Moving from a biological mind to a machine mind without copying or destroying yourself would have to be a much more gradual process, perhaps by a slow replacement of individual neurons and synapses with more resilient nanomachines that serve the same purpose.
The technologies needed to enable these goals are distant but not implausible - there is a lot of work between here and there. I might not believe that Itskov's vision is the best way forward towards greater longevity, but I do think that we would all benefit from the existence of a good many more ambitious utopians of this sort.
Skepticism on the Near Future of Rejuvenation Biotechnology - Monday, June 3, 2013
Many in the mainstream research community still believe that the only viable way forward to extend life is to slow aging by manipulating metabolism - such as by trying to replicate the effects of calorie restriction through drugs. In their view, this is a long, hard, slow project that is unlikely to produce meaningful results within our lifetimes, and when it does produce results they will only induce a modest extension of healthy life.
These researchers do not yet acknowledge the potential of repair-based strategies that aim to reverse the forms of age-related cellular damage that most likely cause aging - the known fundamental differences between old tissue and young tissue - and thus produce rejuvenation. This should be less expensive and faster in addition to producing a better end result, such as indefinite extension of healthy life.
Extending life by slowing aging has been accomplished in many different species and in many different ways, but rejuvenation research is a younger, underfunded field that has yet to advance to the point at which it can boast the same panoply of demonstrations. All we have so far are examples of rejuvenation achieved in some aspects or mechanisms of some tissues, and not so many of those either. Even in the scientific community, people tend to believe in what they can see rather than what is plausible but not yet in evidence.
Notes from the 2013 AGE Meeting - Tuesday, June 4, 2013
The American Aging Association (AGE) held its 2013 meeting a few days ago.
The program was a mix of old-school and irrelevant research such as the effects of specific foods on parameters of aging, nothing that's going to help us meaningfully extend life there, and the new and interesting such modulating autophagy to slow the effects of aging in specific tissues. Here are some notes from an attendee:
Early Registration Deadline for the 2013 Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) Conference - Tuesday, June 4, 2013
A reminder from the SENS Research Foundation staff that the early registration and abstract submission deadlines for this year's SENS6 conference are coming up on June 15th.
Reviewing the Aging of Bone - Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Adiponectin is one of many signaling proteins generated by fat cells and has been showing up of late in research aimed at better understanding the ways in which the operation of metabolism determines the pace of aging.
Visceral fat tissue is very active in terms of determining the operating state of your metabolism as a whole. Carrying more visceral fat is associated with worse long-term health and a shorter life expectancy, thought to be achieved through mechanisms such as raised levels of chronic inflammation.
Studies in mice show that removing visceral fat extends life. Altered levels of adiponectin and related proteins may be one of the ways in which excess fat (adipose tissue) sabotages your health, but given the evidence from studies of the metabolism of long-lived individuals it's probably not a simple relationship.
A Man Does Not Grow Old Like a Cart, But Rather Like a Horse - Thursday, June 6, 2013
Here is an interview in Russian with researcher Alexei Moskaliev, associated with the Science for Life Extension Foundation.
The Russian gerontology community's view of aging has a somewhat different slant from that of the English language world - there is more of a tendency towards the programmed aging viewpoint, for one thing, in which aging is thought to be a genetic program that leads to damage rather than damage that causes epigenetic changes in response.
Overreacting in the Direction of Doing Nothing - Thursday, June 6, 2013
I believe it's a grand waste of time to try to optimize your health through presently available methods. It's very easy to get the 80/20 best expected outcome: exercise regularly, practice calorie restriction with optimal nutrition, and refrain from methods of self-harm such as smoking, jumping off tall buildings, and so on. This is not rocket science.
There is always someone out there pushing a new fad, but that doesn't make it right, useful, or legitimate. Maybe you'll improve your life span by a few percentage points, and maybe you won't. There is no way to tell, and the time and money easily wasted on that endeavor is better put to other uses that are far more likely to extend your healthy life span - such as supporting the research needed to produce rejuvenation biotechnology.
That all said, it's possible to go too far in the direction of doing little but the basics for your health - if you are thinking of letting it all go and doing nothing for your health, that will have consequences. This view is illustrated in the post quoted below, wherein the author rejects calorie restriction on the basis that the present consensus view is that it won't extend healthy life in humans by all that much.
This ignores the amazing health benefits demonstrated in human studies to date - calorie restriction may or may not extend human life by more than a few years, but it certainly greatly improves measures of health and lowers risk of age-related disease. It seems silly to reject something shown to produce larger benefits for basically healthy people than can be gained by any presently available medical technology.
Quantifying Neurogenesis in Adult Humans - Friday, June 7, 2013
It was once thought that the brain did not generate new neurons in adult life, but the evidence for ongoing neurogenesis was found a few decades ago.
Levels of neurogenesis in humans have been hard to pin down, but knowing the degree to which it happens naturally has some relevance to attempts to induce a higher rate of neuron creation with the aim of reversing age-related loss of cognitive function. Here researchers find a way to quantify the level of cell turnover in at least one part of the brain.
A Good Scientific Polemic on Aging - Friday, June 7, 2013
It is good that scientists are now more willing than in past years to talk about human longevity and the prospects for reversing aging through medical science. That change in attitudes is a necessary part of creating an environment in which rejuvenation research programs like SENS can thrive.
This particular group of researchers holds a different view as to which of the known changes in old cells and tissues are fundamental and thus cause aging: in the SENS outline telomere shortening is a secondary effect and nuclear DNA damage is only a cause of cancer rather than aging, but this paper puts them front and center as primary causes of aging.
These researchers are also as yet unwilling to explicitly talk about rejuvenation rather than simply slowing aging, but a rising tide floats all boats.