Aubrey de Grey is the man, who first made serious, scientifically conceptualized life extension speech acceptable within scholarly circles through good timing, well-done strategy and with a little bit of luck. The rest is … (I’ve slightly modified the original question 4 and separated questions concerning the probable technologies of moderate and maximum life extension.)
1. What is the story of your life extension commitment?
I can’t trace when I realised that aging was a bad thing — I must have been so young that I can’t remember. But I was nearly 30 before I found out that most other people don’t think the same, or at least don’t think that it’s important enough to work on. I was in a very lucky situation to be able to make a contribution – I had training in research in a very different field, and I also had quite broad knowledge of biology – so I decide to have a go. My first publication was very well-received, so I kept going!
2. Is it a commitment for moderate or maximum life extension?
Maximum (i.e., indefinite). Aging doesn’t just kill people, it causes a huge amount of suffering in the process. Aging at a later age would also cause suffering, so it’s just as bad. It amazes me that people deny this.
3. What is your favourite argument supporting human life extension?
Well, there are so many that it’s hard to choose! – but I think the one that’s strongest of all is the alleviation of suffering. However, any argument based on the alleviation of suffering cannot stand on its own, because we evidently value the lives of people who are permanently sick as well as people who are healthy.
4. What kind of moderate life extension technologies have the chance to become successful, and when?
I think effective CR mimetics may arrive within a few years. However, I am rather pessimistic about their efficacy – I think they will probably give us only a couple of extra years, even for people who use them all their lives, because I think CR itself will only give about that. I am even more pessimistic about anything else that is currently or imminently available. That’s really what drove me in the direction of SENS, which I think has a good chance of giving 30 years of extra healthy life to those who are already in middle age, within 25-30 years from now (subject to funding).
5. What is the most probable technological draft of maximum life extension, which technology or discipline has the biggest chance to reach it earliest? When?
SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, my own anti-aging plan) is a huge plan incorporating many different therapies to be applied simultaneously to people, thereby rejuvenating all organs at the cellular and molecular level. SENS is divided into seven main categories. It will need very good stem cell therapy and gene therapy technology, as well as probably big advances in tissue engineering. It will also need some very radical new technologies like finding bacterial enzymes that can degrade unusual compounds. Therefore, I think it will definitely not be available for humans for 20 years at least, and probably 25-30 years — and if we’re unlucky and discover new problems, it could be 100 years. But I think a good chance of doing it in 25-30 years is worth trying for! Moreover, we will be able to improve the SENS therapies thereafter, so that they give the same people (beneficiaries of the 30 extra years) another 30, and another, indefinitely – that’s what I call “longevity escape velocity”. I don’t think any other approach that has been suggested so far has any chance at all of doing that. CR mimetics, for example, rely absolutely on the genetic machinery that we already have – they just make the body try its hardest against aging – so they can’t be made better and better, there is an inherent best possible. But I’m all in favour of developing them, because they’ll be here much sooner than SENS and will help some people live long enough for SENS even if they only delay aging by a year.
6. What can blogs and other websites do for LE?
Lots. The timeframes I mentioned above are all SUBJECT TO FUNDING, and that funding won’t happen unless people realise it’s a worthy cause. One huge reason why people refuse to think about the desirability of curing aging is that they don’t believe it’s within technological range. If we can get the word out that we now have a detailed, practical plan for the defeat of aging, and we talk about it again and again and again, we will get more and more people to understand that it’s a battle we should be fighting now, and they will help fund it (if they’re wealthy) or vote for public funding.
Picture: Aubrey in the Watson-Crick Pub. If they discovered the secret of life, than it’s time to discover the secret of life extension or more rationally to reverse engineer and amplify nature’s own regeneration processes.
Further life extension blogterviews:
What can/will You do for life extension? Answer these questions first.
Blogterview with Fight Aging!’s Reason: answers to life extension questions
Ouroboros’s Chris Patil: Part One, Two, Three
Jim Craig: The bioinformatics bet: what can IT folks do for life extension?
John Cumbers’ DIY approach to life extension: personal genomics and synthetic biology
Sand Hill Road Venture Capitalist about life extension as business
Kevin Dewalt’s answers: technology professional, lifestyle life extensionist