Kurzweil follow-up in life extension exhausted Wired

Last year I approached a powerful Wired editor with the following story pitch: “A full and deep but cool report on the current (scientific) life extension technologies, persons, battles, camps, grants, problems, perspectives.”
His reply was a diplomatic and definite naysaying:

“Thanks for the idea. Alas, we’ve done *way* too many stories on life-extension over the years, from profiles of the singularity guys and Aubrey De Gray (sic) to shorter takes on various startups and stuff. There may be cool stuff out there, but I’m afraid we’ve exhausted our appetite on the subject.”

kurzweilwiredHowever the life extension appetite is not something that could be exhausted until the problem is solved systematically and the Wired guys’ appetite seems to be restored and healthy again as in the April Wired issue (not online yet) there is a full story (or rather follow up) on the No.1 singularity guy and baby boomer escapist artist Ray Kurzweil called Stayin’ Alive by senior Wired contributing editor Gary Wolf (whose book Wired – A Romance is a good reading).

What is interesting in Kurzweil for experimental scientists/robust life extension supporters is his experimental, futuristic, life extensionist lifyestyle:

Kurzweil takes 180 to 210 vitamin and mineral supplements a day, so many that doesn’t have time to organize them all himself. So he’s hired a pill wrangler, who takes them out of their bottles and sorts them into daily doses. K. also spends one day a week at a medical clinic, receiving intravenous longevity treatments. The reason for his focus on optimal health should be obvious: If the singularity is going to render humans immortal by the middle of this century, it would be a shame to die in the interim.

Kurzweil’s physician and coauthor is Terry Grossman (also a SENS3 conference attendee) with an interesting clientele.

T.G. works on keeping Ray Kurzweil alive…The doctor charges $6000 per appointment…Grossman’s patient today is Matt Philips, 32, who became independently wealthy when Yahoo bought the Internet advertising company where he worked for four years. Philips is in good shape at the moment, but he is aware that time marches on: I’m dying slowly. I can’t feel it, but I know it’s happening , little by little, cell by cell” he wrote on his intake questionnaire.

“The normal human lifespan is about 125 years,” Grossman tells him. But Philips wasn’t born until 1975, so he starts with an advantage…

“Life is not a randomized, double-mind, placebo-controlled study”, Grossman explains. “We don’t have that luxury. We are operating with incomplete information. The best we can do is experiment with ourselves.

Kurzweil has his own medical predictions left out of the 14 Grand Engineering Challenges:

…by the early 2030s, most of our fallible internal organs will have been replaced by tiny robots. We’ll have “eliminated the heart, lungs, red and white blood cells, platelets, pancreas, thyroid and all the hormone.producing organs, kidneys, bladder, liver, lower esophagus, stomach, small intestines, and bowel. What we have left at this point is the skeleton, skin, sex organs, sensory organs, mouth, upper esophagus, and brain.”

8 thoughts on “Kurzweil follow-up in life extension exhausted Wired

  1. I don’t want to be misunderstood: I admire Ray Kurzweil (in a not completely uncritical way, of course)! Would I agree with him on a political level? Probably not, as I suspect it’s his political convictions that make him disapprove of taxpayer-funded universal healthcare.

    And although Rhymeskeema’s comment is rude he has a point. How people will cope with their extended life spans is far from certain, as soon as we will break through radical age barriers. These could be 150 or 200 years or maybe an even higher age. Individual differences in the ability to live with longer lifespans (pun intended), can’t be underestimated, too. But it’s very likely that life extensions which are not extremely radical — maybe up to a doubled lifespan — will have dramatic impact on humanity’s psychological well-being. Imagine the relief to have not just a a measly couple of years to complete your favorite projects, or the joy to not having to watch your loved ones die any time soon from old age!

  2. these technologies are for the wealthy and elite, who already view themselves as gods. mortality is the last hurdle they see that prevents them from having everything that everybody wants for themselves, but this time, forever (or as long as science permits). these are the same scientists who consider the global population a ‘herd’ in need of thinning, so don’t expect that we commoners will have access to such things, amazing as they are.

  3. Pulling the topic down from the far-ranging perspective to a more “now” note, I wonder how his digestive system handles all those supplements. Seems like that amount of chemicals constantly barraging the stomach, kidneys, and liver would create problems of their own. With the sheer quantity of meds he’s taking, it’d seem that there’s no way he can buffer all of that with food… Seems like he could be wearing out certain organs for the sake of sparing others.

    Admittedly, I haven’t done an exhaustive amount of reading on Kurzweil, but I have not seen anything yet that addresses this facet of his life extension efforts.

  4. I read Fantastic Voyage, The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity is Near, and they changed my life. I even found some of his lectures on Itunes and I find myself impatiently awaiting his next book.

    Recently read another incredible book that I can’t recommend highly enough, especially to all of you who also love Ray Kurzweil’s work. The book is “”My Stroke of Insight”” by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. I had heard Dr Taylor’s talk on the TED dot com site and I have to say, it changed my world. It’s spreading virally all over the internet and the book is now a NYTimes Bestseller, so I’m not the only one, but it is the most amazing talk, and the most impactful book I’ve read in years. (Dr T also was named to Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People and Oprah had her on her Soul Series last month and I hear they’re making a movie about her story so you may already have heard of her)
    If you haven’t heard Dr Taylor’s TEDTalk, that’s an absolute must. The book is more and deeper and better, but start with the video (it’s 18 minutes). Basically, her story is that she was a 37 yr old Harvard brain scientist who had a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. Because of her knowledge of how the brain works, and thanks to her amazingly loving and kind mother, she eventually fully recovered (and that part of the book detailing how she did it is inspirational).

    There’s a lot of learning and magic in the book, but the reason I so highly recommend My Stroke of Insight to this discussion, is because we have powerfully intelligent left brains that are rational, logical, sequential and grounded in detail and time, and then we have our kinesthetic right brains, where we experience intuition and peace and euphoria. Now that Kurzweil has got us taking all those vitamins and living our best “”Fantastic Voyage”” , the absolute necessity is that we read My Stroke of Insight and learn from Dr Taylor how to achieve balance between our right and left brains. Enjoy!

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