Tag Archives: funding

by

How Can Life Extension Become as Popular as the War on Cancer? – MILE Panel

No comments yet

Categories: Philosophy, Science, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

MILE-Demonstration-2-Ad

What can be done to raise public support for the pursuit of indefinite life extension through medicine and biotechnology to the same level as currently exists for disease-specific research efforts aimed at cancers, heart disease, ALS, and similar large-scale nemeses?

In this panel discussion, which occurred on October 1, 2015 – International Longevity Day – Mr. Stolyarov asks notable life-extension supporters to provide input on this vital question and related areas relevant to accelerating the pursuit of indefinite longevity. Watch the full discussion here.

This panel is coordinated in conjunction with MILE, the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension.

View the presentation slides prepared by Sven Bulterjis, “Aging Research Needs Marketing: What Can We Learn from Cancer Research?”:

Download the PDF version.
Download the Microsoft PowerPoint version.
***

Also see a statement prepared by Peter Rothman for this event. This statement was read out by Mr. Stolyarov during the panel, and panelists’ responses were solicited.

Read the announcement by Keith Comito – “The #LifespanChallenge Starting on October 1 – International Longevity Day”.

See Mr. Comito’s introductory video for the Lifespan Challenge.

*

Panelists

Adam Alonzi is the author of the fiction books “Praying for Death: A Zombie Apocalypse“and “A Plank in Reason”. He is also a futurist, inventor, DIY enthusiast, biotechnologist, programmer, molecular gastronomist, consummate dilletante and columnist at The Indian Economist. Listen to his podcasts at http://adamalonzi.libsyn.com/. Read his blog at https://adamalonzi.wordpress.com/.

Sven Bulterjis is a founder and member of the Board of Directors of Heales – the Healthy Life Extension Society, based in Brussels, Belgium. He has worked as a post-graduate researcher at the SENS Research Foundation and at Yale University. Moreover, he is an Advisor for the Lifeboat Foundation’s A-Prize, whose purpose is to put the development of artificial life forms into the open.

Keith Comito is a computer programmer and mathematician whose work brings together a variety of disciplines to provoke thought and promote social change. He has created video games, bioinformatics programs, musical applications, and biotechnology projects featured in Forbes and NPR.

In addition to developing high-profile mobile applications such as HBO Now and MLB AtBat, he explores the intersection of technology and biology at the Brooklyn community lab Genspace where he helped to create games which allow players to direct the motion of microscopic organisms. Read his Forbes article “Biological Games“.

Seeing age-related disease as one of the most profound problems facing humanity, he now works to accelerate and democratize longevity research efforts through initiatives such as Lifespan.io.
He earned a B.S. in Mathematics, B.S. in Computer science, and M.S. in Applied Mathematics at Hofstra University, where his work included analysis of the LMNA protein.

Roen Horn is a philosopher and lecturer on the importance of trying to live forever. He founded the Eternal Life Fan Club in 2012 to encourage fans of eternal life to start being more strategic with regard to this goal. To this end, one major focus of the club has been on life-extension techniques, everything from lengthening telomeres to avoiding risky behaviors. Currently, Roen’s work may be seen in the many memes, quotes, essays, and video blogs that he has created for those who are exploring their own thoughts on this, or who want to share and promote the same things. Like many other fans of eternal life, Roen is in love with life, and is very inspired by the world around him and wants to impart in others the same desire to discover all this world has to offer.

B.J. Murphy is the Editor and Social Media Manager of Serious Wonder. He is a futurist, philosopher, activist, author and poet. B.J. is an Advisory Board Member for the NGO nonprofit Lifeboat Foundation and a writer for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET).

Elizabeth Parrish, CEO of BioViva, is a humanitarian, entrepreneur, and innovator, and is a leading voice for genetic cures. As a strong proponent of progress and education for the advancement of regenerative medicine modalities, she serves as a motivational speaker to the public at large for the life sciences. She is actively involved in international educational media outreach and sits on the board of the International Longevity Alliance (ILA). She is an affiliated member of the Complex Biological Systems Alliance (CBSA), which is a unique platform for Mensa-based, highly gifted persons who advance scientific discourse and discovery.

The mission of the CBSA is to further scientific understanding of biological complexity and the nature and origins of human disease. Elizabeth is the founder of BioTrove Investments LLC and the BioTrove Podcasts, which is committed to offering a meaningful way for people to learn about and fund research in regenerative medicine.  She is also the Secretary of The American Longevity Alliance (ALA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit trade association that brings together individuals, companies, and organizations who work in advancing the emerging field of cellular and regenerative medicine.

by

Statement by Peter Rothman on the Question “How Can Life Extension Become as Popular as the War on Cancer?”

1 comment

Categories: Science, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance HatPeter Rothman
October 1, 2015
******************************
Editor’s Note: This statement was prepared by Mr. Rothman in connection with the October 1, 2015, Movement for Indefinite Life Extension (MILE) Panel: “How Can Life Extension Become as Popular as the War on Cancer?” The panel took place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. US Pacific Time on October 1, 2015. This statement was read out by me during the panel, and panelists’ responses were solicited. Watch the recording of the discussion, including panelists’ responses to Mr. Rothman’s statement, here.
~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Editor-in-Chief, The Rational Argumentator, October 1, 2015
***
Question: “How Can Life Extension Become as Popular as the War on Cancer?”

I have a few thoughts on this question. Perhaps ironically, they’re in the form of more questions.

What exactly is the War on Cancer? How did it start?

How “popular” is it?

Does popularity in this sense correspond to funding, research results, or any meaningful metric?

Is this approach something we want to emulate?

***

Wikipedia reports, “The War on Cancer refers to the effort to find a cure for cancer by increased research to improve the understanding of cancer biology and the development of more effective cancer treatments, such as targeted drug therapies. The aim of such efforts is to eradicate cancer as a major cause of death. The signing of the National Cancer Act of 1971 by then U.S. President Richard Nixon is generally viewed as the beginning of the war on cancer, though it was not described as a “war” in the legislation itself.“

The War on Cancer is referring here to the passage of a law and is not really a war in the conventional sense.

The popularity of the idea is a bit of misleading thing. I’m not sure what this means here. How many people supported the law back when it was passed? How many people think it is a good idea now? How many people search for this phrase on Google? Popularity in the sense of the general public liking an idea had little or nothing to do with the passage of a law like this.

So in summary, the War on Cancer required the passage of a law allocating funds. The popularity of the idea had nothing to do with it.

The idea of war on a disease or an abstract concept such as “terror” is problematic. War suggests enemies to attack and weapons to deploy. But these metaphors are not always correct in reference to curing an illness like cancer or solving the complex problem of aging.

After all, the enemy in cancer is our own DNA. How can we attack it?

With aging the issue is even more dramatic. A war on aging suggests eliminating older persons perhaps. The war metaphor is at least overused and deserves to be questioned.

Has the war on cancer been won? Wars are won and lost, but our scientific investigation of methods to cure disease goes on. Just because a disease is able to be cured in some cases does not mean we have “won”.

Curing aging is in fact not entirely separate from curing cancer. Cancer is largely a disease of older persons, especially certain cancers. So any “war on aging” would at least overlap with the war on cancer. Creating a new war is always problematic, however.

Declaring war does not produce funding. Successfully defeating aging require funding of research and development of medical techniques, medicines, etc. It isn’t a PR campaign like “Say No to Drugs” during the Reagan era and the same methods of communication do not apply..

But transhumanists are notoriously bad at marketing, for example consider the failed Immortality Bus campaign which draws crowds of less than half a dozen people. Sure it is weird enough to get written up in Vice, but does it convince anyone that controls funding to support our efforts? Name one person or organization that has funded some scientific research as a result of this campaign. There isn’t one.

To move forward we have to focus on the efforts that matter, and that means getting research funding. A realistic approach to increasing research funding is forming a Political Action Committee to promote the idea in congress and in D.C. more generally. This is where the decision will be made as it was with Nixon’s 1971 Cancer Act. All other efforts are at best distractions, and at worst make our cause seem weird or out of the mainstream.

Weird, fringe causes do not attract funding.

In summary, I want to suggest to the panel and audience that they go All In for longevity research. This means doing whatever you can do yourself to achieve longevity. Eat right, get enough sleep. Avoid junk food. Exercise. Transhumanists that do not do these things are not in a good position to talk to the public about longevity at all in my view.

Beyond this, we need to directly support research ourselves. Crowdfunding is one avenue, but realistically crowdfunding is a drop in the bucket and will remain so when compared to the U.S. annual research budget of $65 billion dollars. Volunteer yourself.
***
References
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_on_Cancer
http://www.issues.org/19.4/updated/bailar.pdf
http://graylab.dfci.harvard.edu/assets/files/publication%20pdf/Review%20paper/Review-Haber%20DA-Cell-2011.pdf
http://timesofsandiego.com/opinion/2015/09/30/the-midlife-crisis-in-americas-war-on-cancer/
http://www.cell.com/cell/pdf/S0092-8674(15)00365-7.pdf
***

Peter Rothman, M.S. is Editor of H+ Magazine where he is looking for great articles about the future of technology, humanity, the mind, society, and human culture.

Peter is an engineering and management professional with deep experience in the design, development, and launch, of commercial software products, internet services, and other mission critical systems. He is currently doing research into analysis and visualization of text for a consumer facing application.

He was previously chief scientist of a biometrics-based fraud prevention company. He led the development of Live365.com, one of the largest providers of streaming audio on the Internet. He operated a product development and engineering team for the global multi-million dollar public software company MetaTools/MetaCreations. He founded and operated a startup software company, raised capital, and negotiated eventual sale of company. He has designed and implemented cutting-edge software, algorithms, and technologies.

Peter’s specialties include biometrics, mathematics, streaming media, virtual reality, simulation, text analysis, data visualization, and artificial intelligence.

Peter was an early developer of VR technologies, including developing applications of VR to financial visualization and a concept for unencumbered infantry training using VR for the US Army.

by

Aging Research Needs Marketing: What Can We Learn from Cancer Research? – Presentation by Sven Bulterjis

No comments yet

Categories: Science, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance HatSven Bulterjis
October 1, 2015
******************************
These presentation slides were prepared by Sven Bulterjis and are a component of the materials for the October 1, 2015, Movement for Indefinite Life Extension (MILE) Panel: “How Can Life Extension Become as Popular as the War on Cancer?” The panel took place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. US Pacific Time on October 1, 2015. Watch the recording of the discussion, including Mr. Bulterjis’s presentation, here.
***
Download the PDF version.
Download the Microsoft PowerPoint version.
***
Sven Bulterjis is a founder and member of the Board of Directors of Heales – the Healthy Life Extension Society, based in Brussels, Belgium. He has worked as a post-graduate researcher at the SENS Research Foundation and at Yale University. Moreover, he is an Advisor for the Lifeboat Foundation’s A-Prize, whose purpose is to put the development of artificial life forms into the open.

by

Transhuman Libertarianism – Article by Kyrel Zantonavitch

1 comment

Categories: Politics, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Editor’s Note and Announcement: The Rational Argumentator is hosting a series of articles on the relationship between libertarianism and transhumanism and the question of whether, and – if so – in what manner and to what extent, advocates of indefinite life extension should ever pursue government funding or programs with the aim of lengthening human lifespans.

This article below presents a perspective from Kyrel Zantonavitch, who strongly argues against government support for life-extension research and instead sees solely private research as being the most capable of achieving indefinite lifespans in our lifetimes.

Mr. Stolyarov’s own views are detailed in his articles “Six Libertarian Reforms to Accelerate Life Extension” and “Liberty Through Long Life” and “Liberty or Death: Why Libertarians Should Proclaim That Death is Wrong“.

The Rational Argumentator invites all advocates of indefinite life extension to share their views regarding these questions, and many perspectives will be considered and published – so long as the authors genuinely support the goal of lengthening human lifespans through science and technology. All articles submitted in response to this request will be linked alongside one another once a critical mass has accumulated, so that readers would be able to analyze the viewpoints presented and formulate their own conclusions.

~ G. Stolyarov II, Editor-in-Chief, The Rational Argumentator, December 4, 2014

The New Renaissance Hat
Kyrel Zantonavitch
December 4, 2014
******************************

All transhumanists are libertarians. They are all believers in, and future practitioners of, laissez-faire capitalism. They’re advocates of 100% liberty in politics, economics, and sociology. Transhumanists never initiate force against their fellow man; they never aggress upon or attack them. Transhumanists think people and property are sacred and untouchable. All transhumanists are political and socio-economic freedom-fighters and libertarians to the point of infinity.

Or at least they should be.

Because nothing advances human biological/physical development, and intellectual/spiritual ascent, faster than political and socio-economic freedom. Nothing improves quality and quantity of life more deftly or more powerfully. For immortality to have even a remote chance of being achievable within the next generation or two, government-protected justice and liberty must be pure and limitless.

Nothing generates more opportunity for general and particular success and triumph than freedom. Nothing germinates more innovation and genius — more radical and revolutionary brilliance. And make no mistake: immortality within the next 20-40 years will require a lot of innovation and genius.

For this and reasons of fundamental morality, massive government subsidies of science and medicine, via the evil and tyrannical welfare state, are emphatically not the way to go. It would be like suddenly, militarily seizing the powers of world government, and then trying to physically coerce almost everyone on Earth into studying technology and healthcare. Whips and guns (and chains and cattle-prods) are not the path to longevity. As the philosopher Ayn Rand noted: “You cannot force a mind.”

Firstly, such government funding is a type of slavery. Coercive taxation, especially for non-freedom purposes, is evil at its foundation. And no good thing can ever flower from such bad roots. The ends never justify the means. Tyranny and depravity are never practical or workable.

Those who are talented and slick at obtaining government grants, and those who willingly, passively submit to government edicts, are virtually never good scientists or doctors. Meanwhile, the good and great scientists and doctors — mankind’s innovators, creators, geniuses, saints, and heroes — will be hugely misled. With minimalist political knowledge, they’ll massively tend to follow the money and prestige trail; these brainiacs will massively tend to go work for the Big Brother bozos and frauds. At the least, the Good Guys will solidly incline toward reading the Dumb Guys’ (mountains of worthless) papers, and following them and their organizations intellectually. Thus the only real hopes of mankind will overwhelmingly tend to be side-tracked down a dead end.

The purpose of government is to protect individual rights — not expand the human life span. The state has no ability whatsoever to accomplish the later. It can only get in the way. It can only hurt the cause. Anyone who hijacks the government for longevity purposes is sure to massively damage both liberty and transhumanism.

However ironic, the more state funds are spent on transhumanism, and the more people are forced by government to engage in transhumanist research, the slower progress will be. It’ll be a repeat of the U.S. government’s buffoonish 1970s’ “war on cancer.” We’ll go backward. The effort will be counter-productive. It’ll be like throwing money down a bottomless rat hole — only worse.

The reality of today’s welfare state world is that if we finally get around to terminating all government funding of education, science, and technology, then these three fields will have to turn to private industry and free enterprise. This, in turn, will cause human knowledge in general, and transhumanism in particular, to rise like a rocket.

If, say, a very plausible 10% of the world’s G.D.P. is voluntarily dedicated to transhumanist education, investigation, and experimentation via capitalism, this will generate far more progress than if a wildly unlikely 75% of the world’s G.D.P. is coercively dedicated to transhumanist research via welfare statism.

The paramount and stunning reality is one social system will create new versions of Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, and Steve Jobs. The other will create new, mindless bureaucrats and lifeless, soulless, hack, quack, bozo drones.

And pray note that the above discussion isn’t trivial or merely theoretical; nor is it some ideologue’s and freak’s dubious mere political opinion. It’s the way reality is. It’s the way government and science really interact and work. Misunderstand this, transhumanists, and we’re all gonna die.

Kyrel Zantonavitch is the founder of The Liberal Institute  (http://www.liberalinstitute.com/) and a writer for Rebirth of Reason (http://www.rebirthofreason.com). He can be contacted at zantonavitch@gmail.com.

by

More Recent Coverage of SENS Research – Article by Reason

No comments yet

Categories: Science, Technology, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Reason
January 31, 2014
Recommend this page.
******************************

SENS stands for the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, a research and development plan first assembled more than a decade ago by biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey. This was a work of vision and synthesis: taking decades of research results from many diverse fields of medical research whose scientists had comparatively little contact with one another, and little interest in working on ways to treat aging, and pulling these results together into a convincing argument as to (a) which forms of cellular and molecular damage cause aging, and (b) how to go about developing the means of repair for this damage.

Aging is damage, and repair is rejuvenation. Sufficiently comprehensive implementations of SENS should not only prevent aging and age-related disease, but also reverse the effects of aging in the old. This isn’t a matter of hand-waving: the capabilities in molecular biology and research plans to build therapies are outlined in considerable detail at the SENS Research Foundation website and in related scientific papers. You should take a look if you haven’t recently. The estimated cost of developing this to the point of demonstration in mice is on a par with the total cost of development of a single drug: perhaps $1-2 billion over 10-20 years.

It is pleasing to chart the changing character of press coverage over the years for SENS rejuvenation research and its figurehead advocate and organizer Aubrey de Grey. In the past ten years of increasing support within the scientific community and an influx of millions of dollars in philanthropic funding for research, it has become ever harder for journalists to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that SENS is either fringe or not real science. The gatekeepers of the establishment are never kind to any form of change or progress in the early days.

Measured by budget the SENS Research Foundation is a presently a tenth of the size of the well-established and mainstream Buck Institute for Aging Research. This is still larger than a good many labs in the field, and funding for SENS research has grown considerably over the past few years. Skilled molecular biologists in numerous laboratories are working on aspects of the SENS program of development for rejuvenation therapies. This work is still at the level of building tools and foundations for later progress, but it is very much real, tangible medical research. This is a new and upcoming field, the future of medical science and aging.

Aubrey de Grey: Out to Defy Death

Quote:

Spend a moment asking yourself, “What is the world’s worst problem?”

Biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, Ph.D., has an answer that may be radically different from yours. For him, it’s aging, and he not only makes a convincing case for why this is so, but he’s devoting his life to doing something about it. Dr. de Grey is the founder of SENS, a research foundation that aims to help build the regenerative medicine industry, an industry that arguably has the best chance for curing the diseases of aging. Surprisingly, he’s having more success than the people who were calling him a maverick and a heretic five years ago ever imagined.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. To my eyes, things have made it to the early stages of the winning part of that saying these days, certainly insofar as the scientific community is concerned. (Much more remains to be done in order to sell the public on the idea that radical life extension is a real possibility and that the relevant research is important and should be supported.) SENS is far more than Aubrey de Grey nowadays: it’s his vision, but has grown to be shared quite widely. There are dozens of influential allied scientists and laboratories, a number of high-net-worth philanthropists providing support, many advocates, a SENS Research Foundation staff, fundraisers, and, of course, the numerous researchers working to build the tools needed for future rejuvenation treatments.

Quote:

The SENS Foundation is a public charity based in California, and its purpose is to fill a niche in the research funding chain. Private sector research, particularly in the drug industry, has funds to drive important research, but only after it’s clear that the odds of success are good, the time frame is reasonably short, and the potential for profit large. At the other end of the research spectrum, public sector research funding is available for basic research that doesn’t have an immediate commercial purpose.

However, in Dr. de Grey’s view, and his colleagues’ as well, there’s a midway point between the private sector funding and the public sector, and this midpoint is often neglected. Research that may yield incalculable commercial success (and public benefit as well), may be at such an early stage of development that it doesn’t yet attract commercial funders. “We exist to make sure that this kind of intermediate research is not neglected,” he says.

People no longer refer to Aubrey de Grey as a “maverick” or “heretic.” “These days, I’m more often called ‘controversial,'” he says, sounding pleased with this new characterization.

“Controversial,” after all can be translated as, “might be right.”

Reason is the founder of The Longevity Meme (now Fight Aging!). He saw the need for The Longevity Meme in late 2000, after spending a number of years searching for the most useful contribution he could make to the future of healthy life extension. When not advancing the Longevity Meme or Fight Aging!, Reason works as a technologist in a variety of industries. 

This work is reproduced here in accord with a Creative Commons Attribution license. It was originally published on FightAging.org.

by

Why Prioritize SENS Research for Human Longevity? – Article by Reason

No comments yet

Categories: Science, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Reason
December 29, 2013
Recommend this page.
******************************

Why do I vocally support rejuvenation research based on the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) over other forms of longevity science? Why do I hold the view that SENS and SENS-like research should be prioritized and massively funded? The short answer to this question is that SENS-derived medical biotechnology has a much greater expected utility – it will most likely produce far better outcomes, and at a lower cost – than other presently ongoing lines of research into creating greater human longevity.

What is SENS?

But firstly, what is SENS? It is more an umbrella collection of categories than a specific program, though it is the case that narrowly focused SENS research initiatives run under the auspices of the SENS Research Foundation. On the science side of the house, SENS is a synthesis of existing knowledge from the broad mainstream position regarding aging and the diseases of aging: that aging is caused by a stochastic accumulation of damage at the level of cells and protein machinery in and around these cells. SENS is a proposal, based on recent decades of research, as to which of the identified forms of damage and change in old tissues are fundamental – i.e. which are direct byproducts of metabolic operation rather than cascading effects of other fundamental damage. On the development side of the house, SENS pulls together work from many subfields of medical research to show that there are clear and well-defined ways to produce therapies that can repair, reverse, or make irrelevant these fundamental forms of biological damage associated with aging.

(You can read about the various forms of low-level damage that cause aging at the SENS Research Foundation website and elsewhere. This list includes: mitochondrial DNA mutations; buildup of resilient waste products inside and around cells; growing numbers of senescent and other malfunctioning cells; loss of stem cells; and a few others).

Present arguments within the mainstream of aging research are largely over the relative importance of damage type A versus damage type B, and how exactly the extremely complex interaction of damage with metabolism progresses – but not what that damage actually is. A large fraction of modern funding for aging research goes towards building a greater understanding this progression; certainly more than goes towards actually doing anything about it. Here is the thing, however: while understanding the dynamics of damage in aging is very much a work in progress, the damage itself is well known. The research community can accurately enumerate the differences between old tissue and young tissue, or an old cell and a young cell – and it has been a good number of years since anything new was added to that list.

If you can repair the cellular damage that causes aging, it doesn’t matter how it happens or how it affects the organism when it’s there. This is the important realization for SENS – that much of the ongoing work of the aging research community is largely irrelevant if the goal is to get to human rejuvenation as rapidly as possible. Enough is already known of the likely causes of aging to have a reasonable expectation of being able to produce laboratory demonstrations of rejuvenation in animal models within a decade or two, given large-scale funding.

Comparing Expected Values

Expected value drives human endeavor. What path ahead do we expect to produce the greatest gain? In longevity science the investment is concretely measured in money and time, and we might think of the expected value in terms of years of healthy life added by the resulting therapies. The cost of these therapies really isn’t much of a factor – all major medical procedures and other therapies tend to converge to similar costs over time, based on their category: consider a surgery versus an infusion versus a course of pills, for example, where it’s fairly obvious that the pricing derives from how much skilled labor is involved and how much care the patient requires as a direct result of the process.

On the input side, there are estimates for the cost in time and money to implement SENS therapies for laboratory mice. For the sake of keeping things simple, I’ll note that these oscillate around the figures of a billion dollars and ten years for the crash program of fully-funded research. A billion dollars is about the yearly budget of the NIA these days, give or take, which might be a third of all research funding directed towards aging – by some estimates, anyway, though this is a very hard figure to verify in any way. It’s by no means certain the that the general one-third/two-thirds split between government and private research funding extends to aging research.

On the output side, early SENS implementations would be expected to take an old mouse and double its remaining life expectancy – e.g. produce actual rejuvenation, actual repair, and reversal of the low-level damage that causes aging, with repeated applications at intervals producing diminishing but still measurable further gains. This is the thing about a rejuvenation therapy that works; you can keep on applying it to sweep up newly accruing damage.

So what other longevity science do we have to compare against? The only large running programs are those that have grown out of the search for calorie-restriction mimetic drugs. So there is the past decade or so of research into sirtuins, and there is growing interest in mTOR and rapamycin analogs that looks to be more of the same, but slightly better (though that is a low bar to clear).

In the case of sirtuins, money has certainly flowed. Sirtris itself sold for ~$700 million, and it’s probably not unreasonable to suggest that a billion dollars have gone into broader sirtuin-related research and development over the past decade. What does the research community have to show for that? Basically nothing other than an increased understanding of some aspects of metabolism relating to calorie restriction and other adaptations that alter lifespan in response to environmental circumstances. Certainly no mice living longer in widely replicated studies as is the case for mTOR and rapamycin – the sirtuin results and underlying science are still much debated, much in dispute.

The historical ratio of dollars to results for any sort of way to manipulate our metabolism to slow aging is exceedingly poor. The thing is, this ratio shouldn’t be expected to get all that much better. Even if marvelously successful, the best possible realistic end result of a drug that slows aging based on what is known today – say something that extracts the best side of mTOR manipulation with none of the side-effects of rapamycin – is a very modest gain in human longevity. It can’t greatly repair or reverse existing damage, it can’t much help those who are already old become less damaged, it will likely not even be as effective as actual, old-fashioned calorie restriction. The current consensus is that calorie restriction itself is not going to add more than a few years to a human life – though it certainly has impressive health benefits.

(A sidebar: we can hope that one thing that ultimately emerges from all this research is an explanation as to how humans can enjoy such large health benefits from calorie restriction, commensurate with those seen in animals such as mice, without also gaining longer lives to match. But if just eating fewer calories while obtaining good nutrition could make humans reliably live 40% longer, I think that would have been noted at some point in the last few thousand years, or at least certainly in the last few hundred).

From this perspective, traditional drug research turned into longevity science looks like a long, slow slog to nowhere. It keeps people working, but to what end? Not producing significant results in extending human longevity, that’s for sure.

Ergo…

The cost of demonstrating that SENS is the right path or the wrong path – i.e. that aging is simply an accumulation of damage, and the many disparate research results making up the SENS vision are largely correct about which forms of change in aged tissue are the fundamental forms of damage that cause aging – is tiny compared to the cost of trying to safely eke out modest reductions in the pace of aging by manipulating metabolism via sirtuins or mTOR.

The end result of implementing SENS is true rejuvenation if aging is caused by damage: actual repair, actual reversal of aging. The end result of spending the same money and time on trying to manipulate metabolism to slow aging can already be observed in sirtuin research, and can reasonably be expected to be much the same the next time around the block with mTOR – it produces new knowledge and little else of concrete use, and even when it does eventually produce a drug candidate, it will likely be the case that you could do better yourself by simply practicing calorie restriction.

The expectation value of SENS is much greater than that of trying to slow aging via the traditional drug-discovery and development industry. Ergo the research and development community should be implementing SENS. It conforms to the consensus position on what causes aging, it costs far less than all other proposed interventions into the aging process, and the potential payoff is much greater.

Reason is the founder of The Longevity Meme (now Fight Aging!). He saw the need for The Longevity Meme in late 2000, after spending a number of years searching for the most useful contribution he could make to the future of healthy life extension. When not advancing the Longevity Meme or Fight Aging!, Reason works as a technologist in a variety of industries. 

This work is reproduced here in accord with a Creative Commons Attribution license.  It was originally published on FightAging.org.

by

The Boon to Longevity Progress Will Be Increased Activism, Advocacy, and Lobbying – Article by Franco Cortese

No comments yet

Categories: Technology, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Franco Cortese
November 17, 2013
Recommend this page.
******************************
When asked what the biggest bottleneck for progress in life extension is, most thinkers and researchers say funding. Others say the biggest bottleneck is breakthroughs, while still others say it’s our way of approaching the problem (i.e., seeking healthy life extension, a.k.a. “aging gracefully”, instead of more comprehensive methods of radical life extension). But the majority seem to feel that the largest determining factor impacting how long it takes to achieve indefinite lifespans is adequate funding to plug away at developing and experimentally verifying the various alternative technologies and methodologies that have already been proposed (e.g. Robert Freitas’s Nanomedicine [1], Aubrey de Grey’s Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence [2, 3, 4], Michael R. Rose’s Evolutionary Longevity [5, 6]). I claim that Radical Longevity’s biggest bottleneck is not funding, but advocacy, activism and lobbying.
***

This is because the final objective of increased funding for Radical Longevity and Life Extension research can be more effectively and efficiently achieved through public advocacy for Radical Life Extension than it can by direct funding or direct research, per unit of time or effort. Research and development obviously still need to be done, but an increase in researchers needs an increase in funding, and an increase in funding needs an increase in the public perception of indefinite longevity’s feasibility and desirability.

There is no definitive timespan that it will take to achieve radically extended life. How long it takes to achieve Radical Longevity is determined by how hard we work at it and how much effort we put into it. More effort means that it will be achieved sooner. And by and large, an increase in effort can be best achieved by an increase in funding, and an increase in funding can be best achieved by an increase in public advocacy. You will likely accelerate the development of Radically Extended Life, per unit of time or effort, by advocating the desirability, ethicality, and technical feasibility of longer life than you will by doing direct research, or by working towards the objective of directly contributing funds to life-extension projects and research initiatives.

In order to get funding we need to demonstrate with explicit clarity just how much we want it, and that we can do so while minimizing potentially negative societal repercussions like overpopulation. We must do our best to vehemently invalidate the clichés that promulgate the sentiment that life extension is dangerous or unethical. It needn’t be either, and nor is it necessarily likely to be either.

Some think that spending one’s time deliberating the potential issues that could result from greatly increased lifespans and the ways in which we could mitigate or negate them won’t make a difference until greatly increased lifespans are actually achieved. I disagree. While any potentially negative repercussions of life extension (like overpopulation) aren’t going to happen until life extension is achieved, offering solution paradigms and ways in which we could negate or mitigate such negative repercussions decreases the time we have to wait for it by increasing the degree with which the wider public feels it to be desirable, and that it can very well be done safely and ethically. Those who are against radical life extension are against it either because they think it is infeasible (in which case being “against” it may be too strong a descriptor) or because they have qualms relating to its ethicality or its safety. More people openly advocating against it means a higher public perception of its undesirability. Whether indefinite longevity is eventually achieved via private industry or via government-subsidized research initiatives, we need to create the public perception that it is widely desired before either government or industry will take notice.

The sentiment that the best thing we can do is simply live healthily and wait until progress is made seems to be fairly common as well. People have the feeling that researchers are working on it, that it will happen if it can happen, and that waiting until progress is made is the best course to take. Such lethargy will not help Radical Longevity in any way. How long we have to wait for indefinite lifespans is a function of how much effort we put into it. And in this article I argue that how much funding and attention life extension receives is by and large a function of how widespread the public perception of its feasibility and desirability is.

This isn’t simply about our individual desires to live longer. It might be easier to hold the sentiment that we should just wait it out until it happens if we only consider its impact on the scale of our own individual lives. Such a sentiment may also be aided by the view that greatly longer lives would be a mere advantage, nice but unnecessary. I don’t think this is the case. I argue that the technological eradication of involuntary death is a moral imperative if there ever was one. If how long we have to wait until radical longevity is achieved depends on how vehemently we demand it and on how hard we work to create the public perception that longer life is widely longed-for, then to what extent are  100,000 lives lost potentially needlessly every day while we wait on our hands? One million people will die wasteful and involuntary deaths in the next 10 days. 36.5 million people will die this year from age-correlated causes of functional decline. This puts the charges of inethicality in a ghostly new light. If advocating the desirability, feasibility, and blatant ethicality of life extension can hasten its implementation by even a mere 10 days, then one million lives that would have otherwise been lost will have been saved by the efforts of life-extension advocates, researchers, and fiscal supporters. Seen in this way, working toward radical longevity may very well be the most ethical and selfless way you could spend your time, in terms of the number of lives saved and/or the amount of suffering prevented.

One of the most common and easy-to-raise concerns I come across in response to any effort to minimize the suffering of future beings is that there are enough problems to worry about right now. “Shouldn’t we be worrying about lessening starvation in underdeveloped countries first? They’re starving right now. Shouldn’t we be focusing on the problems of today, on things that we can have a direct impact on?” Indeed. 100,000 people will die, potentially needlessly, tomorrow. The massive number of people that suffer involuntary death is a problem of today! Indeed, it may very well be the most pressing problem of today! What other source of contemporary suffering claims so many lives, and occurs on such a massive scale? What other “problem of today” is responsible for the needless and irreversible involuntary death of one hundred thousand lives per day? Certainly not starvation, or war, or cancer, all of which in themselves represent smaller sources of involuntary death. Longevity advocates do what they do for the same reason that people who try to mitigate starvation, war, and cancer do what they do, namely to lessen the amount of involuntary death that occurs.

This is a contemporary problem that we can have a direct impact on. People intuitively assume that we won’t achieve radically extended life until far in the future. This makes them conflate any lives saved by radically extended lifespans with lives yet to come into existence. This makes them see involuntary death as a problem of the future, rather than a problem of today. But more people than I’ve ever known will die tomorrow, from causes that are physically possible to obviate and ameliorate – indeed, from causes that we have potential and conceptual solutions for today.

I have attempted to show in this article that advocating life-extension should be considered as “working toward it” to as great an extent as directly funding it or performing direct research on it is considered as “working toward it”. Advocacy has greater potential to increase life extension’s widespread desirability than direct work or funding does, and increasing both its desirability and the public perception if its desirability has more potential to generate increased funding and research-attention for life-extension than direct funding or research does. Advocacy thus has the potential to contribute to the arrival of life extension and hasten its implementation just as much, if not more so (as I have attempted to argue in this article), than practical research or direct funding does. This should motivate people to help create the momentous momentum we need to really get the ball rolling. To be a longevity advocate is to be a longevity worker! Involuntary death from age-associated, physically-remediable causes is the largest source of death, destruction and suffering today.  Don’t you want to help prevent the most widespread source of death and of suffering in existence today? Don’t you want to help mitigate the most pressing moral concern not only of today, but of the entirety of human history – namely physically remediable involuntary death?

Then advocate the technological eradication of involuntary death. Advocate the technical feasibility, extreme desirability, and blatant ethicality of radically extending life. Death is a cataclysm. We need not sanctify the seemingly inevitable any longer. We need not tell ourselves that death is somehow a good thing, or something we can do nothing about, in order to live with the “fact” of it any longer. Soon it won’t be a fact of life. Soon it will be an artifact of history. Life may not be ipso facto valuable according to all philosophies of value – but life is a necessary precondition for any sort of value whatsoever. Death is dumb, dummy! An incontrovertible waste convertible into nothing! A negative-sum blight! So if you want to contribute to the solution of problems of today, if you want to help your fellow man today, then stand proud and shout loud “Doom to Arbitrary Duty and Death to  Arbitrary Death!” at every crowd cowed by the seeming necessity of death.

***

Franco Cortese is a futurist, author, editor, Affiliate Scholar at the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, Ambassador at The Seasteading Institute, Affiliate Researcher at ELPIs Foundation for Indefinite Lifespans, Fellow at Brighter Brains Institute, Advisor at the Lifeboat Foundation (Futurists Board Member and Life Extension Scientific Advisory Board Member), Director of the Canadian Longevity Alliance, Activist at the International Longevity Alliance, Canadian Ambassador at Longevity Intelligence Communications, an Administrator at MILE (Movement for Indefinite Life Extension), Columnist at LongeCity, Columnist at H+ Magazine, Executive Director of the Center for Transhumanity, Contributor to the Journal of Geoethical Nanotechnology, India Future Society, Serious Wonder, Immortal Life and The Rational Argumentator. Franco edited Longevitize!: Essays on the Science, Philosophy & Politics of Longevity, a compendium of 150+ essays from over 40 contributing authors.
***
References:
***
[1]. de Grey AD, Ames BN, Andersen JK, Bartke A, Campisi J, HewardCB, McCarter RJ, Stock G (2002). “Time to Talk SENS: Critiquing the Immutability of Human Aging”. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 959: 452–62. PMID 11976218.
***

[2]. de Grey, Aubrey (2003). The Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging. Austin, Texas: Landes Bioscience. ISBN 1-58706-155-4.

[3]. de Grey, Aubrey and Rae, Michael (2007). Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs that Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime. St. Martin’s Press.

[4]. Laurence D. Mueller, Casandra L. Rauser and Michael R. Rose (2011). Does Aging Stop? Oxford University Press.

[5]. Garland, T., Jr., and M. R. Rose, eds. (2009). Experimental Evolution: Concepts, Methods, and Applications of Selection Experiments. University of California Press.

by

Three Specters of Immortality: A Talk from the Radical Life-Extension Conference in Washington D.C. – Article by Franco Cortese

No comments yet

Categories: Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Franco Cortese
October 20, 2013
Recommend this page.
******************************

Author’s Note: The following is a transcript of a talk given at the recent Radical Life Extension Conference held in the U.S. Capitol on September 22,2013. Talks were also given by Antonei B. Csoka, Gabriel Rothblatt, Tom Mooney, Mark Waser, Gray Scott, Josh Mitteldorf, Maitreya One, Jennifer ‘Dotora’ Huse and Apneet Jolly. A special thanks to David Pizer for making this article available for distribution at the upcoming Society for Venturism 2013 Cryonics Conference in Laughlin, Nevada, on October 25-27th.

Introduction

I would like to address what I consider to be three common criticisms against the desirability and ethicality of life-extension I come across all too often – three specters of immortality, if you will. These will be (1) overpopulation (the criticism that widely available life-extension therapies will cause unmanageable overpopulation), (2) naturality (the criticism that life extension is wrong because it is unnatural), and (3) selfishness (the criticism that life-extension researchers, activists, and supporters are motivated by a desire to increase their own, personal lifespans rather than by a desire to decrease involuntary suffering in the world at large).

But first I would like to comment on why this would be important. I would consider two of the three critiques – namely the naturality critique and the selfishness critique – to be largely unfounded and vacuous; I don’t think they will be real worries when comprehensive life-extension therapies arrive. I think that the overpopulation critique does have some weight to it; we do in fact need to plan for and manage the effects of a growing population. However, the overpopulation critique is wrong in assuming that such affects will be unmanageable.

So if at least 2 of these 3 critiques are largely unfounded, then what’s the worry? Won’t they simply disappear when life extension is achieved, if they are really so baseless? Well, yes, but the possibility of their turning out to be right at the end of the day is not what makes them worrying.

What makes them worrying is the fact that they deter widespread support of life extension from the general public, because they stop many people from seeing the advantage and desirability of life extension today. A somewhat common, though thankfully not predominant, attitude I find from some longevity supporters is that work is being done, progress is being made, and that the best course of action for those who want to be around to benefit from the advances in medicine already on the developmental horizon is simply to live as healthily as we can today while waiting for tomorrow’s promise. I don’t think this attitude necessarily deters progress in the life-extension field, but I certainly don’t think it helps it very much either. I think such people are under the pretense that it will take as long as it needs to, and that there is nothing the average person can really do to speed things up and hasten progress in the field. Quite to the contrary, I think every man and woman in this room can play as central a role in hastening progress in the field of life extension as researchers and scientists can.

This is largely due to the fact that just what is considered worthy of scientific study is to a very large extent out of the hands of the average scientist. The large majority of working-day scientists don’t have as much creative license and choice over what they research as we would like to think they do. Scientists have to make their studies conform to the kinds of research that are getting funded. In order to get funding, more often than not they have to do research on what the scientific community considers important or interesting, rather than on what they personally might find the most important or interesting. And what the scientific community considers important and worthy of research is, by and large, determined by what the wider public considers important.

Thus if we want to increase the funding available to academic projects pertaining to life extension, we should be increasing public support for it first and foremost. We should be catalyzing popular interest in and knowledge of life extension. Strangely enough, the objective of increased funding can be more successfully and efficiently achieved, per unit of time or effort, by increasing public support and demand via activism, advocacy, and lobbying, rather than by, say, direct funding, period.

Thus, even if most of these three criticisms, these specters of immortality, are to some extent baseless, refuting them is still important insofar as it increases public support for life extension, thereby hastening progress in the field. We need massive amounts of people to wake up and very explicitly communicate their desire for increased funding in biomedical gerontology, a.k.a. life extension. I think that this is what will catalyze progress in the field – very clear widespread demand for increased funding and attention for life extension.

This is something I think each and every man and woman here today can do – that is, become a life-extension activist and advocate. It is not only one of the easiest ways in which you can contribute to the movement – it may very well be the most important and effective ways that you can contribute to the movement as well. Send an email to the International Longevity Alliance (info@longevityalliance.org), an organization dedicated to social advocacy of life extension, which is compiling a list of life-extension advocates and networking them together. Arrange and organize your own local life-extension rally or demonstration, like the one held last year in Brussels. This could be as easy as holding up signs supporting scientific research into aging in the most traffic-dense location in your local area, recording it, and posting it on YouTube.

And so, without further ado, I’d like to move on to the three specters of immortality.

1. The Unmanageable-Overpopulation Critique

Firstly, I’d like to turn a critique of the possible undesirable societal and demographic repercussions of life extension. The most prominent among these kinds of critiques is that of overpopulation – namely that the widespread availability of life-extension therapies will cause unmanageable overpopulation and a rapid depletion of our scarce resources.

I think this critique, out of those three critiques addressed here, is really the only one that is a real worry. That is because potential negative societal repercussions of life extension are a real possibility, and must be appropriately addressed if they are to be avoided or mitigated. And don’t get me wrong – they are manageable problems that can be handled if we make sure to plan for them sufficiently, and allocate enough attention to them before their effects are upon us.

According to some studies, such as one performed by S. Jay Olshanksy, a member of the board of directors for the American Federation of Aging Research (and the foremost advocate and promulgator of the Longevity Dividend), if the mortality rate dropped to zero tomorrow – that is, if everyone in the world received life-extension therapies comprehensive enough to extend their lives indefinitely – we would experience a rise in population less than the growth in population we experienced following the Post-World-War-II baby-boom. Global society has experienced dramatic increases in population growth before – and when that happened we extended and added to our infrastructure accordingly in order to accommodate them. When significant increases in life extension begin to happen, I expect that we will do the same. But we must make sure to plan ahead. Overpopulation will be an insoluble problem only if we ignore it until its perceptible effects are upon us.

Luckily, there are a number of existing solution-paradigms to other, somewhat related problems and concerns that can be leveraged to help mitigate the scarcitizing effects of overpopulation on resources and living-space.

Contemporary concerns over the depletion of non-renewable resources, such as but not limited to climate change, can be leveraged to help lessen the detrimental effect overpopulation might have on non-renewable resources.

Another contemporary solution paradigm we can leverage to help mitigate the detrimental effects of overpopulation on living space is seasteading. This is the notion of creating permanent dwellings and structures at sea, essentially floating cities, outside of the territory of governments – more often than not to get around legal complications relating to whatever the prospective seasteaders wish to do. This movement is already bringing about designs and feasibility studies relating to the safe construction of very large floating cities.

The most common solution-paradigms proposed to combat the problems of resources and living space are space colonization and regulating how many children people can have. I think that long before we turn to these options, we will begin to better maximize the existing living space we have. 75% of the earth’s surface area is water. I think that we will colonize the oceans long before space colonization becomes a more economically optimal option. Further, we currently don’t use the living space we have very well. We live on the surface of a sphere, after all. There is nothing in principle preventing us from building taller and building deeper. We can take from existing proposals and feasibility studies pertaining to megastructures – that is, very large man-made structures – to build much bigger than we currently do.

Another existing field that can help lessen the potential resource-depleting effects of a growing global population is agricultural labs, indoor farming systems, and vertical farms. Such systems are in use today for large-scale food production. This would allow us to take all the space we currently have devoted to agriculture (roughly 40% of earth’s total land-area according to some estimates – see here and here) and move it underground or indoors.

Thus overpopulation is a real worry, but we have the potential solutions to its problematic effects today. We can leverage several existing solution-paradigms proposed to combat several contemporary problems and concerns in order to manage the scarcitizing effects of overpopulation on resources and living space.

2. The Naturality Critique

I’d like to turn to the Naturality criticism now – the criticism that life-extension is unnatural, dehumanizing and an affront to our human dignity.  – This could not be farther from the truth. The stanch revulsion we have of death is right; appropriate; a perfectly natural response.

Besides which, “naturality,” insofar as it pertains to humans, is an illegitimate notion to begin with. For us human beings, naturality is unnatural. It is we who have cast off animality in the name of mind, we who have ripped dead matter asunder to infuse it with the works of our mind – we who have crafted clothes, codes, cities, symbols, and culture. Since the very inception of human civilization, we have very thoroughly ceased to be natural, and to such an extent that unnaturality has become our first nature.

Firstly, one thing that I think undercuts the critique of naturality rather well is the known existence of biologically immortal organisms. There are in fact known organisms where the statistical probability of mortality does not increase with age. Meaning that if one kept these organisms healthily fed and in a good environment for them, then they simply shouldn’t die. Not only are there proofs of concept for biological immortality – but it can be found in nature unmodified by man.

Hydras, small freshwater organisms, do not undergo cellular senescence and are able to maintain their telomere lengths throughout continued cell division. The jellyfish Turritopsis Nutricula can, through a process called cellular transdifferentiation, revert back to the polyp stage (an earlier stage in its developmental cycle) a potentially indefinite number of times. Planarian Flatworms also appear to be biologically immortal, and can maintain their telomere lengths through a large population of highly proliferative adult stem cells. And if you can believe it, an organism as commonplace as the lobster also appears to be biologically immortal. Older lobsters are more fertile than young lobsters, and they don’t appear to weaken or slow down with age.

There is then such a thing as biological immortality. In biology it’s defined as a stable or decreasing rate or mortality from cellular senescence as a function of chronological age. Meaning that barring such accidents as being eaten by prey, such organisms should continue to live indefinitely.

I also think that this is great proof of concept for people who automatically associate the magnitude of the endeavor with its complexity or difficulty, and assume that achieving biological immortality is technically infeasible simply due to the sheer profundity of the objective. But in regards to naturality, I think the existence of such biologically immortal organisms goes to show that there is nothing necessarily unnatural about biological immortality – because it has already been achieved by blind evolution in various naturally-occurring biological organisms.

Secondly, I think that the long history of seminal thinkers who have contemplated the notion of human biological immortality, the historical antecedents of the contemporary life-extension movement, help to combat the naturality criticism as well. Believe it or not, people have been speculating about the scientific abolition of involuntary death for hundreds of years at least.

As early as 1795, nearly 220 years ago, Marquis de Condorcet wrote

Would it be absurd now to suppose that the improvement of the human race should be regarded as capable of unlimited progress? That a time will come when death would result only from extraordinary accidents or the more and more gradual wearing out of vitality, and that, finally, the duration of the average interval between birth and wearing out has itself no specific limit whatsoever? No doubt man will not become immortal, but cannot the span constantly increase between the moment he begins to live and the time when naturally, without illness or accident, he finds life a burden?”

Here we see one of the fathers of the enlightenment tradition speculating on whether it is really that absurd to contemplate the notion of a continually-increasing human lifespan.

In 1773, 240 years ago, Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter to Jacques Duborg, first praising the sagacity and humanity demonstrated by his attempt to bring animals back from the dead, and then describing what can only be a harkening of cryonics and suspended animation, where he wishes that there were a way for him to be revived a century hence, and witness the progress in science that had been made since the time of his death.

“Your observations on the causes of death, and the experiments which you propose for recalling to life those who appear to be killed by lightning, demonstrate equally your sagacity and your humanity. It appears that the doctrine of life and death in general is yet but little understood…

I wish it were possible… to invent a method of embalming drowned persons, in such a manner that they might be recalled to life at any period, however distant; for having a very ardent desire to see and observe the state of America a hundred years hence, I should prefer to an ordinary death, being immersed with a few friends in a cask of Madeira, until that time, then to be recalled to life by the solar warmth of my dear country! But… in all probability, we live in a century too little advanced, and too near the infancy of science, to see such an art brought in our time to its perfection…

Thus the notion of human biological immortality through science and medicine is not as new as most of us are probably quick to presume. Men of stature and intellect, respected and admired historical figures, have been contemplating the prospect for hundreds of years at least.

Thirdly, I think that religion itself exemplifies our desire for indefinite lifespans. This may seem counter-intuitive considering that many criticisms of life extension come from underlying religious arguments and worldviews – for instance that we shouldn’t be playing god, or messing with the way god created us. But the fact is that most religions have a conception of the afterlife – i.e., of eternal life following the physical death of the body. The fact that belief in an afterlife is a feature shared by almost all historical religions, that belief in an afterlife was conceived in a whole host of cultures independent of one another, shows that indefinite lifespans is one of humanity’s most deep-rooted and common longings and desires – indeed, one so deep-rooted that it transcends cultural distance and deep historical time.

3. The Selfishness Critique

Now I’d like to turn to the third specter of immortality – the criticism of selfishness. Whereas the first specter of immortality was a critique of the ethicality of life extension, this second specter is more a moralistic critique of the worthiness of actually spending one’s time trying to further progress in the field today.

The view that life-extension researchers, activists and supporters are arrogant for thinking that we somehow deserve to live longer than those that came before us – as though we were trying to increase public support for and interest in life extension merely for the sake of continuing our own lives. This, too, is, I think, a rather baseless criticism. Every life-extension researcher, activist, scholar and supporter I know does it not solely for the sake of their own lives but for the sake of the 100,000 people that die every day due to age-correlated causes. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, 100,000 people will die from aging today, lost forever to causes that are in principle preventable and ultimately unnecessary. There are roughly 86,000 seconds in a day. That works out to a little more than one death per second. That’s about equal to the entire population of Washington, DC, dying every week, 3 million preventable deaths per month, and 36.5 million deaths per year. A group larger than the entire population of Canada will die from aging this year – and the fact that it sickens so few of us is incredibly sickening to me. This is an untenable situation for a civilization as capable as ours – we who have reshaped the world over, we who have gone to the moon, we who have manipulated atoms despite out fat monkey fingers. Humanity is an incredibly powerful and unprecedented phenomenon, and to say that we simply cannot do anything about death is to laugh in the face of history to some extent. Recall that very learned and esteemed men once said that heavier-than-air flying machines – and a great many other things we take for granted today – are impossible.

We cringe and cry when we hear of acts of genocide or horrible accidents killing thousands. But this occurs every day, on the toll of 100,000 deaths per day, right under our noses.

Doing something about this daily cataclysm is what drives my own work, and the work of most every life-extension supporter I know. The life-extension movement is about decreasing the amount of involuntary suffering in the world, and only lastly about our own, personal longevity, if at all. The eradication of involuntary death via science and medicine is nothing less than the humanitarian imperative of our times!

And again, this is something that I think each and every one of you can take part in. Become a life-extension supporter, advocate and activist. It may be not only the easiest way that you can contribute to hastening progress in the field of life extension, but the most effective way as well. Thank you.

###

Franco Cortese is a futurist, author, editor, Affiliate Scholar at the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, Ambassador at The Seasteading Institute, Affiliate Researcher at ELPIs Foundation for Indefinite Lifespans, Fellow at Brighter Brains Institute, Advisor at the Lifeboat Foundation (Futurists Board Member and Life Extension Scientific Advisory Board Member), Director of the Canadian Longevity Alliance, Activist at the International Longevity Alliance, Canadian Ambassador at Longevity Intelligence Communications, an Administrator at MILE (Movement for Indefinite Life Extension), Columnist at LongeCity, Columnist at H+ Magazine, Executive Director of the Center for Transhumanity, Contributor to the Journal of Geoethical Nanotechnology, India Future Society, Serious Wonder, Immortal Life and The Rational Argumentator. Franco edited Longevitize!: Essays on the Science, Philosophy & Politics of Longevity, a compendium of 150+ essays from over 40 contributing authors.

by

Longevity’s Bottleneck May Be Funding, But Funding’s Bottleneck is Advocacy – Article by Franco Cortese

No comments yet

Categories: Philosophy, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Franco Cortese
August 21, 2013
******************************
When asked what the biggest bottleneck for Radical or Indefinite Longevity is, most thinkers say funding. Some say the biggest bottleneck is breakthroughs and others say it’s our way of approaching the problem (i.e., that many are seeking healthy life extension, a.k.a. “aging gracefully”, instead of more comprehensive methods of indefinite life extension), but the majority seem to feel that what is really needed is adequate funding to plug away at developing and experimentally verifying the various, sometimes mutually exclusive technologies and methodologies that have already been proposed. I claim that Radical Longevity’s biggest bottleneck is not funding, but advocacy.
***
This is because the final objective of increased funding for Radical Longevity and Life Extension research can be more effectively and efficiently achieved through public advocacy for Radical Life Extension than it can by direct funding or direct research, per unit of time or effort. Research and development obviously still need to be done, but an increase in researchers needs an increase in funding, and an increase in funding needs an increase in the public perception of RLE’s feasibility and desirability.
***

There is no definitive timespan that it will take to achieve indefinitely extended life. How long it takes to achieve Radical Longevity is determined by how hard we work at it and how much effort we put into it. More effort means that it will be achieved sooner. And by and large, an increase in effort can be best achieved by an increase in funding, and an increase in funding can be best achieved by an increase in public advocacy. You will likely accelerate the development of Indefinitely Extended Life, per unit of time or effort, by advocating the desirability, ethicality, and technical feasibility of longer life than you will by doing direct research, or by working towards the objective of directly contributing funds to RLE projects and research initiatives.

In order to get funding, we need to demonstrate with explicit clarity just how much we want it, and that we can do so while minimizing potentially negative societal repercussions like overpopulation. We must do our best to vehemently invalidate the Deathist clichés that promulgate the sentiment that Life Extension is dangerous or unethical. It needn’t be either, nor is it necessarily likely to be either.

Some think that spending one’s time deliberating the potential issues that could result from greatly increased lifespans and the ways in which we could mitigate or negate them won’t make a difference until greatly increased lifespans are actually achieved. I disagree. While any potentially negative repercussions of RLE (like overpopulation) aren’t going to happen until RLE is achieved, offering solution paradigms and ways in which we could negate or mitigate such negative repercussions decreases the time we have to wait for it by increasing the degree with which the wider public feels it to be desirable, and that it can very well be done safely and ethically. Those who are against radical life extension are against it either because they think it is infeasible (in which case being “against” it may be too strong a descriptor) or because they have qualms relating to its ethicality or its safety. More people openly advocating against it would mean a higher public perception of its undesirability. Whether RLE is eventually achieved via private industry or via government-subsidized research initiatives, we need to create the public perception that it is widely desired before either government or industry will take notice.

The sentiment that that the best thing we can do is simply live healthily and wait until progress is made seems to be fairly common as well. People have the feeling that researchers are working on it, that it will happen if it can happen, and that waiting until progress is made is the best course to take. Such lethargy will not help Radical Longevity in any way. How long we have to wait for RLE is a function of how much effort we put into it. And in this article I argue that how much funding and attention RLE receives is by and large a function of how widespread the public perception of its feasibility and desirability is.

This isn’t simply about our individual desire to live longer. It might be easier to hold the sentiment that we should just wait it out until it happens if we only consider its impact on the scale of our own individual lives. Such a sentiment may also be aided by the view that greatly longer lives would be a mere advantage, nice but unnecessary. I don’t think this is the case. I argue that the technological eradication of involuntary death is a moral imperative if there ever was one. If how long we have to wait until RLE is achieved depends on how vehemently we demand it and on how hard we work to create the public perception that longer life is widely longed-for, then to what extent are 100,000 lives lost potentially needlessly every day while we wait on our hands? One million people will die a wasteful and involuntary death in the next 10 days: one million real lives. This puts the Deathist charges of inethicality in a ghostly new light. If advocating the desirability, feasibility, and radical ethicality of RLE can hasten its implementation by even a mere 10 days, then one million lives that would have otherwise been lost will have been saved by the efforts of RLE advocates, researchers and fiscal supporters. Seen in this way, working toward RLE may very well be the most ethical and humanitarian way you could spend your time, in terms of the number of lives saved and/or the amount of suffering prevented.

This is a contemporary problem that we can have a direct impact on. People intuitively assume that we won’t achieve indefinitely extended life until far in the future. This makes them conflate any lives saved by indefinitely extended lifespans with lives yet to come into existence. This makes them see involuntary death as a problem of the future, rather than a problem of today. But more people than I’ve ever known will die tomorrow, from causes that are physically possible to obviate and ameliorate – indeed, from causes that we have potential and conceptual solutions for today.
***

I have attempted to show in this article that advocating RLE should be considered as “working toward it” to as great an extent as directly funding it or performing direct research on it is considered as “working toward it”. Advocacy has greater potential to increase its widespread desirability than direct work or funding does, and increasing both its desirability and the public perception of its desirability has more potential to generate increased funding and research-attention for RLE than direct funding or research does. Advocacy thus has the potential to contribute to the arrival of RLE and hasten its implementation just as much, if not more so (as I have attempted to argue in this article), than practical research or direct funding does. This should motivate people to help create the momentous momentum we need to really get the ball rolling. To be an RLE advocate is to be an RLE worker. Involuntary death from age-associated, physically remediable causes is the largest source of death, destruction, and suffering today.  Don’t you want to help prevent the most widespread source of death and of suffering in existence today?  Don’t you want to help mitigate the most pressing moral concern not only of today, but of the entirety of human history – namely physically remediable involuntary death?

Then advocate the technological eradication of involuntary death. Advocate the technical feasibility, extreme desirability, and blatant ethicality of indefinitely extending life. Death is a cataclysm. We need not sanctify the seemingly inevitable any longer. We need not tell ourselves that death is somehow a good thing, or something we can do nothing about, in order to live with the “fact” of it any longer. Soon it won’t be fact of life. Soon it will be artifact of history. Life may not be ipso facto valuable according to some philosophies of value – but life is a necessary precondition for any sort of value whatsoever. Death is dumb, dummy! An incontrovertible waste convertible into nothing! A negative-sum blight! So if you want to contribute to the problems of today, if you want to help your fellow man today, then stand proud and shout loud, “Doom to Arbitrary Duty and Death to  Arbitrary Death!” at every crowd cowed by the seeming necessity of death.

Franco Cortese is an editor for Transhumanity.net, as well as one of its most frequent contributors.  He has also published articles and essays on Immortal Life and The Rational Argumentator. He contributed 4 essays and 7 debate responses to the digital anthology Human Destiny is to Eliminate Death: Essays, Rants and Arguments About Immortality.

Franco is an Advisor for Lifeboat Foundation (on its Futurists Board and its Life Extension Board) and contributes regularly to its blog.

by

Private or Governmental Funding for Indefinite Life Extension? – Post by G. Stolyarov II

No comments yet

Categories: Politics, Science, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
March 27, 2013
Recommend this page.
******************************

I was recently asked to comment on an Immortal Life debate/discussion thread about whether governmental or private approaches to funding and motivating research on indefinite life extension are best.

Mine is definitely a libertarian view. I do not support advocating for government funding for life extension, unless the funding is combined with larger reductions in military spending or other destructive government spending. I discuss this issue in two of my videos:

Eliminating Death – Part 18 – Never Seek Government Funding

Libertarian Life-Extension Reforms – #6 – Medical Research Instead of Military Spending

The danger of government funding of life extension is that it comes with many political strings attached, and may lead life-extension research itself to be shackled by politically influential opponents of technological progress.

The great weakness of politics as a strategy is that it requires consensus among elites and some connection to majority approval, as well as the overcoming of numerous bureaucratic hurdles and obsolete habits. Private action, as long as it is lawful, can simply be pursued irrespective of how many people agree. There is thus much more flexibility and potential for quick deployment with private approaches toward radical life extension.

Private investment into life-extension research can occur in many ways, both for-profit and non-profit, both direct and indirect. Seasteading is indeed a highly promising approach for experimenting with novel medicines and therapies that might take over a decade to be approved by the FDA in the United States or similar “screening” agencies in other countries.

At the same time, Tom Mooney is correct about the need for a grassroots education campaign. By the time radical life extension begins to become a reality, there needs to be a strong current of public opinion supporting it. Otherwise, the “bioconservatives” might just manage to obtain enough support for their agenda to thwart this vital progress.

1 2