Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party and Chief Executive of the Nevada Transhumanist Party, answers questions posed by Francesco Sacco, which are representative of common points of inquiry regarding transhumanism and the Transhumanist Party:
1. What is Transhumanism and what inspired you to follow it?
2. What are the long-term goals of the Transhumanist party?
3. What are your thoughts on death and eternal life through technological enhancements?
4. Do you feel there are any disadvantages to having access to the cure for death? What advantages are there?
Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Fill out our Membership Application Form here.
Today I noticed an open access paper in which the authors examine mortality data for Polish Olympic athletes over the past 90 years or so, and compare it with established historical data for the general population. This blends two topics that are occasionally covered here at Fight Aging!: firstly, the growth in human life expectancy in recent history and its causes, and secondly the topic of how regular exercise and life expectancy interact. It is the present consensus that elite athletes, those at the top of their profession, live longer than the rest of us, but it remains open to debate as to whether this is because more exercise is better, or because very robust people who would have lived longer anyway are more likely to enter the world of professional athletics. Researchers want to map the dose-response curve for exercise, in other words. Even though there is very good, very solid evidence for the benefits of regular moderate exercise versus being sedentary, going beyond that to a more nuanced view of what more or less exercise does for health is a challenging goal given the starting point of statistical snapshots of data from various study populations.
Studying the history of life expectancy isn’t much easier, though there the challenges tend to revolve around the ever-decreasing quality of data as you look further back in time. The 20th century marked transitions from hopeful aspiration to solid accomplishment in all fields of medicine, too many profound advances in the capabilities of medical science and practice to list here. As the decades passed, this important progress focused ever more on treatments for age-related conditions. An individual born in the US in 1900 suffered through the end of the era of poor control of infectious disease, prior to modern antibiotics and antiviral drugs, and likely benefited little from later progress towards better control of heart disease and other common age-related diseases. An individual born in the US in 1950, on the other hand, enjoyed a youth with comparatively little fear of disease, and is probably still alive today, with access to far more capable therapies than existed even a couple of decades ago.
Given all of this, one of the interesting things to note in the analysis of the Polish data is that the elite athletes born in the early 20th century appear to have a lower rate of aging than the general population, as determined by a slower rise in mortality over time, but that this difference between athletes and the average individual is greatly diminished for people born in the latter half of the 20th century. This suggests, roughly, that advances in medicine from 1900 to 1950 had a leveling effect, bringing up the average, preventing early deaths, but doing little to address age-related disease. That said, there is a large variation in results across the range of similar studies, both those that look at the history of longevity, and those that look at populations of athletes at a given time. It is wise to consider epidemiological studies in groups rather than one by one, and look for common themes. Still, this one is a fascinating data set for the way in which it combines historical trends and exercise in the study of aging.
A sedentary lifestyle is associated with the onset of chronic diseases including ischaemic heart disease, type-II diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. Frequent exercise is perceived as a major behavioural determinant for improved life expectancy and a slower rate of ageing. There is little doubt that frequent exercise is beneficial for individuals’ well-being, and an active lifestyle reduces the risk for chronic diseases. However, it is still uncertain whether the rate of ageing decelerates in response to frequent and intense physical exercise. Our attempt is the first empirical study to show the application of a parametric frailty survival model to gain insights into the rate of ageing and mortality risk for Olympic athletes.
Our participants for this parametric frailty survival analysis were Polish athletes who had participated in the Olympic Games from 1924 to 2010. We assumed that these athletes were elite in their preferred sports expertise, and that they were engaged in frequent, if not intense, physical exercise. The earliest recorded year of birth was 1875, and the latest was in 1982; total N=2305; male=1828, female=477. For reliable estimates, mortality improvements by calendar events and birth cohort had to be taken into consideration to account for the advancements made in medicine and technology. After the consideration of mortality improvements and the statistical power for parametric survival analysis, we restricted our analysis to male athletes born from 1890 to 1959 (M=1273). For reliable estimates, we preassigned recruited athletes into two categorical cohorts: 1890-1919 (Cohort I); 1920-1959 (Cohort II).
Our findings suggest that Polish elite athletes in Cohort I born from 1890-1919 experienced a slower rate of ageing, and had a lower risk for mortality and a longer life-expectancy than the general population from the same birth cohort. It is very unlikely that these survival benefits were gained within a short observational time. Therefore, we argue that participation in frequent sports from young adulthood reduces mortality risk, increases life-expectancy and slows the rate of ageing. The age-specific mortality trajectories of Cohort I elite athletes also suggest frequent exercise can decelerate the rate of ageing by 1% with an achievement of threefold risk reduction in mortality. In comparison with those of the general population, the differences in energy expenditure, behavioural habits, body mass and sports expertise were likely to be the contributing factors to the higher variance in lifespan among elite athletes.
In Cohort II, the estimated rate of ageing is highly similar between elite athletes and the general population, which contradicts our estimates for Cohort I. This may be attributed to mortality improvements from year 1920 onwards in Poland. These mortality improvements have changed individuals’ susceptibilities for different causes of death, which has resulted in an increased variation in lifespan both in the general population and for elite athletes. Interestingly, the comparison of the rate of ageing of elite athletes in Cohort I and II shows a similar rate of ageing. Among the elite athletes, the estimates suggest that Cohort II individuals benefited from a 50% mortality risk reduction as compared with individuals born in Cohort I. The estimated overall mortality risk of the Polish general population is 29% lower in Cohort II than in I.
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.
Life Expectancy is Growing at the Upper End, Too – Video by G. Stolyarov II
Mr. Stolyarov provides evidence that increasing life expectancy is occurring for the oldest individuals, and that rises in average longevity are not just due to reductions in mortality among infants and young adults.
Finally, the war on human senescence and involuntary death has become mainstream. With Google’s announcement of the formation of Calico, a company specifically focused on combating senescence and the diseases it brings about, a large and influential organization has finally taken a stand on the side of longer life.
Finally, the war on human senescence and involuntary death has become mainstream. With Google’s announcement of the formation of Calico, a company specifically focused on combating senescence and the diseases it brings about, a large and influential organization has finally taken a stand on the side of longer life. Unlike the cautious, short-term orientation of many more conventional manufacturers of drugs and medical devices, Google’s philosophy of making investments with possible immense payoffs in the distant future offers tremendous hope that this company will be around through the many years it will take to engage in the search for promising treatments and their subsequent testing.
Aubrey de Grey, one of the chief strategists and key intellectual innovators in the escalating war on senescence, has written that Calico signals that the war on aging has truly begun. De Grey emphasizes that it is no longer necessary to persuade most of academia that this war is a worthwhile endeavor: “With Google’s decision to direct its astronomical resources to a concerted assault on aging, that battle may have been transcended: once financial limitations are removed, curmudgeons no longer matter.” As with its remarkable advances in autonomous vehicles, mobile operating systems, and wearable computing, Google does not need to ask the permission of the entire world to explore the possibilities. Rather, it can simply achieve the breakthroughs, whose momentum and adoption naysayers would be powerless to halt.
Funding has always been a major bottleneck for true life-extending research, but now the resources of Google, as well as the highly skilled researchers who will surely be recruited by Calico, will enable this bottleneck to be overcome. Few details about the company are yet available, and it is likely that several years will elapse before major discoveries are announced. However, the barrier to mainstream acceptability of the war on senescence has been breached. Once significant successes are announced, other companies will hopefully shed some of their current caution and will seek to profit from the burgeoning field of longevity research. A few other companies still may even try to emulate Calico before any results are announced – just so as to remain competitive with Google and stay ahead of the pack, in their view.
The key to the success of any sustainable enterprise focused on life-extension research is to recognize that the sole pursuit of profits next quarter or next year is not a viable strategy for altering the status quo in radical ways. Great innovations require great leaps outside the norm. Such leaps are not often immediately rewarded financially by the broader market, which is why much of the longevity research to date has been sponsored by non-profit institutions such as the SENS Research Foundation and various universities. However, a prudent, forward-looking pursuit of profit can take the radical alteration of the status quo to the next level, by harnessing the immensely powerful motive of self-interest for the purpose of improving human lives. In this case, the improvement from gains to human longevity – and hopefully the ultimate defeat of senescence altogether – would be so immense as to be humankind’s crowning achievement. Google develops technologies with the eventual intent of marketing them to millions of consumers, and the success of Calico would be a triumph not just for longevity research but for the dissemination of cures to age-related diseases, and perhaps to senescence itself.
While anyone of sufficient intellectual courage can have a long-term vision and projects aimed at advancing that vision, Google has the distinct advantage of an extremely viable business in the present, which continues to bring in short-term revenues so that Calico does not need to be concerned with profits next quarter or next year. Instead, Calico will be able to survive on the profits of Google’s many ongoing operations, while devoting the time and effort of world-class researchers to pursuing all of the explorations, experiments, and tests that are needed to ultimately develop marketable cures. Once the cures are out there, though, the profits could be unprecedented, because life is the most precious, the most fundamental value we humans have. Any entity that discovers a way to transcend the current frailties of old age and push back or remove the current limits on human lifespans will become fabulously wealthy beyond comparison.
May Calico usher in Adam Smith’s invisible hand in the realm of longevity medicine – a hand that pushes back senescence and death and creates a world where health and wealth are ours to enjoy indefinitely.
Life Expectancy is Growing at the Upper End, Too – Post by G. Stolyarov II
I was recently asked whether my advocacy of indefinite life extension may be undermined by considering the growth rate in life expectancy at the upper end – for instance, for the oldest 10,000 people alive at any given time, rather than for the general population. Mortality for infants and younger adults has surely declined over the centuries, due to safer environments and considerable reductions in infectious diseases, but what about expansion of the upper bound of lifespans?
It turns out that there, too, considerable progress is being made. In July 2009, the New York Daily News reported, on the basis of a study from the National Institute on Aging, that “The number of centenarians already has jumped from an estimated few thousand in 1950 to more than 340,000 worldwide today, with the highest concentrations in the U.S. and Japan”. In addition to being further evidence that the US is not such a bad place for longevity (if one manages to avoid bad health habits and death from car accidents, both of which are more prevalent in the US than in Europe), this is evidence that a dramatic expansion in lifespans is underway for all age groups. Indeed, centenarians are the fastest-growing segment of all. The 2010 US Census found that the number of centenarians in the US grew by 5.8% from 2000 to 2010. In Japan, the number of centenarians rose by 3,300 between 2010 and 2011. This trend shows no sign of abating. While Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997, still holds the greatest longevity record (122 years, 164 days), she was clearly a lucky outlier, and a recent one at that, when one considers a broader historical scale. Statistically, the chances of living longer rise with each passing year. And among human males, the longest-living verified individual, Jiroemon Kimura, died at age 116 years, 54 days, this year (June 12, 2013). I have great hope that his record will be surpassed in the coming years.
Thus, the promise of indefinite life extension is not undermined when considering trends in the upper end of lifespans. There, as with average life expectancy and life expectancy for adults, the growth is apparent.
Join the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension: The Most Forward-Thinking Minds Are Not Alone – Video by G. Stolyarov II
Help humankind defeat senescence and death by joining the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension (MILE). The MILE offers a way to gauge awareness of and support for indefinite life extension. One of the easiest and most important ways you can begin to make a difference in helping bring indefinite life extension about is to (1) go to the MILE Facebook page, (2) like the MILE on Facebook, (3) read and share the many informational, scientific, and philosophical pieces made available daily on the MILE page, and (4) spread the word to your friends and acquaintances who are already sympathetic to indefinite life extension.
Support for indefinite human life extension is a powerful, intellectually compelling, intuitive position. The best minds will arrive at it on their own, often quite early in life. The sheer injustice of a forced termination of life for a person who has committed no crime and harmed no fellow humans is enough to make a person of intelligence and decency recoil and resist.
Yet the society immediately surrounding the thoughtful proponent of indefinite life extension often does not agree. Culturally ingrained acceptance of “natural” death – be it the result of religion, tradition, Malthusianism, status quo bias or plain resignation – still has a hold on the majority of people. Often this leaves the forward-thinking critic of senescence and death feeling isolated and discouraged.
But it does not have to be this way. With the Internet, geographic separation no longer implies a separation of contact. Thinkers from around the world, who have independently come to the same realization regarding the supreme injustice of mandatory death for all, can find one another, share ideas, and cooperate toward achieving radical life extension in our lifetimes.
But to cooperate effectively, we need an effective way of knowing how many of us there are, what our fellow friends of long life are able to do and have accomplished already, what discoveries and breakthroughs scientists are releasing into the world, and where we can invest our own talents to accelerate the arrival of a time when increasing life expectancy will outpace the advent of senescence.
This is where the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension (MILE) comes in. The MILE Facebook page offers a way to gauge awareness of and support for indefinite life extension. One of the easiest and most important ways you can begin to make a difference in helping bring indefinite life extension about is to (1) go to the MILE Facebook page, (2) like the MILE on Facebook, (3) read and share the many informational, scientific, and philosophical pieces made available daily on the MILE page, and (4) spread the word to your friends and acquaintances who are already sympathetic to indefinite life extension.
The MILE aims to identify how many of us throughout the world already support indefinite life extension. Once this base of supporters is established, it will become easier to expand it by reaching out to others and spreading awareness that medical science may put the greatest triumph of all within our personal grasp. The MILE seeks to increase its supporters by an order of magnitude every year. The July 1, 2012, goal of 80 supporters was easily met. By July 1, 2013, the goal is to accumulate 800 supporters. By July 1, 2017, if the MILE can achieve 8 million supporters, we will have a critical mass of people to catalyze massive societal change – from investment into life-saving, life-extending research to political reforms that ensure that obsolete restrictions and special-interest privileges do not stand in the way of medical progress.
The MILE has fewer than 300 supporters left to reach its proximate goal. If you have not already spent five seconds going to the MILE Facebook page and clicking the “Like” button, I encourage you to do so at the earliest opportunity. If you have done so, you have my thanks and the thanks of all of us whose eventual long-term survival may be bolstered by your increment of support. We welcome and encourage your support in spreading the word to others who have already arrived at the realization that achieving radically longer lives is an urgent moral imperative. Surely, there are more than 800 of us out there already. We want to find out about and empower every person who has ever discovered the importance of indefinite life extension, so that the brilliant spark of aspiration will never be extinguished in any such thinker from lack of fuel.
There is more that you can do to show your support for indefinite life extension.
I expect be unavailable to publish The Rational Argumentator until circa November 22, 2012 – but, in the meantime, various new offerings have been posted for my readers.
In addition, I have recently been impressed by the significant contributions my computer has made to the World Community Grid Help Conquer Cancer distributed computing project. (You can see a presentation by one of the project’s lead scientists, Dr. Igor Jurisica, here.) About a month ago, the Help Conquer Cancer project was enhanced to allow computers’ Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) to assist in the analysis of millions of experiments. My own recently enhanced computer has been participating heavily, which caused my worldwide ranking on World Community Grid to rise within a month from about 60,000th place to 26,744th place (updated every half-day) in terms of credits and 15,795th place in terms of results returned. In addition, for the totality of BOINC distributed computing projects, I have risen to the 98.2932nd percentile and a world rank of 42,446 in terms of total credits and the 99.5634th percentile and a world rank of 10,878 in terms of recent average credit. In the United States, I am ranked at 11,802nd place in terms of total BOINC credit earned.
I expect that my computer will continue to run at full capacity during the upcoming weeks, and indefinitely into the foreseeable future.
For your contemplation and enjoyment, I offer here the list of diverse and fascinating articles and videos that have been included in the Resources on Indefinite Life Extension (RILE) page in October and early November of this year.
Mr. Stolyarov, an atheist and transhumanist, critiques the video “Afterlife” – is a compilation of remarks by Seth Andrews (TheThinkingAtheist) and other famous YouTube atheists regarding the religious concept of life after death. However, the video goes beyond merely (correctly) critiquing ideas of the afterlife, and reflects an unfortunate acceptance of human mortality itself. The “Afterlife” video does present many interesting and valid insights, but it unfortunately throws the metaphorical baby — indefinite human life extension, driven by scientific discoveries and technological innovation — out with the bathwater — religious myths of an afterlife, unsubstantiated by evidence and arising out of a desire to attain comfort in the face of mortality.
Commentators to whom Mr. Stolyarov responds include DarkMatter2525, DPRJones, Evid3nc3, HealthyAddict, Laci Green, Thunderf00t, Mark Twain, and Vladimir Nabokov. He invites any of these commentators (except, of course, Twain and Nabokov) to discuss these ideas further.
Remember to LIKE, FAVORITE, and SHARE this video in order to spread rational discourse on this issue.