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The singularity and the Methuselarity: similarities and differences


Aubrey de Grey
By Aubrey de Grey
Strategy for the Future of Health. Bushko R, ed. 2009.

Posted: Sep 14, 2009

Abstract: Aging, being a composite of innumerable types of molecular and cellular decay, will be defeated incrementally. I have for some time predicted that this succession of advances will feature a threshold, which I here christen the “Methuselarity,” following which there will actually be a progressive decline in the rate of improvement in our anti-aging technology that is required to prevent a rise in our risk of death from age-related causes as we become chronologically older. Various commentators have observed the similarity of this prediction to that made by Good, Vinge, Kurzweil and others concerning technology in general (and, in particular, computer technology), which they have termed the “singularity.” In this essay I compare and contrast these two concepts.

...Thus arises the concept of a rate of improvement of the comprehensiveness of these rejuvenation therapies that is sufficient to outrun the problem: to deplete the levels of all types of damage more rapidly than they are accumulating, even though intrinsically the damage still present will be progressively more recalcitrant. I have named this required rate of improvement “longevity escape velocity” or LEV.

It is important to understand that LEV is not an unchanging quantity, as it might be if it were a feature of our biology. Rather, it will vary with time – and exactly how it will probably vary is a topic I address in the next section. LEV will, however, remain non-zero for as long as there remain any types of damage that we cannot remove or obviate. Thus, the formal possibility exists that we will at some point achieve LEV but that at some subsequent date our rate of progress against aging will slip back below LEV. However, I have claimed that this will almost certainly not happen: that, once surpassed, LEV will be maintained indefinitely. This claim is essentially equivalent to the claim that the Methuselarity will occur at all: the Methuselarity is, simply, the one and only point in the future at which LEV is achieved…

Read the rest in this PDF


Aubrey de Grey Ph.D. is a biomedical gerontologist, a Fellow of the IEET, the Chief Science Officer of the SENS Foundation and editor of Rejuvenation Research.
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