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IEET > Security > Biosecurity > Rights > Life > Access > Enablement > Innovation > Health > Vision > Futurism > Contributors > Dick Pelletier

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End of aging within reach, experts say


Dick Pelletier
Dick Pelletier
Ethical Technology

Posted: Aug 5, 2013

Anti-aging activist Aubrey de Grey has identified medical advances that will eliminate much of the wear and tear our bodies suffer, as we grow old. Those who undergo continuous repair treatments, de Grey said in a Futurist Magazine article; could remain healthy for millennia without fears of dying from old age.

   A growing number of researchers around the world support the belief that eternal health and youth can be realized. Aging is a destructive biochemical event, experts say, and scientists are on the brink of developing interventions for all of its life-destroying processes.

    "Over 100,000 people die every day from age-related diseases," de Grey says; "but research ventures, some which are in beginning stages today, promise to one day end this carnage."

    Most forward-thinking scientists believe the goal to end aging is technologically achievable, and it could be reached in time to benefit many people alive today. "I am working on immortality," says UC Irvine's Michael Rose, who has achieved breakthrough results extending the lives of fruit flies.

    "There are many components of aging and we are chipping away at all of them," added Robert Freitas at the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing. "In the future," Freitas claims, "aging will be cured."

    Author Ray Kurzweil, in Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, confirmed that we are in early stages of an anti-aging revolution. "By 2020," he says, "biotech upgrades will add more than one year of life expectancy to our lives each year."

    However, not everyone agrees that curing aging is a good thing. Bioethicist Daniel Callahan believes that "There is no known social good coming from the conquest of death." But if this is true, advocates argue, why do humans strive so hard to prolong their lives?

    Critics also claim that ending death will cause population increases that our planet cannot sustain. But supporters reason that as technologies advance, new solutions will emerge. For example, as space travel becomes affordable with people opting to live offworld, and nanotech-enabled resource management matures, most of our concerns about overpopulation will disappear.

    Over the coming decades, predicted healthcare breakthroughs will continue to wield huge benefits for humankind. Between now and 2030, stem cell therapies, 3-D bioprinter techniques, and genetic engineering procedures are expected to cure most of ​today's diseases; or at least make them more manageable.

    By 2035-to-2040, advances in molecular nanotech and an explosion in artificial intelligence hold great promise to unravel the mysteries of consciousness, while increasing intelligence a billion-fold. Experts predict this will enable replacement of much of our biology with more durable non-biological tissues.

    In one of his more widely-read books, The Singularity is Near, Kurzweil writes; "One day, people will reshape their physical, emotional and cognitive characteristics as they see fit." This could make future humans – circa 2050-2100 – as different from us today, as we are to our cave-dweller ancestors.

    Looking into this distant future, we will enjoy bodies that can change physical appearance on command. With intelligence multiplied billions of times, tomorrow's humans will be able to change body types using only voice or thoughts. Imagine, wishing for a radically different body; maybe add wings so you could fly, surround yourself with an invisibility cloak, or appear as the opposite sex. The possibilities seem endless.

    As we build faraway colonies in the centuries ahead, we will run across many intelligent alien life forms. Some may seem strange, but we share common traits. All life is made of similar atoms and governed by the same laws of physics. If our new friends have eyes and clear skies, they will gaze at the same stars and galaxies we do.

    Anti-aging therapies promise to return many of today's older citizens to a more youthful form. The smart sexy strong years, once thought long lost for seniors, is about to be reclaimed as humanity evolves into this most exciting "ageless" era. Will the future unfold in this upbeat way? Positive futurists believe it will.


Dick Pelletier was a weekly columnist who wrote about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He passed away on July 22, 2014.
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COMMENTS


There is nothing more important than “curing” aging.  That would super charge the Law of Accelerating Returns because those minds that we spend millions to teach and train won’t be becoming feeble and vanishing.  Mankind routinely boosting out of the Earth’s gravity well ought to not only enable exponential production in space, but virtually infinite real estate to settle on - over population problem solved!





I think it is hard for most people to grasp how the war on aging will ultimately be won. The crucial thing to understand is that we are not going to find a magic bullet that offers a miracle cure and in fact a cure for aging is probably at least 100 years away,  this is because there are essentially two problems, firstly we do not understand how the damage which accumulates over the years is actually laid down and secondly we have very limited knowledge of metabolism and a comprehensive understanding in both areas is a prerequisite of finding a cure.  In my mind Dr Aubrey de Grey’s theory of SENS which deals with the repair of the damage which accumulates through aging without actually interfering with the rate at which it is laid down offers us a route to extreme life extension without the need to cure the underlying aging process itself. My gut instinct is aging will be under a decisive level of clinical control within 30 years but I think we will see significant progress within 20 years and the turning point could arrive anytime from around 2030 onwards.





Immortality is immoral.





Then immorality is immortal.





Jeez, not this nonsense - again!

How often do i have to point out the apparently nonobvious: You can’t tell if a longevity breakthrough has happened until a whole lot of people live well past 120 years, and in good physical and cognitive shape. Then the scientists active a few centuries from now will have the data to determine if anti-aging has succeeded or not.





If immortality is immoral, doesn’t that negate your heaven.

I encourage “believers” to resist all life extension.





I’m a believer. I believe immortality is immoral. What’s this “heaven” object you mentioned? Never heard of it, so I don’t think I have one.





A version of the so-called “Artilect War” is not going to happen on the IEET, please have respect for each other - thank you…





What can’t you recall Dobermanmac? Does immortality infer excellent recall? Consider what you had for breakfast 23 days ago. Can’t remember? Consider the increasing volumes of data and the dynamic nature of understanding itself. A thousand year old man (see Carl Reiner & Mel Brooks) may be informative, even wise, today. In another ten years, he’s an ignoramus. Don’t forget, the law of increasing returns applies to out data sets too. Age and experience do not wisdom make. Love. >Max





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