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Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies





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A map of currently available life extension methods

Alexey Turchin


Ethical Technology


http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/IEETBlog

October 26, 2015

Extremely large payoff from life extension

We live in special period of time when radical life extension is not far. We just need to survive until the moment when all the necessary technologies will be created.

The positive scenario suggests it could happen by 2050 (plus or minus 20 years), when humanity will create an advanced and powerful AI, highly developed nanotechnologies and a cure for aging.

Many young people could reach the year 2050 without even doing anything special.  

But for many other people an opportunity to extend their life for just 10-20 years is the key to achieving radical life extension (at least for a thousand of years, perhaps even more), because they will be able to survive until the creation of strong life extension technologies.

That is why even a slight life extension today means a potentially eternal prize. This map of the currently available life extension methods could help in it. The map contains a description of the initial stage of plan A from the “Personal Immortality Roadmap” (where plan B is cryonics, plan C – digital immortality and plan D – quantum immortality).

Brain is most important for life extension

The main idea of this map is that all efforts towards life extension must start from our brain, and in fact, they must finish there too.

First of all, you must have the will to conquer aging and death, and do it using scientific methods.

This is probably the most difficult part of the life extension journey. The vast majority of people simply don’t think about life extension, while those who do care about it (usually when it’s too late) use weak and non-scientific ways and methods; they simply don’t understand that the prize of this game is not ten of healthy latter years, but almost eternal life. 

Secondly, you need to develop or mobilize the qualities inside yourself which are necessary for simple, daily procedures, which can almost guarantee life extension by an average of 10-20 years. e.g. avoiding smoking and alcohol consumption, daily mobility, daily intake of medicines and dietary supplements.

Most people find it incredibly difficult to perform simple actions on a permanent basis, for example even taking one pill every day for a year would be too much for most people. Not to mention quitting smoking or regular health check-ups. 

A human who has the motivation to extend his life, a proper understanding of how to achieve it and the necessary skills to realize his plans, should be considered as almost a superman. 

On other hand, while all of our body systems are affected by aging, our brain damage during aging plays the biggest role in total productivity reduction. Even though our crystallized intelligence
increases with age, our fluid intelligence, our memory, and the possibility of making radical changes and acquiring new skills all decrease significantly with aging.

And these abilities decrease at the very time when they are needed most – to fight the aging process! Young people usually don’t care too much about the aging process, because it’s beyond their
planning horizon. These qualities are vital in order to build the motivation and skills required to maintain health. 

Thus, this leads to the idea of the map, which says that all main efforts to combat aging must be focused on brain aging. If you can keep your brain youthful, it will create and implement new skills to extend your life, helping you to find new information in a sea of new publications and technologies.

If Alzheimer’s is the first sign of aging to reach your body, you will have to crawl for a tablet of validol without even knowing that it is harmful. And even worse, you will crystallize some harmful beliefs. A person can think that he is a genius in some fields, receive approval from others, but continue his journey in the wrong direction – in the direction of death. (Of course early detection of cancer and a healthy heart are really important to extend your life, but it will be too difficult to deal with such problems if your brain is not working properly).

The second reason to invest in brain health and regeneration is a direct connection of its state with the state of many other systems in your body through nervous and hormonal connections. 

In order to preserve your brain health we have to use antidepressants, nootropics and substances which promote its regeneration.

The example of Rita Montalchni is interesting.

 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rita_Levi-Montalcini). She administered a nerve growth factor (NGF) as eye drops and lived for 103 years and was productive as a scientist. She lived 12 years
longer than her twin sister, that has very low probability (around 0.001) for her age if we take in account steepness of Hompertz curve in the age near 100. Unfortunately not much research was done about effects of NGF on life extension, as well as effect of other substances.

The idea of preventing personal brain aging and using results of it to study new methods of life extension and brain aging prevention is similar to idea of AI which is using all his resources for
self-improvement. But in this case it is more like preventing decline.

The map consists of 5 steps

Step 1. Motivation. Without motivation to extend personal life span no action is possible. A person should understand that there is a problem of personal aging and it is possible to fight this it,
using rational approaches.

Step 2. Self-organisation. Any decision is useless without ability to hold it and perform consistently needed actions. So step 2 is about creating life extension mindset and needed abilities to make small actions everyday.

Step 3. Preventing immediate risks. Many people die not because of aging but because of drinking, car crashes, violence, untreated illnesses and large part of such accidences is preventable.
So one need to check his risks and prevent most dangerous of them. Only after it fighting aging is reasonable.

Step 4. Brain health. Now one has 20-50 years of life expectancy, but much less of agile and workable brain life expectancy. So it is wise to invest in preventing brain decline first. It consists of fighting depression (and other brain disorders), preventing brain aging and brain regeneration. But in fact most of these substeps could be reduced to one action as for example most antidepressant work by increasing brains growth factors, which results in growing more new brain cells in hippocampus and more dendrites of existing neurons. This TED talk explains details: http://www.ted.com/talks/sandrine_thuret_you_can_grow_new_brain_cells_here_s_how

Step 5. Fighting aging. Now you have time for more long term projects. This step consists of lifestyle block, medicine block and antiaging interventions block. The last one include supplements, drug and nutrition part and other methods part, which has sport, hormesis, sleep and parameters control.

Step 6. Social activity which will rise our collective chances on life extension. If everybody will invest only in personal life extension we will not gain much. It is like tragedy of the commons. That is why selfish and altruistic behavior should be matched. Donations are the simplest form of it.

The last map block is reminder about importance of cryonics and digital immortality.

Collective efforts in life extension

This map doesn’t include one really important social aspect of aging prevention. If we could absorb all the money (through crowdfunding), which people use to buy supplements (around 300 billion
per year), and use it to perform experiments in the field of life extension instead, we could invent new anti-aging medicine and other life extension tools. These methods and medicines could be used by those who initially donated money for such experiments; they could also benefit from sales of such products. Thus, such crowdfunding would include IPO too.

You won’t find other social aspects in the map such as promotion of the idea of the fight against aging, political activism and art. All of these aspects are mentioned in the main Immortality Roadmap.

The map also doesn’t include a temporal aspect. Our knowledge about the best methods of life extension changes almost daily. This map contains ideas which are valid in 2015, but it will require a significant update in just five years. If you aim to extend your life you must perform a constant analysis of scientific research in this area. Currently many new methods are appearing every day, e.g. ways of lengthening telomeres and gene therapy. Additionally, the older you are the riskier new methods you should try.

The map of ideas

In fact, the map contains a systemized analysis of ideas, which can lead to life extension, but not a bunch of well-proven tips. In an ideal situation such a map should contain links to research about all the listed items, as well as an evaluation of their real effects, so any help on improving the map will be welcomed.

This map (like all my other maps) is intended to help you navigate through the world of ideas. In this case it includes life extension ideas. The map is open to new ideas and will be updated as they will be found.

Moreover, one single idea may become a salvation for a person, e.g. eradicating a certain chronic disease. Of course, no single person can complete all of the ideas and suggestions in this map or indeed in any other list. I’m pretty sure that people will not be able to implement more than one advice per month – and I’m no exception.

My approach: I drink alcohol on really rare occasions, I don’t smoke (but sometimes I use nicotine wrapping with nootropic objectives), I sleep a lot, I try to walk at least 4 km every day, I avoid risky activities and I always fasten my seatbelt.

I also invest a lot of effort in preventing my brain from aging and in combating depression. (I will provide a map about depression and nootropics later).

The pdf of the map is here, and jpg is below.

Previous posts with maps:

Simulation map

Digital Immortality Map

Doomsday Argument Map

AGI Safety Solutions Map

A map: AI failures modes and levels

A Roadmap: How to Survive the End of the Universe

A map: Typology of human extinction risks

Roadmap: Plan of Action to Prevent Human Extinction Risks

Immortality Roadmap 

Future planned maps:

Brut force AIXI-style attack on Identity
problem

Ways of mind-improvement

Fermi paradox map

Ways of depression prevention map

Quantum immortality map

Interpretations of quantum mechanics ma

Map of cognitive biases in global risks
research

Map of double catastrophes scenarios in
global risks

Probability of global catastrophe

Map of unknown unknowns as global risks

Map of reality theories, qualia and God

Map of death levels

Map of resurrections technologies

Map of aging theories

Flowchart «How to build a map»

Map of ideas about artificail
explosions in space

Future as Markov chain

 


Alexey Turchin is author of several books on Russian and numerous articles on the topics of existential risks and the Doomsday argument. Since 2010, he has worked at the Science for Longer Life Foundation. Now he is finishing the book ‘‘Immortality”. He is one of the founders of Longevity Party, and the founder of Stop Existential Risks on Facebook.

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