Extending Life
Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

The Science, Business and Ethics of Life Extension

Humans have always been fascinated by the prospect of extending life. But only recently have human efforts into prolonging life emerged from the domain of charlatans and alchemists to become legitimate scientific and business ventures. Views on life extension differ drastically within the anti-aging community, most focus on improving healthspan, but a few bold voices suggest that radical life extension may be possible. This material will explore many aspects of the emerging longevity industry, including areas of research and ethical considerations.

Highlights

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The 21st-century technologies—genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics (GNR)—are so powerful that they can spawn whole new classes of accidents and abuses.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

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Radical Life Extension Is Already Here, But We’re Doing it Wrong

The idea being that because aging has always been an insurmountable obstacle for humanity, that we have dignified it more than it deserves, that we contort ourselves logically and rhetorically to defend it precisely because it is so inescapable.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

We're not trying to do nature one better, because nature doesn't care that we grow old and die. This is neglect, evolutionary neglect.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

the idea that we have to accept living to 80 rather than 120 is bizarre given that it's not so long ago that we lived to 40.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

It used to be that people would die of an infectious disease; they'd be struck down when they were very young or when they were older and their immune system was weak. Now almost nobody in the first world dies of infectious disease; we've basically managed to completely eradicate infectious disease through medical science. If, at the outset of this process, you asked people if we should develop technologies that would make us live until we're 80 on average instead of until we're 40, people might have expressed these same kind of misgivings that you hear today. They might have said, "Oh no that would be way too long, that would be unnatural, let's not do that."

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

Some ethicists have pointed out that death is one of the major forces for equality in the world. there are concerns whenever we develop any kind of medicine or any kind of technology---the concern that these things are going to widen welfare gaps. It's already unfair that I will on average live to be 80 and yet, if I were born before some arbitrary date, or in some other place, I would live much less longer. Those things are unfair and it's worth worrying about them, but I don't think the correct response is to hold off on the science.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

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Companies and start-ups working on extending human longevity and life-span - Work for human longevity

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Silicon Valley’s Quest to Live Forever

Aging is the leading precondition for so many diseases that "aging" and "disease" are essentially metonyms.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

But if we cured cancer we would add only 3.3 years to an average life; solving heart disease gets us an extra four.If we eliminated all disease, the average lifespan might extend into the nineties. To live longer, we'd have to slow aging itself.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

If we could extend the telomeres, the thinking went, we might reverse aging. But it turns out that animals with long telomeres, such as lab mice, don't necessarily have long lives—and that telomerase, the enzyme that promotes telomere growth, is also activated in the vast majority of cancer cells. The more we know about the body, the more we realize how little we know.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

In 1924, the physician and Bolshevik Alexander Bogdanov began young-blood transfusions, and a fellow-revolutionary wrote that he "seems to have become seven, no, ten years younger." Then Bogdanov injected himself with blood from a student who had both malaria and tuberculosis, and died.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

Aging has long lacked the kind of vocal constituency that raised awareness of H.I.V. and breast cancer; as a species, we stink at mobilizing against a deferred collective calamity (see: climate change).

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

The reigning view among longevity scientists is that aging is a product not of evolutionary intent but of evolutionary neglect: we are designed to live long enough to pass on our genes, and what happens afterward doesn’t much matter.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

The celebration was premature. Gordon Lithgow, a leading C. elegans researcher, told me, “At the beginning, we thought it would be simple—a clock!—but we’ve now found about five hundred and fifty genes in the worm that modulate lifespan. And I suspect that half of the twenty thousand genes in the worm’s genome are somehow involved.” That’s for a worm with only nine hundred and fifty-nine cells.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

Immortalists fall into two camps. Those who might be called the Meat Puppets, led by de Grey, believe that we can retool our biology and remain in our bodies. The RoboCops, led by Kurzweil, believe that we'll eventually merge with mechanical bodies and/or with the cloud.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

When we cross Bridge Four, those same nanobots will connect our brains to a neocortical annex in the cloud, and our intelligence will quickly expand a billionfold. Once that transformation happens, in 2045, the Singularity occurs and we become like gods.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

Both caloric restriction and exercise appear to dampen mTOR, a signalling pathway that regulates cellular metabolism. Under strain, the body realizes that it's a bad time to reproduce and a good time to repair cells and increase stress resistance. Scientists believe this is nature's way of responding to famine: hunker down and wait for better times to procreate. Starving yourself, unsurprisingly, has disadvantages. If you want caloric restriction to have a chance of working, you should take in at least thirty per cent fewer calories, and the most useful way to do that—intermittent fasting—is both unpleasant for subjects to endure and impossible for researchers to patent. So the goal is to develop powerful drugs that subdue mTOR without making you feel famished.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

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It is often right to tamper with nature. One could say that manipulating nature is an important part of what civilization and human intelligence is all about; we have been doing it since the invention of the wheel. Alternatively, one could say that since we are part of nature, everything we do and create is in a sense natural too. In any case, there is no moral reason why we shouldn't intervene in nature and improve it if we can, whether by eradicating diseases, improving agricultural yields to feed a growing world population, putting communication satellites into orbit to provide homes with news and entertainment, or inserting contact lenses in our eyes so we can see better.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

The point is that we cannot decide whether something is good or bad simply by asking whether it is natural or not. Some natural things are bad, such as starvation, polio, and being eaten alive by intestinal parasites. Some artificial things are bad, such as DDT-poisoning, car accidents, and nuclear war.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

whether something is natural or not is irrelevant to whether it is good or desirable

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

Average human life span hovered between 20 and 30 years for most of our species' history. Most people today are thus living highly unnaturally long lives.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

This makes the illusions of deathist philosophies dangerous, indeed fatal, since they teach helplessness and encourage passivity.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

Population increase is an issue we would ultimately have to come to grips with even if healthy life-extension were not to happen. Leaving people to die is an unacceptable solution.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

How many people the Earth can sustain at a comfortable standard of living is a function of technological development (as well as of how resources are distributed). Environmentalists are right to insist that the status quo is unsustainable. As a matter of physical necessity, things cannot stay as they are today indefinitely, or even for very long. If we continue to use up resources at the current pace, without finding more resources or learning how to use novel kinds of resources, then we will run into serious shortages sometime around the middle of this century. The deep greens have an answer to this: they suggest we turn back the clock and return to an idyllic pre-industrial age to live in sustainable harmony with nature. The problem with this view is that the pre-industrial age was anything but idyllic. Transhumanists propose a much more realistic alternative: not to retreat to an imagined past, but to press ahead as intelligently as we can.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

The typical pattern with new technologies is that they become cheaper as time goes by. In the medical field, for example, experimental procedures are usually available only to research subjects and the very rich. As these procedures become routine, costs fall and more people can afford them. Even in the poorest countries, millions of people have benefited from vaccines and penicillin. In the field of consumer electronics, the price of computers and other devices that were cutting-edge only a couple of years ago drops precipitously as new models are introduced.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

This phenomenon is not new. Rich parents send their kids to better schools and provide them with resources such as personal connections and information technology that may not be available to the less privileged. Such advantages lead to greater earnings later in life and serve to increase social inequalities.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

If a society judges existing inequalities to be unacceptable, a wiser remedy would be progressive taxation and the provision of community-funded services such as education, IT access in public libraries, genetic enhancements covered by social security, and so forth.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

the average citizen of a developed country today has a higher standard of living than any king five hundred years ago.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

On the dark side of the spectrum, transhumanists recognize that some of these coming technologies could potentially cause great harm to human life; even the survival of our species could be at risk. Seeking to understand the dangers and working to prevent disasters is an essential part of the transhumanist agenda.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

Are there Risks? Yes, and this implies an urgent need to analyze the risks before they materialize and to take steps to reduce them. Biotechnology, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence pose 23 especially serious risks of accidents and abuse.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

Instead, an arsenal of countermeasures will be needed so that we can address the various risks on multiple levels.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

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Futurist Ray Kurzweil Pulls Out All the Stops (and Pills) to Live to Witness the Singularity

Kurzweil Drugs & Supplements

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Kurzweil Drugs & Supplements

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Aging is the leading precondition for so many diseases that "aging" and "disease" are essentially metonyms.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

But if we cured cancer we would add only 3.3 years to an average life; solving heart disease gets us an extra four.If we eliminated all disease, the average lifespan might extend into the nineties. To live longer, we'd have to slow aging itself.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

If we could extend the telomeres, the thinking went, we might reverse aging. But it turns out that animals with long telomeres, such as lab mice, don't necessarily have long lives—and that telomerase, the enzyme that promotes telomere growth, is also activated in the vast majority of cancer cells. The more we know about the body, the more we realize how little we know.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

In 1924, the physician and Bolshevik Alexander Bogdanov began young-blood transfusions, and a fellow-revolutionary wrote that he "seems to have become seven, no, ten years younger." Then Bogdanov injected himself with blood from a student who had both malaria and tuberculosis, and died.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

Aging has long lacked the kind of vocal constituency that raised awareness of H.I.V. and breast cancer; as a species, we stink at mobilizing against a deferred collective calamity (see: climate change).

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

The reigning view among longevity scientists is that aging is a product not of evolutionary intent but of evolutionary neglect: we are designed to live long enough to pass on our genes, and what happens afterward doesn’t much matter.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

The celebration was premature. Gordon Lithgow, a leading C. elegans researcher, told me, “At the beginning, we thought it would be simple—a clock!—but we’ve now found about five hundred and fifty genes in the worm that modulate lifespan. And I suspect that half of the twenty thousand genes in the worm’s genome are somehow involved.” That’s for a worm with only nine hundred and fifty-nine cells.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

Immortalists fall into two camps. Those who might be called the Meat Puppets, led by de Grey, believe that we can retool our biology and remain in our bodies. The RoboCops, led by Kurzweil, believe that we'll eventually merge with mechanical bodies and/or with the cloud.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

When we cross Bridge Four, those same nanobots will connect our brains to a neocortical annex in the cloud, and our intelligence will quickly expand a billionfold. Once that transformation happens, in 2045, the Singularity occurs and we become like gods.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

Both caloric restriction and exercise appear to dampen mTOR, a signalling pathway that regulates cellular metabolism. Under strain, the body realizes that it's a bad time to reproduce and a good time to repair cells and increase stress resistance. Scientists believe this is nature's way of responding to famine: hunker down and wait for better times to procreate. Starving yourself, unsurprisingly, has disadvantages. If you want caloric restriction to have a chance of working, you should take in at least thirty per cent fewer calories, and the most useful way to do that—intermittent fasting—is both unpleasant for subjects to endure and impossible for researchers to patent. So the goal is to develop powerful drugs that subdue mTOR without making you feel famished.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

10

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Geroscience | Sebastian Aguiar | TEDxIST

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Increasing healthspan leads to longer lifespan and compressed morbidity (delayed onset of disease)

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Increasing healthspan leads to longer lifespan and compressed morbidity (delayed onset of disease)

Several molecular pathways that increase longevity in animals are affected by approved and experimental drugs. Cancer and organ-rejection drugs such as rapamycin extend lifespan in mice and worms by muting the mTOR pathway, which regulates processes from protein synthesis to cell proliferation and survival. The sirtuin proteins, involved in a similar range of cellular processes, are activated by high concentrations of naturally occurring compounds (such as the resveratrol found in red wine) and extend lifespan in metabolically abnormal obese mice. A plethora of natural and synthetic molecules affect pathways that are shared by ageing, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The drugs rapamycin and metformin mimic changes observed in animals fed calorie- and protein-restricted diets.

Phil von Heydebreck

Phil von Heydebreck

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2,000-Year-Old Texts Reveal the First Emperor of China’s Quest for Eternal Life

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The Epic of Gilgamesh: Crash Course World Mythology #26

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