Last year I had the opportunity to meet the extraordinary life-hacker Aubrey de Grey and talk to him about his extraordinary antiaging research and spectacular Methuselah Mouse Prize. de Grey is a life-hacker in the fullest meaning — his goal is to extend human life from the current ~100 cap to 500 and eventually 1,000 years by stalling or repairing seven categories of deadly damage to the human body.
de Grey is an ill-viewed figure in conservative biology community. First of all he is not a biologist but a computer scientist by training. Secondly he has some pretty controversial practices, including scavenging graveyards for bacteria that can break down the energy-rich junk that accumulates in our body.
Last year de Grey was actively lobbying for funding for the Methuselah Foundation/Prize, but seemed to have a hard time cracking the golden nugget of big-game philanthropy. Last week PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel committed up to $3.5 million over the next three years.
Like last week’s post on The Economist’s Life 2.0 feature report, de Grey’s research and Peter Thiel’s financial commitment indicate an increasing blend of engineering and PC era amateurization (in the positive original sense of the word) into other of the traditional sciences.