Sep 28

Nikolaj Nyholm

Nikolaj Nyholm

Life 1.1

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.

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Comments: 4

  Wai Yip Tung [09.28.06 11:33 AM]

Why do we want to live 1000 years? So that we can pack this world with miserable old man?

My bet is his treatment will see limited success at best. But he can never extend the life of the healthy body holistically because human just isn't designed live indefinitely. Man may live longer, but it will be full of illness.

This is one ill-conceived Frankenstein project.

  Douglas Clifton [09.28.06 12:42 PM]

Ray Kurzweil has some similar philosophies. He asserts (and I paraphrase) "if you can hang on for another 10 years or so, with the exponential growth in medicine and nanotechnology, almost any disease will be curable and human lifespan will increase proportionally."

I have my doubts, and I also believe the human mind just isn't programmed to live beyond 100 years at most. Imagine (as in the Anne Rice Vampire novels) you could live for hundreds of years, only to see generation after generation of your loved ones pass away.

Because, if you ask me, only the most elite could afford such treatments. The truth is cures for common terminal illnesses such as cancer and AIDS have been slow in coming, and the health industry (at least in the States) is a nightmare.

  Dave [09.28.06 02:51 PM]

hmmm - so if this future pans out why would you see your loved ones die...they'd take the treatments too wouldn't they? And it'd be idiotic to have many years and be OLD. the whole idea is to increase the healthy human lifespan. Just as has already been happening for the last 160 years. We seem to be coping with that doubling of healthy lifespan pretty well...

  Attila Csordas [11.06.06 07:51 AM]

Dear Nikolaj,
I am running a blogterview series with life extension supporters/bloggers if you are interested on
I do not know what your position is concerning longevity, but I assume that your are pro. If I am right, then I would be very grateful, if you would be kind enough to briefly answer these questions. If no, then my request is objectless.
Questions are:
1. What is the story of your life extension commitment?
2. Is it a commitment for moderate or maximum life extension?
3. What is your favourite argument supporting human life extension?
4. What kind of moderate life extension technologies have the chance to become successful, and when?
5. What is the most probable technological draft of maximum life extension, which technology or discipline has the biggest chance to reach it earliest? When?
6. What can blogs and other websites do for LE?

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