Are we likely to see life extension/longevity enhancing technology put to use in our lifetime?
Yes, My estimate is that even people in middle age have a 50% or better chance of greatly extending their lives but let's take a person in their late 20s as an example because millennials are the group I see benefitting with near certainty from life extension technologies. This is because it's reasonable to work on the basis if you were born in 1990 you would not be due to checkout until around 2075 so now factor in technological progress and I think it's reasonable to assume millennials will likely have the option to live a very, very long time by current standards because they won't even be getting particularly old until around mid century. Now factor in that aging is pretty much the same as beating any other disease, albeit aging is a complex issue involving many different processes but that does not mean that it is not a realistic goal to render it a chronic albeit manageable condition within a 15/25 year timeframe and millennials will still be relatively young by then so they should be home and dry.
I am frequently asked the question "how long before we can cure aging?" To understand this let's keep in mind that we are already adding two months to life expectancy every year (or 5 hours per day) and this has been consistent for the last 30 years or so. If you then consider that many people including myself see a better than 50% chance of controlling aging within 15/25 years the whole issue starts to become very interesting. As far as the time span for an actual cure, I would hazard a guess that it's at least 100 years away because our understanding of how the body functions is very weak when it comes to metabolism but this is not to say life extension is not within reach over the next two or three decades. The alternative approach is to aim at controlling aging and repairing the accumulated damage and this should be our primary goal because we understand how the damage is laid down even though we understand very little about actually slowing aging or influencing metabolism as I mentioned above. This is the essence of Aubrey de Grey's SENS (1) theory regarding the engineering approach and this clearly holds the best prospect of success in the first half of this century and some of the components of SENS are already at a point where we have proof of concept (4). Having said that two other well funded organizations are waging war on aging so when you factor those two into the equation things look very positive, the first company is Calico (2) which is an independent R&D biotech company established in 2013 by Google Inc. and Arthur D. Levinson and the other is Human Longevity Inc (3) these two show the field is attracting serious funding and these will be followed by numerous others big and small so we are at the beginning of a serious push being made to tackle the problem which aging poses to everyone currently alive.
My personal belief is that the birth year which is crucial is 1980 so millennials are in a strong position, my partner who is 20 years younger than me and was born in 1980 making her one of the oldest millennials and putting here in a vastly better position than myself who was born in the early 60's. The reason I see 1980 as crucial is because most of the people born then still have 45 to 50 years to run which takes us well into the second half of the 21st century so it goes without saying the younger you are the better the chance. I think that the technology by then is is going to be adequate to add - at the very minimum - 25/30 years of life but frankly I think we will reach that point before the middle of the century and in the second half will achieve the same again.
Understanding how all this works is a little bit complicated but if you bear with me I'll explain though it's a bit of a head spinner, let's assume you are 60 years old at the time of the first effective anti-aging therapy arrives and that this early and fundamentally imperfect treatment repairs 25 years of accumulated damage. Then 10 years later you would reach the chronological age of 70 but would be biologically only 45 years old. We now come to the vital key to the whole theory which is this, let us say 20 years after the first treatment, when you are chronologically 80 but biologically 55 years old, both your doctor and yourself will realize that the damage that was not repaired in the first treatment combined with further damage accumulated over the 20 years since is again posing a health risk at this point it is time for another intervention. It is now that the advanced in medicine over the intervening 20 years come into play because anti-aging medicine will have moved on significantly and, whilst the first treatment bought you an extra 20 or 30 years by repairing a fair amount of the damage accumulated over 60 years of living, it did not repair it all, 20 years later progress will mean that the latest treatment will not only repair all of the damage corrected by the first intervention but also some of the damage that was not able to be repaired 20 years earlier so in essence you are now 80 and having intervention number 2 which will not only repair all of the damage that was repaired by intervention 1 (along with the 20 years of damage since the first intervention) but also some (but probably still not all) of the damage that could not be repaired by the first treatment. This means that, whilst you will have aged 20 years, chronologically you will be biologically younger after the second intervention than you were after the first. This is the essence of the SENS or the repair and maintenance approach theory, essentially, it is a shortcut to significant life extension. It is not a cure but it acknowledges that it does not need to be because it simply buys time and leads to a situation where regular interventions at say 15/20 year intervals with increasingly effective treatments could extend life virtually indefinitely so millennials are around 80/90% certain in my opinion to live to 150+ unlike myself in my 50's where it's a 50/50 chance.
Of course the impact which the various technologies we ultimately use will have on radical life extension differs but there are six technologies in various stages of development today which in all probability will play a pivotal role, the crucial point is that only one or at most three (depending on which combination) of these technologies are required to achieve significant life extension but the six together will enable us to evolve and improve in ways we really can't begin to conceive from where we stand now. The key question in most people's minds is is whether life extension is possible. My opinion is that our chances of success hinges on one key point which is that in order for our efforts to achieve life extension to fail then all of the technologies leading us down this patch which are listed below must also fail;
1. Biotechnology - e.g stem cell therapies, enhanced autophagy, pharmaceuticals, immunotherapies, senescent cell clearance etc - see (4)(5)
2. Nanotechnology - Methods of repairing the body at a cellular and molecular level using nanotechnology or nanobots. (7)
3. Robust Artificial Intelligence (AI) Combined with whole brain emulation - Where the brain is Uploaded to a digital medium and increasingly enhanced and replaced with non biological components until it reaches a stage where the non biological components can model the biological part so accurately its loss would be irrelevant from a functional perspective.
4. Robotics - This could lead to the replacement of increasing numbers of body parts and tends to go hand in hand with AI and whole brain emulation. It can be argued that this is not life extension and that it is a path toward becoming a Cyborg but I don't share that view because even today we don't view a quadriplegic as less human if he has four bionic limbs and this will hold true as our technology progresses.
5. Gene Therapies - These could be classified under the first category but I prefer to look at it separately as it could impact the function of the body in very dramatic ways which would suppress genes that negatively impact us and enhance genes which increase our tendency toward longer and healthier lives. The development of CRISPR - Cas9 for precise gene editing opens up no end of possibilities (6)(8)
6. Whole brain emulation and mindscaping - This is in effect mind transfer to a non biological host although it could equally apply to uploading the brain to a new biological brain created via tissue engineering this differs from point three in that the objective from the outset is to replicate the entire brain but has the drawback that if the original brain continues to exist the second brain would have a separate existence in other words whilst you are identical at the time of upload increasing divergence over time will be inevitable.
I can't see them failing hence failure to achieve life extension will not happen because all these technologies (or the technologies leading to them) are progressing very rapidly, for this reason my guess is we will reach the stage of achieving a decisive level of medical control over the aging process within 15/25 years.
So the answer to the question is if millennial's don't make it something would have to go very seriously wrong!
The links below clearly support my own view that we are very much on course to be able to manage and control aging in the next two or three decades and maybe sooner.
It's already happening, but it's so pervasive that it's invisible. Examples:
- Manufacture of insulin. Synthetic first on sale in 1982.
- Chemotherapy and radiotherapy advances. Some cancers are 99+% likely to be cured with early treatment, where even as late as the 1980s they were death sentences.
- Better preventive care (mammography, self-exams, prostate exams, etc.).
- Improving awareness of the danger of smoking. Government bans began in the 1990s.
- Seat belts (three-point not common until 1980s) and air bags (not common until 1980s).
- Improved dental care including water fluoridation (ongoing).
- Discovery of penicillin (medical usage beginning in the 1940s). It remains to be seen whether this will eventually kill us all.
- Vaccines, including the ordinary flu vaccine (though it's not clear whether the flu vaccine actually prevents a significant number of flu deaths).
- Eyeglasses. It sounds silly, but yeah, you're more likely to die if you can't see where you're going. Imagine life 500 years ago with 20/400 vision.
- Electric light and safe home heating (fewer fires).
- The beginning of understanding the dangers of high blood glucose brought on by diet, even in non-diabetics. Today it's not widely accepted; in 20 years it will be.
None of these examples are like C. Montgomery Burns' weekly longevity treatments, where something magical happens to turn back the biological clock. They're more in the "The Best Way To Live Forever Is To Continue To Avoid Dying" school of thought. But ask anyone who's died: avoiding death is just as effective as prolonging life.
Most of us have quite good chance to witness it. Here is why:
Our biological clock is determined by our genes. There are no fundamental rules on how fast it should progress. Different species age in very different speeds. In some cases there are large differences even between closely related species. For example naked mole rat might live up to 30 years, where other rodents usually live no longer than 3-4 years. There are also examples of species that do not seem to age at all, and die only of non-age-related causes. These are various fishes, tortoises and clams.
So, the question is: Could we tweak our genes to prolong our lives?
The answer is: We could, if we understood precisely what each one of our genes does and if we could make precise changes in them. At the moment we neither understand nor are able to change our genomes. But this is changing rapidly. Cost of DNA sequencing dropped about million times since 2000. Cost of computing power dropped about ten thousand times in the same time. And both these trends continue. In about 10 years we might be able to create complete map of all interactions between all proteins inside our bodies. Even if the progress will be slower, we might still succeed in less than 20 years. At the same time improvements in synthetic life technologies and homologous recombination might make arbitrary changes in genomes possible.
Then we might design and implement changes that will slow our aging or even stop it completely.
As it is now, death is a certainty for all. Can this certainty be ever altered? Of course, yes if we make tremendous progress in the field of Life extension. Life extension is possible. Life extension is not a hoax. Zovon have comprehensive information about 'Life Extension – Scientific Search for Immortality!'
The science of life extension is real, and it has been around for quite some time now. About 25% of children born today are expected to live beyond 100 years, and research shows the number of Centenarians in the US has been doubling every 10 years since the 1950's.
A lot of research is going on in this field and here we are going to simplify the life extension for you and why you should be interested in it. Find out more information here: http://bit.ly/2zelbt3