What is Longevity? Immortality is within our grasp

September 8, 2009

Immortality is within our grasp. Most of our conceptions of human life in the 21st century will be turned on their head. Not the least of these is the belief in the inevitability of death. As we succeed in understanding the genome and the proteome, many dramatic advances in treating disease and even reversing aging will emerge. The first two decades of the 21st century will be a golden era of biotechnology.

Many experts believe that within a decade we will be adding more than a year to human life expectancy every year. At that point, with each passing year, your remaining life expectancy will move further into the future. (Aubrey de Grey, longevity expert and gerontologist, believes that we will successfully stop aging in mice-who share 99 percent of our genetic code-within 10 years, and that human therapies to halt and reverse aging will follow 5 to 10 years after that.) A small minority of older boomers will make it past this impending critical threshold. You can be among them.

As interesting as the first two decades of this century are likely to be, subsequent decades should lead to even more dramatic changes. The result will be profound differences in every facet of our lives, from our health and longevity to our economy and society, even our concepts of who we are and what it means to be human. Within a couple of decades we will have the knowledge to revitalize our health, expand our experiences-such as full-immersion virtual reality incorporating all of the senses, augmented reality, and enhanced human intelligence and capability-and expand our horizons.

As we peer even further into the 21st century, nanotechnology will enable us to rebuild and extend our bodies and brains and create virtually any product from mere information, resulting in remarkable gains in prosperity. We will develop means to vastly expand our physical and mental capabilities by directly interfacing our biological systems with human-created technology.

Although human ability to take command of the course of life and death is controversial, we believe that the ability to broaden our horizons is a unique and desirable attribute of our species. And we certainly believe that it is worth the effort to remain healthy and vital today to experience this remarkable century ahead.

Aubrey de Grey uses the metaphor of maintaining a house to explain this key concept. How long does a house last? The answer obviously depends on how well you take care of it. If you do nothing, the roof will spring a leak before long, water and the elements will invade, and eventually the house will disintegrate. But if you proactively take care of the structure, repair all damage, confront all dangers, and rebuild or renovate parts from time to time using new materials and technologies, the life of the house can essentially be extended without limit.

The same holds true for our bodies and brains. The only difference is that while we fully understand the methods underlying the maintenance of a house, we do not yet fully understand all of the biological principles of life. But with our rapidly increasing comprehension of the human genome, the proteins expressed by the genome (proteome), and the biochemical processes and pathways of our metabolism, we are quickly gaining that knowledge. We are beginning to understand aging, not as a single inexorable progression but as a group of related biological processes.

Strategies for reversing each of these aging progressions using different combinations of biotechnology techniques are emerging. Many scientists, including Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman, M.D, believe that we will have the means to stop and even reverse aging within the next two decades. In the meantime, we can slow each aging process to a crawl.

The goal of extending longevity can be taken in three steps, or Bridges. Fantastic Voyage is intended to serve as a guide to living long enough in good health and spirits-Bridge One-to take advantage of the full development of the biotechnology revolution-Bridge Two. This, in turn, will lead to the nanotechnology-AI (artificial intelligence) revolution-Bridge Three-which has the potential to allow us to live indefinitely.

The knowledge of how to maintain our biological “house” and extend its longevity and vitality without limit is close at hand. Ray & Terry’s Longevity Program can help you implement the extensive knowledge that we do have today to remain healthy as the reverse engineering (decoding and understanding the principal methods) of our biology proceeds.