Scientists seriously believe we could live forever by the 2030s
[Oct. 21, 2023: Staff Writer, The Brighter Side of News]
Humanity's age-old quest to stop time has taken a revolutionary turn, as the relentless ticking of the clock continues. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)
Humanity's age-old quest to stop time has taken a revolutionary turn, as the relentless ticking of the clock continues. The term "Longevity Escape Velocity" (LEV), a concept as intriguing as it is contentious, has become the linchpin of a growing scientific and philosophical debate.
It proposes a future where humans can outpace the aging process, achieving a form of immortality, a notion that not only challenges the very fabric of human existence but also presents unprecedented ethical, societal, and economic questions.
Rooted in the principle of "escape velocity" from physics, which describes the speed at which an object must travel to break free from gravitational pull, LEV applies this concept to human aging. Proponents suggest that with advancing biomedical technology and cellular rejuvenation therapies, we could reach a point where life expectancy increases faster than time passes, essentially outrunning death.
The theory, still in the realms of scientific speculation, has garnered both staunch support and skeptical criticism. Visionaries in the field of genetic engineering and biotechnology, such as Harvard geneticist George Church, entertain the prospect that achieving this state could be a reality within our lifetimes. Concurrently, Sourav Sinha, of the Longevity Vision Fund, echoes this optimism, projecting the feasibility of LEV within a few decades, pending strategic investments.
It's a race against time and decay, a race to unravel the complex biological algorithms that dictate our life span. This journey has united global pioneers in anti-aging research under the "Dublin Longevity Declaration."
The declaration is a bold call to arms, urging the scientific community to shift its focus to the reversal of biological aging processes at the cellular level. It marks a departure from traditional approaches that tackle individual diseases sequentially, a method the declaration deems "overly pragmatic" and inefficient given the urgency of aging-related afflictions.
Dr. Aubrey de Grey, a prominent longevity researcher and coiner of LEV, likens society's passive acceptance of aging to resigned complacency towards "bad weather," arguing against the fatalistic attitude that nothing can be done. His optimism is mirrored by futurist Ray Kurzweil, who foresees the dawning of LEV as early as 2028. However, this timeline poses significant logistical challenges, considering the extensive approval processes required for new medical treatments, of which there are currently none for anti-aging.
Aubrey de Grey is president of the Longevity Escape Velocity Foundation. (CREDIT: Dickson Lee/South China Morning Post Getty Images)
Contrarily, geroscientist Thomas Perls expresses skepticism, labeling the notion of LEV and indefinite life as "backwards and silly." Through his extensive studies on centenarians, Perls advocates for a more grounded approach, focusing on enhancing healthspan and combating age-related diseases like Alzheimer's. He underscores the importance of pragmatic goals over idealistic immortality, emphasizing that understanding the genetic secrets of "SuperAgers" remains a preliminary step.
The dichotomy between prolonging life and achieving immortality raises profound ethical questions. Futurist and philosopher Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, sees the extension of healthy life as a moral imperative. He envisions a future where advanced artificial intelligence (AI) could exponentially accelerate drug discovery and medical advancements, potentially unlocking the secrets to indefinite lifespans.
University of Oxford futurist Nick Bostrom is the author of "Fable of the Dragon Tyrant". (CREDIT: Tom Pilston)
In alignment with Bostrom's vision, pharmaceutical companies and startups like Gero are already harnessing AI to expedite the development of geroprotective drugs and treatments. This fusion of AI and biotechnology could be humanity's best bet in deciphering and counteracting the biological constraints of aging. However, the societal, economic, and ethical ramifications of such a drastically altered human condition are complex and multifaceted.
Perls, however, remains unconvinced about breaking natural lifespan barriers, referencing the unbroken record of Jeanne Calment, who lived to 122. He questions the prudence of radical life extension when science is still grappling with enhancing life quality beyond 90. Furthermore, he cautions against the unforeseen consequences of meddling with aging's fundamental mechanisms, which might inadvertently predispose individuals to other ailments.
Dr. Thomas Perls, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine and Geriatrics, Boston University Medical School, standing in a sculpture of great healers on campus in Boston, MA on August 4, 2010. Dr. Perls is the founder and director of the New England Centenarian Study, the largest study of centenarians in the world. (CREDIT: Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images)
Despite skepticism from certain scientific quarters, the pursuit of LEV marches forward. De Grey's Longevity Escape Velocity Foundation recently embarked on its inaugural study of "robust mouse rejuvenation," a venture funded by donations amounting to $3 million. The trial is a conglomerate of cutting-edge interventions, including stem cell treatments, telomere-lengthening gene therapies, and rapamycin, all targeting an extension of healthy life.
While the longevity debate is a mélange of optimism, skepticism, and existential pondering, one fact is irrefutable: the investments and research in anti-aging are gaining momentum. Whether humanity stands on the precipice of redefining existence or is merely chasing an unattainable dream is a story that will unfold in the annals of science and time.
MailOnline takes a look at the strangest ways humanity could attain eternal life. (CREDIT: MailOnline)
However, as this pursuit accelerates, it beckons us to contemplate the very essence of life. Are we merely seeking more years in life, or more life in years? And at what point does the quest for eternity lose its essence in the face of our fundamentally transient existence?
The concept of Longevity Escape Velocity challenges us not just scientifically but philosophically, forcing humanity to confront its oldest adversary: mortality. It invites us to consider the profound implications of such a scientific triumph over death, both for the individual and for society at large. As we stand on the brink of what could be the most significant discovery in human history, we are compelled to ask not just if we can achieve this feat, but if we truly should.
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