Scott over at WRevenue posted something interesting about longevity research, along with an interesting challenge.
I decided to accept the challenge and write a bit about that topic here because I want to donate his $20 to the Methuselah Foundation, an organization that does cutting-edge anti-aging research (the real deal, not anti-wrinkle cosmetics).
A lot has been said about the subject and I don’t think I can do a better job of introducing it to you than Aubrey de Grey, so a good starting point would be the talk he gave at TED about his Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS). For a longer, but slightly less polished talk, see his Google Talk. But the best way to really get familiar with SENS is to buy Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime. The biology might be a bit challenging for most people, but everything is explained clearly and it is the best way to make up your own mind.
You can also read more about the objections to longevity research (both technical and philosophical) at SENS.org and FightAging.org (see the “Required Reading”, “On the Causes of Aging” and “Objections Answered” boxes on the top left).
But what I want to talk about here is not SENS and why defeating aging (defined as pathologies caused by accumulated damage resulting from normal metabolic activity) is desirable.
The point I want to emphasize is that unlike religious belief in some kind of better future, research into healthy long-life doesn’t depend on supernatural or “out of our control” elements. Just like the discovery of antibiotics or heavier than air flight, it will require us to do something and solve problems. It is not unavoidable (unfortunately), and each day that it is delayed, at least 150,000 people die of age-related diseases, millions suffer and humanity loses greatly. There are no higher goals for those who want to reduce human misery.
If we don’t encourage and fund research and do our best to inform the general public about it, it might not happen (or at least, not in our currently limited lifetimes). This is too important for it to become a spectator sport.
That’s why I strongly encourage you to get informed, make up your own mind, and if you become convinced as many of us are, spread the word and donate generously to the Methuselah Foundation (anything you donate will be matched to 50% by a $3 million donation by Peter Thiel). Few investments have the potential for such high returns, for you and for those you love.
Update: I’d like to thank Scott for keeping his word and sending the money. I kept mine and donated the $20 the Methuselah Foundation.
Even if you can’t give much, it all adds up and increasing the total number of donors helps with further fundraising efforts.