Parabiosis is one of the most striking (and just weird) phenomena in aging research, so efforts to understand what's going on with it are liable to bear interesting fruit. I'm just pointing out that there's good reason to doubt that this particular "breakthrough" is the "cure."
There's probably no way to prove that this hasn't happened. Anyone who realizes they're not aging normally would likely have taken on a new identity elsewhere for fear of:
1. being burned at the stake
2. being trialed in repeated experiments
3. being deified, and then subsequently being burned at the stake.
I realize my comment sounds like a joke, but I'm entirely serious. If you or I found out we're not aging normally and look e.g. 25 by the time we reach 40, or 30 by the time we reach 45, would either of us remain in our current lives?
When the team went on an offsite morale event jet skiing, he was told by the proprietor that he couldn't participate because their policy requires you to be at least 16 years old. He was 27 at the time. He never lived that down with his peers. When he tries to go to a bar with friends, he's sometimes accused of trying to pass off a fake ID. These experiences are deeply embarrassing for him.
Imagine trying to get promoted to a senior director position at a company while looking like you are fresh out of college. In that case ageism takes a different meaning.
I recently worked on overhauling the reporting system for one of the largest police departments in the US, and every step along the way I was asked who was in charge, how did I enter the workforce so young, how I got an internship while attending high school (I had already graduated college), etc. I even got those types of comments from other employees at companies where I worked full-time. Of course, I don't really have the luxury of getting too offended by it all the time, otherwise I'd be really bitter, but the classic "Oh well you'll be glad you look young when you're older" gets tiring.
You have to be careful not to come across like "a suit" in the engineering circles, it's a tricky balance, but it's worth it.
My Dad is in his mid 80's and plays four hours of sports a day, or at least he was before the pandemic hit.
When I was in my mid-20's I had to impress the hell out of potential clients to get work, as I looked like I was 15, and girls my own age wouldn't look at me as I was too young. I never drank, so bars weren't an issue. When I was in my early forties, 15-20 year old girls were still coming on to me. I will be 50 next year, and I finally look like I'm in my 20s or 30s, and still get those looks from University-aged girls whenever I venture where they hang out.
A couple of years ago, my now 43 year old partner was mistaken for her teenage doppelganger and asked to the high school prom by three different boys while walking home from work.
It was annoying earlier, but now I look forward to turning out to be one of the immortals.
In general I’ve seen a lot of people that look young for their age but when looking at their skin up close on their face, neck or hands it gives it away. Women are also at an obvious advantage through their use of makeup.
Pretty sure I saw this movie in the 80s.
I've read that when Scott McNealy met his future wife (they married when he was 40) she thought that he was a Stanford undergraduate.
"You look so young."
"I have this portrait in my attic."
It was nice. I can't grow facial hair though so I have no choice. What worries me is when I'm 45, I'll look like the world's oldest 30 year old or something.
It's rather fun for me and I enjoy these kinds of interactions. Can't say it really ever hindered or embarrassed me in any way.
I suspect that if those people who feel embarrassed because they look young were looking older, they'd find something else to be embarrassed about. It's easy to find any number of shortcomings with yourself.
We did a Dexa scan a few months back and it put her age based on body composition at 14.
She gets annoyed about it sometimes as she feels people don't treat her seriously. Because of this she's quite conscious of what she wears, and how she presents herself.
For anyone curious you can find her on youtube - search "Good Paleo Life"
Although I didn't realize until I commented that Jerome Bixby the author of The Man From Earth was also a Star Trek writer.
I was routinely told I looked 25 at the age of 45, and can assure you I felt no need to start accumulating secret identities.
Quite a number were burned for (obviously alleged) witchcraft. (grep page for 'burn')
That's where I derived that first bullet.
Of course that was hard to prove or disprove, but we have examples of alleged witches accepting payment for harming/killing other people using whichcraft - like a contract killer. So at least the intention to cause harm was there in some cases.
There are numerous accounts of people having (alleged) supernatural abilities who was not persecuted, e.g ascetics surviving without eating for years and such. These were generally held in high regard, and could end up as saints.
Of course people could be accused for maleficium on really flimsy evidence so it could also hypothetically happen to the hypothetical slow-aging person just like it could happen to anybody else.
> Of course people could be accused for maleficium on really flimsy evidence so it could also hypothetically happen to the hypothetical slow-aging person just like it could happen to anybody else.
Yep, hence points 1 and 3.
My point was just that unusual aging patterns would not put you at any particular risk of being burned at the stake.
It's about a very small number of people who are immortal, in the sense they stop ageing at 25 (iirc). They can be killed like anyone else, but smaller damages do heal faster. Also, they never get sick. Some are thousands of years old, some less. Some smart, some not so much. How they handle their immortality is very interesting though. I won't spoil it for you though.
Some of my favories:
Garden Party (sleazy young adult Los Angeles drama)
Murder Party (low budget horror comedy)
How English sounds to non-English speakers (youtube)
Circle 2015 (scifi)
There's some play adaptations which have few characters and mostly dialogue: Carnage, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Glengarry Glen Ross
Linklater's "Before" trilogy is also heavily dialogue-based, but the there are multiple locations.
"Perfect Strangers" (2017) .
And so is, mostly, "Rope."
Let's assume the mutation happens when the person is in their 20s, which would be ideal. If this occurred any time in history up to the 1800s, would you not still be likely to die of disease, cancer, or other injury? Life expectancy hasn't increased because we are better at slowing aging, it has increased because we are better at not dying of the things that kill us.
If the mutation happened invitro, did the child survive birth? If it did survive but never grew, it wouldn't reproduce, and may have been abandoned if it were too much of a burden.
There are many scenarios where this mutation could have occurred but was never passed on.
As for more extreme cases, I could believe that a few people discovered that they weren't aging and hid it, but not more than a few people, especially in modern times. Switching identities isn't exactly easy and the probability of every one of them successfully carrying it out gets exponentially suppressed as the number of people increases.
And the same argument applies to true magicians btw.
When you could summon real magic, why should you reveal that to others?
(or care to claim a million dollar
But I doubt it.
From a perspective of evolution, aging and dying and new borns, make sense, because the environment changes. And youth is able to adopt better to new changes.
FWIW, it doesn't need to do this. It just need to result in more surviving children and grandchildren. Looking 5-10 years younger when you're a female between the ages of 25 and 40 could A) get you access to a higher status mate who can better provide for your children, and/or B) keep your mate more interested in you, reducing the likelihood that they will continue to provide for the children you have with them.
There would almost certainly be a continuum, perhaps following a power law. The top quartile might be the "40 not looking a day over 25," while the top 0.1% might be true Dorian Greys.
Aside from that, it's only in the last millennium or so that we have record keeping that we could plausibly consider credible enough to prove the existence of such a person - in ages before that we have countless myths of immortality or unnatural longevity that we immediately disregard as fictional. So if Methuselah really had lived 969 years due to this mutation, we'd all be none the wiser!
So, if you want to tell if someone is 25 or 40, maybe their skin will give it away?
The Man From Earth and its sequel are on Amazon Prime Video.
edit: I should have did a ctrl+f man from earth
It's a great show everyone seems to have seen it. I never knew about it until I saw it in my Amazon Prime Video suggestions.
Excessive smoking and UV light exposure can easily make a 25-year old look older than a healthy 50-year old who exercises regularly, uses sunscreen when they go out in the sun, and didn’t get scars from accidents.
>There's probably no way to prove that this hasn't happened. Anyone who realizes they're not aging normally would likely have taken on a new identity elsewhere for fear of:
>1. being burned at the stake
>2. being trialed in repeated experiments
>3. being deified, and then subsequently being burned at the stake.
>I realize my comment sounds like a joke, but I'm entirely serious. If you or I found out we're not aging normally and look e.g. 25 by the time we reach 40, or 30 by the time we reach 45, would either of us remain in our current lives?
1, 2 and 3 are very astute observations about human nature. ALL people who disagree on 1,2 and 3 are just naive in what they think human nature is. History repeats.
Not aging is as slow as aging, and by the time you realise and accept there is something special with you, everyone else around has already figured it out. Disappearing at that point might be a pretty conspicuous move "that guy [or woman, I wonder why all immortals must always be men... :)] who is 70 but actually looked thirty went missing".
Go take a look at her photo.
But yeah, wow.
I once met a 102 year old man who lived alone in a big patch of private forest in BC that he bought in the '20s. He was still driving a car and doing jumping jacks.
"The Ouroboros, an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail, has been said to have a meaning of infinity by depicting the cycle of birth and death. The Ouroboros eats its own tail to sustain its life, in an eternal cycle of renewal."
Waiting for my deification now...
The socially desirable scenarios like this aren't really the interesting ones. How about looking 5 when you reach 25?
Roughly speaking, it boils down to the fact that you need 90 out of 100 subsystems in your body to be working. Your lungs, your heart, your skin, your brain, etc.
They interact, but each part also needs to work on its own for you to live. Every one of those systems can fail and leave you dead.
Since evolution only "cares" about you to the point where you bear children and raise them, what are the chances that it engineered ALL those systems to last FOREVER?
And then it created a single hormone to control every system and make them stop decaying?
Such a fantastic over-engineering can't occur purely by chance, 100 times over.
In fact ANY mutation that decreased life expectancy but increased fitness during the reproductive years would be selected FOR.
So it seems possible you have multiple mutations that prevent you from living much longer than "expected".
(I'd even conjecture there's a sexual selection effect going on in the "live hard die young" people, like rock stars, athletes, etc. Their hormones are selected for "living on the edge", and that strategy has proven useful over millenia... i.e. a tendency toward self-destruction is not necessarily something that gets weeded out by evolution)
That said I think it's definitely possible for some treatment to make someone who would have lived 60 years last until 70, or even 100. It's harder to imagine going from 100 to 200 (especially with productive life).
This sentence turn things into such an anthropomorphic way, to the point that the concept of evolution en engineering don't make sense anymore.
In the (scientific) evolution theories, evolution doesn't "engineer" life. It shapes life forms by environment constraints alone. And these constraints are in no appearing way optimized for fostering life, which appear more like an accidental byproduct. No conceptual framework nor any concern for conscious parsimony of implementation or sense of elegance are underlying evolution forces.
Indefinite youthfulness span would sure seems impressive. But it is nothing compared to other challenges that should be overcome to attain an exceptional life span: an unswerving immune system, not being killed by any domestic accident, human social violence or natural catastrophe, and not suicide yourself over psychological disorders.
There are scientific papers, BTW, which engineer solutions by evolutionary algorithms. Is that evolution or engineering? Clearly there's an engineering setup, made of all the constraints you speak about for the evolution process to take place, and that evolution process is also defined artificially, yet just like the real stuff, it follows a set of rules, so where's the divide? Why nature couldn't be engineering life with evolution, but humans could?
Your last point OTOH is quite relevant.
Humans are highly social beings that naturally live in large kin groups. Knowledge and culture form a huge part of our survival strategy. Who among us have the most knowledge and experience to pass on? Elders.
Take a look at the role of elders in traditional hunter/gatherer cultures. Huge importance. Is it not implausible that natural selection would favour increased life expectancy so that elders can maintain and transmit the group's body of knowledge?
I'm more talking about people who want to raise life expectancy from 100 to 200, not go from 70 to 100 (not sure where the original article fell on this).
70 to 100 is clearly possible and we've already gotten a long way there in the 20th century (antibiotics, etc.) The "problem" now seems to be that not everyone actually cares if they live that long... i.e. there are plenty of people who don't want to live to 100, and might not even if they maintained the health of a 60 or 70 year old.
Evolution works in small steps, over long periods of time (given the humans slow grow up process). Mutations in any of those systems may increase or lower the chances of such failure. Evolution takes care of both, albeit by a small margin. Currently, cause of death number one worldwide is the ischemic heart disease¹ (i.e. the famous "coronary"). Now guess what, there are genetic mutations that work on this out there already, one of them being the Gilbert's syndrome². Yes, forever is unattainable, but (humanity scale speaking) I'm glad having lived past twenty four and willing to take any blessing coming after.
"I'd even conjecture there's a sexual selection effect going on in the «live hard die young» people, like rock stars, athletes, etc."
I hope you're aware of survivor's bias here. Assume a lot more of those to be weeded out. Also, the stars made it not only because they were risk inclined but also because they they have that value they were recognized for.
I find the gradual improvement that one may gain having a bit of time to be a very useful edge over the young and inexperienced, in the game of life. Especially for a male (that is not that restricted by an inherent fertility age limit), this edge fits perfectly in the reproductive selection window you mention.
And Gilbert isn't "free" -- it comes at cost. The body is a machine, and engineering is full of tradeoffs.
People with high abilities in one area (geniuses) often have low abilities in others. Optimizing some protein for your heart isn't neutral for the rest of your body, etc.
The point about the stars is that evolution has "determined" that it can be optimal to take a ton of risks and die early than to live safely for 200 years (in some cases, of course evolution favors diversity too, which is why you see centenarians).
If you could get reward without risk, then it wouldn't work that way -- the "stars" would live forever creating great music and not drink themselves to death. But life is full of tradeoffs and reward involves risk.
> A handful of girls seem to defy one of the biggest certainties in life: ageing. He has identified four girls with this condition, marked by what seems to be a permanent state of infancy, a dramatic developmental arrest. He suspects that the disease is caused by a glitch somewhere in the girls’ DNA. His quest for immortality depends on finding it.
The key is that the mutation would prevent reproduction. If you never age, you never reproduce.
You can think about different cancers. A mutation that causes fatal childhood cancer doesn't get passed on. A mutation that causes prostate cancer can spread.
Aging is weird. Maybe there’s something to be learned from these cases, but it’s very unlikely to be straightforward. Unless you’re a roundworm. We can make those live hundreds of human-relative years. But in those cases it’s a tiny number of genes involved, we have near zero evidence that the same is the case for higher organisms.
This will sound callous, but some older people really should be allowed to die. There's definitely points of diminishing returns for all involved; I hope that under certain conditions (eg dementia) I'll be allowed to die when I'm decrepit.
Maybe the people who don't age just died of something else eventually.
Parabiosis does not substantially extend lifespan (possibly not at all), based on the experiments done so far. Even if it did, it definitely does not double it, which is what would be predicted by naively looking at the halved DNA mAge on the clock.
This paper is very likely intended as another validation of Horvath's mAge clock. The clock shows that there is a strong association between epigenetic state and both chronological age and morbidity risk. Exactly why that is, and what it means, is highly controversial.
Mainstream aging field does not really care about lifespan much anymore. Increasing amount of focus is on so-called "healthspan" - approximately the duration of healthy life, or incidence of morbidity. You would think that you could not affect one without the other, but in fact you can, to a frustrating and surprising degree.
Therefore when you read about "rejuvenation", we are increasingly finding that you can find treatments which improve a broad spectrum of unrelated health markers, that these treatments will affect epigenetic loci predictive of age, and all of this without any substantial effect on lifespan. (From a public policy perspective, this is considered highly desirable, as for public expenditures it would be ideal if people lived perfectly healthy until the moment they keel over, even if we cannot extend the time until they do)
One possibility to keep in mind is that rodents die almost entirely of cancer. So it is possible that some treatment which improves "everything except cancer" would not show any lifespan effect in rodents. This would be one way of reconciling this paper with Horvath's earlier finding that the clock predicts all-cause mortality in humans.
That would be between solar cycles and lunar cycles: seems enticing. That would make Methuselah 80yo when he reportedly died; but there are problems still as Seth (for example) became a father at 105, which if it were months would be 8¾ years.
Another possibility is that when it says Methuselah it just means "Methuselah's blood line" or "Methuselah the tribe"; it's a Hebraic thing (elsewhere in the OT) to refer to a tribe as if referring to the founding person.
Or, the person writing down the numbers used a different system, through error or otherwise.
I don't remember anyone mentioned living for _thousands_ of years. There are plenty of characters that live for hundreds, though. It is believed that Abraham lived to the age of 175, while I believe there was one character that lived into the 300's, but I do not recall their name. It has been a while since I delved into the old testament.
> Said to have died at the age of 969, he lived the longest of all figures mentioned in the Bible.
The other story mentioned in the Quran is about a group of people and their dog who slept in a cave for 309 years and woke up afterwards. I believe they died shortly after. There is an actual chapter in the quran about this called the cave.
edit: Found it on the wikipedia page you linked. I was thinking about Enoch, Methuselah's father, who lived to be 365 years old according to the bible.
But train wrecks would allow for significantly higher populations per experiment.
I must ponder this.
They call me Mr...
In 1850 the leading cause of death in the US census was "zymotic diseases" and cancer caused death in the triple digits. In 2020, almost none of the diseases in the "zymotic" category are significant in the US, but we're still dying. We've cured croup and scarlet fever, so we don't die of those much any more--instead we live long enough to die of heart disease and cancer. Cancer didn't kill many people in 1850, but that's only because "zymotic diseases" killed them before they could develop cancers.
I think it's likely that there are many causes of aging, and they will behave the same way: as we eliminate some causes of aging we'll live long enough to die of other causes of aging that take longer to potentiate.
Given most people who reproduce do so before the age of 50, there's not really an evolutionary pressure to not age--in fact, there may actually be evolutionary pressure to age so you die off and leave more resources for more efficient (younger) organisms carrying your DNA. Ghengis Khan, the most evolutionarily successful person in history, died at 64 or 65. So if a person did produce these signaling molecules, they wouldn't necessarily gain any evolutionary benefit from them.
 Obviously "zymotic diseases" is a nonsense category in modern medicine--most were bacterial infections, some other forms of infections, some completely misattributed to infection. The point here is that most of them weren't cancers or heart disease--the things that kill Americans today.
Seems likely this is a gradient, not a binary thing, so perhaps someone with a beneficial mutation would just live a little longer. There’s not a ton of evolutionary pressure at the old age side of the spectrum, you’re not reproducing a lot, so it may not get picked up.
Wilder speculation: it could be that indeed this has been happening and is why humans live about 2x as long as chimps and gorillas.
Personally I think it’s quite unlikely that in humans single genes would have large deltas on age. There are maybe a few hints from supercentenarians (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Research_into_centenarians) that telomerase and other genes have some effect, but the “one gene for aging” in humans is elusive. As a result, it’s hard to predict how all this would play out evolutionarily.
Meanwhile if there was an entire community like this then the people living longer still wouldn't be at a disadvantage, the community would just have a different equilibrium. The surviving communities could e.g. have fewer children on average (you only have to replace people who die in accidents) or would expand their territory over time (expanding population can control more territory).
But if everyone lived longer than required, i.e. the minimum ideal for raising viable offspring, then this population stood to be out-competed by another population that aged at a more efficient rate. Individuals in a population aging at an optimal rate is an evolutionary advantage to the population.
Are you trying to provide an evolutionary justification for aging by using aging itself as a reason?
Also, if it takes 4 different mutations (assuming each of 4 injections is a different substance), it might be very unlikely for all 4 to happen in one individual, and any 1 mutation may not give that individual any particular reproductive advantage.
I think it's more likely that, as many others in this thread have observed, longevity is ignored while evolution optimizes for other things, which I would distinguish from something that specifically evolved like vision. Things can die perfectly well on their own without dying needing to be optimized. It would also be more plausible to me that death was evolved if it had some clear, functional, deliberate mechanism by which it was enacted, the way that eyes or lungs are clearly purposeful and functional. Death happens as an interference with function rather than as someone handled by an organ or internal system.
This is more than speculation, how is this not beneficial?
A more interesting approach to me seems almost feasible with current technology, assuming CRISPR will soon be able to replace DNA without causing more side effect DNA damage than it fixes.
Take a healthy human blastocyst, derived from healthy young relatives of the patient (likely to have compatible mitochondrial DNA). Now, determine the patient's original DNA structure. This would occur by sampling various cell lineages and using a statistical model to estimate the original DNA of the patient as a baby. Now, take some stem cells from the blastocyst and replace the DNA with the patient's DNA. Generate a culture of different stem cells and inject them throughout the patient's body. The patient now has cell lineages with fresh telomeres that will be actively dividing for another 6 decades. Perhaps additional signaling regulation would be necessary to prevent types of growth that would be unwanted in adults.
Any experts want to poke holes at this idea? I have no formal training in biotech but I always thought this seemed like the cure to non-structural age related diseases. The harder part seems like cleaning and regrowing new veins and arteries, and brain repair.
FWIW, I'm pretty skeptical of this announcement, but (assuming it's correct), it's possible that you need multiple signalling factors to achieve the age-reduction and that one single mutation might not do the trick.
Let's say that you needed four precise mutations to achieve the age reduction, then the probability of getting all of them in a single individual would be quite low.
But like I said, this announcement has a bad smell to me. In particular, the fact that they are not revealing the "rejuvenating factors" as well as the fact that they have not demonstrated age prolongation.
Finally, the complaint about the aging field being focused on cellular damage feels a little "straw-man-y" to me. I'm certainly not an expert in the field, but I imagine there are numerous researchers hunting for age-related signalling molecules.
Because evolution is a random-driven process.
(in the same way that we carry a number of traits that made our survival harder)
How would we know? What fraction of people in the past actually dies from old age and complications of old age, and not disease, infection, or strife such as wars or other conflict?
In the past, I imagine not degrading due to age would be at best an extra few decades of time until you got a bad flu, or pneumonia, or an infection, or were killed on a battlefield, or if you were female, died from complications of giving birth.
We could have age-proof people living among us today who happen to die in car accidents or any number of other causes.
Evolution happens at all scales, not just the creature scale.
> But Katcher has no research grants or university lab or venture capital funding, no team of grad students mining databases and screening chemicals in the back room.
> One thing Katcher has going for him is the correct theory.
I start to suspect the author’s opinion is stronger than their evidence.
Let's consider the universe where Katcher has discovered the secret to aging. At some point in that universe, Katcher's work is going to be relatively unknown and unsponsored, and at a later point there will be trillions poured into it. The above quote you posted aligns just fine with the earlier part of that timeline so now you're just left to decide, given your priors about major scientific discoveries, how likely it is that a major scientific discovery can come from a "dark horse".
The vast vast majority of research discoveries happen within the system as part of large collaborations.
It's always healthy to have people going against the grain, but even they can find funding if they have ideas they can express coherently and that stand up to scrutiny.
Funding comes from calls from proposals which are within existing, established research fields. Funding outside of a current research field is nearly impossible to find. If your research isn't in an established field, there isn't an NSF/DARPA/etc. call to respond to, and there is no program officer who has any interest in your work.
Similar through the whole research pipeline. New areas of research don't have established venues where you can publish, people to cite your papers, or a community to write academic reference letters for you. People who work in new fields are usually doing so as nights and weekends projects, or are independently wealthy.
And although the vast majority of independent researchers are crackpots, a few are credible and do occasionally make major breakthroughs. Importantly, the majority of breakthroughs outside of established fields are made be people unsupported by NSF, and without good venues to publish (although quite often, those individuals are academics working in their spare time, so half within the system and half outside).
> In the race to effect substantial, system-wide rejuvenation, Harold Katcher is a dark horse. He has the right academic credentials and a solid history of research. In fact, in earlier life he was part of a team that discovered the breast cancer gene, brca1. I asked Harold for a biographical sketch, and have printed it in a box at the end of this posting.
And here's the bio sketch itself:
> So, you might consider me a late bloomer. While I have thousands of citations in the literature, with publications ranging from the discovery of the human ‘breast cancer gene’, to protein structure, bacteriology, biotechnology, bioinformatics, and biochemistry, there was no center or direction to my work as I had given up my personal goal of solving/curing aging when I learned that ‘wear and tear’ was the cause of it. Yet something happened in year 1985 when I was in California working with Michael Waterman and Temple Smith (fathers of bioinformatics) that is inexplicable: I found myself in Intensive Care with a tube inserted into my trachea and the knowledge that I might not live. And then I had a dream: I dreamed that somehow in the far future (and on another world), I was being feted for ‘bringing immortality to mankind’. Clearly, I survived that incident (started with an infected tooth). I lived a wonderful life – becoming a computer programmer (which I loved), leaving that for the University of Maryland’s Asian division, becoming a full professor and then the Academic Director for the Sciences, in Tokyo, Japan. By the time I left Japan in 2004, (my daughter Sasha was a fourth-grader, (yonensei), in the Japanese school system), I was teaching for U of M online – somewhat retired, and looking forwards to writing computer programs for fun and profit. Yet I never ever forgot that dream. It was clearly impossible; I had no lab – and really, there was no way to repair all damaged cells – it’d be like sweeping back the ocean. And then, in 2009, I read an old paper from 2005, a paper written by the Conboys, (Michael and Irina), Tom Rando and others, coming from Irv Weisman’s lab, that completely changed my life; that showed me that everything I believed about aging was wrong – that aging occurred at the organismic level, not at the cellular level and could be reversed. Well, the rest of the story is about persistence and the blessed intervention of Akshay Sanghvi who too saw there was another way and provided the structural, monetary, and emotional support (and some good ideas) that had me start a new career at age 72 in Mumbai, India. I feel twenty years younger than I did three years ago, I guess that’s another hint about aging. Now the ‘mystical’ dream? It wouldn’t be the first time in history that that happened – take that as a datum.
2) The research in the blog post is not fully summarized. You know it's a weak blog post when they post results WITHOUT SAMPLE SIZE. This is a GLARING omission and highly unscientific. The actual paper shows n=593 rat tissues and n=850 human tissues, which is fine but the blog post should report on these details.
3) It's not that new to suggest that younger individuals' blood plasma might have a rejuvenating effect.
4) They look at certain tissue types, which wouldn't result in changes to all tissue types, like skin, hair, brain, etc.
5) This is very early stages, again, we need actual trials in humans, and then those trials probably need to be followed up for years and years, since aging is a long-run phenomenon. This is more like a cohort study where we enroll a huge number into a cohort of aging-treatments and controls who have some other placebo-treatment.
There are callouts in the article that try to calm down that viewpoint at least like:
Katcher thinks that the molecules involved will not be difficult to manufacture, so that when a product is eventually commercialized, it will not require extraction from the blood of live subjects, rodent or human.
Perhaps for a good reason
I know of one at least one company (Spring Discovery) that is following some of this work up to find some driver molecules that could have the same effect as parabiosis. If interested in the topic I’d look at the work from the labs mentioned in the article as well as Saul Villeda (former grad student of Wyss-Coray, full disclosure I know him socially) at UCSF.
TLDR: This article is a breathless take on active research, clearly the author is excited. There’s reason to keep investigating, but the conclusions in the article are stronger than what the research can say conclusively at the moment. Very early days.
The truth is that almost all people living above global poverty levels are reproducing at or below the rates needed to keep the population level. When people are confident that their children will live, they tend to just have one or two children. With this in mind, if we want to avoid overpopulation, it should actually be poverty that we want to alleviate, not longevity.
I highly recommend that book, by the way.
Not wanting to die is fine, I think more importantly, not wanting to age and gradually become a burden towards end of life is also natural. Not wanting to be lost and missed (nevertheless hoping that you've done well enough to be missed). The idea of being bedridden and helpless is more scary to me than death.
But not wanting to die __ever__ can be driven by narcissism. If no one dies or gets old then we never make way for the next generation. If the cure is widespread you get overpopulation, if it is limited you get a class divide, never aging fantastically rich immortals and a semi-permanent underclass. Neither seems fantastic. What are the rules? Do you give something up to be in your 20s forever?
Generational change seems like a strong force for good in a lot of ways, to me at least. It can be harder to rewire a neural network than it is to start fresh.
Note that any non-magical intervention will likely be 'increasing longevity' not granting immortality. And even if that were the case, there's always the heat death of the universe. There's no escape from reality closing, you'd probably have a difficult time sustaining biological life-forms long before the universe is dark and cold. I doubt it would be pleasant. What is the storage limit for a brain anyway?
Personally I find some cold comfort that everything I do is meaningless and will be forgotten. I will once rest and be gone. So will everything.
At the risk of repeating myself: imagine a world where everyone was ageless by default, and they started to experience issues like inequality or overpopulation. What would that world's top scientists come up with? Would it be "kill everyone above a certain age"? I doubt it, because that would be very silly, and anyone seriously suggesting it in that world would be considered obviously insane. There are a lot of better options that don't require mass early death; these problems aren't inevitable.
>there's always the heat death of the universe. There's no escape from reality closing, you'd probably have a difficult time sustaining biological life-forms long before the universe is dark and cold. I doubt it would be pleasant.
This has always struck me as a very, very odd argument. Assuming protons decay, we're talking ~10^37 years until physics starts getting in the way. That's 10^27 times longer than the age of the universe. An entity observing those timescales would have time to see entire solar systems grow, mature, and die a billion billion times over, without exhausting even a billionth of that duration. Sure, such an entity would run out of stars to observe, and biology would get tricky, but computation wouldn't cease, and fundamentally that's all that's needed for a rich existence. It's an eternity nested in an eternity nested in an eternity. And if protons don't decay...
It's not infinite, but as a human, the distinction is completely irrelevant. Whatever a human would become on those timescales can decide what it wants to do later- for now, I'd just like more than a measly 100 years. It's not like we're wishing on a monkey paw.
And it would most definitely not be "infect everyone with a pathogen that causes their bodies and minds to deteriorate over several decades".
The ‘heat death argument’ is not about 100 years vs. a billion years, it is about the inevitability of things. Even if you live a very very long time it will still not be forever, and we all have to make peace with that whether we like it or not. It comes for us all inevitably. It isn’t even an argument it is more of a tautological statement.
Make no mistake if there were some longevity potion and I were offered it I would absolutely take it. But that doesn’t change the fact that some things are inevitable and that it isn’t clear cut that me or anyone living for an extremely long period of time is a ‘net good.’
Perhaps longer, healthier lives would allow more people to find their way out of poverty. Perhaps people would be less neurotic about accumulating massive amounts of wealth and power if they didn't have to worry about a limited lifespan. Maybe we'd all be more concerned about the future of our planet and of humanity in general if we knew we were going to be there to see it in another 50, or 100, or 10,000 years.
The heat death argument is also a bit absurd when you consider the relative timespans we're talking about. Why trade billions of years for 100 just because they're both finite? If we were talking about dollars it would seem more concrete. And given a billion years who's to say what's possible?
I didn’t say generational death was the only way for society to advance, I said it was a “strong force.” Sure, possibly people become less selfish now that death is not a foregone conclusion, but now you also have to plan for an infinite retirement, or work forever. There’s no promise of utopia. More likely than not things stay the same, the status quo isn’t really that great for a lot of people.
The heat death argument is about the inevitable end of things. Yes I would take more time and yes it would be great to not get old, but you have to settle your own finiteness and make peace with that. Even with some miracle technology being something that will eventually not be is simply what it means to exist.
Couldn't it also be driven by deep, abiding curiosity? This seems to me at least as likely as narcissism as a motivation.
One part is emotional: attempted empathy
Current, alive me regrets not seeing the continued beauty of humanity on continental plates in O'Neill cylinders in belt nations strewn around the Sun inhabited by trillions, but I take solace in something "higher than myself" or more significant, stepping out of myself, than my own experience: the experience of everyone else.
As in: don't be so self-obsessed; it sucks that you won't be there to see miracles in the year 3,000, but countless future generations will, so that suck is only a drop of bad in an infinite ocean of good. Be grateful for what you are here for, and be happy for other people, whether they exist now or not.
NIN, In This Twilight, black-is-really-white shit na mean xD
The second part is more rational: deprecation of consciousness
This one's harder to think or talk about and more philosophical and probably has veins running into the first part. I kind of feel like, "objectively", all consciousness is unified in its reductive, anthropic-principle-nothingness. All consciousness seems to be is a runtime with memory data. In the future, or when you wake up tomorrow, is your consciousness then still "your" consciousness? Still the same consciousness as now? And, if not, what's the difference between that and the consciousness of a completely separate person?
Think a clone or an uploaded, digital clone (a la the game Soma), whose experience you don't share and, despite being a clone, seems as alien to your qualia as any non-clone. But they're still a clone. So then extend that to other people.
Fetishizing your own consciousness is like fetishizing the NAND gates in the SSD that your OS runs on. In the end, it's just as good as another OS running on different hardware.
These two things make my death a miraculously beautiful, globally happy ending, rather than a bleak, local tragedy. It's just a shift in focus, and I think a sober, reasonable one.
... Until heat death, when everyone dies, but that's even farther out. xD And, hey, we don't even know what the majority of matter or energy in the Universe are yet; that buys some leeway in being tied down to predicted cosmic tragedies, r-right??
AND if you're feeling so astrophysicsy, there's always the emergency lever of multiple universes, which inductively follows the same reasoning for self-among-others, just at a slightly larger scale.
I like your second analogy and I agree with it. Imagine yourself as a micro thread. You’ve terminated, now there’s room for another micro thread.
But it’s hard not to fetishize our own consciousness I am of course, the center of my own universe.
But if we can keep the same processes longer without degradation and upgrade the hardware to support more of them, then maybe we should?
It's difficult to take a consistent position that holds both "I don't want to die early" and "I don't care if I die". It requires an arbitrary judgment on what constitutes 'enough' life.
Imagine a pill that gives you 10 years of good health and freedom from aging. No tricks, no evil genies, no monkey paws. It's completely free and universally available. It's not a one time offer. You can change your mind later as many times as you want. How many people would actually refuse that pill and choose to die at a 'natural' time?
Based on how much we spend on medicine, I'd guess very few, and that seems like a clear preference for being alive.
Completely untrue. Maybe as an individual, but your impact on other humans is the biggest difference. Particularly if you have children, there is no equivalence.
Are you fine with dying today?
We want to live when life is good, because life is good. If you are enjoying your life today, and want to keep living because of it, then you are going to want to keep living when you are in your 70's.
But you don't worry about it now, because you are young.
Aging is a set of complex bio-physical-chemical processes. We have actually made a lot of progress in recent decades understanding how this happens. There is no fundamental reason we won't be able to better understand these processes and then mitigate them heavily, if not entirely.
Aubrey de Grey is one of the scientists leading these efforts and his work, along with others, is very interesting. It seems to me there is real potential here. There are many difficult hurdles, but I find it plausible we might overcome them to an extent where it is possible to significantly extend the human lifespan.
If course, if this actually happens, there will be massive social, political, and economic consequences. I'm not exactly sure how that would play out. I'm a bit of an optimist, so I imagine there would be some sort of new non-dystopic paradigm that arises.
Anyway, once they die their children will take over, as it is usual, so nothing will change if they were to just live forever.
To be fair though, my comment was way too broad. I should have clarified that I mean a constant, overbearing dread of the prospect of death is super unhealthy. Make life suck, and effectively shortens it in the experience of the scared one. (source: did that for a long time, got healthy, stopped being scared. Sample size of 1. :-D )
Reading your siblings, you're projecting your own feelings onto a completely reasonable feeling that most people have: with another hundred years of experience, what's possible?
As for projection, not so much - I've not really had any significant fear of death, aside from instinct to avoid certain demise. :-)
Instead it's more that I've only ever seen "I'm at peace with the idea of dying" and "desperately clinging to anything that can prolong my life, even if only by a little." Admittedly, that's my anecdotal experience of the people with whom I interact, and I did indeed present a false dichotomy. :-\ Again, my apologies there.
In the proper logical sense, "not wanting to die" is only technically negated as "wanting to die". Quite literally the definition of negation - introducing a "not" in front of whatever the thing is. So that's my oops.
It's a weird place though, because the negation of "at peace with the idea of dying one day" is "NOT at peace" with the same. Which implies fear. Which... I dunno, I've reached my limit now. :-)
Death is a weird concept to consider in a neutral / rational manner, eh?
This reminds me of plasma treatment for covid-19 which is actually proven. Perhaps someone will create a market for that.
True but Hong Kong life expectancy for men is 81.3 years so one should still consider this evidence in favor of the man doing something that extends his lifespan. Doesn't need to be smoking-gun level but still: update your priors.
P(works|someone doing this is 91) > P(works). n is 1 here so the probability hasn't changed much at all.
Genes, good eating habits and healthy dose of exercise (rather low/medium effort that lasts long like gardening or foraging mushrooms in their case), coupled with obvious things like no addictions... and voila. They both had very good work ethics, on a level I can only envy (thanks to communists that didn't get them far professionally but that's another story and it didn't bother them).
Bad part is, all of their friends and colleagues are dead by now. They can only meet their kids' generation.
My mum says it gets weird when people your own age you know start dying in numbers but even weirder when people much younger start dying.