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posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday January 13 2015, @04:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the ought-to-be-enough-for-anybody dept.

The Guardian has an interesting article on the current quest sweeping Silicon Valley to disrupt death and the $1m prize challenging scientists to “hack the code of life” and push human lifespan past its apparent maximum of about 120 years. Hedge Fund Manager Joon Yun's Palo Alto Longevity Prize, which 15 scientific teams have so far entered, will be awarded in the first instance for restoring vitality and extending lifespan in mice by 50%:

Billionaires and companies are bullish about what they can achieve. In September 2013 Google announced the creation of Calico, short for the California Life Company. Its mission is to reverse engineer the biology that controls lifespan and “devise interventions that enable people to lead longer and healthier lives”. Though much mystery surrounds the new biotech company, it seems to be looking in part to develop age-defying drugs. In April 2014 it recruited Cynthia Kenyon, a scientist acclaimed for work that included genetically engineering roundworms to live up to six times longer than normal, and who has spoken of dreaming of applying her discoveries to people. “Calico has the money to do almost anything it wants,” says Tom Johnson, an earlier pioneer of the field now at the University of Colorado who was the first to find a genetic effect on longevity in a worm.

Why might tech zillionaires choose to fund life extension research? Three reasons reckons Patrick McCray, a historian of modern technology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. First, if you had that much money wouldn’t you want to live longer to enjoy it? Then there is money to be made in them there hills. But last, and what he thinks is the heart of the matter, is ideology. If your business and social world is oriented around the premise of “disruptive technologies”, what could be more disruptive than slowing down or “defeating” ageing? “Coupled to this is the idea that if you have made your billions in an industrial sector that is based on precise careful control of 0s and 1s, why not imagine you could extend this to the control of atoms and molecules?,” he says.

 
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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Snotnose on Tuesday January 13 2015, @04:55PM

    by Snotnose (1623) on Tuesday January 13 2015, @04:55PM (#134434)

    What's the qualify of life going to be? If I'm going to age normally, then live an extra 40-50 years, then no thanks.

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  • (Score: 2) by emg on Tuesday January 13 2015, @05:13PM

    by emg (3464) on Tuesday January 13 2015, @05:13PM (#134445)

    Damn. I guess they never thought of that.

    Aging is a disease. It's well past time we cured it.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14 2015, @01:28AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14 2015, @01:28AM (#134604)

      Actually, this is a surprisingly common question about life extension. The tl;dr is that they want to both cure aging and solve any health problems that will inevitably arise from a much longer lifespan.

  • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Tuesday January 13 2015, @05:25PM

    by kaszz (4211) on Tuesday January 13 2015, @05:25PM (#134449) Journal

    People get old and die because they loose their health. People live long because they get to keep their health. So if you live longer it's because you have your health intact.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13 2015, @05:45PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13 2015, @05:45PM (#134457)

      People get old and die because they loose their health

      So the solution is to tighten your health?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14 2015, @07:04AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14 2015, @07:04AM (#134653)

        LOL

  • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday January 13 2015, @05:46PM

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 13 2015, @05:46PM (#134459)

    What about people who die of a stroke at age 20? They would probably greatly enjoy another "horrific" 40 years of perfectly normal aging.

    Casual observation of Alzheimer patients seems to imply die about a decade after their brain starts to go. I'm not seeing a huge problem with my brain not starting to go for an extra 40-50 years later than "default". Ditto heart attack and stroke victims. If my brain goes when I'm 140 instead of when I'm 90, I'm not seeing much of a problem.

    One interesting quality of life issue is you're NOT going to be permitted to retire in your 60s if "everyone" suddenly starts living to 200. If you have your health, your owners (.gov and .com alike) are going to expect work out of you for most of your life. How that corresponds with the equal and opposite corporate demand of pyramidal structures where you fire 99% of employees before 20 yrs of experience is a total mystery. If no one over the age of 50 can get a job anymore (more or less true more or less societal wide right now) and suddenly people can't retire until 125, that means 75 years of proletarian riots I guess.

    A non-physical QoL problem is a lot of, shall we say, lower cognitive performance people, have severe problems keeping up with modern society under current conditions. Not a problem in the self selecting tech fields like here, but out in the world, there's going to be a lot of really pissed off at the world Fox News viewers. A southern white man from 150 years ago would fit right in with the neocons today, but everyone else is going to have adjustment pains and a related issue is the neocon will be screaming at his Fox News TV every hour even worse than happens today with old men.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13 2015, @08:04PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13 2015, @08:04PM (#134513)

      A cause of Alzheimer's [wikipedia.org] is thought to be "junk" accumulating in cells [wikipedia.org]. Treat the SENS targets [wikipedia.org], and you are also treating cancer, Alzheimer's, etc.

      Some people are able retire in their 40s. It just requires making a lot of money and financial planning. Some people already enjoy working their whole lives (in a job that they love doing), and research has shown that continuing to work delays brain decline. If we cure aging within 20-50 years, that will not be the cause of proletarian riots. The cause will be automation and AI massively eliminating employment.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14 2015, @04:32PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14 2015, @04:32PM (#134779)

      My mother is 70, and her friends a bit older: she's finding it depressing listening to them talk about how it would be preferable to die than to live much longer, because the human body simply doesn't last. The mind deteriorates, strength vanishes, and eventually all you're left with is memories of times gone by and friends who have passed on. My father lived about ten years past the point where his body and, with the mini-strokes that he often had, his mind started to fall apart. Death, coming in a haze of morphine to limit the pain, was a mercy for him.

      Be careful what you wish for, Tithonius.

      As for whether a southern white man from 150 years ago would be happy with neocons today, I doubt very much that he'd like watching the US tangle itself up in alliances with the Saudis and send soldiers abroad to die. You're talking about an agriculturalist and isolationist stereotype mixing with globalists who cheer on the financial sector: I'm not sure it would work. It's more a matter of whether any other modern political stereotypes would be less repulsive to the 150-year-old than the neocon.

    • (Score: 2) by cafebabe on Thursday January 22 2015, @11:47PM

      by cafebabe (894) on Thursday January 22 2015, @11:47PM (#137080) Journal

      Casual observation of Alzheimer patients seems to imply die about a decade after their brain starts to go.

      A friend's mother is on dementia medication and the doctor freely admits that it may cause sudden heart attack. If this practice is widespread then current medical practice is to deliberately trade physical health for mental health.

      One interesting quality of life issue is you're NOT going to be permitted to retire in your 60s if "everyone" suddenly starts living to 200.

      We may have a situation where people are restricted to physically demanding jobs until they are 50. We may even have to defer the end of higher education until people are 120. And it may not be possible to obtain a senior rôle until a person is 150. If you have a genetic disease which precludes this then it sucks to be you.

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