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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: 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.