The future of Aging

with Aubrey De Grey

The future of Aging

with Aubrey De Grey

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This week we interview the phenomenal Aubrey De Grey, the world’s foremost authority on longevity and developing strategies to slow or eliminate aging altogether. The author of The Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging (1999) and Ending Aging (2007), De Grey is probably best known for the concept of Longevity Escape Velocity, a view that soon medical technology will enable human beings to prevent age-related deterioration, and eventually eliminated aging entirely.

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this week on the futurists Aubry to gray it had just never occurred to me that anyone could possibly not think that aging is the world’s most serious problem the thing that causes the most suffering and so on and furthermore that is potentially a problem we can solve

welcome to this week’s the futurists I am back home in the hosting chair in Bangkok the last couple of episodes we’ve done while I’ve been on the road Rob your home too but in La that’s right good to see you again how was your trip that was it was very fruitful everywhere tiring you’re all over the place man you’re a world traveler well it’s good to see you in your base uh I love your sign good sign you’ve got in the background there yeah for the people listening futurists yeah Brett’s got a new futurist sign in the background sign for the show um for those of you who watch on YouTube of course you’ll be able to see it but uh this is uh upgrading the studio a little bit nice um we’ve got a really amazing guest coming up for you in a few minutes we’re gonna kick off with Aubrey DeGray the world’s preeminent expert on longevity but before we get to that Rob um some some news this week what what news from the future have you got for us here we go Brett news from the future

so this week I thought I’d focus on some topics that are related to Today’s Show I’m going to talk about some topics in healthcare and medical science so one of the topics we’ve talked about on this show in the past and it keeps coming up is what’s the next device that’s going to replace your smartphone you know in the in the history of Silicon Valley we’ve gone from mainframe computers to microcomputers to PCS desktops laptops and now the ubiquitous smartphone that seems to be in everybody’s pocket and the big speculation is what will come next some people say it’s a head mounted display for virtual reality other people say that it’s some sort of goggles or glasses you might wear but now there’s a new entrant in the field and they’re not making a headset what they’re offering is augmented reality contact lenses that’s right a lenses stick in your eye that can actually render render augmented reality the company’s been doing this been working it for a couple of years but the news here is that they just tested the first version of this in a real human eye it’s not a prototype it’s not a demo it’s actually a real test of working device we didn’t get much uh data on exactly what the test consisted of or what the results were like but we do have some information about the device I thought I’d share it with you bro because it’s kind of amazing this augmented contact reality lens from Mojo vision has 14 000 pixel per inch micro LED display which is about 30 times the pixel density of the current generation iPhone it has to be that that much resolution because it’s right on your eye right so it’s very close to your eyes so it has to be super high resolution um and the lenses also include an arm processor with a five gigahertz radio transmitter because it’s connecting wirelessly to the internet it has an accelerometer a gyroscope and a magnometer to track eye motion that’s how they can align all the augmented reality and make it register appropriately in the right places but that’s a lot of gear to stick in a contact lens see and bear in mind you know the last 30 years those those parts have been miniaturized but I did not realize that they’re miniaturizing that quickly what about the battery well that’s a great question and we don’t know uh so you know that they they didn’t release any stats on how long the device runs but of course what the company said is that they’re aiming for all-day use in the future and bear in mind this is just the very first you know iteration there’s a long road to go before this is a commercial product still kind of an exciting idea so that means you know while you’re riding your mountain bike you could be watching you know YouTube videos or Tick Tock videos always a good thing not very safe to do while you’re riding a mountain bike all right second news item is uh is about a new kind of vaccine and you’ll recall the company moderna created one of the most popular vaccines during the covid pandemic they generated about three billion dollars selling That vaccine last year so it was a very good product for them but of course now they need something new because people are moving on from from the pandemic and uh actually what the company is originally organized to do uh was to focus on vaccines for cancer and so this week there was an announcement from moderna that they’ve now developed a vaccine for skin cancer it’s an experimental product uh they are now in stage two clinical trials and they’re about to move into stage three clinical trials which is the most expensive and most rigorous phase of clinical trials in the U.S FDA Food and Drug Administration the way it works is it’s in partnership with Merck the big pharmaceutical company a Merc makes an immunotherapy drug called ktruta and if you use this vaccine with katruda it’s actually 44 more effective in terms of reducing the risk of recurrence or death that’s a pretty significant gain and of course because Merc produces that drug Katrina it was quite easy for them to do a test because they could you know they had a class of people who are already taking that drug without the vaccine so there’s a very very positive step forward for the pharmaceutical industry and the two companies plan to continue working together uh where they share costs and profits it’s interesting to note that modernist share price skyrocketed it went up by 23 percent on this news last news item I have for us today is uh related to coven actually it’s not particularly new this news came out in August but I thought because Aubry is joining us this would be a useful starting point for the show uh which is actually kind of a surprising and downbeat piece of news it came from the U.S Center for Disease Control and prevention they released a statement in August stating that life expectancy in the United States has declined from 2020 to 2021 and it’s gone down by about a year and that comes on top of a previous uh drop in life expectancy in the previous year in 2020. um so this is the biggest two-year first time in since the 1920s so 1921 is the last time in history when we had a two-year two years of declining uh um life expectancy in a row uh and it falls unevenly on the population as you might imagine men are more likely to die sooner than women um and different ethnicities are more likely to have this impact so for instance uh Native American people have the biggest drop in life expectancy followed by Caucasian or white people followed by black people people who are Hispanic and Asian experience only that slight drop in in longevity now the main driver of this of course is the covid-19 pandemic that accounts for almost 75 of this um and uh another Big Driver of it is uh accidents and injuries including drug overdose which was a surprisingly high percentage I don’t know if there’s a correlation there if people have been you know doing drugs or having more overdoses during the covet pandemic that wasn’t explained in this report but there are a couple of other factors driving this drop in in life expectancy and I thought this would be quite a good way to start the conversation with Aubry today let’s um one of those one of the drivers uh four percent of the increase was driven by heart disease and three percent was driven by chronic liver disease and cirrhosis so there’s the news a new contact lens that helps you see augmented reality and um some news about yeah sorry in a vaccine for skin cancer which is kind of an amazing idea um and then finally news about life expectancy but not very not very sunny news yeah um you know did you ever watch that Canadian um Sci-Fi show called continuum no because it actually demonstrated what a smart contact lens could could look like it’s very interesting but anyway so uh introducing Our Guest Aubry to Gray he’s uh of course if you’re in the futurist Community I’m sure you know of Audrey he’s a biomedical gerontologist uh he um has co-founded multiple non-profit associations including the Methuselah Foundation Sims research and his latest the longevity escape velocity Foundation or Lev Foundation he received both his uh computer science and PhD in biology from the University of Cambridge the latter after he wrote the book of the mitochondrial free radical Theory of Aging in 99 and in 2007 ending aging he’s done a large number of academic papers um Aubrey de gray Welcome to the futurists well thank you for having me on the show it’s good to see you again absolutely um so let me let me ask you you this when did you decide you wanted to cure death well first of all let’s be very careful with the terminology people often use the word death to mean aging and of course it doesn’t and to be to be quite honest it’s a problem that so many journalists are so fond of using those words interchangeably because the issue is that everyone knows that death is not something that can be solved uh technologically medically or anything like that um and therefore to yeah to Interchange those two words kind of subliminally makes people think that doing anything about aging is also science fiction All right well I stand chastised anyway so where did I figure out that I wanted to work on Aging actually it happened only at the age of around 30 31 something like that um because until that time I had been laboring under the misconception that everybody wanted to bring aging under complete medical control um and that you know the only reason we weren’t hearing much about it was because it was a really hard problem I just never it just never occurred to me that anyone could possibly not think that aging is the world’s most serious problem the thing that causes the most suffering and so on and furthermore that is potentially a problem we can solve um so I only discovered this uh kind of by accident after marrying a biologist and uh learning a lot of biology by accident over the dinner table before then I’d been working on another really difficult and really important problem that Humanity has namely the problem of work the fact that we have to spend so much of our time doing stuff that we wouldn’t do unless we were being paid for it so I wanted to work in artificial intelligence research and improve yeah you started in AI I I thought that’s interesting right yeah so um you know that’s uh I was and that that work that I was doing in my 20s was going perfectly well um so I wasn’t in any way disillusioned with that but when I discovered that um so few people were working on aging and they were not really going about it in the way that I thought they should um I thought well I better switch Fields really and I happened to be in a position where I could do that and so here I am is AI though a big part of the way we’re attacking the problem of um you know self-senaissance and and those types of issues today though so um when I got into it uh I think my background in computer science as a kind of engineering discipline was definitely extremely important in contributing to having a different way of looking at the problem of Aging than what people who had been in the field all their lives were doing so in that sense um computer science and and that area has played a big part in my contributions but these days and certainly really for the past you know 10 or 15 years my own work has been focused not so much on the use of computers but on the uh let’s call it the boring wet stuff but um you know it’s so hard to do uh and so the um um the the real question do you want to ask your question about the role of AI these days in the longevity Crusade is um more about what other people are doing and um other people are indeed doing a good deal in this area uh using AI uh there are important companies in silicone medicine is the biggest one um working in this space of using state-of-the-art machine learning techniques to identify new drugs to address various aspects of Aging by them is the only one there’s another company I’m very close to called bio age which is doing the same kind of thing but it also does um wet lab work and other smaller companies uh so yeah it’s definitely a very big thing and of course I should also mention that AI is being being used in ways that have relevance across the whole of medical research not just to aging the most conspicuous example that everyone knows about is Dick mine’s work on protein folding leading to this amazing thing Alpha fold that really more or less solves the problem of bloody unfolding a couple of years ago though there is still some way to go to really you know to solve the um the more difficult aspects of that can you tell us a bit about what you’re doing at the longevity escape velocity Foundation absolutely uh so uh Levy Foundation is my new organization uh which I am the President and chief science officer and we are essentially um focused on doing the kind of things that I’m good at basically being the being the tip of the spear being the person who like you know takes all the bullets and does the things that are still controversial and uh open stores for other people to walk through um so that’s very much what I did at sounds Research Foundation in relation to the whole idea of Rejuvenation the whole idea that we could bring aging under control and postpone the health problems of late Life by damage repair as opposed to the more mainstream traditional uh thinking which was all about essentially making the body run more cleanly and damage itself more slowly than it naturally does um which turns out to be a lot harder um so yeah so that was a very um heterodox concept when I first started talking about it and now it isn’t and I I’m delighted to say that there are many many people talking about the whole idea of damage repair and Rejuvenation and going on and doing it um you know in a manner that uh I very much find satisfactory so now the question is you know what’s left and um there are various things that are left uh but I’m looking at the ones that are least likely to be done by other people and so the main one there is the combining of different damage repair uh modalities damage repair techniques uh in the same animal at the same time this is something that is not really aligned with the incentive structure either within industry or within Academia it just kind of doesn’t get you the high profile papers it also doesn’t get you you know it’s difficult to make money out of it so um it kind of falls to the philanthropic factor which is what of course Lev Foundation is part of and so we have a flagship project that is just starting up now the foundation itself is only a few months old um and this project is a large Mouse lifespan study in which we will be testing of course not only lifespan but also many aspects of function of what what people often call Health span these days um uh but the goal here is to take four different interventions of different types a stem cell intervention a gene therapy a drug that kill Finessin cells and a drug that is um quite good at uh being tricking the body into thinking it’s in a Fannin um and we’re putting all of these things together in various different combinations so it’s a big experiment I bought a thousand mice three weeks ago um and it’s being done at a company named icore which I see h-o-r which is the most successful of the half dozen spin out companies that since Research Foundation created over the past several years um icore has become the go-to place for this kind of work in their you know they do many things but this is of course the division of icor that’s a contract research organization and they’re lovely people to work with they’re absolutely committed to the longevity movement and um you know this experiment is going to be done really well and really right okay the last thing I want to say about that is that um this is just the first step this is phase one of what wean Village will be a rolling research program uh you know every several months we will have another thousand mice and we’ll test different combinations of interventions but the goal here is to take interventions that are begun only when the organism is in uh middle age so we start late um and we try to extend the lifespan to postpone the health problems with late Life by at least a year which is perhaps which is several times more than can be done at the moment using late onset interventions okay yeah you covered an awful lot there and that’s a that’s a broad but sweeping overview of what your New Foundation is doing I just want to go back and make sure that the audience that’s listening caught all of the things that you shared with us one of the points you made is that it’s necessary to create a foundation because there is not an alignment of incentive uh and I’m curious to understand that because it’s not necessarily incentivized to to fix these problems in the same way right yeah that’s right so talk about the misalignment of incentives in today’s modern Healthcare uh economy sure so in the private sector it’s by no means only big Pharma that has the wrong incentives for this and I’m not saying I have the wrong incentives for everything in this field by any means uh you know these people are putting very good money into some things that are extremely valuable within the longevity movement and Mission um but they tend to be the low-hanging fruit because let’s face it you know a big farmer and everybody else in the private sector investors in startup companies and so on they’re all interested in making money and everyone who wants to make money wants to make it tomorrow so there’s an enormous um you know bias towards the low-hanging fruit in Academia we’ve got exactly the same kind of bias towards short-termism though for a completely different reason namely that the only way you get your next Grant application funded is by getting lots of high-profile Publications in top journals and that means you have to do easy stuff that can you can make work quickly um so yeah so they can’t labor away at a difficult problem for 10 years is there’s no research funding for that and that’s where the foundation fits in so that’s that’s the role the foundation is to is to foster a long-term approach that’s been the role of all my foundations in fact it’s very important to me to make sure that the stuff that is most difficult cut it up and does not get left behind because the damage repair approach is inherently a divide and conquer one where you have to get everything working reasonably well you know I think that this is part of the philosophical shift you’ve talked about Ubi and the impact that will make on society and I think this part of the shift that Humanity needs to make we need to get back into this cycle of trying to tackle the really big problems and not because um you know capitalism in its current form it gets this very short-term focused in terms of results um or return on investment and so forth but these Pro some of these problems just take longer to fix and and clearly you’re able to attract funding from people who do have a long-term interest and those must be wealthy individuals who made their money in the in the exact way that Brett was just referring to so tell me about the kinds of organizations or people who are funding this kind of research funding your foundation for instance well so first of all let me emphasize that it’s not just wealthy people Grassroots funding people who give us you know ten dollars a hundred dollars a thousand dollars a month or whatever these people are just as important as the people who um will give us large donations but among the wealthy people who’ve got interested in this field there is a spectrum of priorities and latitudes so for example it’s well known that Larry Page and Sergey Brin put a lot of money into a company called Calico and more recently Jeff Bezos put a lot of money into a company called Altos you know they’ve both known me for 20 years or 15 years at least and um they could easily have put money philanthropically into this work a long time ago and they chose not to because they just basically don’t believe in the role of philanthropy in pioneering technology whereas certain other wealthy people like Peter till for example of italic boots are in uh you know have taken the opposite view that actually it is sensible to invest philanthropically in these things before they become investable so as to hasten the event Central outcome in a way explain the role that that funding for basic research played you know I’d say 20 or 30 years ago the U.S federal government funded tremendous amounts of basic research but as that funding has dried up with the end of the Cold War uh there’s just there’s less urgency there for that and uh and private sector hasn’t really replaced it because private sector needs results tomorrow as you said so there’s been a gap I think across the board in scientific funding yeah I wouldn’t say it’s that basic research has dried up in terms of funding from the government there’s still plenty of that but in the case of longevity anyway it’s too basic in other words it’s what we often call curiosity driven uh where people are basically trying to understand Aging for the sake of understanding it and they’re not really equipped or in fact or really inclined to highlight the need to do something about aging they’re not so translational um so I think it’s easier to get translational work especially this early stage translation will work funded philanthropically than from the government so we have had some some breakthroughs recently you know we we um like the work that’s been done on telomeres now obviously it’s still um requires some some work um the nmds nads uh you know even um the results we’re seeing from metformin used and things like that where have they come from have they come out of private funding or a lot of the work that we’re seeing that’s getting a lot of attention these days has come from a combination of basic research and you know serendipitous discoveries plus the um structures from the private sector so if we take for example drugs like rapamycin and um such like who that that were seen to be um good what are called crimetics color restriction mimetics that click the body into thinking it’s in a Fanning way isn’t um these drugs are essentially the um the Mania over them so to speak uh began about 10 years ago through an accidental discovery that was funded by the government uh but in it immediately became apparent that there were ways forward that could be pursued in relatively rapid in relatively short order in the private sector so a slew of companies came into existence very quickly and it’s all moving quite fast so you know you know there’s no one uh trajectory that any particular area follows now you had mentioned in in your previous comments that one of the hard problems you’re focused on is the combination of modalities so not testing one single approach but rather uh you know multiple approaches I can imagine that creates uh great complexity in testing and measuring results I’m sure the testing program you have to probably test different you know run that program several different times to start to find out which isolate the variables that work um and and that is a combination of gene therapy I think you mentioned drug therapies and some other uh some other therapies like you know um uh nutrition for instance can you talk to us about progress in each of those areas um I’d be happy to hear about that so so now is the right time to be launching into a really aggressive combine combination therapy campaign in in terms of mice because there are a fair few individual Fairview interventions used later on set when the mice are already in middle age that have individually shown some longevity benefits which is to say that they repair one one or another kind of damage but they also have some kind of uh uh knock-on effects on other on other types of damage essentially because of crosstalk between the mechanisms that create damage and that that that knock-on effect has to be pretty Broad in order to end up with the individual intervention giving any life extension in mice so we’re now in a position to be able to combine a number of those things as I said four of those things that we’re doing in this first round of this study um so it’s to try to get a lot more and of course we have no idea what’s going to happen it’s an experiment but we’re very very I’m very very happy it’s the most exciting experiment I’ve ever LED yeah I find uh you know the whole intermittent fasting and caloric restriction stuff it’s incredible how much we’ve we’ve learned about that just in the last decade or so and how much uh interest has come out of that it’s um it’s a really interesting area um just to Define for people who are listening when when we talk about Santa sense um can you just Define that for listeners who may not be familiar with that concept yeah good question because it is used in multiple ways in essence is in one sense simply the word that biologists like to use for the word aging because they understand that aging is not all bad for you anything involves becoming more knowledgeable and so on so they talk about like you know the health problems with of Aging uh senescence but it’s also used at a cellular level to describe a particular um switch in behavior that some cells sometimes undergo and which basically turns them into they’re often called Zombie cells cells that are not dividing in fact they are stopping themselves from dividing but they are secreting nasty things so they are actively toxic to their environment um and uh so it’s been found that if you get rid of these cells then that’s another good thing that was one of the seven strands of damage repair that I started talking about more than 20 years ago um shortly after it was first proposed by my good friend Judy Campisi and I’m delighted to say that work after 10 years after that uh led by her among other people um confirmed that this was true and now of course it’s a very big industry awesome well let’s go to the quick fire round

I’m gonna change it a little bit today Rob um based on the the content so um what was the first time you remember being exposed to the concept of longevity I don’t remember when I was first exposed to the concept of longevity I mean it depends what you mean by the concept really I mean I was certainly exposed to the concept of Aging uh at an early age I always kind of knew that aging existed and that you know eventually killed you and um it kind of this is why I never really understood until I was 30 or so that anyone else could possibly think differently about aging yeah fair enough what um technology do you think has most changed Humanity so far I would say that the technology that has most changed humanity is probably the oldest Technologies in the world you know fire and the wheel and so on but if we talk about modern advances then certainly the Advent of The Germ Theory and the understanding that hygiene is a good idea combined of course with the uh the more um straightforward aspects of modern medicine antibiotics vaccines you know these have obviously improved the quantity of life and also the quality of life of humanity by an enormous amount can you name a a futurist or an entrepreneur or scientist that has personally influenced you lots of people have influenced me um the one person who’s probably influenced me the most in the longevity field itself is denim Harmon who is famous for having come up with the very first truly mechanistic Theory of Aging the free radical Theory of Aging but it should be famous for other things he um you know with only you know if he hadn’t thought of the free radical Theory of Aging other people would have thought of it the following year so uh that’s not really what I think is his major Advance he made other he made another really big like refinement of that theory 20 years later that almost everybody forgets about but which to my mind is his single most important scientific breakthrough and what perhaps even more important is that he was a real Firebrand when it came to maintaining the focus on doing something about aging treating aging as a medical problem at a time time during the 1970s and 80s when that was very very Politically Incorrect in the field fair enough um so obviously we talk a lot about forecasts and predictions on on you know on this show but what do you think is the best prediction that is that you’ve heard or seen from an entrepreneur or a futurist or in sci-fi that that’s ever been made well the point about predictions of uh technological advances is that they have to have time frames on them in order to be any use whatsoever because you know anything that is worth doing and can be done will eventually be done and eventually isn’t good enough so you know um I think really the right answer to your question is to talk about my own predictions I always give predictions about how soon we will reach um certain Milestones into one of those after the break for sure yeah well uh but the point I always make them probabilistic because I know perfectly well that in any pioneering technology you can’t know how long it’s going to take right on well great thanks everybody gray has been our guest on the Futures today we’re going to take a short break and we’ll be right back so please stay tuned to the futurists

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and we’re back on the futurist I’m your host Brett King and uh gizorbidi gray but Rob before we get into uh longevity escape velocity and some of the concepts that aubry’s been working on what uh what have you got for us for our Deep dive from the future this week here we go Brett this is this week’s Deep dive and it’s not about biology it’s about nuclear fusion so the headline here is that for 60 years scientists have been trying to solve one of the toughest physics problems and that is how to replicate the power that lights the sun and the goal is to do that right here on the planet Earth and hopefully thereby generate clean and abundant energy so a big breakthrough happened in the past week and this is the Quest for nuclear fusion and trying to create a mini sun on the earth and the first problem they need to solve is the ability to ignite that uh to start that and they actually achieve the big milestone this week so on December 13 researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California uh for the very first time in a fusion reactor we’re able to produce more energy than was used to trigger the reactions so uh the the resulting uh the resulting reaction generated more energy than what was put into it in the first place and that’s a big milestone because previous efforts at best could only break even um now let me put this back in perspective because though it sounds kind of futuristic and amazing the first thing is this is just one step in what is clearly going to be a very long process so that no one has an expectation this is right yeah we don’t have any expectation that they’ll be free clean energy uh for everyone uh anytime soon this may take 60 years before this is actually turned into an energy source and there’s a part of the story that no one has been talking about we should talk about uh so in in terms of uh how we measure energy the term is joules and that’s named after one of the scientists that studied energy units of energy um so specifically what happened is that they use lasers to generate x-rays the x-rays uh amounted to 2.05 megajoules of energy and the resulting reaction generated 3.15 megajoules of energy so almost uh 50 more increase and that’s a pretty big milestone it sounds pretty impressive Until you realize that um a mega Jewel isn’t really that much energy so first off your stove in your kitchen uses about five megajoules of energy each day so what we generated here was enough to maybe boil 10 pots of tea or 12 pots of tea so a relatively small amount of energy was generated and the part of the story that hasn’t been covered in the press this the story was picked up all over the place but the part of the story wasn’t covering the Press is what it took to generate that relatively tiny amount of energy that is in the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California there is an array of lasers 192 lasers in a building that is three times the size of a football field it’s 10 stories tall so this is an enormous facility with the world’s largest array of lasers and what it takes to turn those lasers on is 300 megajoules of energy so literally a hundred times more energy is required to turn this whole system on in order to generate enough energy to heat up a couple pots of tea I don’t want to minimize it because it’s a major breakthrough and of course this is going to get this process will get streamlined in the future that’s the whole point of the research the goal at the end is clean energy because what’s being fused here is not carbon it’s hydrogen hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and so instead of burning fossil fuel which generates some sort of carbon byproduct which is obviously causing all sorts of environmental problems this would generate no byproducts so it’s carbon free and clean it’s also cheap relatively cheap if we can solve this generation problem because the resource is abundant because hydrogen is so abundant so all this is very very promising but the cost at the present moment are extraordinarily High and a lot of people don’t realize that Lawrence Livermore is actually a nuclear weapons testing facility and what they’re doing there most of the time is simulating nuclear weapons tests because we no longer do above the ground uh weapons testing but we do need to make sure that our nuclear warheads still work so I don’t think many people were covering the story from that perspective either so it’s an interesting story in the sense that big progress was made for this goal of clean energy but it comes at a tremendous cost and there’s a lot of room for improvement some of the experts in the interview said that we should not look for uh nuclear fusion as an energy source anytime before 2060. so that’s our deep dive for today thank you now let’s return to Aubry and let’s talk a little bit about longevity it’s escape velocity why did you pick that term so that’s the name of my new Foundation longevity escape velocity Foundation uh but it’s also a term that I coined a long long time ago now nearly 20 years ago it’s an important concept that in fact you know going back to my uh emphasis earlier that I try to do things which are not yet mainstream it’s an important concept because really even though most mainstream people working in the biology of Aging now are on board with the concept of damage repair and Rejuvenation that I pioneered 28 years ago um they still run away very fast when they hear about longevity escape velocity so what is it so basically it’s all a um it’s a concept that comes from looking at the uh trajectory of progress in rejuvenation if we take a middle-aged person and we have reasonably good Rejuvenation technology technology that doesn’t exist yet but which I believe we have a 50 50 chance of getting to within the next let’s say 15 years um then we may be able to postpone the health problems that they are about to suffer by a couple of decades let’s say about 20 years so that even though they are 60 years old when they get to 80 they will be biologically 60. uh now at that point they will continue to accumulate self-inflicted molecular and cellular damage the way the body does the conception um but uh that damage will be impervious to therapist because these therapies will not be perfect they will be fairly good but not perfect at repairing the damage that the body does to itself so that means that aging will happen these people will get sick and they will die you know 20 or 30 years after they would have otherwise died in the absence of these Therapies thing is though when they are 80 and so at biologically 60 for the second time the therapies will not be the same therapies anymore because that will have been 20 years that we will have bought as scientists to improve the therapies so actually we will be able to if you like re-rejuvenate the same people the same people at the age of 80 and give them another 20 years of extra life even though intrinsically the problem is more difficult we will have you know been able to um uh outstrip that by the improvements that we have made so that’s what our WT escape velocity is it’s the it they’re strictly speaking how to find it as the minimum rate at which scientists are going to have to improve the comprehensiveness of these damage repair therapies following the achievement of the first 20 years in order to stay one step ahead of the problem such that anyone who is receiving at any point the state-of-the-art therapies will be able to keep their total level of damage within the range that the body is set up to tolerate and thus will not actually ever get sick as a result of being old so for the Baby Boomers that are listening basically if you can hang in there for 20 more years you’ll there’ll be new therapies that’ll help you hang in there for another 20 years and then the therapies will improve and then you can possibly hang in there for yet another 20 years is that kind of what you’re describing isn’t it 2036 Aubry isn’t that what you’ve said is the year that’s what I I roughly speaking is I I mean I put this in two of my books I hope it’s still relevant yeah yeah that’s that’s a fine that’s a good yeah yeah that’s right again only a 50 50 chance that we’ll get there by then at least it’s understand pretty good it’s better than what we’ve got now right yeah yeah absolutely I mean there is at least a 10 chance that we won’t get there for 100 years yeah that’s binary technology for you but 50 is quite enough to be worth fighting for and to be clear what you’re talking about is Rejuvenation here um I think I think for most people and I think our medical establishment today the way we approach the human body is the way we approach an automobile which is to say when a part wears out you pull the part out and you replace it with another part uh that’s the principle behind you know uh heart Replacements uh liver Replacements and so forth uh but you’re describing something rather different which is that we can actually rejuvenate a human organ well actually I’m not describing something all that different I think the difference between replacement and repair is really only a difference in the eye of the beholder depending on how on the scale at which you look at the question right right yeah yeah if you think about a car for example when you replace the engine you’re repairing the car but when you’re but equally and it’s more a smaller scale when you replace the spark plugs in the engine you’re repairing the engine so so there really isn’t a conceptual difference between the two so if you go smart enough down to a level of a cell it’s like yeah it’s still the same that’s right um but the thing is here that um when it comes to aging um people have been working on it have not been thinking about it that way in the medical way they’ve been thinking about it more at the level of let’s try and make the body run more cleanly let’s try and slow down the rate at which the body creates this molecular and cellular damage in the first place and thus we can postpone the age at which that damage gets to the point that’s beyond what the body can tolerate and um you know that has been shown to be very much harder than um than doing this damage repair no surprise because you knew you wouldn’t do it for a car either when you have a car you know you you we have cars are 100 years old now they weren’t designed to last 100 years I would like to last maybe 10 years and the fundamental reason is because every so often uh people go in and you know scrape off and remove the rust so that the rust does not accumulate to the point where the doors fall off it’s exactly the same thing but I want to come back to longevity escape velocity in another sense but we’re just for a moment because what I haven’t explained is why most of my colleagues still find it so difficult to take on board the reason is because of the consequences for likely longevity so I always have to emphasize that we don’t work on longevity I work on Health and Longevity is a side effect of Health but the point is it’s a rather big side effect we tend to die these days not from being eaten by tigers but from being sick and of course these days in the industrialized World We tend to get sick as a result of having been born a long time ago and that’s becoming increasingly true in the developing world as well so if we can’t actually achieve this maintenance of a biological age that is you know in young adulthood then we will have a risk of death each year that will also be correspond the same as if you had only been born 20 or 30 years ago and um you know that means that the average chance of dying if you reach the age of let’s say 26 in the world today the average chance of buying in the next year is like less than one a thousand so this leads to very large predictions of how long people will live and a lot of people are very worried about embracing such predictions because they think it sounds like science fiction even though they do privately acknowledge the logic of it now um if we look at what Robert was talking about earlier in that the uh um you know the we we have had the age slipping in the US um you know part of that is because the cost of Health Care is significantly more expensive from a GDP perspective these days if you look back in the mid 80s in the US it was like six or seven percent of GDP at 16 percent of GDP in the US today now admittedly the U.S system is inefficient compared with the oscd Nations but um you know we we have a set of Technologies now coming like gene therapy and other things that should you know all based on compute power frankly that should radically Advance the ability for us to improve overall health care but what you’re talking about here is is more than that it’s a fundamental change in terms of the way we think about maintenance of our health over time so when does the system switch when does it switch from being this whack-a-mole problem we have today to being something where it’s a systemic approach to um you know Healthcare on a maintenance basis so this kind of preventative maintenance approach to healthcare to postponing the health problems with late life is one that’s already on its way in parts the easier components of damage repair are things like stem cell therapies to replace cells that the body is not replacing automatically by cell division or removal of the zombie cells I mentioned earlier that uh um technically known as senescent cells these things you know ways to do those things are already in clinical trials um and the stem cell case I always highlight the clinical trial going on in Japan right now for Parkinson’s Disease which is very much a disease of cell loss in aging and uh there are other trials starting up in the US doing the same kind of thing um uh it’s an essential cells again there are companies in the US mostly uh focused on this and they’re already up through phase two clinical trials so uh this is all going well other areas which are the areas that sense Research Foundation was focused on and is focused on and the ones that we’re combining in um my early V Foundation these are mostly focused on the harder uh areas that have not yet reached the clinic but again that are moving in that direction and uh so yeah I mean I think the shift is not going to happen all in one go but it’s definitely happening already and also of course once we do get these combinations working and we do get um the Synergy the the the the more than additive effects of these things uh that will change attitudes very rapidly and therefore things will further accelerate and a policy makers making that shift or do you think the science has to come first before the the policy gets there policy makers are usually at the trailing edge of Technology because their main focus is on getting reelected and therefore they want to see that the public are on board with things and so I’ve always focused historically on doing a great deal of Outreach and interfacing with the general public so as to um you know to push the elected representatives indirectly but now we can move beyond that because there is sufficient maturity not only in the in the science but also in the conversation in the wider world that politicians and um others other policy makers and decision makers can actually have a sensible conversation about this so actually Lev Foundation is also putting significant financial resources into supporting that both in terms of actual interface in Congress you know we’re getting getting people to understand getting elected representatives to understand this and to potentially put more money into this research and also to The Wider world to actually educate the older generation in a manner that perhaps contrasts with the more fatalistic approach that has historically been taken by organizations like the AARP let’s focus a little bit on the on some of the future issues that may arise so presuming that you’re making progress and you’re being successful um I can anticipate that there might be some pushback against the notion of longevity some political pushback and for instance connected to this notion that you know we have Rising income inequality so at this point in the United States one percent of the population controls far more wealth than 50 percent of the population and that trend is continuing in that direction it’s not being reversed and there’s no there seems to be no political willpower to reverse it uh because we now have people who may have not billions but hundreds of billions of dollars at their disposal we can presume that they make use of every available technology to extend their lifespan and this presents a science fiction scenario that we’ve all read about in the past which is the concept of Rich methuselahs who have all the resources they’re holding all they’re hoarding all the wealth and of course they can extend their lifespan at least well other people who have less resources are going to die off earlier is that a scenario that crosses your mind you run into resistance do people raise that issue too

the fact is you’re quite right that this is all the fault of Science Fiction it turns out that you know science fiction that makes the uh audience think that aging is some kind of blessing in disguise it’s popular and the reason it’s popular is people want to continue to trick themselves into believing that aging is some kind of blessing because there’s no alternative because historically there’s been no alternative they you know we’ve known about aging since the beginning of civilization and we’ve known that we can’t do anything about it and so we’ve had no choice but to put it out of our minds and get on with our miserably short lives and make the best of it right and um you know the fact that that’s no longer true is a relatively recent development um so you know the society is still really stuck in this what I’ve called the pro-aging trance where they use arbitrarily illogical rationalizations to um you know to to distract themselves and science fiction uh in relation to a post-aging world is really you know a very big part of that so no let’s deal with the specific question you asked about inequality of access yeah this is so obviously not going to happen oh because aging is so expensive um aging today is by far the major uh money think in terms of medical expenditure across the whole of the industrialized world and honestly also in the developing world now um so the medicines even when they first come along and they’re probably going to be fairly expensive to deliver they will pay for themselves at the level of the economy so fast so many times over that it would be economically suicidal for any country not to make sure that everybody who is old enough to need them can have these therapies the sins they’re available at all and of course that will involve a lot of front learning and investment into infrastructure and training of medical personnel and so on but that will as I say pay for itself so fast that it would be economically suicidal not to do it quite apart from being electorally suicidal because people look you know poor people have the same number of votes as rich people even though they have fewer dollars okay but that raises a second question which I’m sure you’ve heard before that’s another science fiction question which is that an extend lifespan then the population is going to increase and we’re already approaching the point where we don’t think that the world considerations are shrinking all around the world at the moment so I don’t you know I don’t see that as anything you know people Brett didn’t even let me get done with the question so people say you know populations are shrinking anyway so you know we’re gonna even the United Nations says that we’re going to like have population Peak this Century um and of course the solution to that and for both that’s a problem is to uh lower the death rate because we’re not going to raise the birth rate people um yeah that’s just seems to be not what people want to do um however uh of course the point here is that we will be keeping people alive in a good state of health so even though there will be lots of chronologically old people there will be no biologically old people to speak of um and then we have to ask you know what is overpopulation anyway yeah it’s not not having enough space you know at the moment everybody in the world could have their own acre right um even if we just restrict ourselves to the places that are nice to live um and uh so what is the problem the problem of course is pollution the fact that we’re you know burning too much fossil fuel and we’re you know creating too much

but those problems are in the process of being fixed of course you know Elon Musk has said some not terribly well thought through things about the desirability of doing something about aging but he’s also put 100 million dollars into an X prize for the uh from the atmosphere right which is the way to go of course you don’t just want to lower emissions you want to actually remove the carbon that’s already there uh and there’s not nearly enough effort to go into that so that was a very good thing that Elon did um you know and um the same applies to a lot of different things you know bacteria that eat Plastics you know all of the types of uh pollution that we make so we’re going to be undoubted undoubtedly reducing the total amount of pollution that the human population generates even as we increase the number of humans that are doing the generating I’m mindful of your time I’ll bring but you know we’ve got a couple of questions we want to wrap up with but Rob you go first and then I’ll jump in previously that that uh politicians have kind of a slow twitch reflex when it comes to dealing with the the longevity Trends but there’s one place actually in the United States where we notice that they they’ve actually picked up on longevity trends that is um pushing off the age uh when you can get retirement benefits and when you can get Medicare benefits uh they have now pushed those ages up to 70 from 65 and that’s a direct reflection of the fact that uh until the last two years that the human lifespan in the United States has been increasing pretty steadily uh and they’re trying to accommodate for the fact that people are living longer and so they can extend those benefits for a longer period of time um in Your Vision if if human lifespan can be extended even further would you envision that people are continuing to have productive working lives uh where we might have a working a career how does it change the perception of learning and work and all of those things you must have thought about this extensively you’re so right you know there’s not a lot of this that I haven’t thought about and been asked about a thousand times um um but no okay so the question of work is an example of something that I think people are very very prone to which is when they think about the future especially the distant future they think about one particular thing that’s going to be completely different and they just kind of do it in the context of assuming that absolutely everything else is more or less the same as it is today which is of course complete answers so in this case you know so I just I just talked about overpopulation being a problem of pollution and so other Technologies are going to are going to ensure that that problem doesn’t occur similarly with work you know we have this wave of automation that’s coming you know even conservative organizations like the UN are saying that most of the jobs that exist today will not exist 20 years from now and that’s the kind of time frame when we’re going to just begin to see people living a bit longer right so um you know there’s just no point in trying to imagine the way the world will be when the whole system of distribution of wealth Works in a completely different way than a way that assumed full employment okay I’ve hit you with some obvious questions that you’ve got you’ve been asked many times before you had good answers for them let me let me frame it a different way here uh you’ve mentioned that you’re controversial and then some of your positions that you staked out are very provocative what do the critics of Aubry degree say about you and your work so um the scientific critics are few and far between these days uh 15 odd years ago I had to fight quite a battle to uh with with some rather opinionated colleagues um uh to get people to take seriously the idea that damage repair was even a scientific concept but that virtually never happens anymore there was one time earlier this year when it was a bit of a blast from the past um when he came along and actually did choose to you know rehash those things but it was um only one person and he didn’t do very well um uh but uh in terms of wider audience criticism it’s a different thing you know people just want to find ways to discredit me like they’ll they’ll say oh this guy obviously um you know he doesn’t know how to do his own experiments so you don’t have to believe him or they’ll say things like he’s talking about these crazy lifespans so he’s obviously crazy and we don’t need to pay attention to him things like that so you know I’m past all that really you know there are quite enough people who do see the logic of everything I say and the rationale Suarez and he recognized that I’m not just grandstanding when I talk about long lifespan let me let me ask you this to sort of wrap up because we are a bit over time um but I want to get a bit out there you know um when we can live to a thousand years old because you’ve predicted the first person to live to a thousand it is alive today um probably um how is that going to change the philosophy of what it means to be a human I don’t think that one’s expectation of how long one is going to live is going to change the philosophy of what it likes what it means to be a human at all I think that at the moment we look ahead to our lives with a certain degree of understanding of how long we’ve got before we start going downhill and before we die and when we don’t have that anymore that’s not going to change the fact that most of our decisions are made in terms of the relatively short term the next decade or two you know I haven’t the faintest idea what I’m going to enjoy doing or choose to do even 50 years from now and I am fine not knowing that I think that it makes sense to be a first things first kind of person I want to go to Mars I mean but I need longevity to do that frankly because otherwise I don’t think economically it’s going to be viable for me or indeed in terms of the um you know radiation risk you know the radiation of course speeds up aging so in order to survive these long Journeys we’re going to have to figure out ways to repair the dangerous

the first book that sort of really inspired me in terms of how longevity was necessary for this type of exploration was Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy actually but we should uh we should discuss that with him when we eventually get him on the show I’ve been talking about getting him on the show for a while but it’ll be the gray it’s been absolutely fascinating um I wish we could go on for longer but in respect of your time um I want to thank you for uh joining us today um before we sign off um how can people contribute to the longevity escape velocity Foundation we have a website of course and uh there’s a nice friendly donate page there um and of course you can read all about what we’re doing the uh Foundation is very new and so the website is somewhat under construction with any rather abbreviated descriptions of our project but that will change rapidly over time and um yeah every every dollar helps absolutely you know this is a mouse experiments are expensive and uh now is the time masses to feed yes

um and what what’s the best place to follow you you know on social or whatever yeah so yeah obviously I’m on Twitter and Facebook and so on I I I’m on Twitter quite a lot but really um the main thing to do is to start without from our website because that’s where the most of the news is going to happen and of course there are links to my social media from there fantastic all Brittany gray it’s been an absolute pleasure and um um you know I it was just mind-blowing as usual and thank you yeah absolutely great um so don’t forget to check it out is the website uh you’ve been listening to the futurists I’m Brett King and of course Rob turc if you like the show um you know make sure you leave us a comment a rating um you know from where it is you you download the show tell others about it you know tweet out about it whatever you can do to help get the traction on the show you guys have been supporting us fantastically we’re already over 50 000 downloads a month now which is incredible to see that progress um and you know we’re very grateful for the support from the broader Community um you know let’s keep it going um but until then we’ll obviously be back next week when we’ll see you in the future in the future

well that’s it for the futurists this week if you like the show we sure hope you did please subscribe and share it with people in your community and don’t forget to leave us a five star review that really helps other people find the show and you can ping us anytime on Instagram and Twitter at futurist podcast for the folks that you’d like to see on the show or the questions you’d like us to ask thanks for joining and as always we’ll see you in the future

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