A Revolution Against Aging and Death Is Not Scifi
By Edward Hudgins
To assert during a pandemic that we’re on the verge of a bright future in which each of us, as individuals, could live literally hundreds of healthy years might seem merely click bait or sophomoric silliness.
But what was science fiction only a few decades ago is now serious science fact, and friends of freedom should take note and help usher in this new era.
A rave for RAADFest.
For evidence, consider the Revolution Against Aging and Death (RAADFest) conference, held October 2-4 in 2020, or archives of the past four RAAD events. RAADFest brings together scientists and researchers who review the latest work in life extension and halting aging and associated ailments that have plagued us through our history.
It’s not only an event for experts with advanced degrees. It appeals to a wide audience of individuals who want long lives for themselves and to spread in our society an appreciation of what exponential technology can offer.
Years of progress.
Progress toward the coming revolution has been building for years. In 1953, James Watson, Francis Crick, and Rosaline Franklin discovered the double helix structure of DNA. This explained why some seeds grow into azaleas and some into apple trees, and why some fertilized eggs grow into hamsters and some into humans. This breakthrough was followed by decades of progress in understanding various diseases and developing effective treatments.
The revolution in computer power, medical technology, and artificial intelligence (AI) has accelerated new avenues in disease treatment and life extension. For example, DNA editing tools like CRISPR-Cas9 can add or remove materials from a genome, which can correct genetic defects or treat certain diseases.
The year 2001 marked another breakthrough, the sequencing of the 3 billion base pairs of nucleic acids that make up a human genome. This allows researchers to generate blueprints of individuals–for example, you, dear reader! And the cost of sequencing an individual genome dropped from around $100 million in 2001 to $10 million in 2007 to under $1,000 today. This opens up the possibility for treatments not of entire classes of individuals suffering from some illness or cluster of ailments but for custom treatments of you, the individual, personally.
And consider this: In April 2018 the enzyme telemerase was sequenced. This is important because each chromosome has little lengths of materials called “telomeres” on its end. As chromosomes reproduce over time the telomeres shorten and when they’re no more, reproduction stops. We age and die. Researchers now can work with telemerase to keep telomeres intact. Do you see what that means?
Breakthroughs or blockage?
This brings us back to RAADFest. One speaker, Aubrey de Grey, has worked for several decades to isolate seven factors that contribute to cell damage and aging and is devising strategies to fix or make these factors harmless. See his book Ending Aging.
Another speaker is Bioviva CEO Liz Parrish, who has made herself “patient zero” to test the gene therapies that target aging factors that she has developed. But she had to go to South America to administer the treatment to herself because of U.S. government regulatory barriers.
Which brings us to Bill Faloon, a regular speaker, who has produced two volumes highlighting how the Food and Drug Administration for decades stood in the way of progress in life extension and much more.
Indeed, in 2019 the FDA sought comments on how it should regulate AI software as a medical device. A medical device? The FDA has a round regulatory hole into which it must force the square AI peg.
Clearing the path for long lives.
And here is why friends of freedom and the future should attend to life extension, medical breakthroughs, and events like RAADFest.
First, exponential technology will define our future, and if you want to catch the wave rather than be swamped by it, you need to educate yourself.
Second, ushering in this future smoothly rather than in fits and starts that will leave perhaps millions to sicken and die who might otherwise be alive and well will require radical reform of the antiquated FDA certification process; the proposed “Free To Choose Medicine” approach would be a good start.
Third, coming advances will offer the opportunity to convert our current “sickcare” system, in which physicians fight rearguard actions after ailments strike, to a real “healthcare” system that will head off diseases and illnesses, saving millions of lives and billions of dollars.
Fourth, the coming era of “100 as the new 50” will profoundly challenge labor markets, retirement plans, Social Security, and much more. Policymakers need to think ahead to reform current systems to make sure we’re living long, healthy lives in a prosperous future, not blocked by policies as antiquated for the economy as they are antiquated for ushering in exponential medical technology.
Fifth, the potential of exponential technology could inspire young people trapped in a culture defined by pessimism, nihilism, and despair. Imagine if, instead of taking to the streets in anger, they took to research labs with joy, optimism, purpose, and hope—confidence, really!—that they could treat aging like a disease and find a cure.
That is why you should pay attention to events like RAADFest!
Edward Hudgins is founder of the Human Achievement Alliance and an expert on technology and the need for free markets. firstname.lastname@example.org