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Interview with Aubrey de Grey
by Jonathan Despres. Go to the Interviews.
Tell us about yourself. What is your background, and what current projects are you involved in?
My original training was in computer science, but I've worked on aging for about ten years. My main project is "Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence" (SENS), a multi-part scheme to postpone aging indefinitely.
What are your goals for the next decade?
My main goal is to demonstrate the feasibility of SENS by achieving what I call "Robust Mouse Rejuvenation" (RMR) -- reproducibly trebling the remaining lifespan of naturally long-lived (three years average lifespan) mice with therapies begun when they are already two.
When do you think will we achieve real life extension?
In humans? I think that if both the money and the science go as well as they should, we have a 50% chance of getting "robust human rejuvenation" by 2030. That means giving typical 55-year-olds 30 extra healthy years.
Do you believe in Cryonics and when will it suceed ?
I think people who are cryopreserved with the best technology available today have a good chance of being revived with good fidelity, yes. I do not have a good estimate of how soon they will be revived, nor how they will be revived (e.g., whether by warming up the preserved body or by scanning it and building a new one from the information).
Which path should we take for immortalism, nanomedicine or biogerontology or ?
Everything. I think biotechnology will extend lives before nanotech is far enough advanced, but I could be wrong - we need to keep all our options open.
What first attracted you to the idea of physical immortality?
I'm not really driven by the idea of living an extremely long life (though I wouldn't object!) -- mainly what drives me is that I want to let people avoid getting frail and senile and decrepit and dependent as they get older. That seems obviously a desirable goal - I've always known it, so I can't point to a particular event that attracted me to it.
What a company can do to become sucessful in the life extension business?
No idea. I have no commercial expertise.
How handy an indefinite lifespan would be?
Well, there are things that no one tries to do today because there isn't time, like travelling to the stars -- lots of people give that as a big reason why they want to live much longer. But also, very long projects of many other sorts. Fermat might have really proved his theorem before Wiles if he'd had all the intervening time available...
Do you know a good person who I should interview?
Rich Miller. He's a senior biogerontologist who is very keen to defeat aging and he's very good at expressing himself. He disagrees with me about how we might best achieve that goal (and how soon), but his heart is in the right place!