Interview with James Clement
by Jonathan Despres. Go to the Interviews.
Tell us about yourself. What is your background, and what current projects are you involved in?
I am a lawyer by training, and I practiced business and tax law for a number of years before I got the entrepreneurial bug and went off to start my own business. I co-founded a brewpub (a microbrewery which sells its beers on-premise) in Ithaca, NY, home to Cornell University and Ithaca College. I ran this business for about nine years, and then fled the cold North to live in Sunny Florida. For the past decade, I've been acting as the COO for various companies and providing business consulting to other companies. I was recently the COO for a nutraceutical company in Orange County, California, and am now consulting for a dietary supplements company in Petaluma, CA.
I recently became the Executive Director of the World Transhumanist Association (www.transhumanism.org), and co-founded with Dr. Pete Estep, the InnerSpace Foundation (www.innerspacefoundation.org).
What are your goals for the next decade?
My foremost goal is to live through the next decade, and ancillary to that, to do so happily. One way of remaining happy is to follow my passions, which means to continue working in the areas of life-extension, Transhumanism, and cybernetics.
When do you think will we achieve real life extension?
That's an awkward question for me to answer. I don't believe we know the long-term effects of living twenty, thirty or more years taking all of the vitamins and supplements that we have available now, and avoiding unhealthy habits while trying to exercise and live a happy and healthy lifestyle. Following such a regime, I think that many of us will enjoy a radically longer lifespan than we otherwise would have. That doesn't necessarily alter the "maximum" lifespan for humans, which is a much more complicated problem. Luckily, we have a growing number of researchers willing to dedicate their time to this question, and new startups willing to go to venture capitalists with business plans based on treating Aging, and not just a particular disease.
Do you believe in Cryonics and when will it succeed?
I'm a paid member of Alcor. I first became interested in cryonics after having read Drexler's "Engines of Creation," and thought that when nanotechnology became a viable industry that it would make reanimation of vitrified humans possible. I signed up when I saw that we were quickly moving towards that end.
Why isn't the science of cryonics progressing at a rate commensurate
to other sciences? As stated above, reanimation of a vitrified individual will require successful nanotechnology, and from what I've seen, we are making tremendous progress in such on a daily basis. A small number of companies are working on perfusion formulas which will protect cells from damage during the vitrification proces, but presently there is not a lot of money in this field, so work is progressing slower than one would like.
Do you believe in a God?
I'm a Secular Humanist. I try hard not to "believe" (hold bits of knowledge as "true" without proof) anything.
What do you think we should do to advance the quality of life of everybody?
Education, especially in the sciences, and critical thinking, are essential to the well being of everyone on this planet. Anything that can be done to spread knowledge in these areas would be a step in the right direction.
Is competition good in cryonics?
I don't know of any field in which competition isn't good. We have two viable cryonics organizations which have different ways of doing things, and I don't see why others couldn't enter the field as well.
What first attracted you to the idea of physical immortality?
I lost two young aunts to cancer when I was in my teens, early twenties. Shortly thereafter, I read Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw's "Life Extension: A Practical Scientific Approach," which had a profound affect on how I viewed what someone could do to alter their lifespan.
What a company can do to become sucessful in the life extension business?
Provide people with truthful information and effective products.
What do you think about the singularity, when will it happen?
I defer to Ray Kurzweil on this.
What should we do to improve/clean our ecology?
Do you think molecular manufacturing (or anything else) could clean up pollution on earth and in space? If so, when and how?
It makes sense to me that this would be the case, however, progress doesn't happen in a vacuum, and it could be that biotech will solve the problem first.