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2020 New Year’s and New Decade’s Message by Victor Bjoerk

2020 New Year’s and New Decade’s Message by Victor Bjoerk

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Victor Bjoerk


Picture of the M87 Black Hole – First-ever image of a black hole and a major accomplishment of the 2010s

Happy New Year and Decade, everyone!

I celebrated it this year in San Francisco, as I managed to get an opportunity in aging research here. I’ve always celebrated in Sweden before, with relatives or friends, and the last years’ celebrations have been with AI researcher Anders Sandberg. However, I’m certainly not stuck to any routine to mark it, and who knows where one may be in the future, if one may celebrate it in space even!

I still recall thinking about what would happen in the future back in 1999. Although, of course, our time calculation is completely arbitrary and not rooted in anything the universe cares about, we nonetheless like to set certain dates of when X event will happen when writing the history of humanity.

Back then I was a small child, and while I lacked a particular interest in aging research, I certainly read a lot of popular science and liked to think about what would happen during the upcoming millennia. Certainly, genetic enhancement of humans was high on that list and its happening now! Look, for example, at Luxturna and Zolgensma, the 2 approved gene therapies so far.

We should all be very happy to be alive now instead of during the previous 4 billion years life has existed. It’s been the best decade in history, ever. We have not only the basic logistics for keeping most people alive on a day-to-day basis with a good quality of life, but this also leads to a lot of spare time to develop technology.

Back in about 2008, when working in a nursing home as a teenager, I realized that I did not want to end up in that state within the next few decades. I did not feel that age-related disease belonged in an otherwise advanced high-tech society that respected human rights reasonably well. Since then, on most days, I’ve probably read new scientific papers on the topic, I went to university and studied molecular biology, I became director of Heales – which is a scientific think tank in Brussels – and set up the biannual EHA (Eurosymposium on Healthy Aging) conference series together with Sven Bulterijs.

I never intended to become a scientist for the sake of it; I just want to get the biggest problem in the history of humanity solved.

There are a lot of reasons for optimism. The 2010s saw unprecedented investment in this area, and many therapeutic aging interventions emerged. Among the ones most well-known are innovations in clearing senescent cells with senolytic drugs, leading to aging reversal.

So I just hope this trajectory of advancement continues as the public also becomes more informed. I’ve learnt that hype comes in cycles; lots of buzzwords and overoptimistic speculation flow around, but eventually also real products come out of the research (yes, even in biotechnology). The question is when enough therapies can be put together into an old person and systemically bring that person back to youth.

So I wish everyone a happy new year and decade, whatever your pursuits are, hoping that at the end of this decade we can summarize it, saying that we did what was possible.

I hope everyone had a fun celebration!

Victor Bjoerk has worked for the Gerontology Research Group, the Longevity Reporter, and the Fraunhofer-Institut für Zelltherapie und Immunologie. He has promoted awareness throughout Europe of emerging biomedical research and the efforts to reverse biological aging. He is now a molecular biologist and working for BioAge in San Francisco. 

New Decade’s Message for the 2020s by USTP Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II

New Decade’s Message for the 2020s by USTP Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II

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Gennady Stolyarov II


As 2019 draws to a close, Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, expresses hope that humankind will emerge from the “Crazy Years” and offers ten concrete resolutions for human achievement during the 2020s. This message was recorded on December 31, 2019, and is available for viewing here.

As 2019 draws to a close, let us bid farewell and good riddance to a decade which could, in retrospect be referred to using the prophetic Robert Heinlein term, “The Crazy Years” – a turbulent, conflicted decade during which, while glimmers of hope appeared on multiple fronts of technological advancement, society and culture have clearly declined due to the rise of incivility, tribalism, authoritarianism, identity politics, and mass breakdowns of sanity. It is no secret that I had hoped for humankind to have been farther along the path of advancement by now than it has actually come. The great conflict of our decade – between the marvels that have been built by the creative and rational higher faculties of the human mind and the biases, fallacies, vulnerabilities, and atrocities spawned by its darkest evolved recesses – between the Apollonian heights and the Dionysian depths of human nature – will carry on into the 2020s and perhaps beyond. To win this conflict, those of us who desire a brighter future need to advocate for more progress, faster innovation, greater rationality, higher standards of civility and morality, and a long-term outlook that seeks to cultivate the best in human beings.

As the winds of fortune shift, some of us individually will rise, and others will fall. This certainly was the case this past decade. In so many respects, for me, it has been marked by colossal achievements and improvements, but also tectonic shifts in my own life which were not of my initiative – to which I needed to respond and adapt and preserve what I valued in the aftermath. Reflecting back on the end of 2009, and comparing it to today, I realize that absolutely everything about the circumstances of my life is now different… and yet I myself am essentially the same. I believe that it is this core of myself, this fundamentally constant and consistent identity, which has carried me through the crises and enabled me to defy adversity and arise stronger every time – to pursue new endeavors and take on new roles while remaining the same essential individual, to learn from the empirical evidence before me while maintaining the same convictions and understanding of the good. The events of the 2010s have illustrated for me that, indeed, peace and stability in life must ultimately come from within – although it is not a matter of withdrawal into the self or mere self-affirmation, as some popular creeds would claim. Rather, it is the self that must devise and implement solutions to the crises of the day while pursuing consistent improvement in as many dimensions as possible, and preserving that essential core intact.

It is beyond our power to live a decade over again, but we can harness the best of its aftermath and turn the coming decade into a superior and more rational one. Some of us will create resolutions as individuals, and then pursue plans of varying degrees of specificity and likelihood of success. But perhaps it is best to consider the resolutions we would wish to have for humankind as a whole. It is all well and good, of course, to wish for progress and prosperity, but it is also well-known that the resolutions which have the greatest likelihood of succeeding are those which are accompanied by concrete indicators of fulfillment. Therefore, I propose the following ten resolutions for humankind during the decade of the 2020s, which will enable us to empirically identify whether or not they have been fulfilled at the decade’s end.

  1. Construct the next world’s tallest building – because humankind must always reach higher.
  2. Build a base on the Moon – because it is time to colonize other worlds.
  3. Land a human on Mars – because it is time to expand beyond our orbit.
  4. Establish the first fully operational seastead communities – because it is time for human habitation to expand beyond land and for jurisdictional experimentation to resume in earnest.
  5. Have at least one person live beyond 120 years again – mathematically possible given that 10 of today’s supercentenarians are 114 or older; it is time to begin to approach Jeanne Calment’s longevity record of 122 years once more.
  6. Cut all world nuclear-weapon stockpiles in half – more than this has been done before, and so this is really quite a modest goal, but it is imperative to reverse the trajectory of the current arms race. Complete nuclear disarmament by all powers would, of course, be preferable, to finally dispel the “MAD” cloud of annihilation looming over our species.
  7. Compose 100 tonal symphonies – because it is time to rediscover beauty.
  8. Develop medically effective cures for every type of cancer – because, really, it is decades past time.
  9. End the decade with 50 percent of all vehicles on the road at level 2 autonomy or greater – because road deaths are a travesty and should become a relic of a barbaric past.
  10. Experience at least one year in which no country is at war with any other, with “war” including armed insurgencies and terrorist attacks – because national, ethnic, religious, and ideological warfare needs to be relegated to the past.

Of course, there are many worthwhile objectives not encompassed above, and it is my hope that efforts to reach those goals will also advance in parallel. You may have a list of ten resolutions for humankind that differs from mine, but they may be compatible nonetheless. The overarching aim, however, is to restore humanity’s much-needed confidence in progress, to emerge from the postmodern swamp of self-doubt and deconstruction and return to the heights of ennobling ambition and creation. Concrete benchmarks to track our progress can also serve the dual purpose of motivating people everywhere to undertake great tasks. A certain President has expressed the desire to make America great again, but I would venture to say that he has not selected the proper means for doing so. I challenge everyone during the next decade to make the world great again and demonstrate that the most impressive achievements and the most lasting solutions to our age-old problems are still to come. This is the message of transhumanism, and I hope that it can become the theme of the next decade – so that when I speak to you again at the decade’s end, we can reflect upon the wonders that have been built.

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