Gennady Stolyarov II
Gennady Stolyarov II
To find out more and register, visit the RAAD Fest website at https://www.raadfest.com/.
Watch the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s prior appearances at RAAD Fests in 2017 and 2018 below.
The U.S. Transhumanist Party – Pursuing a Peaceful Political Revolution for Longevity – August 11, 2017
The U.S. Transhumanist Party: Four Years of Advocating for the Future – Gennady Stolyarov II at RAAD Fest 2018 – September 21, 2018
Gennady Stolyarov II Interviews Ray Kurzweil at RAAD Fest 2018 – September 21, 2018
U.S. Transhumanist Party Meeting at RAAD Fest 2018 – September 22, 2018
Andrés Grases Interviews Gennady Stolyarov II on Transhumanism and the Transition to the Next Technological Era – September 23, 2018
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Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this article by our guest Steve Hill, originally published by our allies at the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF) on May 9th, 2018. In this article Mr. Hill interviews Dr. Sarah Constantin, a researcher with a focus on machine learning at The Longevity Research Institute. This is an excellent article, especially if you want to learn more of the hard science behind longevity research. The topics of the interview range from deep learning being applied to pharmacology, to optimal mouse strains, and ideal areas of research to target age-related diseases.
~Bobby Ridge, Assistant Editor, June 30, 2019
Today, we have an interview with the Longevity Research Institute, a new group that launched in April 2018. The goal of the Institute is to identify therapies that can demonstrably extend healthy human lifespan by 2030 at the latest.
Searching for longevity
There are dozens of compounds and therapies that have been demonstrated to increase the lifespan of mammals. Recently, there have been some impressive examples of rejuvenation in animals using a variety of approaches, including partial cellular reprogramming, stem cell therapy, and senescent cell removal. More importantly, in many of these studies, age-related diseases have been delayed or even reversed.
Unfortunately, very few of these studies have had independent follow-ups or replication, and that is slowing down progress. The Longevity Research Institute is aiming to bridge the gap between basic science and commercial drug development.
It has chosen the field of aging research as its area of focus for one simple reason: age-related diseases are the leading cause of death globally. Heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and many more diseases are all caused by the various processes of aging.
The data from hundreds of animal studies tell us that aging is not a one-way process and that the rate of aging is something we can slow down or even reverse. Experimental results show that we can increase the healthy lifespan of animals significantly and delay the onset of age-related diseases in doing so. If we could translate those findings to humans, we could potentially increase the healthy period of life, known as health span, or even increase our lifespan beyond current norms while remaining healthy.
The majority of aging research consists of basic science that focuses on the mechanisms of aging, studies involving invertebrates like worms or fruit flies, and experiments that examine the effect of therapies on biomarkers of aging. However, the Longevity Research Institute believes that the way to find effective treatments that could translate to humans is by testing interventions on mammals to see if they increase lifespan or if they delay or reverse symptoms of aging, such as frailty, cognitive decline, and the prevalence of age-related diseases. Robust mammalian lifespan studies are quite rare in aging research due to their long duration and thus cost; the Institute believes they are worth doing despite this challenge.
Its philosophy is to be skeptical of results that depend on too many uncertain assumptions, such as particular mechanisms of aging or analogies between invertebrate and human biology. It believes that the closest way to measure the health and lifespan of a human is to measure the same things in mammals.
Replicating and Extending Lifespan Results
The majority of studies that have been shown to increase lifespan are rarely independently replicated to confirm the findings. There are therapies that, decades later, still have had no follow-up, and the Longevity Research Institute would like to change this situation.
To that end, it will be engaged in grant writing to obtain funds so that researchers studying aging will be able to conduct lifespan studies in mice and rats. The Longevity Research Institute also plans to commission its own studies and contract research organizations to carry them out.
It has a long list of promising interventions and is considering becoming involved with carboxyfullerenes, epithalamin, and stem cell transplants, for example. It is also interested in testing combinations of therapies to see if they have synergistic effects.
As translational research on aging is really a new, uncharted territory, the Institute is working with the Interventions Testing Program and METRICS to design reproducible animal studies. As part of that process, it will be testing genetically heterogeneous animals and using blind, randomized studies to reduce bias. A blind experiment is an experiment in which information about the test is hidden from participants, to reduce or eliminate bias, until after a trial outcome is known.
Best practices and transparency
Establishing best practices and protocol for translational aging research is a top priority here, and its work could help set the stage for future translational efforts. If superbly designed research protocols can be designed and made accessible to everyone, then they could be a real help in standardizing aging research and ensuring that the quality of results is the best it can be.
As part of its commitment to transparency and knowledge sharing, a condition of funding projects is that all experimental data will be made freely available to the public, as will pre-registration of experimental designs. The Institute will further protect this open science initiative by using blockchain technology to make immutable, publicly accessible records of everything it does.
We had the opportunity to talk with Sarah Constantin, Ph.D. and one of the key figures at the Longevity Research Institute, about their work. Sarah is a data scientist specializing in machine learning.
Your group believes that we need to conduct lifespan studies in mice in order to confirm that something might translate. However, some researchers believe that using multiple biomarkers of aging allows them to project, within a reasonable margin of error, changes to potential lifespan. This is becoming more relevant as the accuracy of biomarkers, and the use of comprehensive biomarker panels, becomes more commonplace. How do you respond to this?
There’s some very interesting stuff going on with biomarkers of aging. We’re able to predict mortality with AUCs of 0.8-0.9, which is quite good, with aging biomarkers, including things like blood panels of inflammatory and metabolic markers, DNA methylation, and phenotypic markers such as BMI and frailty. Some of these biomarkers are things we’re planning to measure in our animal studies, and they should give us interim results on whether the interventions we’re testing affect the predictors of aging. I still believe that we can be most confident in whether a treatment promotes longevity when we’ve tracked its effects throughout an organism’s lifespan. We do know of examples (such as calorie restriction in primates) in which it’s equivocal whether the treatment extends lifespan but it clearly improves age-related biomarkers, and you have to do a lifespan study to distinguish those cases.
Advances in deep learning and systems pharmacology are allowing us to project interactions and potential therapies far more efficiently than ever before. What are your thoughts on these approaches, and will you be looking to use them in your work?
The deep learning and systems pharmacology approaches are actually where I started in biotech; I did machine learning at Recursion Pharmaceuticals, which is taking those approaches for doing phenotypic screens for genetic disease treatments. I think they’re really useful for drug discovery, at the beginning of the pipeline, where they can enable you to search a wider space of drug candidates. At LRI, we’re starting all the way at the other end of the pipeline, with drugs that have already been tested and shown promise in vivo. However, once we make some progress on those, then yes, it could make sense to start doing some of these machine learning-enabled approaches.
What is the ideal mouse strain for aging research, particularly lifespan studies, in your view?
Well, the Interventions Testing Program at the National Institute of Aging is using three-way heterozygous mouse crosses, which I think is the ideal. A single inbred strain of mouse doesn’t have much genetic diversity, so often what you’re testing is the effect of a treatment on that particular strain of mouse, and the results won’t transfer to another strain.
The use of progeria mice is common in aging research due to the shorter study time, but these models are often criticized as not being representative of true aging; what are your thoughts on the prevalence of progeria mice in aging research, and are they a relevant model for what we are trying to achieve?
I think progeria mice are an imperfect proxy. There are a lot of different kinds of progeria, and they exhibit some but not all of the typical symptoms of natural aging. I’d have more confidence in studies done on aged mice than progeric mice.
We see that you have a strong commitment to ensuring public access to scientific knowledge. What inspired you to make such a wonderful and strong commitment to open science?
Well, coming from a data science background, I’m hyper-aware of how easy it is to fool yourself with data. You can massage anything into a spurious result if you test enough hypotheses and pick your subgroups artfully. Really, the best way to guard against that is to share the raw data so that people can run their own analyses. Making science more open is how you make it more trustworthy.
Is there a publically viewable list of the targets that you are interested in testing?
The list is still evolving, but some of the first things we’re looking into testing are carboxyfullerenes, which seem to have neuroprotective and life-extending effects, and epithalamin, which is a pineal gland-derived peptide that’s been reported to extend lifespan and even reduce human mortality. Both of these are sort of in the sweet spot of not being the subject of that much research to date, but what there is is very promising, so the value of information is high.
What is likely to be your first target for studies, and what is the rationale behind your choice?
I think people should know that there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit in aging research — treatments that we have reason to believe might work but that we’d still have to test. The misperceptions are either that life extension is so speculative that we’ll never get there or that we already know how to do it and you just have to take the right supplements to live forever. I think the reality is that we’ll have to do a lot of experimental work, but it’s highly possible that, in time, we might find something that extends healthy lifespan in humans.
We would like to thank Sarah for taking the time to do this interview with us, and we look forward to seeing her team’s progress in the near future.
Steve Hill serves on the LEAF Board of Directors and is the Editor in Chief, coordinating the daily news articles and social media content of the organization. He is an active journalist in the aging research and biotechnology field and has to date written over 500 articles on the topic as well as attending various medical industry conferences. In 2019 he was listed in the top 100 journalists covering biomedicine and longevity research in the industry report – Top-100 Journalists covering advanced biomedicine and longevity created by the Aging Analytics Agency. His work has been featured in H+ Magazine, Psychology Today, Singularity Weblog, Standpoint Magazine, and, Keep Me Prime, and New Economy Magazine. Steve has a background in project management and administration which has helped him to build a united team for effective fundraising and content creation, while his additional knowledge of biology and statistical data analysis allows him to carefully assess and coordinate the scientific groups involved in the project. In 2015 he led the Major Mouse Testing Program (MMTP) for the International Longevity Alliance and in 2016 helped the team of the SENS Research Foundation to reach their goal for the OncoSENS campaign for cancer research.
Johannon Ben Zion
Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party (USTP) publishes this interview between Johannon Ben Zion and Nikolay Agapov to advance the goals of Section XVII of the USTP Platform, which states that “The United States Transhumanist Party holds that present and future societies should take all reasonable measures to embrace and fund space travel, not only for the spirit of adventure and to gain knowledge by exploring the universe, but as an ultimate safeguard to its citizens and transhumanity should planet Earth become uninhabitable or be destroyed.” The construction of a highly economical infrastructure project such as the Agapov Orbital Lift would greatly reduce the costs of space travel and thus enable rapid exploration and development of space for the benefit of humankind and all sentient entities – thus also accelerating our transition into the next era of our civilization. As of this time, the USTP has not yet endorsed a Presidential candidate but welcomes activity from all of our Presidential Primary candidates to advance the USTP Platform.
~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party, June 11, 2019
Read the English-language outline for the Agapov Orbital Lift, written by Nikolay Agapov, here.
Johannon Ben Zion: We live in different countries; we’ve never met! Should we talk about how we met?
Nikolay Agapov: Yes, Ben, having heard of your Arizona Transhumanist Party‘s “Orbital Ring” publicity push, I felt I would have been remiss if I didn’t reach out to the Arizona Transhumanist Party and your U.S. Presidential candidacy with the Transhumanist Party, and offer to make a comparison and further study of the respective designs, my team’s included. I like to tell people that I am an “open-source” business developer in this context, and an avid supporter of the near-earth industrialization, in contrast to “pure exploration.”
I principally come from an educational background in economics with a specialization in business administration. I have made an extensive study of the global economic environment in the course of my international business studies and striven to understand and emulate the careers and novel methods of innovators like Henry Ford and Steve Jobs.
I have always been interested in the topic of space exploration and in the process of studying at the university, I began to develop extensive plans for near-earth industrialization with the relatively smaller-budgeted space agencies in mind, as Roscosmos now has, and also a focus on high attractiveness to investors.
In addition, I have often written of as well as developed several designs in the field of solid-fuel rocket engines. Making solid propellant rockets cheaper and more environmentally friendly with the ability to raise their efficiency to the level of liquid engines has been a central focus of my work.
After writing and developing in these areas for quite some time, I am convinced that space agencies and businesses are not nearly focused enough on outcomes or growth, which is why I have become an “open-source” business developer; network effects and “crowd-sourcing” effects in research and development must be better utilized if we are to quicken the pace of technological advancement.
The main goal of space businesses and agencies is the development of civilizational impacts of space-faring, the transition of humanity to the level of a true space-faring civilization. And all smaller projects should be viewed as merely steps to this larger goal.
It is not so much of an overstatement to say that modern space administrations in fact remain mechanisms of the state-run propaganda that arose during the period of escalation during the Cold War. Their goal is to maintain a certain prestige and visibility, through periodic campaigns and in the launching of scientific probes, etc. A “Space Age cynic” such as myself will view many of these endeavors as not always directly contributing to the aforementioned “transition to a space-faring civilization.” As for the real, practical, space exploration, they have no idea how to develop it and do not strive for it.
As a result, I have completely updated my approaches to the industrialization of space, in the form of more networked or “crowdsourcing-ready” businesses and more results-oriented public agencies. Since I’ve read more recently of your “Futurist New Deal”, I do hope that you will continue your commitment to near-earth industrialization as we first discussed.
JBZ: Well, yes, we absolutely will. Although our campaign is focused on domestic economic policy and e-governance issues now, all of our near-term undertakings are intended to set the stage for your “transition to a space-faring civilization,” or a true post-industrial society more broadly.
Nikolay Agapov: My team has our own approaches to the development of space expansion and the end goal, the preparation for the colonization of space, a goal I believe best achieved through the creation of a permanent transportation system to our nearest neighbor, the Moon. The more than one trillion dollars that have been spent in the pursuit of space travel have not had this focus, been a rather poor use of funds, with a somewhat disappointing result all told. I believe that you yourself told me in our first conversation that the efforts of your space agency [NASA] were “the most expensive PR campaign.”
JBZ: Yes, I said, “The most expensive PR campaign in history” and basically one with surprisingly little focus on tangible production outcomes, a concern I share with you. A popular, if a little operatic view of the history of NASA is one to which I do subscribe to a certain degree myself, at least in principle. It’s a distrustful sentiment that really gets to the heart of most of this confused thinking on the NASA subject in a roundabout sort of way; the NASA “conspiracy theories” are largely rooted, I believe, in this feeling that this whole operation was a “Cold War” publicity stunt – a very expensive one – that didn’t “build” much of anything, in structural engineering terms at least – although it contributed to the production of any number of groundbreaking technological breakthroughs argued for in hindsight as justification of the expense, and quite rightly argued considering the impact of those things – in spite of the lack of interest in “near-earth industrialization” by the parties in question.
Nikolay Agapov: I would say that the “Space Age” tropes that both derived from and guided these somewhat odd goals have themselves become codified, leading to impractical implementations (or as we’ve suggested above, a lack thereof) and also a “monoculture,” where what began as nebulous goals, have become codified by science-fiction fanatics, films, and television – so that all interest, popular or industrial, is centering on rockets and journeys beyond our sphere which are very exciting – but a little ineffable as to their purpose relative to the building of things.
JBZ: Most of us at the Transhumanist Party are believers in technocratic solutions, even some beyond the 20th-century or early post-industrial models of today – and I am one of those. The principles of technocracy and automation-centered policy making would do quite a bit to solve these problems in private and public space initiatives.
Nikolay Agapov: Modernized countries share a technocratic approach to their organization.
JBZ: Yes, it’s odd to me that so many in the USA view technocracy as an ugly word. I regard myself (and all those involved in the “Futurist New Deal” do as well) as an “economic populist”, but I view this tendency to criticize technocracy as something to be viewed with skepticism, a “false populist phenomenon,” that derives from what is sometimes called in the USA “know-nothing”-ism, a set of anti-science and low-information cultural values that poison, well, many, if not most, earnest efforts in public policy and the ordering of a civil society.
Nikolay Agapov: Yes, and your “futurists” would be doing the right thing in trying to counteract this other failing in thinking about technology and progress.
JBZ: How expensive would your space elevator be? What’s the cost of the most expensive or extravagant elevator or orbital ring you’d like to build, since I know we’ve discussed a few with cost in mind?
Nikolay Agapov: Incorporating the existing but non-operational space stations described in my prospectus into the design, using a tether with a specialized design using Kevlar, carbon fiber, or polyethylene materials designs that could sustain the tether and a series of relatively small additional payloads, a little smaller than a human at first – as I’ve described in our prospectus.
JBZ: Yes, I was imagining a bunch of little “Roombas” scooting up there to the space station to then be boosted off to the moon and do some work.
Nikolay Agapov: Yes, these types of remotely controlled or semi-autonomous devices should be among the easier parts of our “work order” to fulfill. And as the system is judged to be stable, more tethers would be built, a number of these which are stable would perhaps allow for very low-cost space tourism, travel from Earth to the space station in a matter of days at that time shortly after the initial stabilization of the tether, but it is quite likely that other materials designs for tethers would be required, delaying the tourism part, which I regard as the smallest part of this undertaking compared to getting “robots” out in earth’s orbit fixing and building existing and new infrastructure, respectively, and traveling on to do so on the Moon as well.
Using materials costs from the Eurasian markets and including the estimates of existing but underutilized space infrastructure and present-day tether materials (despite their payload limitations), I would put the total costs at 100 – 500 million dollars. This 500% variation in costs would be due to the uncertain nature of building in orbit and the problems with constructing and maintaining the tether, as well as market uncertainties for the materials needed.
JBZ: That’s 100-500 million right? Millions, 1 and six zeroes, 1,000,000? Is that what you are saying?
Nikolay Agapov: Yes.
JBZ: That’s many billions of dollars lower than any of the prospecti I’ve seen, some of which push up to a trillion dollars.
Nikolay Agapov: Building systems for space tourism would be a lot more than a few hundred million dollars, as those systems are built and rebuilt to higher standards, but by that time there will occur an immense economic impact from making better use of building in orbit or on the Moon and the ways that they would impact existing markets, with cheaper and better satellites, new energy developments in solar and other renewable energies, and the appeal and benefits of industrializing in earth’s orbit and on the moon. As a result, those significant added costs for stronger elevators would be happily undertaken by those industries.
JBZ: I am still a little taken aback with this “low” budget. That is a number that Elon Musk, Peter Diamandis, or many of these guys could fund based on their companies’ valuations just by diverting some portion of funds from other space companies.
Nikolay Agapov: Maybe. Your question about the most expensive project I can think of – I don’t think is a serious one. The “most expensive design” is to continue building rockets if operating cost and environmental impact are no concern.
JBZ: Fair enough. Your prospectus states that you could have this design completed and financially self-sustaining in 3-5 years. Do you stand by that?
Nikolay Agapov: Yes and no. If the project was fully funded and international cooperation and many other political factors were dealt with independently – then yes, absolutely. I think that the cooperation of U.S. and Russian space agencies and associated corporations and entities may be enough to accomplish this.
JBZ: It would take a mighty fine group of statesmen and women to accomplish such a thing.
Nikolay Agapov: Maybe, maybe not.
JBZ: If such a project could be built so cheaply, why hasn’t it been done yet?
Nikolay Agapov: I would answer “politics” more than “design”, but I would also include with that concern, the lack of motivation and the focus on these “popular imagination” and “sci-fi-genre media-driven” goals we spoke of, resulting in the “rich guys with big rockets” and tourism over industrialization. Industry is a more controversial design principle because it is perceived as being more “invasive” or “less ecological”, although in practice the opposite is true; rockets have been and still are much worse. Irony.
JBZ: The design like the one that I had been sharing with others was to build out an entirely new orbital ring with a “PBO”, also known as “Zylon” tether and with a $10 billion total price tag. That’s the “Low Cost Design for an Orbital Ring” by California engineer David Nelson, I believe, and published July of 2017. I should say it’s possible he’s a bit of a shy character; after a few attempts I’ve not been able to actually identify him (his writing has been republished, and Dave Nelson is an extremely common name in the U.S.) nor contact him for comment. It’s also a design that requires a 10-plus-year build timeline.
Nikolay Agapov: I’ve read all about this design, and he’s done a lot of good work, but I think we can do a lot better with a smaller, more industry-focused orbital ring. The option of using the decommissioned space station as a counterweight is a major selling point for us, but it, too, requires international and national politicking, as well as the business acumen of my organization and other private space companies.
JBZ: Therein lies the rub, but it starts with getting people excited and having these conversations outside of the typical bluster of these discussions as nationalistic or symbolic endeavors. If I had 100 million dollars, I would be investing that money into this today, and to that end I hope we can link to your outline at least, for our readers, here.
Nikolay Agapov: Yes, that is fine, but bear in mind the full prospectus is written in Russian, and this outline of concepts was also written in English, but there remain a few proofreading concerns, so please be patient. This outline at the time of its publication had not had the benefit of a translator, as this interview has.
JBZ: But feel free to comment and discuss with us,;we will be happy to engage with you. The function of such a thing is to answer questions and bring in new ideas and hopefully get a working space elevator built soon.
Nikolay Agapov: Yes, thank you for your time.
José Luis Cordeiro
Editor’s Note: The U.S. Transhumanist Party features this interview of Dr. José Luis Cordeiro by Elena Milova at LeafScience.Org, originally published on their site on April 19, 2019. Dr. Cordeiro is working to foster transhumanist-friendly political policies in Spain, a goal supported by the U.S. Transhumanist Party as part of our policy objectives.
~ Brent Reitze, Director of Publication, United States Transhumanist Party, May 1st, 2019
At Undoing Aging 2019, jointly organized by SENS Research Foundation and Forever Healthy Foundation, there was a session focused on the ways to make healthy life extension and medical progress a greater part of the global agenda. Among the speakers there was Jose Cordeiro, the vice chair of Humanity Plus, director of The Millennium Project, fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, and board member of the Lifeboat Foundation.
Jose earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His thesis was focused on the modeling of the International Space Station. Jose has also studied International Economics and Comparative Politics at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and received his MBA in France at INSEAD, where he focused on Finance and Globalization.
Last year, Jose decided to begin his political activities in order to foster the development of rejuvenation biotechnologies in Spain and to work on the integration of Latin American immigrants into Spain’s aging society and thus maintain the country’s productivity. He kindly agreed to give me an interview to discuss more about his ambitious initiative.
Hello, Jose, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. You are currently beginning your campaign to win several seats in the European parliament. This is a very unusual situation, because it’s still rare that transhumanist ideas like significant life extension are part of a political agenda. Before we dig into your political program, I would really want to know more about you as a person and what kind of experiences led you to becoming a transhumanist in the first place. Please tell us a few things about your childhood; what life events or books helped you to develop the vision that you have right now?
My family is from Spain. During the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, this country became very poor, and that pushed my family to consider moving to Venezuela. At the time, Venezuela was a prosperous country, so we had moved, and I grew up there. When I was a little child, there was no color TV; it was black and white back then. I remember that the first transmission in color was the moon landing of the Apollo mission. I was so fascinated by the idea that man had gone to the moon and also by the color picture, even though the moon was mostly gray. That sparked my interest in science fiction. My mother gave me books by Jules Verne. To me, he was an idol; I loved his writing. Then, there were other writers, like Isaac Asimov and Sir Arthur C. Clarke, who helped me develop my imagination.
When I was older, I even went to meet Sir Arthur C. Clarke in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It turned out that he had a scuba diving center in Indonesia. You see, he believed that going into outer space and going into the ocean were the ultimate experiences and that they both showed how weak our bodies were. To me, it was one more piece of proof that we really need technology to survive in outer space or in the oceans. I had an opportunity to invite him to talk at the transhumanist conference that I had organized. That was really beautiful.
Speaking of the other books, I also read Robert Heinlein’s books on Mars, and all of this combined really made me go into engineering. I decided to go to MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and I majored in engineering in order to be able to participate in all these fascinating projects of mankind in space. I have been very lucky to have four Nobel laureates among my teachers, and I’ve been always following future trends. Since that time, I read the books of the Club of Rome and the World Future Society. There were many magazines about science, such as Popular Mechanics, Computer World, and others. Then, I learned about Extropians and the World Transhumanist Association when it was being created, and I learned a lot from this community, too.
I lived three years in Japan and four years in California. Then, I met Ray Kurzweil at MIT, as he was one of its board members. He’s a fantastic person, and I read all his books, the Age of intelligent machines was the first one, and then in 1998-99, he published the Age of Spiritual Machines, where he makes all his forecasts of the future.
It seems to me that there is still a huge gap between technology, which involves developing all sorts of machines and engineering, and life sciences, rejuvenation research, and life extension. What were your ideas or some events in your life that actually made you look into this direction as well?
Because of my science fiction reading and my training at MIT, I have been very much a technologist, futurist, and transhumanist. Like Ray Kurzweil, I believe that we will transcend the biological condition and move into a post-biological condition. Arthur C. Clarke said that we are carbon-based bipeds and that we should actually evolve and transcend.
I was not particularly interested in longevity and rejuvenation technologies until 1999-2000, when a friend of mine died. Also, sadly, my father died in 2013, and that really affected my life and my views. I was living in California back when the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela had happened. My father died of something that no one dies of today, which is a lack of access to dialysis. The crisis was so bad that there were no medical services, no food, no clean water, no electricity, no gasoline in the country with the largest oil reserves on the planet. My family had to witness how a bad government can destroy a country and put a whole nation into misery. I consider myself lucky that I managed to take my mother from Venezuela back to Spain, and I am so happy that she is alive. Then I decided to stay in Spain and work internationally.
I am traveling around the globe, as I am giving lectures at major universities in many countries. As you know, I teach in two universities in Moscow: in the MIPT and in the Higher School of Economics. I also teach in universities in Japan and in Korea, focusing on several main topics that are important for shaping the global agenda in a reasonable way. In the Higher School of Economics, I talk about technologies, because economists need to know about emerging technologies, while the MIPT is just the opposite; I talk more about the future of economics, the world moving from scarcity to abundance, and how technology can help with that. I talk about energy, about the necessity to switch from fossil fuels to renewables. Actually, I coined the word ‘energularity’: it’s an unlimited amount of energy that we can use for our needs. I talk about longevity, rejuvenation, regenerative medicine, the possibility to control aging and remain healthy for as long as we want. I am teaching the young generation of leaders how to build the future of global prosperity, and I decided to bring my knowledge and my vision to the political arena, too.
Could you please tell our readers about the pillars of your political program? What are the specific goals that you are going to focus on?
Two main things that I plan to focus on are the healthy longevity of the Spanish population and the integration of immigrants from Latin America. Let me explain why I consider these two topics extremely important and how they are intertwined.
Spain, as you know, is one of the countries with the highest life expectancy in the world. Our people live very long. However, this also means that our population is aging; there is a large and fast-growing share of people who are 65 years old and older, which is now over 20%, and these people have age-related chronic diseases. The medicine of the 20th century cannot restore health, and there are many age-related diseases that remain incurable, causing enormous amount of human suffering. However, it was recently proven in animal studies that by directly targeting the processes of aging, the root causes of aging, we could learn how to cure these diseases, reverse aging, and ensure better health and productivity in later life. If we support scientific research on the mechanisms of aging, we can develop cures for people very soon; in the next 10 years, there will already be several therapies of a new type that will be able to slow down and even partially reverse aging.
So, healthy longevity for the Spanish population is my primary focal point. I have three very clear targets. The first is the creation of the European Institute on Aging to work on the problem of aging and on the latest rejuvenation biotechnologies and to put together all the knowledge in different areas and different countries to give our aging society innovative treatments as soon as possible.
The second target is the development of more flexible regulations. I actually like to say that Americans invent things, the Chinese or the Japanese improve things, and the Europeans regulate. Sadly, there is overregulation all over Europe. Let me give you an example. In Japan, if you have already done phase two of human clinical trials, which means that you have already proven that the treatment is safe and it works, even if the experimental group in phase two is not large, a patient can get those treatments, especially if the patient is in critical condition, or, even worse, terminal condition. People in Japan have a chance to use the innovation and a chance to overcome the disease. You can do that in Japan but not in Europe, despite the fact that the pace of population aging in Japan and in Europe is the same; we have many old people around.
The third target is an increase in the science and technology budget of the European Union. For the next framework program, which is called Horizon Europe, beginning in 2021, the budget is expected to increase to 100 billion euros, but I think it should be increased even more, to 120 billion. The projects sponsored by Horizon Europe should be more also focused on regenerative biotechnologies in order to cope with the massive population aging and population decline.
So, you would like to contribute to the creation of a coordination center on aging research, appropriate funding for this research, and on regulatory improvement in order to ensure that the emerging rejuvenation biotechnologies can be available as soon as possible?
That is right, and I have done a great deal preparing the ground for these improvements. As you know, as a proponent of healthy life extension, I have organized many scientific conferences in Spain, and I have invited international luminaries from the field of aging research, such as Dr. Aubrey de Grey, who was the first to recognize the mechanisms of aging as new therapeutic targets.
I have always tried to spread the word about the work of our brilliant Spanish scientists, and I have also written several books on this topic to educate the public on this matter and to allow more people to benefit from the development of rejuvenation technologies; the last one of my 13 books is currently a bestseller in Spain called La Muerte De La Muerte (The Death of Death).
Yes, I have seen it – are you planning to have it translated into other languages?
Yes, it is coming out now in Portuguese, then in Korean, and then in other languages. I hope that there will also be English and Russian translations soon enough.
However, this is only one part of my program. The other one is based on the other pressing issues of Spain. You have heard the motto of my campaign, #SomosMIEL – MIEL stands for ‘Movimiento Independiente EuroLatino’ (the Independent EuroLatino Movement). Because of the crisis in Latin America, and especially Venezuela, Spain has become a home for many immigrants; around 10% of the Spanish population are immigrants. Think about it. The native Spanish population is aging, our population is declining, and our workforce is shrinking. The immigrants are people with a similar cultural and religious background, who speak Spanish perfectly, and who have a good education and could contribute to the development of the country much better if we removed certain barriers and restrictions.
First, I think we need to eliminate the Schengen visa for people in Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and Bolivia, at least in the case of family reunification. Next, I would focus on extending the approved period of being an independent worker from one to five years. The third target is to contribute to the homologation of titles and degrees in education. When all these immigrants come, even though we speak the same language, their degrees are not accepted. There is already a good precedent of solving this problem in Europe with the Bologna Declaration, the agreement that allows homologation of all titles in Europe. However, now we have to take this to the international level and certainly with Latin America.
There is one more question that I plan to work on: the recognition of Spanish as one of the official languages of the European Union. Spanish is the second most frequently spoken language in the world after Chinese. It is not even recognized in the European Union, which has only three official working languages: English, French, and German.
As we are moving towards a world that is more and more strongly connected, I think it makes perfect sense to facilitate communication and exchange of valuable knowledge and experience between the major regions, such as Spain, the European Union, Latin America, and the United States. There are 50 million Spanish speakers in the United States.
So, technically, what you’re trying to achieve with your program is to remove the barriers that prevent Spanish-speaking society from acting as a whole. One example is the integration of immigrants from Latin America, and the other one is the improvement of cross-border communication by making Spanish an official language of the European Union. I find that fascinating. Because, as we all know, there are these global challenges that we’re dealing with, like climate change, pollution, lack of renewable energy, and population aging, and they require global cooperation. The barriers become increasingly unwelcome, I would say, because these problems just cannot be solved at the level of one country. I find it a very valuable social experiment.
Yeah, that’s a beautiful way to put it. However, we have a long way to go. We live in a world of abundance that is full of opportunities brought to us by technological progress, and it is quite disappointing that we still have poverty, we still have suffering from aging, and we still find ourselves witnessing humanitarian crises like the one in Venezuela that killed my father. Five million Venezuelans have been forced to leave the country, five million. This is not a small number, and we still don’t know how to deal with it in a way that these people can have the decent lives that they deserve. We need to learn how to not leave anyone behind. We have to become more compassionate. This could happen to any country, like it happened to Germany during Hitler’s government. We have to collaborate to make sure that we will not make the same mistakes ever again. We live at the borderline between a fantastic positive future and a horrible, terrible past, and we have to move forward, positively contribute to it, and create a better society, a better world for everybody.
What insights would you like to share with our readers?
Life is so beautiful; it is a fantastic gift. I think everybody should enjoy life, should have a chance to improve and extend life and to do more things. I speak five languages, and I’d want to speak ten if I had the time. I have been to 137 countries, and I would like to go to two hundred more. I would like to write and read more books, watch many movies, and listen to so much more music, and there is no time. Time is so valuable. Ask yourself, who could you become if you had another century of healthy life? Therefore, we need more lifetime so that we can enjoy more, develop and reinvent ourselves to become better people, and make this world a better place. Going into politics for me is my reinvention. I think that I have enough experience to take all these fascinating academic findings and ideas professionally into politics and to make a difference. That is my mission: to bring healthy longevity and profound social integration to Spain. Wish me luck.
“Hybrid Resonance” art exhibition at Ashawagh Hall, East Hampton, N.Y. April 5-7, 2019.
I was recently invited to be part of an art exhibition which explored some fundamental topics related to my area of artistic research and activist initiatives. The event, “Hybrid Resonance,” and the artist talk that followed two weeks later, revealed that Latin American art is not only a hybrid mix of cultural influences but also a mixed-breed of personal achievements and sacrifices in the pursuit of novelty, preservation, and adaptation.
In this article, my first exhibition review and account of the artist talk that followed, I hope to share a comprehensive reflection and critical analysis of contemporary Latin American art from Long Island, New York, and its global relevance as we continue to stand in solidarity towards Venezuela’s Liberation.
PART # 1 – HYBRID RESONANCE: AN ART EXHIBITION AND BENEFIT FOR VENEZUELA
Artwork on view, from left to right: Aner Candelario, Gustavo Bonevardi, Alex Vignoli, & Enrique Martinez, a.k.a. Mago.
Thirteen East End, Long Island artists and a selection of contemporary Venezuelan art were selected for “Hybrid Resonance,” an exhibition organized by art consultant and curator, Esperanza Leon, to raise awareness about Latin American art and Venezuela’s current humanitarian crisis.
Ms. Leon, also born in Venezuela, organized a powerfully relevant and emotional exhibition which displayed the hybrid nature of Latin-American art, re-defined by a global heritage of analog and digital hybridity.
The art, the awareness, the solidarity, this exhibition was beyond personal. Works like “Venezuela Divided,” by American artist, Gustavo Bonevardi, captures the fractured spirit of a displaced nation whose hope persists as the flag’s iconic rainbow stars remain centered, never out of sight. Maria Schon’s reductive and organic shapes transcend location, as tropical greens, blues, and yellows resonate with childhood memories and the primal subconscious.
With resounding rhythm and improvisation, “Hybrid Resonance”, also featured live Latin music by the jazzy Velvet Mood; Hispanic vibes by D.J. Carlos Lama; and a selection of Venezuela’s Ron Diplomatico and traditional “arepas” from Caracas Arepa Bar restaurant.
Latin American Art
Artwork by Venezuelan Reinaldo Crespo
What does it mean when Jerry Saltz, esteemed and renowned art critic, says: “Art contains a multitude”?
Artists embrace complexity and paradox. We often oscillate between different perspectives and painfully obsess over the spaces between objectivity and subjectivity. We want to strip it all off, or integrate it all – art, culture, spirituality, science, technology, the irrational – unveiling unexpected connections between seemingly unrelated disciplines. We often shift back and forth between fantasy and a rooted sense of reality, between playful extroversion and disciplined introspection, between a sense of abstraction and a concrete sense of self.
So what makes Latin American art more pluralistic in its inherent multitude?
When people think of Latin American art, it is often associated with murals depicting religious narratives, or political and social unrest; or one thinks of the optical and geometrical kinetic sculptures of the Venezuelan Avant-Gardes. While Latin American art shares the mestizo roots of our European, African, and Indigenous ancestry, this collective experience of conquest, slavery, and imperialism, has always provided a fertile ground for the cross-breed of new and exotic forms of artistic expression.
Today, Latin American art couldn’t be more relevant. As we become more active participants in global networks, not only we have our shared pre-Columbian and European influences to draw inspiration from, but we are also in a unique position to capture the multi-cultural conditions of the global citizen.
Artists present in “Hybrid Resonance” had roots in Venezuela (Maria Schon, Walt Lindveld, and myself), Puerto Rico (Aner Candelario and Darlene Charneco) Ecuador (E. Osbaldo Segura), Colombia (Mago), Brazil (Alex Vignoli and Dalton Portella), and Uruguay (Aurelio Torres), Gustavo Bonevardi (Argentina), Nadine Daskaloff (Mexico).
Additionally, the exhibition showcased a selection of basketry from the Yekuana and Yanomami Venezuelan tribes, and folk art and other hand-crafted works created by Venezuelan artisans, designers, and fine artists, many of whom still reside there. In this section of the exhibition gallery, there were also the works of Reinaldo Crespo, Astolfo Funes, Eduardo Barcenas, Humberto Salas, and Abdul Vas.
“The very rich culture of Venezuela is often overlooked due to the current crisis. In the past, the country was known for its petroleum, now, for its critical economic and humanitarian decline.” – Leon
In Venezuela, eight out of ten people currently live in poverty. There is extreme insecurity and shortages of food and medicine, with millions having access to barely one meal a day. Since 2015, the United Nations estimated that approximately three million people have left Venezuela, including many young males looking for opportunities and ways to help their families; leaving the children, women, and the elders behind.
“Hybrid Resonance” wasn’t only to raise awareness about Latin American art, but also to raise funds to help Venezuela. On the last day of the exhibition, Leon, Venezuelan artist Maria Schon, and I, also hosted a tour to discuss the art and the current humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.
“Hybrid Resonance” was able to raise almost $3,000 which is given to selected charities providing aid in Venezuela. These organizations include Rescate Venezuela (rescatevenezuela.com), Alimenta la Solidaridad (alimentalasolidaridad.com), and International Rescue Committee (https://www.rescue.org/country/venezuela).
Awareness with Foresight
“Bob” by Dinorah Delfin. Image courtesy of Casey Dalene.
There were two instances during “Hybrid Resonance” that were of particular interest for me:
Self-learning algorithms: One person in the exhibition interested in learning about my art piece on display, “Bob” 2019, from my Hybrid series, expressed concern about self-learning algorithms and the possibility of a “Terminator-like” future. I sympathized. I happen to be part of a movement that raises awareness about issues related to advanced technologies. I explained that the most important thing one can do is to help raise awareness about these issues by also advocating against any form of prejudice and segregation.
The focus of my next body of works, a re-interpretation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, touches upon issues related to Artificial Intelligence (AI). Algorithmic bias is a rising global problem with unprecedented consequences – it is threatening to replace human thought and ability to form opinions with machine thinking. Some experts believe that as biased AI becomes more autonomous and ubiquitous, the greater the existential threat to humanity will be.
AI doesn’t evolve in a vacuum, however. Just like our beliefs write the fate of our future, our thinking machines echo human flaws and values. The field of AI and GAI (General Artificial Intelligence) ethics is a stark wake-up call and a powerful reminder that a lack of spiritual maturity, or emotional intelligence, is one of humanity’s greatest existential risks.
In our continuous liberation from injustice and prejudice, and as we push forth new ways to re-think what it means to be human, it is crucial to remember that every time an algorithm targets or discriminates against someone based on physical, or non-physical demographics, we are inadvertently training self-learning machines to discriminate against humanity as a whole.
Transhumanists are as concerned as you are: Another interesting moment during “Hybrid Resonance” was when someone recognized me from my participation in the Transhumanist Movement. Apparently, the person had “unfriended” me from Facebook because of my affiliation to the movement. I was not surprised; the movement itself is dealing with an identity crisis as it strives to remain a truly progressive and beneficial asset to society. What is most important to keep in mind, however, is that the less we understand how advanced technologies affect our every day lives, the less prepared we will be at setting up the necessary infrastructure to ensure that “transhumanist” technologies are used fairly and responsibly.
PART # 2 – ART + BIOCULTURALISM: AN ARTIST TALK
Art + Biculturalism: An Artist Talk hosted by Esperanza Leon and Casey Dalene at the Maidstone Hotel, East Hampton, N.Y.
If all art is autobiographical, what are oval-shaped nature escapes, recycled sculptural books, and sculptural pixelated faces telling us about our time; about an individual’s journey, cultures, and the global family as a whole?
Art + Biculturalism, an artist talk hosted by Esperanza Leon and Casey Dalene, as part of their Art Salon series, was organized two weeks following the exhibition “Hybrid Resonance,” to offer a more comprehensive understanding about the different influences shaping the individual expression of Latin American artists living in the East End, Long Island, New York.
The talk featured artists Maria Schon, Alex Vignoli, and myself. We all shared how the advantages and challenges that come from migrating one’s birthplace and adapting to new territories, is an invaluable process which has not only shaped our unique individual expressions but also constitutes a reflection of the collective global experience.
The Gaia Within
There are different theories about what the 20,000-year-old Lascaux cave paintings signify. Whatever inspired these exquisite renditions of nature and the human condition, one thing is indisputable, these are the works by a unique breed of people who like to look at things, think about things, and record what they perceive, remember, and/or feel. These gentle cave-men and women were obsessed, expressive, sensible, naughty, and highly self-aware and skilled people who ventured into womb-like, almost inaccessible caves, to be able to create their harmony and pro-life-inspired wall carvings, stamps, and graffitis.
Exuding a voluptuous luminosity and a palpable feel of nature’s texture, curves, and edges, which only a trained eye can masterfully illustrate, Schon’s paintings transport us to a place not so different from that experienced by our pre-historic ancestors. Behind Schon’s reductionist abstraction of childhood memories, as she later explained in her talk, there is also something beautifully dense and complex appealing to the primal subconscious. By juxtaposing basic design elements such as form, color, texture, light, and composition, Schon’s paintings gently trigger a universal drive to co-exist symbiotically and in harmony with Nature — our progenitor and co-creator.
Up-cycling meaning, through found books, is how artist Alex Vignoli cleverly integrates his photographic skills with his personal values — to conjured up still life images of social relevance and timeless beauty.
Pictures of open books, with folded and rolled up pages; as relics of the past as we become increasingly more digitized; or as relics of the wise, as those who cherish harmony understand that a sustainable future is for those who can leverage both of our digital and biological potentials.
Vignoli’s sleek and minimal photographic images unfold into an equally relevant, and obscure, subject; the art market. Bringing awareness into paradoxical and controversial issues such as educational reformation and digital technologies, goes hand in hand with reformations needed in society’s moral value systems — humans make art to reflect back our humanness and flaws, we don’t want biased AI reflecting to, or for us.
Prejudice and discrimination are much more subtle and complex than it is normally spoken about, and it is no different in the art market, or the art community in the East End, Long Island — minorities have historically struggled for artistic recognition and financial success as academia tries to fit it all in one neat historical continuum.
We are more than multi-cultural beings
Anthropology professor, Setha Low, during Art + Biculturalism shared about her interest in the idea of humans as “translocals” — beings embodying the physical sensation of living in two or more places at the same time. Corresponding to this idea is also that of “transhumans” — beings embodying both the physical sensation of living in two or more places at the same time, and the physical sensation of everything that is living, while on a journey to define and/or preserve the integrity of one’s individual essence and expression.
In shifting to a conscious awareness of translocal spaces inhabited by humans transitioning into a posthuman era, we are experiencing a “re-inscription of old ideas and patterns but we are not holding on to it,” says Low. We are experiencing a political backlash and more segregation, she adds.
For “Hybrid Resonance,” I decided to showcase a piece of artwork which portrays the idea of a future hybrid being embodying both analog and digital qualities to bring awareness to this paradoxical issues. Evolution has taught us that life thrives on mutations and complexity; it isn’t up to humans to want to become ever more complex organisms. Transhumanism not only embraces this fundamental existential drive but also brings into light the dark side of the digital world and the dystopian futures we strive to prevent. We are all hybrids, and we are all accountable, after all.
“Hybrid Resonance” echoed the spirit of the international Latino artist as our stories revealed one of broadened perspectives, resilience, and adaptation. The show was a reminder that we are living at the edge of an era that calls for a pluralistic, integral, and holistic intervention as we transition into a more complex socio-technological world.
Belonging everywhere and nowhere, “Hybrid Resonance” was above all about the sincerity of process and subject matter.
Dinorah Delfin is the Director of Admissions and Public Relations for the U.S. Transhumanist Party / Transhuman Party.
Ariel VA Feinerman
Aubrey de Grey
This interview was originally published here.
What is ageing? We can define ageing as a process of accumulation of the damage which is just a side-effect of normal metabolism. While researchers still poorly understand how metabolic processes cause damage accumulation, and how accumulated damage causes pathology, the damage itself — the structural difference between old tissue and young tissue — is categorized and understood pretty well. By repairing damage and restoring the previous undamaged — young — state of an organism, we can really rejuvenate it! It sounds very promising, and so it is. And for some types of damage (for example, for senescent cells) it is already proved to work!
Today in our virtual studio, somewhere between cold, rainy Saint-Petersburg and warm, sunny Mountain View, we meet Aubrey de Grey, again! For those of you who are not familiar with him, here is a brief introduction.
Dr Aubrey de Grey is the biomedical gerontologist who researched the idea for and founded SENS Research Foundation. He received his BA in Computer Science and Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Cambridge in 1985 and 2000, respectively. Dr. de Grey is Editor-in-Chief of Rejuvenation Research, is a Fellow of both the Gerontological Society of America and the American Aging Association, and sits on the editorial and scientific advisory boards of numerous journals and organizations. In 2011, de Grey inherited roughly $16.5 million on the death of his mother. Of this he assigned $13 million to fund SENS research.
Note: If you have not read “Ending Aging” yet I suggest you to do it as soon as possible, and to be more comfortable with the ideas we are discussing below I highly recommend you to read short introduction to SENS research on their web page. Also if you are interested in recent news and up-to-date reviews about [anti]ageing and rejuvenation research the best place to look for is Fight Aging! blog. Finally, if you are an investor or just curious, I highly encourage you to take a look at Jim Mellon’s book “Juvenescence”.
Ariel Feinerman: Hello, Dr Aubrey de Grey!
Aubrey de Grey: Hello Ariel — thanks for the interview.
Ariel Feinerman: How do you feel 2018 year? Can you compare 2018 to 2017 or early years? What is changing?
Aubrey de Grey: 2018 was a fantastic year for rejuvenation biotechnology. The main thing that made it special was the explosive growth of the private-sector side of the field — the number of start-up companies, the number of investors, and the scale of investment. Two companies, AgeX Therapeutics and Unity Biotechnology, went public with nine-digit valuations, and a bunch of others are not far behind. Of course this has only been possible because of all the great progress that has been made in the actual science, but one can never predict when that slow, steady progress will reach “critical mass”.
Ariel Feinerman: In 2017 SENS RF have received about $7 million. What has been accomplished in 2018?
Aubrey de Grey: We received almost all of that money right around the end of 2017, in the form of four cryptocurrency donations of $1 million or more, totalling about $6.5 million. We of course realised that this was a one-off windfall, so we didn’t spend it all at once! The main things we have done are to start a major new project at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, focused on stem cell therapy for Alzheimer’s, and to broaden our education initiative to include more senior people. See our website and newsletters for details.
Ariel Feinerman: What breakthroughs of 2018 can you name as the most important by your choice?
Aubrey de Grey: On the science side, well, regarding our funded work I guess I would choose our progress in getting mitochondrial genes to work when relocated to the nucleus. We published a groundbreaking progress report at the end of 2016, but to be honest I was not at all sure that we would be able to build quickly on it. I’m delighted to say that my caution was misplaced, and that we’ve continued to make great advances. The details will be submitted for publication very soon.
Ariel Feinerman: You say that many of rejuvenating therapies will work in clinical trials within five years. Giving that many of them are already working in clinical trials or even in the clinic (like immunotherapies, cell and gene therapies) do you mean the first — maybe incomplete — rejuvenation panel, when you speak of early 2020?
Aubrey de Grey: Yes, basically. SENS is a divide-and-conquer approach, so we can view it in three overlapping phases. The first phase is to get the basic concept accepted and moving. The second phase is to get the most challenging components moving. And the third phase is to combine the components. Phase 1 is pretty much done, as you say. Phase 2 is beginning, but it’s at an early stage. Phase 3 will probably not even properly begin for a few more years. That’s why I still think we only have about a 50% chance of getting to longevity escape velocity by 2035 or so.
Ariel Feinerman: Even now many investors are fearful of real regenerative medicine approaches. For example pharmacological companies which use small molecules, like Unity Biotechnology, received more than $300 million, in much more favour than real bioengineering companies like Oisin Biotechnologies, received less than $4 million, even though the biological approach is much more powerful, cheap, effective and safe! Why is this so in your opinion, and when can we see the shift?
Aubrey de Grey: I don’t see a problem there. The big change in mindset that was needed has already occurred: rejuvenation is a thing. It’s natural that small-molecule approaches to rejuvenation will lead the way, because that’s what pharma already knows how to do. Often, that approach will in due course be overtaken by more sophisticated approaches. Sometimes the small molecules will actually work well! It’s all good.
Ariel Feinerman: Do you agree that the small-molecule approach is generally the wrong way in the future rejuvenation therapies? Because they have many flaws — especially their main mechanism via interference with human metabolism. Unlike them SENS bioengineering therapies are designed to be metabolically inert — because they just eliminate the key damage, they do not need to interfere with metabolism, so it is much easier than usual to avoid side effects and interactions with other therapies. They just eliminate the key damage, which means they are easier to develop and test — and much safer.
Aubrey de Grey: Ah, no, that’s too simplistic. It’s not true that small molecules always just “mess with metabolism” whereas genetic and enzymatic approaches eliminate damage. Small molecules that selectively kill senescent cells are absolutely an example of SENS-esque damage repair; the only thing against them is that it may be more difficult to eliminate side-effects, but that’s not because of their mode of action, it’s because of an additional action.
Ariel Feinerman: In recent years many countries gave the green light for regenerative medicine. Fast-track approval in Japan, for example, allows for emerging treatments to be used so long as they have been proven safe. The similar approach works in Russia. What about the EU or USA?
Aubrey de Grey: There’s definitely a long way to go, but the regulatory situation in the West is moving in the right direction. The TAME trial has led the way in articulating an approvable endpoint for clinical trials that is ageing in all but name, and the WHO has found a very well-judged way to incorporate ageing into its classification.
Ariel Feinerman: Do you think of working with USA Army? As far as we know they conduct research on regeneration and are very interested in keeping soldiers healthier for longer. And they have much money!
Aubrey de Grey: The Department of Defense in the USA has certainly funded a lot of high-impact regenerative medicine research for many years. I’m sure they will continue to do so.
Aubrey de Grey: No — in the end that program was not successful enough to continue with, so we stopped it. There is now more interest in ALT in other labs than there was, though, so I’m hopeful that progress will be made. But also, one reason why I felt that it was OK to stop was that cancer immunotherapy is doing so well now. I think there is a significant chance that we won’t need WILT after all, because we will really truly defeat cancer using the immune system.
Ariel Feinerman: Spiegel Lab has recently published an abstract where they say they have found 3 enzymes capable of breaking glucosepane. Very exiting info! When can we hear more on their research? Revel LLC is a very secretive company.
Aubrey de Grey: They aren’t really being secretive, they are just setting up.
Ariel Feinerman: When can we see the first clinical trial of glucosepane breaker therapy?
Aubrey de Grey: I think two years is a reasonable estimate, but that’s a guess.
Ariel Feinerman: What do you think of the Open Source approach in rejuvenation biotechnology? The computer revolution in the early 2000s has taken place only because Open Source caused an explosion in software engineering!
We have many examples when Big Pharma buys a small company which has patents on technology and then cancels all research. In the Open Source approach you cannot “close” any technology, while everyone can contribute, making protocol better and everyone can use that without any licence fee! Anyway, there are countries where you cannot protect your patents. Maybe it will be better to make technology open from the beginning?
Famous biohacker Josiah Zayner said: “In the gene therapy world most treatments are easy to replicate or pirate because you can reverse engineer the DNA from scientific papers or patents. Same exact treatment, same purity and quality I could give to someone rejected from the clinical trial. The cost? Hundreds or a few thousand dollars at most. Same deal with immunotherapy.”
Aubrey de Grey: I think you’ve pretty much answered your own question with that quote. The technologies that will drive rejuvenation are not so easy to suppress.
Ariel Feinerman: Is the SENS RF going to begin new research programmes in 2019?
Aubrey de Grey: Sure! But we are still deciding which ones. We expect that our conference in Berlin (Undoing Aging, March 28–30) will bring some new opportunities to our attention.
Ariel Feinerman: What are your plans for 2019?
Aubrey de Grey: I’d like to say less travelling, but that doesn’t seem very likely at this point. Really my goal is just to keep on keeping on — to do all I can to maintain the growth of the field and the emerging industry.
Ariel Feinerman: Thank you very much for your answers, hope to see you again!
Aubrey de Grey: My pleasure!
Ariel VA Feinerman is a researcher, author, and photographer, who believes that people should not die from diseases and ageing, and whose main goal is to improve human health and achieve immortality. If you like Ariel’s work, any help would be appreciated via PayPal: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this video, Dr. Andrews discusses the research he does at Sierra Sciences with the aim to reverse aging and extend lifespans by extending telomeres, as well as the forthcoming gene-therapy clinical trial by Libella Gene Therapeutics.
This interview with recorded by U.S. Transhumanist Party Secretary Bobby Ridge at the Fifth Enlightenment Salon, hosted by U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II.
Gennady Stolyarov II
The Stolyarov-Kurzweil Interview has been released at last! Watch it on YouTube here.
U.S. Transhumanist Party Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II posed a wide array of questions for inventor, futurist, and Singularitarian Dr. Ray Kurzweil on September 21, 2018, at RAAD Fest 2018 in San Diego, California. Topics discussed include advances in robotics and the potential for household robots, artificial intelligence and overcoming the pitfalls of AI bias, the importance of philosophy, culture, and politics in ensuring that humankind realizes the best possible future, how emerging technologies can protect privacy and verify the truthfulness of information being analyzed by algorithms, as well as insights that can assist in the attainment of longevity and the preservation of good health – including a brief foray into how Ray Kurzweil overcame his Type 2 Diabetes.
Learn more about RAAD Fest here. RAAD Fest 2019 will occur in Las Vegas during October 3-6, 2019.
Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Fill out our Membership Application Form.
Watch the presentation by Gennady Stolyarov II at RAAD Fest 2018, entitled, “The U.S. Transhumanist Party: Four Years of Advocating for the Future”.
Laura Sanz Olacia
Aubrey de Grey
Editor’s Note: In this interview originally published by our allies at the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF), Laura Sanz Olacia discusses with Dr. Aubrey de Grey his anticipation that treatments aimed at reversing biological aging may enter clinical trials within five years. The U.S. Transhumanist Party is pleased to feature these insights from Dr. de Grey.
~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, December 18, 2018
In November, Dr. Aubrey de Grey, a graduate of the University of Cambridge, was in Spain to attend the Longevity World Forum in the city of Valencia, and he gave a press conference organized by his friend, MIT engineer José Luis Cordeiro.
Dr. Aubrey de Grey is the scientific director (CSO) and founder of the SENS Research Foundation. In Madrid and Valencia, Dr. de Grey reaffirmed for Tendencias21 one of his most striking statements of 2018: “In the future, there will be many different medicines to reverse aging. In five years, we will have many of them working in early clinical trials.”
The Longevity World Forum is a congress on longevity and genomics in Europe. It is heir to the first congress in Spain, the International Longevity and Cryopreservation Summit, which was held at the CSIC headquarters in Madrid in May 2017, and Dr. de Grey also participated in that event. In Valencia, his presentation was recieved with interest, and Dr. de Grey explained to this select audience that aging will be treated as a medical problem in the near future. Rather than treating its symptoms using the infectious disease model, the root causes of aging will themselves be treated.
It was published recently on longevityworldforum.com that a therapy to reverse aging will be a reality within five years. What will be its mechanism of action, roughly?
There will not be just one medicine; there will be a lot of different medicines, and they will all have different mechanisms of action. For example, some of them will be stem cells, where we put cells back into the body in order to replace cells that the body is not replacing on its own. Sometimes, they will be drugs that kill cells that we don’t want. Sometimes, they will be gene therapy treatments that give cells new capabilities to break down waste products, for example. Sometimes, they will be vaccines or other immune therapies to stimulate the immune system to eliminate certain substances. Many different things. In five years from now, we will probably have most of that working. I do not think that we will really have it perfect by then; probably, we will still be at the early stages of clinical trials in some of these things. Then, we will need to combine them, one by one, to make sure that they do not affect each other negatively. So, there will still be some way to go. But, yes, I think it’s quite likely that in five years from now, we will have everything, or almost everything, in clinical trials.
Then clinical trials for seven years until it’s perfected. Don’t clinical trials usually take a long time?
It depends. For example, in aging, because there is this progressive accumulation of damage, you could have therapies that slow down the rate at which damage accumulates, or you could have therapies that repair the damage that has already happened. The second type of therapy is what we think is going to be most effective and is going to be easiest to do, and you can see results from that very quickly, like in one or two years. Now, of course, you still want to know what happens later on, but the first thing is to determine whether this is working at all, and as soon as it starts to work, then you can start to make it available. Clinical trials are changing in that way. Historically, clinical trials had to be completed before anybody could get these drugs, but now we are getting new policies; there is a thing called adaptive licensing, which is becoming popular in the US and elsewhere, where the therapy becomes approved at an earlier stage, and then it’s monitored after that.
Beyond the humanitarian perspective of avoiding the pain and suffering that comes with old age, if increasing the years of healthy life in people will significantly reduce health care spending by governments, why don’t they promote research in this area?
You’re absolutely right. It’s quite strange that governments are so short-sighted. But, of course, the real problem is psychological: it’s not just governments that are short-sighted. Almost everybody in the world is short-sighted about this. The reason I believe why that’s true is people still can’t quite convince themselves that it’s going to happen. Since the beginning of civilization, we have known that there is this terrible thing called aging, and we have been desperate to do something about it, to get rid of it. And people have been coming along, ever since the beginning of civilization, saying, “Yes, here’s the solution, here’s the fountain of youth!” And they’ve always been wrong. So, when the next person comes along and says they think they know how to do it, of course, there is going to be some skepticism until they have really shown that it’s true. Of course, if you don’t think it’s going to work, then you’re not going to support the effort financially. It’s very short-sighted, but it’s understandable.
Why do you think that the pharmaceutical industry does not devote its research and development efforts to this area, which causes the death of 100,000 people every day?
Today, the pharmaceutical industry is geared toward keeping old people alive when they are sick. It makes its money that way. It’s not just the pharmaceutical industry, it’s the whole of the medical industry. And so, most people say that they are worried that maybe the pharmaceutical industry will be against these therapies when they do come along. I don’t think that’s true at all. I think they will be in favor because people will be in favor, but people are not really in favor yet. People don’t really trust preventive medicine. They think “Okay if I am not yet sick…” They don’t trust medicine in general; they know that this is experimental. So, when they are not yet sick, they think “Well, I’ll wait until I am sick,” but we can change that. Eventually, people will understand that it’s going to be much more effective to treat yourself before you get sick, and then the whole medical industry will just respond to that; they will make the medicines that people want to pay for.
So you don’t think that they will be against these therapies?
No. They will follow.
But now, they are not focusing their research into this field.
That’s right because they don’t need to. The big pharmaceutical companies don’t really do much of their own research in the first place. They just wait to see what happens, and then they buy small companies.
In the car analogy that you use, you say that a car is built to last 10 or 15 years, but with proper maintenance, it can last up to 100 years. Isn’t this expressing the idea that aging is programmed and that the life of a car is also programmed?
No, it’s not. All of you know that, a long time ago, Henry Ford invented a concept called planned obsolescence, which was a way of building a car so that you could predict pretty accurately how long it would last. But, of course, the only reason that the prediction works is because people are lazy, and they don’t mind replacing their cars, so they only do the minimum amount of maintenance that the law tells them to. The reason that some cars last 100 years is not because those cars were built differently, it’s because there are a few people out there who fall in love with their cars and they don’t want them to get old. So, it really is exactly the same. In the human body, we have aging, because there are certain types of damage that are not automatically repaired when they happen. Of course, many types of damage in the human body are repaired automatically when they happen, so we don’t need medicine for that, but some of them are not. So, if we can develop medicines that do fix those things, it’s exactly the same as with a car.
If aging is not programmed, why do different species have different lifespans?
Because they have different qualities of built-in repair machinery. When I talk about all these types of damage, they are the types of damage that accumulate in the body, and they accumulate because the body does not have ways to repair them. There are massive amounts of other types of damage that I don’t call damage, and the reason I don’t call them damage is because they don’t accumulate. The reason that they don’t accumulate is because we already have built-in machinery to repair them when they happen. So, long-lived species have more comprehensive automatic repair machinery built into them.
Do you think that first we can focus on just replacing organs and restoring their function, and eventually we can eliminate the root causes of aging? Once we reach longevity escape velocity, maybe we can focus on just eliminating it?
We will never be able to stop the body from creating this damage. The body is going to do that because it is intrinsic to metabolism, but the better we get at repairing the damage, the fewer problems we have.
What healthy habits do you follow now?
I don’t do healthy habits. I’m lucky, I don’t need to do anything; I can drink whatever I like and nothing happens. I don’t even do much exercise, and also I don’t get nearly enough sleep, which is probably shortening my life, but it is worth it because I am hastening the defeat of aging, so it is a net positive.
Which generation will live to be a thousand years old? Do you think it is born already?
I think it is very probably born already, yes. But, of course, we cannot know until we get the medicines.
Which country do you think is more aware, or the people is more aware that this is a problem that we need to fix?
I would say Russia.
Yeah. Surprising, isn’t it? But when I go to Russia and I talk about all of this, it’s so wonderful; I don’t get any of the uninformed questions, and everyone seems to understand it.
They don’t ask you ethical questions?
That’s right, yeah. They understand that this is a medical problem, it needs to be fixed, and it can be fixed.
Kriorus [the first and only cryonics company in Eurasia] is there right?
Yeah, I know Kriorus, I know the people very well.
Alcor [the world leader in cryonics located in Arizona] is the most expensive.
It gives the best service. I mean, it makes sense to have a very expensive, high-quality service and also less expensive and lower quality service. That is normal.
Where are you currently living?
I live in the United States, but I go everywhere when I am invited to speak and so on.
Laura Sanz Olacia, has a degree in Pharmacy from the Complutense University of Madrid (2015). Between 2016 and 2017 she worked for nine months in different pharmacies in London. She also worked in a pharmacy laboratory compounding medicines and cosmetics in Madrid. More recently she worked in IQVIA as Data Management Analyst. She is very interested in research and, in particular, in the area of aging. During her stay in London, she participated in the organization of the Antiaging Conference London 2016, and back in Madrid, she collaborated closely with the organizing committee of the International Longevity and Cryopreservation Summit 2017. She wants to devote her career to doing research in this field.