Futurist Logo

The Future of Aging


Aubrey De Grey

This week we interview the phenomenal Aubrey De Grey, the world’s foremost authority on longevity and developing strategies to slow or eliminate aging altogether. The author of The Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging (1999) and Ending Aging (2007), De Grey is probably best  known for the concept of Longevity Escape Velocity, a view that soon medical technology will enable human beings to prevent age-related deterioration, and eventually eliminated aging entirely.

Analysis complete. No addtional information is required for context. Proceed with transcript display ...

View Transcript

document button

[Music] this week on the futurists Aubry to gray it had just never occurred to me thatanyone could possibly not think that aging is the world's most serious problem the thing that causes the mostsuffering and so on and furthermore that is potentially a problem we can solve[Music]welcome to this week's the futurists I am back home in the hosting chair inBangkok the last couple of episodes we've done while I've been on the road Rob your home too but in La that's rightgood to see you again how was your trip that was it was very fruitfuleverywhere tiring you're all over the place man you're a world traveler well it's good to see you in your base uh Ilove your sign good sign you've got in the background there yeah for the people listening futurists yeah Brett's got anew futurist sign in the background sign for the show um for those of you who watch on YouTube of course you'll be able to see it butuh this is uh upgrading the studio a little bit niceum we've got a really amazing guest coming up for you in a few minutes we're gonna kick off with Aubrey DeGray theworld's preeminent expert on longevity but before we get to that Rob um some some news this week what whatnews from the future have you got for us here we go Brett news from the futureso this week I thought I'd focus on some topics that are related to Today's Show I'm going to talk about some topics inhealthcare and medical science so one of the topics we've talked about on this show in the past and it keepscoming up is what's the next device that's going to replace your smartphone you know in the in the history ofSilicon Valley we've gone from mainframe computers to microcomputers to PCS desktops laptops and now the ubiquitoussmartphone that seems to be in everybody's pocket and the big speculation is what will come next some people say it's a head mounted displayfor virtual reality other people say that it's some sort of goggles or glasses you might wear but now there's anew entrant in the field and they're not making a headset what they're offering is augmented realitycontact lenses that's right a lenses stick in your eye that can actually render render augmented reality thecompany's been doing this been working it for a couple of years but the news here is that they just tested the first version of this in a real human eye it'snot a prototype it's not a demo it's actually a real test of working device we didn't get much uh data on exactlywhat the test consisted of or what the results were like but we do have someinformation about the device I thought I'd share it with you bro because it's kind of amazing this augmented contact reality lens from Mojo visionhas 14 000 pixel per inch micro LED display which is about 30 times thepixel density of the current generation iPhone it has to be that that much resolution because it's right on youreye right so it's very close to your eyes so it has to be super high resolution um and the lenses also include an armprocessor with a five gigahertz radio transmitter because it's connecting wirelessly to the internetit has an accelerometer a gyroscope and a magnometer to track eye motion that'show they can align all the augmented reality and make it register appropriately in the right places butthat's a lot of gear to stick in a contact lens see and bear in mind you know the last 30 years those those parts have been miniaturized but I did notrealize that they're miniaturizing that quickly what about the battery well that's a great question and we don'tknow uh so you know that they they didn't release any stats on how long the device runs but of course what thecompany said is that they're aiming for all-day use in the future and bear in mind this is just the very first youknow iteration there's a long road to go before this is a commercial product still kind of an exciting idea so thatmeans you know while you're riding your mountain bike you could be watching you know YouTube videos or Tick Tock videos always a good thing not very safe to dowhile you're riding a mountain bike all right second news item is uh is about anew kind of vaccine and you'll recall the company moderna created one of the most popular vaccines during the covidpandemic they generated about three billion dollars selling That vaccine last year so it was a very good productfor them but of course now they need something new because people are moving on from from the pandemic and uhactually what the company is originally organized to do uh was to focus on vaccines for cancer and so this weekthere was an announcement from moderna that they've now developed a vaccine for skin cancer it's an experimental productuh they are now in stage two clinical trials and they're about to move into stage three clinical trials which is themost expensive and most rigorous phase of clinical trials in the U.S FDA Foodand Drug Administration the way it works is it's in partnership with Merck the big pharmaceutical company a Merc makesan immunotherapy drug called ktruta and if you use this vaccine with katrudait's actually 44 more effective in terms of reducing the risk of recurrence ordeath that's a pretty significant gain and of course because Merc produces that drug Katrina it was quite easy for themto do a test because they could you know they had a class of people who are already taking that drug without thevaccine so there's a very very positive step forward for the pharmaceutical industryand the two companies plan to continue working together uh where they share costs and profits it's interesting tonote that modernist share price skyrocketed it went up by 23 percent on this newslast news item I have for us today is uh related to coven actually it's notparticularly new this news came out in August but I thought because Aubry is joining us this would be a useful starting point for the show uh which isactually kind of a surprising and downbeat piece of news it came from the U.S Center for Disease Control and prevention they released a statement inAugust stating that life expectancy in the United States has declined from 2020to 2021 and it's gone down by about a year and that comes on top of a previousuh drop in life expectancy in the previous year in 2020. um so this is the biggest two-year firsttime in since the 1920s so 1921 is the last time in history when we had a two-year twoyears of declining uh um life expectancy in a row uh and it falls unevenly on thepopulation as you might imagine men are more likely to die sooner than womenum and different ethnicities are more likely to have this impact so forinstance uh Native American people have the biggest drop in life expectancy followed by Caucasian or white peoplefollowed by black people people who are Hispanic and Asian experience only thatslight drop in in longevity now the main driver of this of course is the covid-19pandemic that accounts for almost 75 of this um and uh another Big Driver of it is uhaccidents and injuries including drug overdose which was a surprisingly high percentage I don't know if there's acorrelation there if people have been you know doing drugs or having more overdoses during the covet pandemic that wasn't explained in this reportbut there are a couple of other factors driving this drop in in life expectancy and I thought this would be quite a goodway to start the conversation with Aubry today let's um one of those one of the drivers uh four percent of the increase was drivenby heart disease and three percent was driven by chronic liver disease and cirrhosis so there's the news a newcontact lens that helps you see augmented reality and um some news about yeah sorry in a vaccine for skin cancerwhich is kind of an amazing idea um and then finally news about life expectancy but not very not very sunnynews yeah um you know did you ever watch that Canadian um Sci-Fi show called continuumno because it actually demonstrated what a smart contact lens could could looklike it's very interesting but anyway so uh introducing Our Guest Aubry to Grayhe's uh of course if you're in the futurist Community I'm sure you know of Audrey he's a biomedical gerontologistuh he um has co-founded multiple non-profit associations including the MethuselahFoundation Sims research and his latest the longevity escape velocity Foundationor Lev Foundation he received both his uh computer science and PhD in biologyfrom the University of Cambridge the latter after he wrote the book of the mitochondrial free radical Theory ofAging in 99 and in 2007 ending aging he's done a large number of academicpapers um Aubrey de gray Welcome to the futurists well thank you for having meon the show it's good to see you again absolutely um so let me let me ask you you thiswhen did you decide you wanted to cure death well first of all let's be very carefulwith the terminology people often use the word death to mean aging and ofcourse it doesn't and to be to be quite honest it's a problem that so manyjournalists are so fond of using those words interchangeably because the issueis that everyone knows that death is not something that can be solved uhtechnologically medically or anything like that um and therefore to yeah to Interchange those two words kind of subliminallymakes people think that doing anything about aging is also science fiction All right well I stand chastisedanyway so where did I figure out that I wanted to work on Aging actually it happened only at the age of around 30 31something like that um because until that time I had beenlaboring under the misconception that everybody wanted to bring aging undercomplete medical control um and that you know the only reason we weren't hearing much about it wasbecause it was a really hard problem I just never it just never occurred to me that anyone could possibly not thinkthat aging is the world's most serious problem the thing that causes the most suffering and so on and furthermore thatis potentially a problem we can solve um so I only discovered this uh kind ofby accident after marrying a biologist and uh learning a lot of biology byaccident over the dinner table before then I'd been working on another really difficult and really important problemthat Humanity has namely the problem of work the fact that we have to spend so much of our time doing stuff that wewouldn't do unless we were being paid for it so I wanted to work in artificial intelligence research and improve yeahyou started in AI I I thought that's interesting right yeah so um you know that's uh I was andthat that work that I was doing in my 20s was going perfectly wellum so I wasn't in any way disillusioned with that but when I discovered that um so few people were working on agingand they were not really going about it in the way that I thought they should um I thought well I better switch Fieldsreally and I happened to be in a position where I could do that and so here I am is AI though a big part of theway we're attacking the problem of um you know self-senaissance and and those types of issues today though so umwhen I got into it uh I think my background in computer science as a kindof engineering discipline was definitely extremely important in contributing to having a different way of looking at theproblem of Aging than what people who had been in the field all their lives were doing so in that senseum computer science and and that area has played a big part in my contributions but these days andcertainly really for the past you know 10 or 15 years my own work has been focused not so muchon the use of computers but on the uh let's call it the boring wet stuff butum you know it's so hard to do uh and so the um um the the real question do you want toask your question about the role of AI these days in the longevity Crusade isum more about what other people are doing and um other people are indeed doing a good deal in this area uh usingAI uh there are important companies in silicone medicine is the biggest one um working in this space of usingstate-of-the-art machine learning techniques to identify new drugs to address various aspects of Aging by themis the only one there's another company I'm very close to called bio age which is doing the same kind of thing but it also doesum wet lab work and other smaller companies uh so yeah it's definitely a very big thing and of course I shouldalso mention that AI is being being used in ways that have relevance across thewhole of medical research not just to aging the most conspicuous example that everyone knows about is Dick mine's workon protein folding leading to this amazing thing Alpha fold that really more or less solves the problem ofbloody unfolding a couple of years ago though there is still some way to go to really you know to solve theum the more difficult aspects of that can you tell us a bit about what you're doing at the longevity escape velocityFoundation absolutely uh so uh Levy Foundation ismy new organization uh which I am the President and chief science officer and we are essentiallyum focused on doing the kind of things that I'm good at basically being the being the tip of the spear being theperson who like you know takes all the bullets and does the things that are still controversial and uh open storesfor other people to walk through um so that's very much what I did at sounds Research Foundation in relationto the whole idea of Rejuvenation the whole idea that we could bring agingunder control and postpone the health problems of late Life by damage repair as opposed tothe more mainstream traditional uh thinking which was all about essentiallymaking the body run more cleanly and damage itself more slowly than it naturally doesum which turns out to be a lot harder um so yeah so that was a very um heterodox concept when I firststarted talking about it and now it isn't and I I'm delighted to say thatthere are many many people talking about the whole idea of damage repair and Rejuvenation and going on and doing itum you know in a manner that uh I very much find satisfactory so now thequestion is you know what's left and um there are various things that are left uh but I'm looking at the ones thatare least likely to be done by other people and so the main one there is thecombining of different damage repair uh modalities damage repair techniques uhin the same animal at the same time this is something that is not really aligned with the incentive structure eitherwithin industry or within Academia it just kind of doesn't get you the high profile papers it also doesn't get youyou know it's difficult to make money out of it so um it kind of falls to thephilanthropic factor which is what of course Lev Foundation is part of and sowe have a flagship project that is just starting up now the foundation itself is only a few months oldum and this project is a large Mouse lifespan study in which we will betesting of course not only lifespan but also many aspects of function of whatwhat people often call Health span these days um uh but the goal here is to take fourdifferent interventions of different types a stem cell intervention a genetherapy a drug that kill Finessin cells and a drug that isum quite good at uh being tricking the body into thinking it's in a Fanninum and we're putting all of these things together in various different combinations so it's a big experiment I bought a thousand mice three weeks agoum and it's being done at a company named icore which I see h-o-r which isthe most successful of the half dozen spin out companies that since Research Foundation created over the past severalyears um icore has become the go-to place for this kind of work in their you know theydo many things but this is of course the division of icor that's a contract research organization and they're lovelypeople to work with they're absolutely committed to the longevity movement andum you know this experiment is going to be done really well and really right okay the last thing I want to say about that is thatum this is just the first step this is phase one of what wean Village will be a rolling research program uh you knowevery several months we will have another thousand mice and we'll test different combinations of interventions but the goal here is to takeinterventions that are begun only when the organism is in uh middle age so westart late um and we try to extend the lifespan to postpone the health problems with lateLife by at least a year which is perhaps which is several times more than can bedone at the moment using late onset interventions okay yeah you covered an awful lot there and that's a that's abroad but sweeping overview of what your New Foundation is doing I just want to go back and make sure that the audiencethat's listening caught all of the things that you shared with us one of the points you made is that it's necessary to create afoundation because there is not an alignment of incentive uh and I'm curious to understand that because it's notnecessarily incentivized to to fix these problems in the same way right yeah that's right so talk about themisalignment of incentives in today's modern Healthcare uh economy sure so in the private sector it's by nomeans only big Pharma that has the wrong incentives for this and I'm not saying I have the wrong incentives for everythingin this field by any means uh you know these people are putting very good money into some things that are extremelyvaluable within the longevity movement and Mission um but they tend to be the low-hanging fruit because let's face it you know abig farmer and everybody else in the private sector investors in startup companies and so on they're allinterested in making money and everyone who wants to make money wants to make it tomorrow so there's an enormousum you know bias towards the low-hanging fruit in Academia we've got exactly the same kind of bias towards short-termismthough for a completely different reason namely that the only way you get your next Grant application funded is bygetting lots of high-profile Publications in top journals and that means you have to do easy stuff that canyou can make work quickly um so yeah so they can't labor away at a difficult problem for 10 years isthere's no research funding for that and that's where the foundation fits in so that's that's the role the foundation isto is to foster a long-term approach that's been the role of all my foundations in fact it's very importantto me to make sure that the stuff that is most difficult cut it up and does not get left behind because the damagerepair approach is inherently a divide and conquer one where you have to get everything working reasonably well youknow I think that this is part of the philosophical shift you've talked about Ubi and the impact that will make onsociety and I think this part of the shift that Humanity needs to make we need to get back into this cycle oftrying to tackle the really big problems and not because um you know capitalism in its currentform it gets this very short-term focused in terms of results um or return on investment and so forthbut these Pro some of these problems just take longer to fix and and clearly you're able to attract funding frompeople who do have a long-term interest and those must be wealthy individuals who made their money in the in the exactway that Brett was just referring to so tell me about the kinds of organizations or people who are funding this kind ofresearch funding your foundation for instance well so first of all let me emphasize that it's not just wealthypeople Grassroots funding people who give us you know ten dollars a hundred dollars a thousand dollars a month or whatever these people are just asimportant as the people who um will give us large donations but among the wealthy people who've got interested in thisfield there is a spectrum of priorities and latitudes so for example it's well known that Larry Page and Sergey Brinput a lot of money into a company called Calico and more recently Jeff Bezos put a lot of money into a company called Altos you know they've both known me for20 years or 15 years at least and um they could easily have put moneyphilanthropically into this work a long time ago and they chose not to because they just basically don't believe in therole of philanthropy in pioneering technology whereas certain other wealthy people like Peter till for example ofitalic boots are in uh you know have taken the opposite view that actually itis sensible to invest philanthropically in these things before they becomeinvestable so as to hasten the event Central outcome in a way explain the role that that funding for basicresearch played you know I'd say 20 or 30 years ago the U.S federal government funded tremendous amounts of basicresearch but as that funding has dried up with the end of the Cold War uh there's just there's less urgency therefor that and uh and private sector hasn't really replaced it because private sector needs results tomorrow asyou said so there's been a gap I think across the board in scientific funding yeah I wouldn't say it's that basicresearch has dried up in terms of funding from the government there's still plenty of that but in the case oflongevity anyway it's too basic in other words it's what we often call curiosity driven uh where people are basicallytrying to understand Aging for the sake of understanding it and they're not really equipped or in fact or reallyinclined to highlight the need to do something about aging they're not so translationalum so I think it's easier to get translational work especially this early stage translation will work fundedphilanthropically than from the government so we have had some some breakthroughs recently you know we we umlike the work that's been done on telomeres now obviously it's still um requires some some workum the nmds nads uh you know even um the results we're seeing from metformin usedand things like that where have they come from have they come out of private funding ora lot of the work that we're seeing that's getting a lot of attention these days has come from a combination ofbasic research and you know serendipitous discoveries plus the um structures from the private sector soif we take for example drugs like rapamycin and um such like who that that wereseen to be um good what are called crimetics color restriction mimetics that click the bodyinto thinking it's in a Fanning way isn't um these drugs are essentially theum the Mania over them so to speak uh began about 10 years ago through an accidental discovery that was funded bythe government uh but in it immediately became apparent that there were waysforward that could be pursued in relatively rapid in relatively short order in the private sector so a slew ofcompanies came into existence very quickly and it's all moving quite fast so you know you know there's no one uhtrajectory that any particular area follows now you had mentioned in in your previous comments that one of the hardproblems you're focused on is the combination of modalities so not testing one single approach but rather uh youknow multiple approaches I can imagine that creates uh great complexity in testing and measuring results I'm surethe testing program you have to probably test different you know run that program several different times to start to find out which isolate the variables thatwork um and and that is a combination of gene therapy I think you mentioned drugtherapies and some other uh some other therapies like you know um uh nutrition for instance can you talk to us aboutprogress in each of those areas um I'd be happy to hear about that so so now is the right time to belaunching into a really aggressive combine combination therapy campaign in in terms of mice because there are afair few individual Fairview interventions used later on set when the mice are already in middle age that haveindividually shown some longevity benefits which is to say that theyrepair one one or another kind of damage but they also have some kind of uh uhknock-on effects on other on other types of damage essentially because of crosstalk between the mechanisms thatcreate damage and that that that knock-on effect has to be pretty Broad in order to end up with the individualintervention giving any life extension in mice so we're now in a position to beable to combine a number of those things as I said four of those things that we're doing in this first round of thisstudy um so it's to try to get a lot more and of course we have no idea what's going to happen it's an experiment but we'revery very I'm very very happy it's the most exciting experiment I've ever LED yeah I find uh you know the wholeintermittent fasting and caloric restriction stuff it's incredible how much we've we've learned about that justin the last decade or so and how much uh interest has come out of that it's um it's a really interesting areaum just to Define for people who are listening when when we talk about Santa sense um can you just Define that forlisteners who may not be familiar with that concept yeah good question because it is used in multiple ways in essence is in one sensesimply the word that biologists like to use for the word aging because they understand that aging is not all bad foryou anything involves becoming more knowledgeable and so on so they talk about like you know the health problems with of Aging uh senescence but it'salso used at a cellular level to describe a particular um switch in behavior that some cellssometimes undergo and which basically turns them into they're often called Zombie cells cells that are not dividingin fact they are stopping themselves from dividing but they are secretingnasty things so they are actively toxic to their environment um and uh so it's been found that if youget rid of these cells then that's another good thing that was one of the seven strands of damage repair that Istarted talking about more than 20 years ago um shortly after it was first proposed by my good friend Judy Campisi and I'mdelighted to say that work after 10 years after that uh led by her amongother people um confirmed that this was true and now of course it's a very big industryawesome well let's go to the quick fire roundI'm gonna change it a little bit today Rob um based on the the content so umwhat was the first time you remember being exposed to the concept oflongevity I don't remember when I was first exposed to the concept oflongevity I mean it depends what you mean by the concept really I mean I was certainly exposed to the concept ofAging uh at an early age I always kind of knew that aging existed and that you know eventually killed you andum it kind of this is why I never really understood until I was 30 or so thatanyone else could possibly think differently about aging yeah fair enough what um technology do you think has mostchanged Humanity so far I would say that the technology that has most changed humanity isprobably the oldest Technologies in the world you know fire and the wheel and so on but if we talk about modern advancesthen certainly the Advent of The Germ Theory and the understanding that hygiene is a good idea combined ofcourse with the uh the more um straightforward aspects of modern medicine antibiotics vaccines you knowthese have obviously improved the quantity of life and also the quality of life of humanity by an enormous amountcan you name a a futurist or an entrepreneur or scientist that has personally influenced you lots of peoplehave influenced me um the one person who's probably influenced me the most in the longevityfield itself is denim Harmon who is famous for having come up with the veryfirst truly mechanistic Theory of Aging the free radical Theory of Aging but itshould be famous for other things he um you know with only you know if he hadn't thought of the free radical Theory ofAging other people would have thought of it the following year so uh that's not really what I think is his major Advancehe made other he made another really big like refinement of that theory 20 years later that almost everybody forgetsabout but which to my mind is his single most important scientific breakthrough and what perhaps even more important isthat he was a real Firebrand when it came to maintaining the focus on doingsomething about aging treating aging as a medical problem at a time time during the 1970s and 80s when that was veryvery Politically Incorrect in the field fair enough um so obviously we talk a lot aboutforecasts and predictions on on you know on this show but what do you think is the best prediction that is that you'veheard or seen from an entrepreneur or a futurist or in sci-fi that that's ever been made well the point aboutpredictions of uh technological advances is that they have to have time frames onthem in order to be any use whatsoever because you know anything that is worth doing and can be done will eventually bedone and eventually isn't good enough so you know um I think really the right answer toyour question is to talk about my own predictions I always give predictions about how soon we will reachum certain Milestones into one of those after the break for sure yeah well uhbut the point I always make them probabilistic because I know perfectly well that in any pioneering technology you can't know how long it's going totake right on well great thanks everybody gray has been our guest on the Futures today we're going to take a short break and we'll be right back soplease stay tuned to the futurists provoked media is proud to sponsorproduce and support the futurist podcast provoke.fm is a global podcast Networkand content creation company with the world's leading fintech podcast and radio show Breaking Banks and of courseit's spin-off podcast breaking Bank to Europe breaking Banks Asia Pacific and the fintech 5.but we also produce the official phenovate podcast Tech on reg emergeeverywhere the podcast of the Financial Health Network and next-gen Banker for information about all our podcasts go toprovoke.fm or check out breaking Banks the world's number one fintech podcastand radio showand we're back on the futurist I'm your host Brett King and uh gizorbidi graybut Rob before we get into uh longevity escape velocity and some of the conceptsthat aubry's been working on what uh what have you got for us for our Deep dive from the future this week[Applause] here we go Brett this is this week's Deep dive and it's not about biologyit's about nuclear fusion so the headline here is that for 60years scientists have been trying to solve one of the toughest physics problems and that is how to replicatethe power that lights the sun and the goal is to do that right here on the planet Earth and hopefully therebygenerate clean and abundant energy so a big breakthrough happened in thepast week and this is the Quest for nuclear fusion and trying to create a mini sun on theearth and the first problem they need to solve is the ability to ignite that uh to start that and they actually achievethe big milestone this week so on December 13 researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory inCalifornia uh for the very first time in a fusion reactor we're able to produce more energy than was used to trigger thereactions so uh the the resulting uh the resulting reaction generated more energy than what was put into it in the firstplace and that's a big milestone because previous efforts at best could only break evenum now let me put this back in perspective because though it sounds kind of futuristic and amazing the first thing is this is just one step in whatis clearly going to be a very long process so that no one has an expectation this is right yeah we don'thave any expectation that they'll be free clean energy uh for everyone uh anytime soon this may take 60 yearsbefore this is actually turned into an energy source and there's a part of the story that no one has been talking aboutwe should talk about uh so in in terms of uh how we measure energy the term is joules and that's named after one of thescientists that studied energy units of energy um so specifically what happened is thatthey use lasers to generate x-rays the x-rays uh amounted to2.05 megajoules of energy and the resulting reaction generated 3.15megajoules of energy so almost uh 50 more increase and that's a pretty bigmilestone it sounds pretty impressive Until you realize that um a mega Jewel isn't really that muchenergy so first off your stove in your kitchen uses about five megajoules of energy each day so what we generatedhere was enough to maybe boil 10 pots of tea or 12 pots of tea so a relativelysmall amount of energy was generated and the part of the story that hasn't been covered in the press this the story waspicked up all over the place but the part of the story wasn't covering the Press is what it took to generate thatrelatively tiny amount of energy that is in the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California there is anarray of lasers 192 lasers in a building that is threetimes the size of a football field it's 10 stories tall so this is an enormous facility with the world's largest arrayof lasers and what it takes to turn those lasers on is 300 megajoules ofenergy so literally a hundred times more energy is required to turn this whole system on in order to generate enoughenergy to heat up a couple pots of tea I don't want to minimize it because it's a major breakthrough and of course this isgoing to get this process will get streamlined in the future that's the whole point of the research the goal atthe end is clean energy because what's being fused here is not carbon it'shydrogen hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and so instead of burning fossil fuel which generatessome sort of carbon byproduct which is obviously causing all sorts of environmental problems this wouldgenerate no byproducts so it's carbon free and clean it's also cheap relatively cheap if we can solve thisgeneration problem because the resource is abundant because hydrogen is so abundant so all this is very verypromising but the cost at the present moment are extraordinarily High and alot of people don't realize that Lawrence Livermore is actually a nuclear weapons testing facility and what they're doing there most of the time issimulating nuclear weapons tests because we no longer do above the ground uh weapons testing but we do need to makesure that our nuclear warheads still work so I don't think many people were covering the story from that perspectiveeither so it's an interesting story in the sense that big progress was made for this goal of clean energy but it comesat a tremendous cost and there's a lot of room for improvement some of the experts in the interview said that weshould not look for uh nuclear fusion as an energy source anytime before 2060. sothat's our deep dive for today thank you now let's return to Aubry and let's talk a little bit about longevity it's escapevelocity why did you pick that term so that's the name of my new Foundation longevity escape velocity Foundation uhbut it's also a term that I coined a long long time ago now nearly 20 years ago it's an important concept that infact you know going back to my uh emphasis earlier that I try to do things which are not yet mainstream it's animportant concept because really even though most mainstream people working in the biology of Aging now are on boardwith the concept of damage repair and Rejuvenation that I pioneered 28 years agoum they still run away very fast when they hear about longevity escape velocity so what is it so basically it'sall a um it's a concept that comes from lookingat the uh trajectory of progress in rejuvenationif we take a middle-aged person and we have reasonably good Rejuvenationtechnology technology that doesn't exist yet but which I believe we have a 50 50 chance of getting to within the nextlet's say 15 years um then we may be able to postpone thehealth problems that they are about to suffer by a couple of decades let's say about 20 years so that even though theyare 60 years old when they get to 80 they will be biologically 60. uh now atthat point they will continue to accumulate self-inflicted molecular and cellular damage the way the body doesthe conception um but uh that damage will be imperviousto therapist because these therapies will not be perfect they will be fairly good but not perfect at repairing thedamage that the body does to itself so that means that aging will happen these people will get sick and they will dieyou know 20 or 30 years after they would have otherwise died in the absence of these Therapies thing is though when they are 80 and soat biologically 60 for the second time the therapies will not be the same therapies anymore because that will havebeen 20 years that we will have bought as scientists to improve the therapies so actually we will be able to if youlike re-rejuvenate the same people the same people at the age of 80 and give them another 20 years of extra life eventhough intrinsically the problem is more difficult we will have you know been able toum uh outstrip that by the improvements that we have made so that's what our WT escape velocity isit's the it they're strictly speaking how to find it as the minimum rate at which scientists are going to have toimprove the comprehensiveness of these damage repair therapies following theachievement of the first 20 years in order to stay one step ahead of the problem such that anyone who isreceiving at any point the state-of-the-art therapies will be able to keep their total level of damagewithin the range that the body is set up to tolerate and thus will not actuallyever get sick as a result of being old so for the Baby Boomers that are listening basically if you can hang inthere for 20 more years you'll there'll be new therapies that'll help you hang in there for another 20 years and thenthe therapies will improve and then you can possibly hang in there for yet another 20 years is that kind of what you're describing isn't it 2036 Aubryisn't that what you've said is the year that's what I I roughly speaking is I I mean I put this in two of my books Ihope it's still relevant yeah yeah that's that's a fine that's a good yeah yeah that's right again only a 50 50chance that we'll get there by then at least it's understand pretty good it's better than what we've got now right yeah yeah absolutely I mean there is atleast a 10 chance that we won't get there for 100 years yeah that's binary technology for you but 50 is quiteenough to be worth fighting for and to be clear what you're talking about is Rejuvenation here um I think I think for most people and Ithink our medical establishment today the way we approach the human body is the way we approach an automobile which is to say when a part wears out you pullthe part out and you replace it with another part uh that's the principle behind you know uh heart Replacements uhliver Replacements and so forth uh but you're describing something rather different which is that we can actually rejuvenate a human organwell actually I'm not describing something all that different I think the difference between replacement andrepair is really only a difference in the eye of the beholder depending on how on the scale at which you look at thequestion right right yeah yeah if you think about a car for example when you replace the engineyou're repairing the car but when you're but equally and it's more a smaller scale when you replace the spark plugsin the engine you're repairing the engine so so there really isn't a conceptual difference between the two so if you go smart enough down to a levelof a cell it's like yeah it's still the same that's right um but the thing is here thatum when it comes to aging um people have been working on it have not been thinking about it that way inthe medical way they've been thinking about it more at the level of let's try and make the body run more cleanly let'stry and slow down the rate at which the body creates this molecular and cellular damage in the first place and thus wecan postpone the age at which that damage gets to the point that's beyond what the body can tolerateand um you know that has been shown to be very much harder thanum than doing this damage repair no surprise because you knew you wouldn't do it for a car either when you have acar you know you you we have cars are 100 years old now they weren't designed to last 100 years I would like to lastmaybe 10 years and the fundamental reason is because every so often uh people go in and you know scrape off andremove the rust so that the rust does not accumulate to the point where the doors fall off it's exactly the samething but I want to come back to longevity escape velocity in another sense but we're just for a moment because what Ihaven't explained is why most of my colleagues still find it so difficult to take on board the reason is because ofthe consequences for likely longevity so I always have to emphasize that we don't work on longevity I work on Health andLongevity is a side effect of Health but the point is it's a rather big side effect we tend to die these days notfrom being eaten by tigers but from being sick and of course these days in the industrialized World We tend to getsick as a result of having been born a long time ago and that's becoming increasingly true in the developing world as wellso if we can't actually achieve this maintenance of a biological age that isyou know in young adulthood then we will have a risk of death each year that willalso be correspond the same as if you had only been born 20 or 30 years ago andum you know that means that the average chance of dying if you reach the age of let's say 26 in the world today theaverage chance of buying in the next year is like less than one a thousand so this leads to very large predictions ofhow long people will live and a lot of people are very worried about embracing such predictions because they think itsounds like science fiction even though they do privately acknowledge the logic of it now um if we look at what Robertwas talking about earlier in that the uh um you know the we we have had the ageslipping in the US um you know part of that is because the cost of Health Care is significantlymore expensive from a GDP perspective these days if you look back in the mid 80s in the US it was like six or sevenpercent of GDP at 16 percent of GDP in the US today now admittedly the U.Ssystem is inefficient compared with the oscd Nations butum you know we we have a set of Technologies now coming like gene therapy and other things that should youknow all based on compute power frankly that should radically Advance the ability for us to improveoverall health care but what you're talking about here is is more than that it's a fundamental change in terms ofthe way we think about maintenance of our health over time so when does the system switch when does itswitch from being this whack-a-mole problem we have today to being something where it's a systemic approach toum you know Healthcare on a maintenance basis so this kind of preventative maintenance approach to healthcare to postponing thehealth problems with late life is one that's already on its way in parts theeasier components of damage repair are things like stem cell therapies to replace cells that the body is notreplacing automatically by cell division or removal of the zombie cells Imentioned earlier that uh um technically known as senescent cells these things you know ways to do those things arealready in clinical trials um and the stem cell case I always highlight the clinical trial going on inJapan right now for Parkinson's Disease which is very much a disease of cell loss in aging and uh there are othertrials starting up in the US doing the same kind of thing um uh it's an essential cells again there are companies in the US mostly uhfocused on this and they're already up through phase two clinical trials so uh this is all going well other areas whichare the areas that sense Research Foundation was focused on and is focused on and the ones that we're combining inum my early V Foundation these are mostly focused on the harder uh areasthat have not yet reached the clinic but again that are moving in that direction and uh so yeah I mean I think the shiftis not going to happen all in one go but it's definitely happening already and also of course once we do get thesecombinations working and we do get um the Synergy the the the the more thanadditive effects of these things uh that will change attitudes very rapidly and therefore things will further accelerateand a policy makers making that shift or do you think the science has to comefirst before the the policy gets there policy makers are usually at the trailing edge of Technology becausetheir main focus is on getting reelected and therefore they want to see that thepublic are on board with things and so I've always focused historically on doing a great deal of Outreach andinterfacing with the general public so as to um you know to push the electedrepresentatives indirectly but now we can move beyond that because there is sufficient maturity not only in the inthe science but also in the conversation in the wider world that politicians andum others other policy makers and decision makers can actually have a sensible conversation about this soactually Lev Foundation is also putting significant financial resources into supporting that both in terms of actualinterface in Congress you know we're getting getting people to understand getting elected representatives to understand this and to potentially putmore money into this research and also to The Wider world to actually educate the older generation in a manner thatperhaps contrasts with the more fatalistic approach that has historically been taken by organizations like the AARPlet's focus a little bit on the on some of the future issues that may arise sopresuming that you're making progress and you're being successful um I can anticipate that there might besome pushback against the notion of longevity some political pushback andfor instance connected to this notion that you know we have Rising income inequality so atthis point in the United States one percent of the population controls far more wealth than 50 percent of the population and that trend is continuingin that direction it's not being reversed and there's no there seems to be no political willpower to reverse it uh because we now have people who mayhave not billions but hundreds of billions of dollars at their disposal we can presume that they make use of everyavailable technology to extend their lifespan and this presents a science fiction scenario that we've all read about in the past which is the conceptof Rich methuselahs who have all the resources they're holding all they're hoarding all the wealth and of coursethey can extend their lifespan at least well other people who have less resources are going to die off earlieris that a scenario that crosses your mind you run into resistance do people raise that issue toothe fact is you're quite right that this is all the fault of Science Fiction itturns out that you know science fiction that makes the uh audience think thataging is some kind of blessing in disguise it's popular and the reason it's popular is people want to continueto trick themselves into believing that aging is some kind of blessing because there's no alternative becausehistorically there's been no alternative they you know we've known about aging since the beginning of civilization andwe've known that we can't do anything about it and so we've had no choice but to put it out of our minds and get onwith our miserably short lives and make the best of it right and um you know the fact that that's no longer true is arelatively recent development um so you know the society is still really stuck in this what I've calledthe pro-aging trance where they use arbitrarily illogical rationalizations to um you know to to distract themselvesand science fiction uh in relation to a post-aging world is really you know avery big part of that so no let's deal with the specific question you asked about inequality of access yeah this isso obviously not going to happen oh because aging is so expensive um aging today is by far the major uhmoney think in terms of medical expenditure across the whole of the industrialized world and honestly alsoin the developing world now um so the medicines even when they first come along and they're probably going tobe fairly expensive to deliver they will pay for themselves at the level of the economy so fast so many times over thatit would be economically suicidal for any country not to make sure that everybody who is old enough to need themcan have these therapies the sins they're available at all and of course that will involve a lot of front learning and investment intoinfrastructure and training of medical personnel and so on but that will as I say pay for itself so fast that it wouldbe economically suicidal not to do it quite apart from being electorally suicidal because people look you know poor people have the same number ofvotes as rich people even though they have fewer dollars okay but that raises a second question which I'm sure you'veheard before that's another science fiction question which is that an extend lifespan then the population is going toincrease and we're already approaching the point where we don't think that the world considerations are shrinking allaround the world at the moment so I don't you know I don't see that as anything you know people Brett didn't even let me get done with the questionso people say you know populations are shrinking anyway so you know we're gonnaeven the United Nations says that we're going to like have population Peak this Centuryum and of course the solution to that and for both that's a problem is to uhlower the death rate because we're not going to raise the birth rate people um yeah that's just seems to be not whatpeople want to do um however uh of course the point here is that we will be keeping people alivein a good state of health so even though there will be lots of chronologically old people there will be no biologicallyold people to speak of um and then we have to ask you know what is overpopulation anyway yeah it's notnot having enough space you know at the moment everybody in the world could have their own acre rightum even if we just restrict ourselves to the places that are nice to live um and uh so what is the problem theproblem of course is pollution the fact that we're you know burning too much fossil fuel and we're you know creatingtoo much but those problems are in the process of being fixed of course you know Elon Muskhas said some not terribly well thought through things about the desirability of doing something about aging but he'salso put 100 million dollars into an X prize for the uhfrom the atmosphere right which is the way to go of course you don't just want to lower emissions you want to actuallyremove the carbon that's already there uh and there's not nearly enough effort to go into that so that was a very goodthing that Elon did um you know and um the same applies to alot of different things you know bacteria that eat Plastics you know all of the types of uh pollution that wemake so we're going to be undoubted undoubtedly reducing the total amount ofpollution that the human population generates even as we increase the numberof humans that are doing the generating I'm mindful of your time I'll bring but you know we've got a couple of questions we want to wrap up with but Rob you gofirst and then I'll jump in previously that that uh politicians have kind of a slow twitch reflex when it comes todealing with the the longevity Trends but there's one place actually in the United States where we notice that theythey've actually picked up on longevity trends that is um pushing off the age uhwhen you can get retirement benefits and when you can get Medicare benefits uh they have now pushed those ages up to 70from 65 and that's a direct reflection of the fact that uh until the last two years that the human lifespan in theUnited States has been increasing pretty steadily uh and they're trying to accommodate for the fact that people are living longer and so they can extendthose benefits for a longer period of time um in Your Vision if if human lifespancan be extended even further would you envision that people are continuing to have productive workinglives uh where we might have a working a career how does it change the perception of learning and work and all of thosethings you must have thought about this extensively you're so right you know there's not a lot of this that I haven'tthought about and been asked about a thousand times um um but no okay so the question of work is an example of something that Ithink people are very very prone to which is when they think about the future especially the distant future they think about one particular thingthat's going to be completely different and they just kind of do it in the context of assuming that absolutely everything else is more or less the sameas it is today which is of course complete answers so in this case you know so I just I just talked aboutoverpopulation being a problem of pollution and so other Technologies are going to are going to ensure that thatproblem doesn't occur similarly with work you know we have this wave ofautomation that's coming you know even conservative organizations like the UN are saying that most of the jobs that exist today will not exist 20 years fromnow and that's the kind of time frame when we're going to just begin to see people living a bit longerright so um you know there's just no point in trying to imagine the way the world willbe when the whole system of distribution of wealth Works in a completelydifferent way than a way that assumed full employment okay I've hit you with some obvious questions that you've gotyou've been asked many times before you had good answers for them let me let me frame it a different way here uh you'vementioned that you're controversial and then some of your positions that you staked out are very provocative what do the critics of Aubry degree sayabout you and your work so umthe scientific critics are few and far between these days uh 15 odd years ago Ihad to fight quite a battle to uh with with some rather opinionated colleagues um uh to get people to take seriouslythe idea that damage repair was even a scientific concept but that virtually never happens anymore there was one timeearlier this year when it was a bit of a blast from the past um when he came along and actually did choose to youknow rehash those things but it was um only one person and he didn't do very wellum uh but uh in terms of wider audience criticism it's a different thing you know people just want to find ways todiscredit me like they'll they'll say oh this guy obviously um you know he doesn't know how to dohis own experiments so you don't have to believe him or they'll say things like he's talking about these crazy lifespansso he's obviously crazy and we don't need to pay attention to him things like that so you know I'm past all thatreally you know there are quite enough people who do see the logic of everything I say and the rationaleSuarez and he recognized that I'm not just grandstanding when I talk about long lifespan let me let me ask you thisto sort of wrap up because we are a bit over time um but I want to get a bit out there youknow um when we can live to a thousand years old because you've predicted the firstperson to live to a thousand it is alive today um probablyum how is that going to change the philosophy of what it means to be a humanI don't think that one's expectation of how long one is going to live is goingto change the philosophy of what it likes what it means to be a human at all I think that at the moment we look aheadto our lives with a certain degree of understanding of how long we've got before we start going downhill andbefore we die and when we don't have that anymore that's not going to change the fact that most of our decisions aremade in terms of the relatively short term the next decade or two you know I haven't the faintest idea what I'm goingto enjoy doing or choose to do even 50 years from now and I am fine not knowingthat I think that it makes sense to be a first things first kind of person I want to go to Mars I mean but I needlongevity to do that frankly because otherwise I don't think economically it's going to be viable for me or indeedin terms of the um you know radiation risk you know the radiation of course speeds up aging so in order to survivethese long Journeys we're going to have to figure out ways to repair the dangerousthe first book that sort of really inspired me in terms of how longevity was necessary for this type ofexploration was Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy actually but we should uh we should discuss that with him when weeventually get him on the show I've been talking about getting him on the show for a while but it'll be the gray it's been absolutely fascinatingum I wish we could go on for longer but in respect of your time um I want to thank you for uh joining us todayum before we sign off um how can people contribute to the longevity escape velocity Foundationwe have a website of course levf.org and uh there's a nice friendlydonate page there um and of course you can read all about what we're doing the uh Foundation isvery new and so the website is somewhat under construction with any rather abbreviated descriptions of our projectbut that will change rapidly over time and um yeah every every dollar helpsabsolutely you know this is a mouse experiments are expensive and uh now isthe time masses to feed yesum and what what's the best place to follow you you know on social or whatever yeah so yeah obviously I'm on Twitterand Facebook and so on I I I'm on Twitter quite a lot but really um the main thing to do is to startwithout from our website because that's where the most of the news is going to happen and of course there are links tomy social media from there fantastic all Brittany gray it's been an absolute pleasure and umum you know I it was just mind-blowing as usual and thank you yeah absolutelygreat um so don't forget to check it out levf.org levf.org is the website uh you've beenlistening to the futurists I'm Brett King and of course Rob turc if you like the showum you know make sure you leave us a comment a rating um you know from where it is you youdownload the show tell others about it you know tweet out about it whatever you can do to help get the traction on the show you guys have been supporting usfantastically we're already over 50 000 downloads a month now which is incredible to see that progressum and you know we're very grateful for the support from the broader Community um you know let's keep it goingum but until then we'll obviously be back next week when we'll see you in the future in the future[Music] well that's it for the futurists this week if you like the show we sure hopeyou did please subscribe and share it with people in your community and don't forget to leave us a five star reviewthat really helps other people find the show and you can ping us anytime on Instagram and Twitter at futuristpodcast for the folks that you'd like to see on the show or the questions you'd like us to askthanks for joining and as always we'll see you in the future [Music]

Related Episodes