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Genome Pioneer, X Prize Founder Tackle Aging 130

An anonymous reader writes "Hot on the heels of Google's spin-off company Calico, another major contender has emerged in the race to develop technologies for extending healthy human lifespan. Dr Craig Venter, who was first to map the entire human genetic code and the first to engineer a synthetic lifeform, has teamed up with founder of the X-Prize, Dr Peter Diamandis, to create Human Longevity Inc. 'Your age is your No. 1 risk factor for almost every disease,' said Dr. Venter. 'Using the combined power of our core areas of expertise—genomics, informatics, and stem cell therapies, we are tackling one of the greatest medical/scientific and societal challenges — aging and aging related diseases,' said Dr. Venter. 'Between 1910 and 2010 improvements in medicine and sanitation increased the human lifespan by 50 percent from 50 to 75 years.....our goal is to make 100-years-old the new 60,' said Diamandis."
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Genome Pioneer, X Prize Founder Tackle Aging

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  • by buybuydandavis ( 644487 ) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @07:12AM (#46433823)

    It's about time. As for all the Death Cultists posting previously about the horrors of remaining alive, bite me.

  • by MindPrison ( 864299 ) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @07:16AM (#46433833) Journal
    ^ Someone mod this guy UP!

    Telomere breakdown, and cell deterioration is one of our biggest issues - solve that, and we're well on our way to a longer healthier life. A think I've thinking about a lot though, is how our food directly affects our aging. More consumption + burning seem to equal faster living and accelerated aging. The slower the heartbeat, the longer some creatures seem to live.
  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @07:30AM (#46433871)

    So, what if we were to create a race of human beings that could remain fairly healthy to age 100 (the "new 60").

    What then?

    We have serious issues globally today with overcrowding in certain areas. Resources will be stripped that much faster from the planet, from food to precious metals. Don't even get me started on unemployment. Not just one family, but multiple families might have be supported by a single income. Taxes would skyrocket 10% or more to try and pay for welfare programs for all those still living that we have no jobs for.

    I'm also assuming they will have solved all those "old people" diseases while creating the 120-year old human too. After all, what good is a ton of people unable to work because their body is good, but their mind left them long ago. Alzheimer's is an absolute nightmare to experience and support second-hand, as anyone supporting a loved one can attest. I cannot imagine living it for decades because my body now says I can.

    Let me put it this way. The world could not even handle every tobacco smoker quitting tomorrow, and people no longer dying from that particular population-stripping addiction, much less a significant shift with longevity.

    Fantastic research, noble cause, but perhaps pointless and likely dangerous until we solve a shitload of other issues, or get the hell off this rock.

  • I wish them luck... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @07:43AM (#46433895)

    We're probably all going to die of old age around the same time we would regardless. But this sort of thing might eventually solve the aging problem.

    Yes, that might lead to other issues such as over population etc... but its worth it.

    Think of what percentage of the population is capable of high levels of education.

    Then what percentage of that percentage actually gets it.

    Then what percentage of that percentage that does anything useful with the education.

    Then what percentage of their lives are left for productive work after they have been educated.

    We have men that are useful for maybe 20 years tops after going through about 14 years of education and even during that 20 years there is follow up education to keep them current.

    Imagine if they didn't age... if they could be kept productive indefinitely.

    Imagine a whole population of polymaths as people learn at their own pace over 100s of years. 20 years as a bar tender. 20 years as a carpenter. 20 years as a fishermen. Life time on life time bleeding into each other.

    Its a good thing.

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @08:48AM (#46433987)

    The overpopulation issue isn't a certainty. We've already seen massive declines in population growth in the developed world. You can't accurately estimate what our growth rate will be with immortality. It is entirely possible that our population will stabilize with many people infrequently having children.

    Remember, there will still be deaths from one thing or another. We will have wars... which will claim thousands at the least and possibly millions on occasion. That is population that will have to be replaced.

    Add in car accidents and various medical issues that this won't fix and you'll have a need to replace population.

    it will be much lower then what we need today to counter aging. But it will remain significant. So long as our birth rate doesn't much exceed that rate our population will be stable. If it does exceed it then we'll have a major overcrowding issue.

    Overcrowding leads to a scarcity of land, increases in prices, and a lower quality of living. In our society that tends to depress the birth rate.

    In fact, in the modern world, there is a very keen link between economic prosperity and the birth rate in the middle class. In the very poor there is no such link since they don't actually share the same economy. Their economy is more about welfare stamps and various free housing policies. Its very difficult to quantity their economic prosperity because they don't actually use money per se. Amongst the rich its a non-issue since we can always assume they have enough to justify further breeding.

    In any case, with immortality we can assume there are ways to deal with the overcrowding issue. Most of them will self correct.

    And you forget the many benefits of immortality such as a highly skilled labor force that is always in prime working age. That means a much much higher level of industrial output and a much higher level of technological and educational sophistication.

    With that sort of thing we might just make spreading beyond the planet practical. Far fetched today... but who can say tomorrow.

    In any case, I will not retard our technological sophistication simply to satisfy the baseless worries of Luddites.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 08, 2014 @08:58AM (#46434013)

    Humanity has always faced challenges, and there will be many challenges in the future regardless of the development of life extension technologies. One of the most beautiful things about humanity is that we can raise to the challenge; we dream, then develop and then deploy solutions to problems. Aging and death are two of the biggest problems humans face. I say that as the intelligent and resourceful beings that we are, we should not only have a desire to, but in fact a moral obligation to overcome the blind forces of evolution that have dealt humanity the cruelty of aging and death.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 08, 2014 @09:22AM (#46434055)

    It seems ridiculous now, but in earlier times, due to increasing population, people were worried that the streets would be clogged up entirely by horse manure, since all these extra people would need horses to transport them around.

    The point is, the future is very hard to predict. But there are two things we know for certain:

    1: Aging and death and the suffering that these almost always bring are an absolutely horrible fate that any sane person wants to avoid.

    2: Humans are very very good at solving problems and just generally remaking their world.

    Just the fact that we may be on the threshold of substantially increasing lifespan shows how good we are at solving problems. Not long ago the possibility of extending lifespan would have been viewed as ridiculous, but now we're seeing billions of dollars invested in it - it is a very serious business.

    If a problem as big as death and aging are potentially in our grasp to overcome, why would we not think that we may also be able to deal with any problems that may come along with an extended lifespan?

    Me? I'm optimistic. I know that within a few generations we've gone from horses, to cars, to planes, to spacecraft. I know that we've gone from word of mouth, to telegraph, to telephone, to television, to internet.

    I don't want to be subject to involuntary death and the diseases of aging. I don't want my loved one's to be subject to involuntary death and diseases of aging. In fact, I don't want any decent human being to be subject to these horrors.

    We need to stop defending aging and death. When aging and death were completely beyond possibility of cure it may have served us as a helpful and comforting psychological crutch to try to derive some meaning and benefit from these horrors, but now this psychological crutch could hold us back from developing the necessarily technologies to overcome them.

    Step bravely forward. Otherwise, you don't just have something to lose, you have EVERYTHING to lose. There are few unintended problems that come along with extended lifespan that could possibly be worse...

  • by jeffb (2.718) ( 1189693 ) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @10:23AM (#46434185)

    First, you seem to assume that "more people" (ignoring the fact that birth rates are already decreasing) will mean "resources will be stripped that much faster", without creating new jobs or new tax revenue. You also seem to assume that people will reproduce more ("multiple families") as they live longer. That doesn't match what we see happening in the real world today.

    Finally, if you "assume they will have solved" age-related diseases, why do you rely on those diseases as your main argument against longevity?

If you want to put yourself on the map, publish your own map.