Dark Matter of Transhumanism


Enjoy watching my talk at Stanford Advancing Humanity Symposium. In this talk I am sharing our wonder about why haven’t the ideas of life extension won. It is not clear why isn’t every person on Earth concerned with their longevity. There are several serious reasons that I mention in my presentation, but even all of them combined don’t give the answer to this question. I am also looking at different possible scenarios of how the extending longevity ideas could rise to power. I’d like to know which scenarios you think is the most likely one. Please, share your thoughts.

Here’re the slides.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Dark Matter of Transhumanism

  1. Mitchell Porter

    That’s an impressively thorough and systematic analysis in the notes. I may have to write an essay in response.

  2. It is certainly true that people are “conservative” and don’t comprehend how pushing for longevity research could extend their lives, and furthermore that grants generally don’t fund ground breaking science like longevity research. That is why I suggest finding a few very rich very sophisticated investors, rather than going the public funding route. BTW, religion is simply a conservative institution, so of course reflects the same conservatism that retards change.

  3. A very good presentation, and quite well done too.

    If I may suggest, you should consider suggesting several potential X-Prize candidate topics as part of your examination of the funding/research process. Not cure for aging prizes, but intermediate developmental achievements that seem likely to be significant aspects of the human aging process. Perhaps work to organize a series of prize contests to fund this type of X-Prize program (with mostly non-cash prizes – Take Maria To Dinner [at a corporate donors employee lunchroom say] or have your government name a street or park after you for instance).

    These sorts of activities lend themselves to expanding public awareness of the anti-aging issue directly as well as offer opportunities for government and business to each participate without the need for authorizing legislation or upper management financial approval – they do so as part of their ordinary PR efforts.

    I think your biggest opportunity to raise serious cash is to sponsor some kind of lottery/sweepstakes that anyone can buy a ticket in and pays out transparently to both gamblers and the research programs awarded. This likely will require government sponsorship, but the opportunity such a drawing offers for heightened public awareness and social/political support is probably worth more than the actual money raised. Making co-sponsorship and management of such a fund raising effort a fundamental plank of the Longevity Party might serve as an avenue to gaining other political/government and corporate support for such an undertaking.

  4. Braekmans Herman

    I think that until a technophilantropist gigafunds this, there will unfortunately be a status quo. Peter Thiel is the only one who has donated, but it is an alm compared to his fortune. It is very surprizing that none, but really none of the technophilantropists have supported SENS. You would at least expect that at least a few would seriously consider this, right? they are going to die too if no progress is made. But surrealisticly enough, the result is ZIPPO. Aubrey doesn’t deserve this. He’s a brilliant man and has worked a lot, made speeches, worked his ass of. But as for the time being, we must face this bizarre reality and hope for some miracle

  5. Peter

    What seems bizarre, sad and scary to me is that governments seem to be willing to fund big-scale science but longevity doesn’t seem to be something that interests them, or even research into the diseases of aging. While I think the BRAIN project is commendable and will, hopefully, add to the total pool of human knowledge about the human condition it’s tragic that the longevity movement can’t direct a fraction of that funding into a much more important, and ultimately for those alive today, more immediate area.

    I’m also concerned that one of the few billionaires who seems interested in longevity, Dimitry Itskov, is funnelling money into his 2045 initiative rather than supporting the various bio-technological approaches which seem the most promising in the short-term.

    I’m no expert and I’ve only recently become fascinated with trans-humanism and extreme longevity but I’m puzzled and worried by the lack of progress that’s being made.

    • Peter, I share your frustration completely. That was exactly what my presentation was about – it’s puzzling why there is no support whereas there are so many technological advances and scientific facts pointing towards the feasibility of life extension. That’s why I suggested creating new memes, new topics, something new that could potentially attract attention. MAybe something will work eventually, but as of right now we don’t know what is the way how we can get support and attention.

      • Peter

        I partly agree with your assessment that a single charismatic leader could change everything, there are innumberable examples from history, scientifically speaking JFK’s intervention in the space program led to a literally giant leap in space technology (and led to a multitude of other technologies along the way), seismic political shifts were caused by individual figures (Gandhi, Mandela, or, more darkly, Hitler and Stalin) but they needed groundwork for their ideas to come to the fore. As science advances generally I’m sure that groundwork will be laid but for me and everyone else in the world today it’s a time critical problem where (selfishly) we can’t just afford to wait for the right conditions to appear.

        It’s a shame Russia’s current leader couldn’t be brought on board, he seems an ideal figure in that he’s vigorous, appears to be driven, apparently fantastically wealthy and seems to have an obsession with personal health. I guess his politics would be an issue for many.

        What really seems strange is that the tech billionaires don’t get behind it, particularly the generation who accquired their wealth in the last two decades. They seem to be dipping their toe in the water but while the amounts they’ve pledged are high compared to what went before they are miniscule compared to their own personal wealth. Peter Thiel’s donation of $3 million to the Methusaleh Foundation was generous but less than a thousandth of his personal worth – a committment of 1% would double the operating budget of your foundation. I wasn’t able to find much information on Dimitry Itskov but a re-direction of his personal wealth would surely make a huge difference as would the results that would flow from such investment.

        Perhaps part of the approach with governments and organisational funders would be to brand the research as ‘into the diseases of aging’ rather than aging itself. It’s seems to be the concept that it’s impossible to defy death that truly turns people away – even though that clearly should be the ultimate aim?

  6. Sirian

    My hope is that, in the event where there won’t be any big funding to fuel research in life extension, maybe we could establish some sort of P2P research where individuals from all around the world could share and compare notes. Kinda like a swarm strategy. I really believe that in the future, big corporations, governments and labs won’t be as important as they are today, and instead many individuals will learn how to get things done themselves.

  7. Peter

    That sounds like a potentially viable strategy – my only regret is that, lacking a scientific background or any particular wealth, I can’t make a meaningful contribution to what should be humanity’s most important endeavour.

    One of the great benefits of truly extended longevity will hopefully be that we will have to time to explore many different fields and endeavours (and possibly the enhanced capabilities to assist in them).

  8. Peter

    Perhaps something those interested in extreme longevity should do is look at other paradigm shifting moments in science to see what it was about them that led to acceptance in wider culture and society and how that acceptance came about? The most obvious parallel would be with Darwinism and Evolution – a theory that (like the concept of extreme longevity and indefinite lifespan) led to a re-examination of what it meant to be human? Perhaps even for those with their eyes fixed on humanity’s future there might be something to learn from history?

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