Thursday, April 10, 2014

Searcher: Aubrey de Grey - 8 years later

I had watched Aubrey de Grey’s TedTalk at least twice before we watched it in class on Monday.  I found it fascinating.  Could an unlimited extension of the human lifespan really be possible? And within my lifetime?  Although I certainly was not (and still am not) banking on this happening, the thought was, admittedly, slightly comforting.  People were actually doing research on how to overcome the apparent biological inevitability of growing old, something I and undoubtedly many others are not looking forward to.

Searching around for something worthwhile to write a blog post about, I stumbled upon a presentation at TedxDanubia that de Grey gave in 2013.

While the 2005 TedTalk seemed to be mostly just theory, this talk delves further into the actual research de Grey is doing, much of which has been done in the years since 2005.  What he hopes to accomplish overall seems like the stuff of a utopian (or possibly dystopian..) fiction.  His goal is to provide a rejuvenation treatment that will reverse or cure the accumulation of damage that happens to our bodies before it leads to disease, essentially allowing us to remain at peak health indefinitely.  He described in an interview what this treatment might look like: go to the hospital to get your treatment, stay for a day/week/month, and come out good as new.  However idealistic or great such a treatment might sound, there are serious social implications that would need to be considered.  There would certainly be a social stratification in who could obtain these sorts of treatments.  And, like we said in class, a population overload is a real concern.  Humanity in its entirety is not going to make a collective decision to stop having children, and an extension of the reproductive years could possibly lead to an exponential increase in the number of children that are born.   

That being said, I don’t think de Grey’s research should be wholeheartedly dismissed as foolish or too idealistic to actually work.  Maybe small steps towards his ultimate goal could lead to insights, and possible treatments, for debilitating diseases of the elderly.

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