Killing Mortality: A Call To Arms

Bob and I are such kindred spirits I couldn’t resist using this again.

Something big is happening. If you are young and talented, looking for a way to change the world, consider this idea: Curing aging and mortality. We’ve finally reached the inflection point and the next phase where the biggest advances in the field will be made.

Everything medicine does to extend lifespan today amounts to treating the symptoms while leaving the underlying causes unaddressed. But that’s starting to change. The pieces are falling into place and there is nothing other than ourselves [1] that can stop it. There’s still a great deal that needs to be done in proteomics, genomics, microbiomics, epigenetics, etc, so the big breakthroughs will almost certainly be too late for me, but the singularity obsessed trans-humanists are right about at least one thing: Aging and mortality as we know them are doomed. It will happen in stages rather than one dramatic discovery, but it will happen.

One of the greatest impediments to progress today is the amount of information is so vast it’s impossible for anyone to understand and integrate enough of it to discover what it all means. Originally I had envisioned a medical connectome of sorts – an enhanced search and visualization tool – as a means of discovering the connections hidden in the huge body of medical knowledge and highlighting new directions for research. But with the progress in AI and deep learning there is no longer a need for that sloppy, sluggish, human interpretive middleman, allowing progress to dramatically accelerate. In many areas it’s already underway and gaining speed.

No matter how great a babysitter you are, or how much knowledge you can impart to successive generations [2], beyond a certain age you become useless in improving your reproductive success. This allows all manner of riffraff to muck up your genome and its expression, and provided these time bombs go off at a sufficiently advanced age there is nothing to stop them. Aging is ultimately the result of this evolutionary indifference to poor design and execution. Everything that happens in the body is the result of sets of instructions being carried out, and we’re now at the point where we can see the instructions, begin to comprehend them, and in some cases rewrite them. It’s time to learn to code in yet another language.

A sampling of reasons for optimism:

Diseases of aging map to a few ‘hotspots’ on the human genome

Researchers produce a catalog of the deleterious and disease-causing genetic variants in healthy people

Brain Architecture: Human Connectome Project

A Virus That Saves Itself By Preventing Bacterial Suicide

Artificial virus silences genes

Current status and perspectives of proteomics in
aging research

International study points to inflammation as a cause of plaque buildup in heart vessels 

Scientists create roadmap to metabolic reprogramming for aging

Scientists See Promise in Deep-Learning Programs

Even a quick survey makes it obvious the breakthroughs in understanding this avalanche of knowledge won’t come from a lone genius working in a lab, but from open collaboration, AI, and massive computing power. Yes, contrary to Hollywood plotlines, Skynet’s cousin will be our savior. So fuck your dreams of being the next Facebook, you could be remembered for killing death [3]. Put down that bong and get started! The clock is ticking…

…It’s hard to say goodbye when all
        the birds are singing in the sky
                They can find a way
                        in the future someday
                                A drug that lets us live forever,
                                          me and you will take it…

______________________________

[1] IP and copyright are crippling impediments to progress and if they invade the field the timeline will slow dramatically. Legislators are another hurdle since they will have no qualms about availing themselves of every possible advance through medical tourism, while denying them to others.

[2] The HBO documentary A Century of Living (1999) is a wonderful example of the insight and perspective that comes with age, as well as the tragedy of its loss.

[3] There’s a lot of money to be made too if you’re burdened by unadulterated greed, acute envy, or student loans.

[4] This is also an excellent description of what a great intuitive trade feels like.

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One thought on “Killing Mortality: A Call To Arms

  1. Pingback: Rethinking Immortality | Mortality Sucks

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