aging

Aubrey de Grey ag24 at mole.bio.cam.ac.uk
Wed Dec 9 15:57:20 EST 1998


Joao Pedro Magalhaes wrote:

> As we increase our life span, new age-related diseases will appear as a
> consequence of genes of retarded expression that only then will show
> their phenotype.  Perhaps if we develop computers powerful enough to
> anticipate and correct these genetic and molecular pathologies we will
> stand a chance.  But there is no conclusive evidence of that happening
> -- as there is no evidence that nanotechnology will blossom before 2050.

I agree that new age-related diseases will probably appear, and also that
nanotechnology etc. may well not be medically relevant by then.  However,
your logic assumes that the technology developed to combat "aging as we
currently know it" (for want of a better term) will not be very versatile,
so that the newly apparent diseases will take a significant time to be
effectively combated.  I consider it much more likely that that technology
will be very rapidly, if not immediately, applicable to the new diseases.
This is because the way we are proceeding towards retardation of aging as
we currently know it is essentially reductionist.  I think is it valid to
use an analogy with maintenance of machinery: experienced mechanics, who
know the structure of a car from the nuts and bolts upwards, typically
take rather little time to solve a problem they've never seen before, when
those with only superficial experience (albeit maybe enough to solve some
easier problems) may be at a loss.  In other words, the fact that aging is
already so hard to retard is - paradoxically - a reason to expect further
retardation, after the initial breakthrough, to be relatively easy.

Aubrey de Grey




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