Response to Hayflick

Aubrey de Grey ag24 at
Sun Jan 14 10:46:24 EST 2001

Julian Assange wrote:

> "John H." <johnhkm at> writes:
> > There's a worry:
> >
> > People can discuss and legislate all they like, if the technology is
> > possible it is going to be implemented legally or illegally; probably both.
> This widely used argument is arrant nonsense. It's important to
> recognise it and shoot it down where-ever it is seen; for it leads to
> complacency and fatalism.
> In every science/engineering development process there are many (i.e
> thousands or millions) of decisions to be made. Many of these
> decisions are finely balanced enough such that even small external
> forces (including the perception of external forces) can tip them one
> way or another.

Absolutely right.  But I think John was right too, because he was talking
about the risk of ENS happening, not the risk of it not happening.  It's
just as silly to sit back (as Hayflick encourages us to do) in the false
confidence that ENS is impossible as it is to sit back and wait for it to
happen in the false confidence that it'll definitely arrive soon enough.

> Perversely, the most effective anti-aging technique yet invented might
> be UVA/UVB/IR screening sunglasses.
> > Most? The bait of universal life prolongation will be held out, in
> > reality it will be for a minority and may never be feasible for the .
> > vast majority
> Like small-pox and oral sabin vaccine?

Again, I think you're both right.  Such treatments will become universally
available in the end, but the period of non-universal availability may be
dangerously long unless careful forward planning is undertaken.

> > It's easy to make a machine that lasts a long time and functions well,
> > but bodies are very different, there were never designed to last a long
> > time in the first place.
> On the contrary, we were designed to last as long as possible, given
> certain reproductive trade-offs. This is why the problem is hard;
> evolution has already found all the easy solutions. Yet, we can see
> that evolution needs gradual increments in its fitness landscape and
> does not take advantage of large scale co-operation. Vaccines take
> advantage of both our ability to think ahead and co-operate. They
> demonstrate that it is possible to significantly augment natural
> abilities by applying what was not within our evolutionary grasp.

Exactly.  Evolution is very very clever, but we have more tools.

Aubrey de Grey

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