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Solving the Deficit Crisis with Life Extension

The United States government is over $17 trillion in debt. That is over $56,641 of debt for every man, woman, and child in the country.

In the past four years alone, debt has skyrocketed from 75% to more than 105% of GDP:

It’s not just the size of the debt itself, but the pace at which it is increasing. In fiscal 2013, interest payments on the debt totaled $222.75 billion, or 6% of all government spending. Some money funds have stopped buying securities due to fears of a US default, demonstrating to us that the process of issuing securities for debt cannot continue forever. The more debt our government builds up, the harder it is to keep borrowing.

The source of much of this growing debt is spending on Social Security and Medicare. If we are going to pay for these programs in the long run, we need a new strategy. According to New York Times blogger Nate Silver:

It’s one of the most fundamental …

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MetaMed — Personalized Medical Research
Backed by Peter Thiel and Jaan Tallinn

Doctors, like other experts, have limited domain knowledge. The average primary care visit is only 11 minutes, a figure which hasn’t changed since the 1930s, with four minutes of that being the patient talking. Doctors often lack the time to evaluate up-to-date research relevant to specific patients or diseases. In a widely cited and approved study, one researcher, John P. A. Ioannidis, even argued that up to 80% of medical research findings doctors rely on are flawed.

Many doctors and medical professionals lack a basic understanding of statistics. For instance, in one study, sixteen out of twenty HIV counselors said that there was no such thing as a false positive HIV test (Gigerenzer et al 1998). Another study found that British general practitioners rarely change their prescribing patterns, and when they do, it’s not in response to evidence (Armstrong et al 1996). Gigerenzer and others have shown that statistical illiteracy is ubiquitous among patients and doctors. Many confuse sensitivity and specificity, and most physicians do not understand how to compute the …

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Ransom for “Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant” Flash Animation

My friend Kent Kemmish, at Halcyon Molecular, has offered to put up $50 for someone who does the best animated flash version of Nick Bostrom’s classic essay “The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant” (German version). Let’s say that the challenge stands for one month, until August 7th.

My other friend Kevin Fischer is also putting in $50 for a total of $100.

Would anyone else be interested in adding to that purse? We probably need to boost it by a few times to make this happen.

Updates:

Kent Kemmish initially put in $50. Kevin Fischer put in $50. Luke Parrish put in $50. Steve put in $50. Christopher Hamersley put in $50. Lincoln Cannon put in $50. Didier Coeurnelle put in $200.

The purse is now at $500.

Kickstarter won’t work because it has to be created by the person who does the project, and they are encumbered by having to promise deliverables. Both of these do not apply in this situation.

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Ben Best: Deficiencies in the SENS Approach to Rejuvenation

A new article from Ben Best in Cryonics magazine:

I am an ardent supporter of Dr. Aubrey de Grey and his work to advance rejuvenation science. The man is priceless and unique in his concepts, brilliance, dedication, organizational abilities, and networking skill. His impact on anti-aging science has been powerful. I have attended all four of the conferences he has organized at Cambridge University in England. For the February 2006 issue of LIFE EXTENSION magazine I interviewed Dr. de Grey, and for the December 2007 issue of LIFE EXTENSION I wrote a review of ENDING AGING, the book he co-authored with Michael Rae.

Dr. de Grey asserts that aging is the result of seven kinds of damage — and that technologies that repair all seven types of damage will result in rejuvenation. His seven-fold program for damage repair is called SENS: “Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence”. Dr. de Grey asserts that repairing aging damage is a more effective approach than attempting to slow or prevent aging, and I agree with him. Being an ardent supporter of SENS has …

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Immortality Institute Mentioned in Newsweek

I saw that ImmInst was mentioned in Newsweek recently, in an article about Tim Ferriss. Immortality Institute is also mentioned in his new book, which was #1 on Amazon I believe. Here’s the bit:

Ferriss is on the bleeding edge of a new trend in self-tracking and experimentation. “It’s happening because almost everyone has a data-gathering device,” he says. “It’s never been easier to gather your own data in an actionable way.” Case in point is one of his former investments, DailyBurn.com, which tracks your diet and workout sessions using an iPhone. Other sites such as CureTogether.com let you open-source clinical trials, so you can see which do-it-yourself experiments work. Meanwhile, new organizations like the Quantified Self and the Immortality Institute are connecting self-experimenters who want to trade data in a centralized fashion.

Tim Ferriss is an interesting fellow. His approach to fitness can simply be summed up as a combination of aggressiveness, self-monitoring, and the scientific method.

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Guardian: Kazakhstan’s President Urges Scientists to Find the Elixir of Life

Covered by the Guardian last month:

Cleopatra may have bathed in asses’ milk to preserve her youth but Nursultan Nazarbayev, the autocratic president of Kazakhstan, wants nothing less than an elixir of life to keep him going.

Not satisfied with 19 years in charge of the gas-rich central Asian state, Nazarbayev urged scientists today to unlock the secret to immortality.

The 70-year-old leader stressed in a speech that a new scientific research institute in the capital Astana should study “rejuvenation of the organism,” as well as “the human genome, production of human tissue and creation of gene-based medicines”.

In an aside to students, Nazarbayev added: “As for the medicine of the future, people of my age are really hoping all of this will happen as soon as possible.”

Continue.

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Comprehensive Nanorobotic Control of Human Morbidity and Aging

Robert Freitas’ book chapter for The Future of Aging compilation is now online. It looks very interesting. Freitas always produces fantastic work, that’s one of the reasons Kurzweil constantly cites him. Here’s the abstract:

Nanotechnology involves the engineering of molecularly precise structures and molecular machines, and nanomedicine is the application of nanotechnology to medicine, including the development of medical nanorobotics. Theoretical designs for diamondoid nanomachinery such as bearings, gears, motors, pumps, sensors, manipulators and even molecular computers already exist. Technologies required for the molecularly precise fabrication of diamondoid mechanical components and medical nanorobots, along with feasible strategies for the mass production of these devices, are the focus of active current research. This chapter describes a comprehensive solution to human morbidity and aging which will be attained when mankind has established control over all critical molecular events in the human body through the use of medical nanorobotics. Medical nanorobots can provide targeted treatments to individual organs, tissues, cells and even intracellular components, and can intervene in biological processes at the molecular level under direct supervision of the …

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Entrepreneur Jason Hope Pledges Half a Million Dollars to SENS Foundation

Here’s the press release:

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Dec. 9, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/

The global scientific community is increasingly recognizing the role of rejuvenation biotechnologies in addressing age-related disease. This week, Arizona-based businessman Jason Hope announced a $500,000 donation to SENS Foundation, a California-based non-profit organization that works to develop, promote and ensure widespread access to rejuvenation biotechnologies which comprehensively address age-related disease.

“I have had great interest in the SENS Foundation and Dr. Aubrey de Grey’s work for some time now. I believe their work is essential to the advancement of human medicine and their approach to the overall problem of human aging and its associated diseases (Alzheimer’s, Atherosclerosis, Diabetes, etc.) is the only way to go. Their work and the work of others that they support will drive the complete redefinition and reshaping of the healthcare, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries as we know them today. The advancement of rejuvenation biotechnologies is not only extremely important, but it is the future. I am honored to support the SENS Foundation in its efforts, and hope my support helps …

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Aubrey de Grey on the Harvard Mouse News

On Facebook, Aubrey de Grey said:

Stari is right. Spectacularly oversold. The mice are broken in one very well-understood way (no telomerase, so eventually over-short telomeres), and they have been constructed so that that problem can be fixed with a drug, and lo, lots of the downstream consequences of the problem are also fixed. Duh.

Michael: the cancer issue is not really relevant here, no, because mice have lots of telomerase normally and don’t use telomerase thrift as an anti-cancer tactic.

Prior to that, I had said:

I’m surprised this happened so soon. Nothing like this has been achieved before. The lack of increased cancer risk is the key point.

Again, even if this is fixing something deliberately broken, I wasn’t aware of rejuvenation like this being achieved before. I must admit that in this field I generally just follow the popular science material and don’t delve too much into the literature, though. The only blog I really read that goes into the science is Fight Aging. Still, I’m waiting to hear of a prior example of rejuvenation …

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Taking Short-Lived Mice and Making Them Live Average Lives — Not News?

Reason at Fight Aging is not impressed by the recent Harvard news.

Reason said:

You might look back into the Fight Aging! archives for a primer on the intersection of telomeres, telomerase, and aging. It’s interesting stuff, but unfortunately this present research is being headlined as “scientists reverse aging in mice” – which is absolutely not what was accomplished. Reversing an artificially created accelerating aging condition by removing its cause is not the same thing as intervening in normal aging, and it will rarely have any relevance to normal aging. The study results are teaching us something about the way in which telomerase works in mouse metabolism, but I – and other, more qualified folk – are dubious as to the relevance to human aging:

Even if it was reversing an artificially accelerated aging condition, has whole-body rejuvenation of this sort been demonstrated before? Not that I had heard of.

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Partial Reversal of Aging Achieved in Mice

Here’s the big news from yesterday. Wow! Regeneration of cells, no higher incidence of cancer. Rejuvenation of the brain and testes was achieved as well:

“When we flipped the telomerase switch on and looked a month later, the brains had largely returned to normal,” said DePinho. More newborn nerve cells were observed, and the fatty myelin sheaths around nerve cells — which had become thinned in the aged animals — increased in diameter. In addition, the increase in telomerase revitalized slumbering brain stem cells so they could produce new neurons.

To show that all this new activity actually caused functional improvements, the scientists tested the mice’s ability to avoid a certain area where they detected unpleasant odors that they associated with danger, such as scents of predators or rotten food. They had lost that survival skill as their olfactory nerve cells atrophied, but after the telomerase boost, those nerves regenerated and the mice regained their crucial sense of smell.

“One of the most amazing changes was in the animals’ testes, which were essentially barren as aging caused the …

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Medical Fatalism

One study described at Time.com claims that many obese people are happy with the way they are. Another study, at PhysOrg, reports that Latinas tend to be fatalistic about cancer:

To assess whether they were fatalistic, women were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed with statements such as “cancer is like a death sentence,” “cancer is God’s punishment,” “illness is a matter of chance,” “there is little that I can do to prevent cancer,” “it does not do any good to try to change the future because the future is in the hands of God.”

The dynamics operating in both cases may be slightly different, but the fatalism is the same. People are often happy with things the way they are because worrying or actually doing something seem like too much trouble, or even theologically presumptuous. Thus, it’s no surprise that many people aren’t interested in cryonics. If you could prove that it worked, that would certainly change people’s attitudes, but until then, we should predict low adoption rates for cryonics. Medical “fatalism” …

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