John D. Furber’s Comprehensive Aging Graph

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting John Furber, an anti-aging scientist known as the founder of Legendary Pharmaceuticals. The company’s homepage has an excellent introduction to the biology of aging and senescence, and a giant chart with over a hundred nodes and links describing the process of aging. (I got to see a large poster version, which really had an impressive visual effect.) Furber’s analysis of the mechanisms of aging are interesting because it strongly parallels Aubrey de Grey’s but with a slightly different emphasis and other things to say. Furber has an article out in the hot-off-the-press Springer compilation The Future of Aging “Repairing Extracellular Aging and Glycation”. He also has a nutrition page on his website.

Furber has been building on his graph for ten years, so it is very well researched.

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Greg Fish on Life Extension

Greg Fish, whose past posts on transhumanism have mainly appeared to be about why he doesn’t like mind uploading and why we need to copy the human brain to the last neurotransmitter to create AI, recently defended the merit of life extension against Paul Carr.

Paul’s post at TechCrunch has some funny bits:

Oh yes, go to any Silicon Valley party right now and you’ll find a scrawny huddle in the corner discussing the science of living forever: a topic that’s gone from fringe to hot to cliche in — ironically — less time that it takes a tsetse fly to start getting interested in girls. But then why wouldn’t it when the science of ageing touches on so many valley obsessions?

I am really enjoying the recent media against life extension. The arguments just aren’t persuasive. Arguments against LE filled with holes are an essential complement of solid arguments in favor of LE.

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Neil S. Greenspan: Hogwash About the Singularity is Here

Huffington Post has had a lot of articles about the Singularity lately. The most recent one is “Hogwash About the Singularity is Here” by Neil S. Greenspan, a Cleveland immunologist.

The article puts forward the usual “complexity of biology” and “exponential growth cannot continue forever” criticisms of Kurzweil’s predictions. Most of these criticisms have already been addressed by Kurzweil at the end of his last book. I think there are good points on both sides, but critics like Greenspan are ultimately being too pessimistic.

What I find interesting in articles like this are not the specific criticisms, which I’ve heard many times before and somewhat agree with, but the moral valence and indignation present in the critique. Biologists like Greenspan are angry that Kurzweil is, in their view, glossing over the complexity of biology. The most morally valent part of the article are the comments, actually. I’m going to skip looking at the moral part this time, and look closer at a scientific statement that Greenspan makes.

Greenspan goes directly after “nanobots” in one part:

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SENS Foundation Los Angeles Chapter, First Meeting

From Maria Entraigues. Here is the event page.

On behalf of SENS Foundation I am writing to you to invite you to join Dr Aubrey de Grey for our first SENSF L.A. Chapter meeting to be held on Friday, July 9th, 2010, at the Westwood Brewing Company (1097 Glendon Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024-2907) from 5pm until Aubrey has had enough beer :-)

This will be an informal gathering to create a local initiative to promote the Foundation’s interests and mission.

The idea of forming a SENSF L.A. Chapter, which is planned to have monthly meetings, is to create a network of enthusiasts, field professionals, potential donors, sponsors, collaborators, students, etc. Also to promote educational efforts in the area, and to reach out to the Hollywood community and gain their support.

Please RSVP. We hope you will come and join us!

Cheers! Maria Entraigues SENSF Volunteer Coordinator maria.entraigues@sens.org

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Phil Bowermaster Responds to Annalee Newitz: “Five Arguments Against Four Arguments Against Immortaility”

Phil Bowermaster responds here. Me, I can appreciate the io9 post as a masterpiece of generalization from fictional evidence; including images, I count eleven specific appeals to fictional evidence. This appears to be an early form of co-processing, where content from an external device (in this case, poor television shows) heavily intertwines itself with the thinking processes of the writer, to the point where reality cannot be distinguished from fiction.

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Aubrey de Grey on CNN (Video)

Aubrey de Grey and Dan Buettner are interviewed by Dr. Sanjay Gupta on “how to live longer”. H/t humanplus blog.

Interesting insights from Buettner. The common denominators of long-lived populations worldwide include 1) plant-based diets (go veg for moral and health reasons!), 2) they live in environments where they are forced into physical activity, and 3) they eat beans, nuts, and sometimes tofu (on Okinawa). He says that the current longevity ceiling, if we do everything perfectly, is about 90, and that for most people, who would otherwise live to around 80 or less, “ten good years” are “on the table”.

Dan Buettner and Dr. Sanjay Gupta both show that they actually understand regenerative medicine to an extent and Gupta remarks on the evolutionary pressures that tend to lead to the body being designed primarily to reproduce, raise children, and afterward go downhill.

Congrats Aubrey! Such a high-profile interview, and of course you nailed it.

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News Roundup, Vegetarian Issues

Glenn Reynolds has an article on the Singularity at Popular Mechanics.

Ron Bailey has the “deets” on the recent Manhattan Beach Longevity Summit.

Hank Hyena, a seemingly new-ish writer at h+ magazine, has a cool article on in-vitro meat, titled “Eight Ways In-Vitro Meat will Change Our Lives”. One of them is “exotic cuisine”:

In-Vitro Meat will be fashioned from any creature, not just domestics that were affordable to farm. Yes, ANY ANIMAL, even rare beasts like snow leopard, or Komodo Dragon. We will want to taste them all. Some researchers believe we will also be able to create IVM using the DNA of extinct beasts — obviously, “DinoBurgers” will be served at every six-year-old boy’s birthday party.

Give me that endangered snow leopard burger!

And to transhumanists who still eat meat from highly intelligent animals like pigs, I ask — why do you consume and cage animals who are obviously aware of their pain and suffering and yet still expect superintelligences or superhumans to treat you with respect? The human/not-human …

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Behold… the Mighty Naked Mole Rats!

Naked mole rats may be ugly, but they have an advantage — you can get cancer, and they can’t. Naked mole rats are the only known cancerless animal. Scientists have found that there is a very straightforward and interesting reason why. From the press release:

Despite a 30-year lifespan that gives ample time for cells to grow cancerous, a small rodent species called a naked mole rat has never been found with tumors of any kind—and now biologists at the University of Rochester think they know why.

The findings, presented in today’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that the mole rat’s cells express a gene called p16 that makes the cells “claustrophobic,” stopping the cells’ proliferation when too many of them crowd together, cutting off runaway growth before it can start. The effect of p16 is so pronounced that when researchers mutated the cells to induce a tumor, the cells’ growth barely changed, whereas regular mouse cells became fully cancerous.

“We think we’ve found the reason these mole rats don’t get …

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