This is a general discussion about several concepts relevant to the theory. It includes some unusual ideas but the emphasis is on current and future understanding of science
Discussion with Manuel Teixeira, 2 October 2010
Teixeira comments in black
Kyriazis comments in red, underlined
Teixeira. II totally agree with your ideas about the obstacle called death and the other ideas. But perhaps (according with my experience), we need to take two steps and not only one, like keep living forever. Perhaps living forever demands a dramatic improvement in human nature in such a way that who is going to live forever is the new nature and not the old human nature (with all his features).
And why is that so? Because the "manipulations" needed to transform a human nature in an immortal nature are so serious, that they end up modifying in a very important way, the human nature that becomes a "Super human nature".
Kyriazis. I believe that nature has already given us the capability of living forever. Physical immortality will happen as an inevitable consequence of evolution, because it would be much better (in natural terms) to develop intellectual complexity and sophistication through longevity rather than through death and re-birth (the Darwinian model of evolution will eventually cease operating and will become redundant). Therefore there is no need for dramatic manipulations. All that is needed is to unmask the mechanism that is already in place.
Teixeira. Probably, there is no other alternative. The human nature we know is not immortal (that´s for sure), so how can we be sure that the process needed to transform it in an immortal nature leave it in the same basic form? We can imagine that those procedures are very important and so, it´s very likely that they transform human nature in something vastly superior.
I think we both agree that a transformation process like this will be very quick. Or, in other words, it would be a singularity type process. And I think it is like that for reasons like this: suppose you need to transfer an infinite amount of information into the body (brain and other structures). If you utilise real time the process is endless (regardless of the speed of the process), So, you need to utilise imaginary time to do that. Using imaginary time, you can manipulate infinite information in a finite amount of real time, and so you solve the problem.
(Note: correct-me if I am wrong: the aging process is basically a process were entropy is increasing, right? So, the basic thing we need is more information (also called negative entropy) and the right information in order to put the entire organism in a perfect functioning and to be able to eliminate the entropy "in real time", so to speak.)
Kyriazis. This is correct. More information will lead to more intellectual complexity, as well as more biological redundancy, i.e. less risk of ageing and death. One basic way for achieving this is through an increased input of information and stimulation of the brain and body. See, for example my papers
Teixeira. According to the model I already described in the other letter, in the singularity we are speaking, there are two basic parameters: the information (that must be infinite for theoretical reasons), and in consequence, the global entropy must decrease to zero.
Prof. Frank Tipler utilised a simple mathematical model (it´s amazing to see how many times simple mathematics can perfectly do the job), explain how an infinite amount of information could be "injected" in a finite amount of time.
Let´s suppose we consider the function y = tan x and we take the interval
[ - π/2 ; + π/2 ] . The values of the function between this finite interval go from
- ∞ to + ∞. The theory of punctuated equilibrium defends that important changes in biological beings are made in a very quickly way instead of a very slowly process, that is, via a singularity process.
Let´s get back to the "START / STOP" button of the immortality process of your theory. It cannot be a very easy thing, otherwise it would be activated a lot of times by now. So we can think of a special singularity as such a button. And what kind of singularity are we talking about? Is it "automatic" like some examples that you gave? It doesn´t look like so. So, if it is not "automatic" it has to be caused.
So, the question is: what is the nature of the procedure, or procedures that can cause human nature to change from an unstable status to a stable and immortal one?
Kyriazis. Current state of knowledge suggests interventions on the DNA. This is relatively easy to study. However, I have a feeling that the interventions may have to be targeted at other, deeper levels, perhaps at levels that have not yet been discovered, but have their basis on physics, not biology.
Conversation with Vince Giuliano 6 October 2010
Kyriazis comments in black
Giuliano comments in blue
Kyriazis. I read your treatise On Being and Creation, but I need some time to digest its contents, particularly as some parts are directly relevant to my interests.
Giuliano. Yes, I think aspects of that treatise are likely to be quite relevant to what you want to see accomplished. I would very much appreciate any further comments. The framework in that treatise about being able to create my own reality is what empowered me to get into my present career of longevity science. And faith in that framework is why I am willing to enter with enthusiasm into a dialog with you designed to lead to a historically "impossible" objective, very significantly increasing human life spans, perhaps making them indefinite.
Kyriazis. Basically, I am exploring ways to achieve human biological immortality. My current line of thought is as follows. As you rightly say," Creations are the result of Source and more directly the operation of the normal laws of reality". These laws operate from a simple level to a more complex one. Biologically, first there was the formation of organic matter, then more complex matter, then primitive cells, then fully formed bacteria etc etc until we see the creation of complex animals and finally, humans. We contain much more complexity in out biological and other systems than say, a primitive cell. This emergence of higher levels of complexity is seen through the universe.
Giuliano. I absolutely agree.
Kyriazis. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that these normal laws of reality, operate in a way that constantly and progressively creates higher complexity and sophistication, particularly neural tissue sophistication that eventually results in intelligence, consciousness and wisdom.
Giuliano. Yes, I believe this is so. As I see it though, biological evolution has been supported strongly by social evolution, without which the potentials of our brains could never be realized. And the social evolution is now bringing us a new distributed form of memory and kind of intelligence particularly via the Internet (which, by the way, I played a role in forming) and its distributed computers and devices, vast memory and instant communications.
Kyriazis. So, I say: what is the purpose of aging and death within this scenario? I can accept the view that the 'purpose' of nature is to evolve the complexity of the DNA and this can only be achieved through Darwinian evolution.
Giuliano. Yes, that was and probably still is the objective of biological evolution. With our intelligence we have evolved the complexity of silicon chips and distributed electronic networks and now are moving on to quantum computing, theories-of-everything and if we can get our way, life extension.
Kyriazis. This in turn, must operate within the cycle of death-birth that we experience at present.
Giuliano. Yes. Of course the accumulated knowledge and society survives the life of any individual.
Kyriazis. The DNA must evolve (as everything obeys the universal laws of evolution towards higher complexity). In order to evolve, it must be mixed with other DNA and hope that something more complex will result. In the process , due to limited energy resources, the carrying body must die and a new one created. This is the basis of aging and death by aging.
Giuliano. Yes. As Darwin put it, nature favors the species, not the individual. The issue at hand is whether:
1. Additional complexity will primarily be achieved in the social/distributed intelligence sphere depending on accumulated networks, instant communication, brains connecting easily with other brains as we are now doing, and brains connecting with computers with little biological DNA evolution.
2. Evolution in DNA will accompany 1., leading to ever longer life spans to keep up with the social evolution.
3. We can radically speed up biological evolution by significantly extending life spans.
I think 2, is already happening and that is why, as a colleague recently put it, "Every day, in advanced Western countries average lifespan increases 4 hours." You and I want to do 3. I want to do it because I think effective social evolution will require great wisdom, and we are not going to get that easily from young people or from computers for a good while.
I comment that since our genomes are fairly stable and change very slowly, the evolution must be epigenomic, not in the genes but in the DNA that determines gene activation patterns.
I don't think our bodies die because of limited energy resources any more. Rather, I would phrase it that evolution created programs so older members of a species assuredly die off in well-defined time frames to enable younger members of the species to have access to resources like food. Perhaps this is what you are getting at.
Kyriazis. BUT. I am proposing that we have now reached such an advanced level of neural sophistication (we are homo sapiens sapiens) that it may be possible to avoid the above scenario. It may be possible for our brain to continue evolving without the need for DNA to continue its evolution. In effect it is the brain that matters, and not the DNA. It is now more energy-efficient for our brains to evolve via increased input of information (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15929717) PLUS increased use of technology (such as the internet, nanotechnology and AI).
Giuliano. I am convinced that overall evolution of intelligence via electronic augmentation of our brains is already happening and has been the basis for much of our progress over the last several years. As to hormesis as mentioned in the citation, have you seen my blog entry Hormesis and age retardation? While hormesis can extend lifespans, however, and while hard thinking can augment intelligence, I think we will need additional interventions to get to the really extraordinary longevity we want.
Kyriazis. I claim that this is a more efficient way for achieving higher intellectual sophistication, rather than wait for Darwinian evolution to create more sophisticated brains through trial and error. If this is correct then, it follows that humans must remain alive for an indefinite number of years, so that their brain can evolve (through self- input).
Giuliano. Yes, yes and yes. However, if we are truly gaining 4 hours of average longevity per day right now in Western countries, there has to be something else already at work that is more profound than Darwinian evolution. I think it is a rapid capability of the epigenome to respond to social and environmental stimuli.
Kyriazis. Thus aging will become redundant and immortality will ensue. (Immortality=indefinite lifespans, not indestructability)
Giuliano. The process of life extension is very slow now. I think if we want to see the possibility of immortality while we are still alive, we must conceive or foster the creation of interventions to make that possible. I do agree with your definition of immortality.
Kyriazis. Then, if this is the case, I ask: can we do something now to see if we could bring this process forward? I have started studying possible interventions, for example with transposons, but I am quite willing to accept other less tangible suggestions.
Giuliano. I see two possible kinds of interventions that could radically expand lifespans, perhaps indefinitely, because they assure constant renewal of the soma. One is what I call closing the loop in the stem cell supply chain, and the other is discovering epigenetic means for resetting cells to earlier states - and both approaches are actually equivalent. To start, you can view my presentation at the 2010 American Aging Society meeting at http://www.vincegiuliano.name/AAAS5-18_files/frame.htm This presentation describes what I think are the deepest mechanisms of aging that are susceptible to interventions - exhaustion of the pools of adult stem cells that replenish practically every cell type, and age-related epigenomic silencing or activation of longevity-related genes
The stem cell supply chain theory of aging is my own creation, covered in my treatise of aging at http://www.vincegiuliano.name/Antiagingfirewalls.htm#Declinestemcelldifferentiationtheory
I have written several essays on the topic in my blog. You could start with The stem cell supply chain - closing the loop for very long lives, and then go to 'Progress in closing the stem cell supply chain loop', which is at
Three days ago, breakthrough results were published which brings the possibility of closing the stem cell supply chain a step closer. I plan to start generting a blog entry on this topic later today.
Kyriazis/Giuliano. In summary
1. Everything must become more complex YES
2. Until now, Darwinian evolution was the way to go YES. IN CONJUNCTION WITH MUCH SOCIETAL EVOLUTION INCLUDING THE INTERNET
3. We have now achieved high neural sophistication AND high technology YES, YES
4. The best way to evolve from now on is via long-term input of information into our brain I WOULD SAY WE NEED TO AUGMENT OUR ALREADY RAPIDLY- EVOLVING EXTERNAL KNOWLEDGE NETWORKS OF COMPUTERS, INTERNET ETC. WITH SIGNIFICANTLY LONGER LIFE SPANS.
5. Our brain (and us) must now stay alive for an undetermined amount of time for point 4 to succeed YES. WE NEED TO CONSERVE OUR HUMAN CAPITAL. OUR SOCIETIES CAN ONLY SURVIVE THROUGH ACCUMULATED WISDOM AND WE CAN'T AFFORD TO HAVE IT DIEING OFF.
6. This is going to happen anyway, but can we make it happen soon? YES, EXACTLY
Comments on John Smart's opinion (see http://www.accelerationwatch.com/biotech.html for the full text)
JS John Smart
MK Marios Kyriazis
JS. You should read the pioneering work, Niche Construction: The Neglected Process in Evolution, John Odling-Smee et al, 2003, to understand how the kind of environmental niche we construct (such as an information-rich child rearing environment for juvenile human beings) strongly affects the kind of evolutionary development that subsequently occurs.
MK. Research supports this. Environmental enrichment positively affects several parameters that eventually result in increased cognitive performance, and according to some, also epigenetic changes that positively affect our development.
JS.The more complex any life form becomes, the more it becomes a legacy/path dependent system, with many antagonistic pleiotropies (negative effects in other places and functions in the organism) whenever any further change is contemplated. It seems that evolutionary development, just like differentiation from a zygote or stem cell to a mature tissue, becomes increasingly terminally differentiated the more complex and specialized the organism. One extreme case of this kind of terminal differentiation, at the cellular level, is nerve cells in the human brain, which are so specialized, and the connections they support so complex, that they cannot even replace themselves, in general. Could they eventually learn to do so without disrupting the connectionist complexity that they create in the brain, after their development has stopped? Perhaps not. The more complex the system becomes, the less flexible it is. It gets progressively harder to make small changes in the genes that would improve system, and given how finely tuned so many system elements are, large changes are out of the question.
MK. I don't follow this. Surely a complex system, particularly a biological one, has a high degree of variability and redundancy, i.e. it is more flexible. An increasing complexity entails an increasing ability to cope with sudden demands, so the system becomes better able to function. The opposite of this is loss of complexity, which then results in changes associated with aging. See my paper, for example, at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12766532. Having said that, I think you are referring to a different kind of complexity, the evolutionary complexity, whereas I refer to biological dynamical complexity in general.
JS. Biological systems are bottom-up evolved, massively multifactorial, highly and nonlinearly interdependent complex adaptive systems. Those futurists who propose a coming world of genetically engineered humans, beyond the elimination of single and few-gene disorders in genetic diseases, or of accelerating changes in our biology through pharmaceuticals or "neurotechnology" simply do not appreciate the incredible interdependence, inertia, pleiotropies, and terminal differentiation of our genetic evolutionary developmental lineage
MK. I agree, that's why I suggest that the ability to attain biological immortality is embedded in our nature, so there is no need to attempt to artificially engineer treatments. These are only of limited value, and can be used currently to achieve minimal effect -there is no significant future value (although I spent 15 years of my working life promoting the value of genetic and biological therapies!).
JS. We'll be able to validate this with Aubrey De Grey's Methuselah Mouse prize, to be given in coming years for efforts to substantially increase the lifespan of the laboratory mouse. If I'm right, the gains we'll see will be very modest relative to what is possible in C. elegans nematodes, for example. What we could do in humans even if we could settle the ethical questions, which we presently can't, would be again substantially less significant than what we could get in mice.
MK. I agree with this. Any gains will be very limited.
JS. Thus, over countless evolutionary developmental cyclings over the millennia, complex organisms have self-organized a series of energy and information tradeoffs between their 'immortal' germline cells and their mortal bodies. Most importantly, with respect to biological longevity, we can't hope to get around those tradeoffs without understanding and extensively reengineering the system, from the genes up. My claim would be that this will prove far too difficult for human minds to do. It may even be too difficult for the AIs of tomorrow to do. We shall see. If there were any "easy" genetic routes to gaining somatic immortality without losing the soma's great adaptive complexity, we can expect they would have been discovered by blind evolution, long ago.
MK. I claim that the capacity for biological immortality is inherent in our system and will happen in any event (this is because we must continue to evolve our intellectual complexity, and this can only be achieved if we abandon Darwinian evolution and continue along the lines of a developmental singularity that you suggest, making it essential that human BIOLOGICAL brain and thus the body, must live for centuries). This is a natural event that is intrinsic in the physical laws that have created us. We don't need to do anything special. It is not necessary to re-engineer anything. What is necessary is to see if there is anything we can do in order to speed the process up.
JS. The following from the zoologist and theorist, Pierre Grassé (1973):
"The period of great fecundity is over; present evolution appears as a weakened process, declining or near its end. Aren't we witnessing the remains of an immense phenomenon close to extinction? Aren't the small variations that are being recorded everywhere the tail end, the last oscillations of the evolutionary movement? Aren't our plants, our animals, lacking some mechanisms [for the same strength of fundamental biological innovation] which were present in the early flora and fauna?"
MK. He is correct. I believe that human evolution by natural selection is a slow, clumsy process that has now reached its peak. It would be very awkward if humans (i.e. human intelligence) were not to have any other ways for evolving. Darwinian evolution will soon (or it has already) come to an end. Transhuman intelligence will then develop. This necessitates that the human host must not die soon via aging-related mechanisms. Instead, it is essential for individual humans to remain alive for a period long enough (e.g. centuries or millennia) for the development to progress. The difference here is that you suggest that further intellectual development is only possible if we leave our biological body and make the transition to a technologically engineered one. However, I don't see the point of this (see below).
JS. Of course, your intelligence will rapidly evolve into something else once it is in technological form, much more rapidly than your biological self evolves, but at least your old thoughts and mental architectures can be safely archived, for later access, in a way that will never be possible in the biological realm. In other words, you will still be mortal as a postbiological organism, but death loses not only its subjective violence in such a state, it loses its informational violence as well. That truly will truly be something new in (our corner of) the universe, and this 'cyber immortality' is very much something worth working toward, measuring, and advancing on a daily basis.
MK. What kind of life would that entail? The only thing that truly matters in life is attainment of pleasure/satisfaction. There is not a single human action that is not bound by this or that it does not aspire to this. If I am not to feel any pleasure - ever, then I prefer not to live at all. Living in an indestructible, ever-evolving and super-intelligent medium which cannot appreciate the pleasure of looking at a delicate flower, defies the whole point of us being here.
To parody Turing's test, let me suggest, partly for amusement, partly seriously, the 'Kyriazis Test of the Erect Nipple', which is this:
We will know when technological developments have matched human neuro-biological capacity when they will be able to emulate the exact set of bio-neuro-psycological events that happen during a simple action, such as when one is gently biting an erect nipple.
Consideration of these SIMULTANEOUS events should include:
1.Sensory information from the lips to the brain
2.Exact information sensed by receptors embedded in the masseter muscle
3.Information passed from the teeth and gums to other muscular regulatory feedback loops
4.Olphactory information emanated by the receiver and by the performer
5.Input from the taste receptors
6.Input from unrelated environmental smells
7.Self-awareness of the process
8.General memory of previous experiences (not the same as point 26 below)
9.Feelings of discomfort, embarrassment or otherwise
10. Softness of action based on love, in order to avoid causing pain
11. Visual inputs
12. Sensory information from the rest of the face
13. Sensory information form the fingertips to the brain
14. Sensory information from existing body posture during the action (all joints, all muscles and ligaments everywhere, all tactile information etc.)
15. Auditory information from external sources (a passing ambulance, soft-talk, the neighbours shouting)
16. Auditory information from internal sources (blood pounding in ears, bowels rumbling)
17. Other unrelated simultaneous events (feeling hungry, a fleeting thought of your lecture assignment during the action
18. Sexual arousal (and full physical/chemical implications thereof)
19. Hormonal interplay
20. Immune system consequences
21. Obvious feedback clues from partner, and action these
22. Subtle feedback clues from partner, and action these
23. Subconscious and not immediately clear feedback clues from partner
24. A judgement whether pain is being inflicted, and the nature of the pain
25. An assessment whether to let go or proceed, based on abstracts thoughts or expectations of likely response from the partner
26. Thoughtful memories of previous conversations (to assess whether that nipple was reported as being particularly sensitive, or whether the partner likes a bit more pain, and for how long, and at what stage), and comparison and assessment of previous similar events with other partners, and an assessment of the personality of these partners according to what stage during the procedure were likely to feel pain or pleasure and to apply the result of this assessment non-linearly during this particular procedure….
27. Assessment of the security of the location where the action is performed
28. Assessment of the legality and morality of the action
29. A subconscious assessment of the degree of pleasure generated by the receiver and perceived by the performer
30. A subconscious assessment of the degree of pleasure generated by the performer and the interaction between the two degrees of pleasure in a composite way in order to create an abstract Form (see Plato's Theory of Forms)
You get my drift!
All of the above need to be processed in parallel and simultaneously, recorded, analysed singularly and in combination (two at a time, three at a time etc. until and included x to the power of 30 in my example…- and I could probably think of another 10 simultaneous events associated with this apparently simple action).
No, I can't see how such technology will mimic humans in a way that is 'worthwhile' in the foreseeable future.
JS. By contrast to these highly limited strategies for bioimmortality, each of us already gets increasing informational immortality when we migrate our biological intelligence into our cybertwins (today's first generation digital assistants), as we do increasingly every day in the modern world. As our informational and nanotechnologies accelerate in complexity, and as the intimacy of the human-machine and physical-virtual interface advances every year, we all are rapidly gaining this 'effective' informational immortality. I predict that within this century, almost every human being on Earth will recognize this, and all our most intimate intellectual and emotional connections with others and with ourselves will be mediated through not just our biological but also the cybernetic components of our identities.
MK. You support techno-immortality. I support bio-immortality. There is a lot of common ground, in fact I agree with almost all of your concepts - except from the fact that I think that pure techno-immortality will be worthless to human nature. Human biological immortality is likely to be realised on a substrate of wetware that has been augmented to a considerable degree by silicon-based technology.
Discussion with Vince Giuliano 10 November 2010
VG Vince Giuliano
MK Marios Kyriazis
VG. I propose an explanatory framework that can lend clarity to discussions relating evolution to longevity. That framework views social evolution as a separate and important matter in addition to biological evolution. Social evolution takes place in cultural niches, that is, societies. By social evolution I would mean the evolution of all key aspects of the environment and behavior of people in a society: how people live, work and communicate, their social, government, economic production and family systems, their institutions of all kinds, the technologies they have and how they have adapted to use of those technologies, what they eat and drink, their belief systems, their expectations and how they think. For my purpose here I focus on common elements of advanced industrial and post-industrial societies, including those in most European countries, the US and Canada, Japan, Australian and large sections of Chinese and Indian societies.
Some key points are:
VG 1. While biological evolution of humans appears to be very slow, social evolution is happening very rapidly, the use of cell phones and Internet and the resulting changes in communication capabilities and availability of knowledge being recent examples.
MK. This is a very good point. Rapidly-evolving social developments will augment and complement biological evolution, particularly post-Darwinian evolution.
VG 2. The principles of human social evolution cannot be derived from the principles of human biology, just as the laws of biology cannot be derived from those of chemistry and chemistry cannot be derived from physics. However, chemistry must be compatible with physics, biology must be compatible with chemistry and the rules of social evolution must be compatible with the laws of biology
MK. The two concepts are interdependent. I believe that one drives the other
VG 3. Most dramatic increases in longevity have come about through social evolution such as the adoption of sanitation systems, recognizing the existence of diseases, inoculations, cleaner are and cleaner water, laws, dentistry, medicines, seat belt laws, stopping smoking, improved nutrition, safer cars and products of all kinds. The list goes on and on and there is still very far to go.
MK. Yes, however we are likely to witness a much more far-reaching social and cultural influence on human longevity. Technological developments will inextricably modify our society, I hope for the best. The internet is changing everything. New technology makes it easy for people to exercise at home, aids their diet, and promotes psychological well-being via remote interactions with friends. I believe that increased external inputs (emanated from the interaction between technology and society) are essential in stimulating human brain evolution, which in turn, must result in increased lifespans, for reasons I explain elsewhere.
VG 4. It is far too narrow to see biological evolution of humans only in terms of genetics. It is mainly happening through changes in the epigenome. And evolution due to changes in the epigenome can happen very rapidly compared to evolution due to changes in genes. This can be seen in certain animals which rapidly adapt to changed environments in a few generations, including dramatic changes in their body characteristics, without any changes in their genetics. And, with better nutrition and a healthier environment, children now are growing up to be taller adults than their parents were in several developing countries.
MK. There is increasing evidence supporting the role of epigenetic changes in shaping our evolution. Here, I am not referring to the slow, cumbersome process of evolution by natural selection, but to the new type of human evolution based on self-organising complexity and intellectual development. The way we stimulate our brain, our thoughts, actions and lifestyle all have an epigenetic effect on our genes, which helps in initiating events that result in progressively longer lifespans.
VG 5. Social evolution is driving biological evolution. The changes in the epigenome of humans result from social evolution. And by evolutionary standards the change is very fast as can be seen in terms of human longevity.
MK. I agree, as mentioned above. Social evolution is a much more efficient and quick way to evolve, compared to the Darwinian model. By social evolution I also mean cultural and technological changes that influence the entire process.
VG 6. Complex societies demand greater longevity because they demand preservation and extension of knowledge. That is why in advanced and advancing societies, for years now average lifespan has been increasing about 4 hours every day. Life expectancy at birth approximately doubled between 1850 and 2004 and in primitive times it was perhaps 22 years for those who survived childhood with 30 years being very old. Our genes have not changed during this time. The evolution has been social and in our epigenomes.
MK. We will witness a gradual increase of our lifespans, with a few individuals breaking through the existing maximum lifespan (around 120 years), and an increasing number of super-centenarians (those aged 110 years plus), over and above what is currently predicted. Subsequently, it may become the norm for people to live to 130 plus. However, this seems a relatively slow process for achieving truly indefinite lifespans of centuries or even millennia. Perhaps there will be a quicker mechanism, which will suddenly augment (inflate) the process. I don't know.
VG 7. As longevity has been increasing, so have the main events of life been spread out: getting married, having the first children, finishing education and starting work, and end of the time when productive work is possible. Back in the bronze age, most women started having babies when they were biologically able to do so - at 13 to 15; now the average age of marriage is over 30.
MK. This also will have a profound effect on societal evolution and thus biological evolution. Issues of fertility, decline in male sperm and hormonal changes are influenced by society and are relevant to longevity. For example, technological developments have caused pollution, which has now (according to some) caused a decline of function of human sperm, and thus lower fertility. Lower fertility is (according to some views) positively correlated with longer lifespans. This is an intricate example of how society changes affect biological evolution.
VG 8. I therefore agree with Marios that longer and longer lives will result from our social and epigenetic evolution - assuming no cataclysmic events that are serious enough to destroy or seriously set back our societies. I also believe we can accelerate the trend to greater longevity and believe it would be a very good thing to do so from a social and economic viewpoint.
MK. Personally I am only interested in the biology of the process, but will consider any influences derived from social, cultural and technological domains. I will leave the economical, ethical and psychological implications of super-longevity for others to debate.
VG 9. Finally, I have to acknowledge that this discussion itself is a manifestation and instrument of social evolution. "If you find yourself riding on a horse, the best thing is to ride the horse in the direction in which it is going."
MK. It is indeed. But my advice is also "try not to fall off"!
VG 10. So let's get on with discovering how we can support people living healthy lives longer. I see one possible approach which could conceivably could crack the human aging barrier of 123 years and keep people alive and healthy for several hundred years. It is described in the blog entry Closing the loop in the stem cell supply chain - presented graphically.
MK. I read all your blogs relating to stem cells, and I believe that this is a way forward. I am suggesting some ways for possible help, such as making use of transposons that may eventually be used in order to influence stem cell DNA along the lines you suggest. Also, newer developments in Synthetic Biology may provide the tools for accelerating any interventions upon stem cell production and function. These are just two areas of possible interest but there are many others. We need to encourage scientific dialogue in this respect and get interested scientists to take part. There is a lot of research currently going on but I find the approach rather fragmented. Many, if not all, researchers are unaware of the relevance their results have upon achieving indefinite lifespans. Their vision is restricted by funding constraints. We need to break through this barrier, but fortunately there are some platforms where we can expect dialogue (see www.imminst.org for example).