Last Updated: 20 April 2016 Author: Glyn Taylor
Indefinite life extension will be possible within 30 years! Quite a ‘wow, really?’ prediction! This page is updated regularly with the latest outlook towards our potentially immortal future. Please comment with your thoughts and any new information you would like adding. Like us on Facebook to keep updated, coz that would be awesome!
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Within 30 Years?
We instinctively fail to see technological growth as being exponential. If you do not understand the concept of exponential growth, then chances are you do not think immortality will ever be possible, let alone understand that it could be achieved within 30 years. To find out more, read our explanation of exponential growth.
The Experts Who Agree
Don’t take our word for it – bring in the experts! Expert #1: Google. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the Google co-founders support the theories of expert #2: Ray Kurzweil, who is the most popularised living futurist, as well as one of the leaders in the artificial intelligence industry, and chief of engineering at Google. He asserts that immortality could be achieved in as little as 20 years.
Moving from the technological realm to the world of bioengineering, we have expert #3: Aubrey de Gray, who is chief science officer at one of the most famous anti-ageing research foundations, the SRF. Aubrey de Grey, who was born in 1963, believes that there is a 50/50 chance he will be alive when humanity reaches immortality. He is one of the leading faces in the fight against ageing, and is often invited to present his anti-aging theories for universities, TED Talks, think tanks, and news outlets.
Another face in the fight against ageing is expert #4: Jason Silva, who is a performance philosopher. To understand the brilliance of how he thinks, you must see his performances at his current YouTube channel, Shots of Awe. He supports the theories of both Ray Kurzweil and Aubrey de Grey, and describes immortality as the goal of humanity.
Since 2010, progression in the life extension industry has relatively sky-rocketed, more so in Russia than anywhere else. We have seen the formation of many high profile research companies, departments, foundations, institutes, and initiatives, with the specific aim of radically extending life.
Ageing is a multi-causal complex genetically determined biological process, and so to research how to combat it, you need the merger of many related disciplines. View here to see just how complicated it is to even just track the bio-marker of ageing. The following example are only of groups that have the specific aim of life extension. Those specialising in sub-disciplines (but contributing to anti-ageing) are not listed.
The SRF aims to help build the industry that will cure the “diseases of ageing”. With this aim, they supply funding for the universities that are contributing to anti-ageing research. In addition to this, they run their own research centre, which brings together the knowledge of all anti-ageing sub-disciplines to gain an overseeing perspective. It is headed by the infamous, Aubrey de Grey. Here is the SENS Foundation Annual Report 2015.
In 2013 Google helped launch Calico, an independent research and development biotech company, with the aim of combating ageing. Its CEO, Arthur Levinson is the Chairman of Apple and Genetech. In 2015 it announced it’s working with AncestryDNA, who can provide access to a unique combination of resources that will enable Calico to develop potentially ground breaking therapeutic solutions. It is also working with a biopharmaceutical company called AbbVie, who will provide scientific and clinical development support and its commercial expertise to allow therapies to enter experimental phases.
This one makes a lot of headlines. It is taking a different approach; they aim to create technologies that will enable the transfer of an individual’s consciousness to a more advanced non-biological immortal carrier. Below is their forecast for how they plan to advance.
Even More Researchers
What is Immortality?
Some think of it as the complete immunity from death – the ability to get shot 200 times and then spit the bullets out. Maybe that will be possible one day, but it won’t be our first version of immorality. The immortality we mean here is the ability to remain a healthy age, indefinitely. Ideally this age will be 21, with our bodies being fully formed, before their decline.
Mind Uploading is NOT Immortality
The 2045 Initiative are aiming to achieve immortality by uploading our ‘brain data’ out of our mortal biological minds and into an artificial one. Even if they manage to create a storage unit capable of working exactly like our own mind, all they are doing is copy and pasting – The copied version might be you in the moment of creation, but not from the next moment onwards. After seeing this copy and talking to it, would you then allow yourself to be turned off and replaced by it; to be killed? Well nah, I wouldn’t. That isn’t immortality, it’s reproduction.
Immortality is the indefinite maintenance of our biological minds.
Why Live Forever?
When you read an immortality related article on a mainstream news website, half of the people in the comments section seem to hate the idea. Usually the negativity towards immortality is displayed by those who don’t understand what possibilities are waiting for us in the future; they think of an immortal life as boring. I wrote an article called “Why you will want to be immortal“, to argue against that point of view. Another big reason that people do not want to live forever is because they believe that they will miss their lost loved ones too much. In response to that, I wrote, “How everyone who has ever died, could be revived in the future“.
Mortality is primitive, it is just a problem for humanity to overcome. Immortality is a natural development in the evolutionary process of life.
How we will Live Forever
Ray Kurzweil has every intention to reach immortality. To do so, he has devised a personal plan to get there which involves 3 bridges. His plan is of course dependent on science achieving our immortality in around 20-30 years. The current priority is surviving for at least 20 years.
Bridge 1 – Be Healthy
The first bridge is all about doing everything possible to extend your life with our current knowledge of ageing. The scientifically uncontroversial methods include: following a low-calorie (below 1500 calories), low-carb (below 80 grams) diet, and getting plenty of exercise and lots of sleep. Other methods raise eyebrows, such as drinking 10 glasses of highly alkaline water a day to rid the body of toxins, and having weekly intravenous infusions of vitamins, chelating agents and various other pharmaceuticals. Many other methods exist to rid the body of toxins, which can be found through a Google search. We have a guide on how to get enough antioxidants to extend life.
The next bridge takes advantage of the accelerating biotechnology revolution. This will begin to take us beyond simply staying healthy, and into the realm of enhancements. Eventually biotechnology will cure aging, and even allow us to turn back our body clocks, on the journey there though discoveries will be made which will enhance our health, and extend our lifespans. We will see the increasing use of gene therapy, stem cells, therapeutic cloning, and replacement cells, tissues and organs.
Bridge 3 – Nanotechnology & Artificial Intelligence
These technologies will completely revolutionise everything we know, how we live, why we live, and yes how long we live. For more information about the future that these technologies will create, read our explanation of the technological singularity.
Nano-sized robotic devices, miniature even compared to the size of a single blood cell, will become commonplace during the 2020’s. It is predicted that these devices will progress to be used within the body to maintain perfect health and youth. The devices are already being used for diagnosis purposes. They will provide constant monitoring and notify you if you begin to develop any health problems. For example, they will detect cancer at its very first sign of growth, notify you and latch on to the cancerous cells, tagging them for immediate removal. In the next few decades they will not only diagnose, but also treat illnesses. For more information, read our guide to the nanotechnology revolution.
And we haven’t even mentioned Artificial Intelligence yet. Eventually through developments in nanotechnology, neural science, artificial brain building, and artificial intelligence, enough understanding will exist to enable our minds to be integrated into other storage mediums; we will have the ability to ‘upload’ our minds (with the aid of nanotechnology); this is also referred to as digital immortality. Alternatively, we could still operate from our original brains, but outsource its cognition. For example, we could control a robot instead of our own body, or we could plug in to a virtual environment. Our intelligence levels would be significantly increased, we would communicate telepathically, and we would access the internet with our thoughts. The changes that such technology will have on humanity is incomprehensible. For more information about this future, check out our information page about transhumanism.
Video Break! Below you can watch Ray Kurzweil explain more about bridge 3.
What about Existential Risk and Overpopulation?
So yeah, immortality would be great. But who’s to say we will even get there without destroying each other first? The upcoming security risks related to emerging technologies are immense. We have written an article about the 5 emerging technologies that could destroy the world.
And if we do survive to reach immortality, then what about overpopulation? We will have problems to face with regard to overpopulation and the need for resources. These problems though can be overcome with new technologies, and it will not interrupt humanities transfer to immortality. We have written a detailed article, explaining why immortality won’t cause overpopulation.
Security can Prevail
Lets end on a positive. Along with advanced weaponry comes advanced defence. For example, with molecular manufacturing and early forms of non-conscious AI, a system of surveillance could be established to defend against the creation of illegal weaponry. This system would not be encroaching of privacies because humans will only be notified of your actions, should those actions be flagged by the system as suspicious. The only time your privacy will be invaded in an optimistic (non-dictatorship) future is when you are acting illegally.
Along with the advances may come a rising willingness to globally cooperate in order to progress with mutually beneficial aims such as self-sufficiency, immortality and space exploration; the threat of mutual destruction could become so great that nations will have no option but to come together and collaborate to tackle security problems together. On the subject of religious fundamentalism, with innovations such as immortality and the creation of god-like artificial intelligence, perhaps religions will become more open minded about the potential for science to explain the truth of our creation, acting to dilute religion and increase multiculturalization, secularisation and cooperation.
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