My next 20+ years towards a moonshot.

Progress in longevity

  • It is likely that we are close to the top of a hype cycle regarding life extension, which usually (actually by definition) leads to overoptimism.
  • Biology turns out to be way more complex the more we learn about it.
    Just remember, the “war on cancer” started in 1971 and the NCI Director’s Challenge in 2003 which set out to “eliminate the suffering and death from cancer, and to do so by 2015”. But cancer, of course, is still a leading cause of death (4). There are too many examples like this to count. Of course, we have more technology and tools (ML, deep sequencing, …) than ever before, but so did the people who made predictions in the past. And they were just as intelligent as those who are optimistic today, so what’s fundamentally different this time around? Why is the optimism about big and tangible longevity breakthroughs that will extend maximum life span warranted? In the end, I don’t think it is.
  • Clinical testing will be even more difficult and expensive since the ideal end point (maximum life span) will, in most cases, require long follow-up periods. Due to that, surrogate parameters such as methylation clocks (5) will need be used, but this isn’t ideal by any means.
  • A large percentage of the efforts presented and sold as “longevity research” might not help to increase maximum life span at all, or only do so very indirectly. For example, while research targeting osteoarthritis might be translated by using the underlying mechanism, it only has indirect effects on maximum life span. Translating results adds another layer of complexity. And it leads to the overestimation of the size of the sector.
  • Increasing maximum life span is considerably more complex than curing single diseases, and we’re not even good at that — even with significantly more funding.

Biostasis as a more tangible solution

  • Most importantly, the degree of complexity is likely smaller (by order(s) of magnitude?). To achieve an adequate preservation of the brain and connectome, we do not need to understand all the complexity of biology — we are “just” required to preserve the cellular (and sub-cellular) structures.
  • Testing is comparatively easy. One reason being that a good part of the process is based on physics, which is more easily transferable between animals and human (Some restrictions apply.)
  • Once preservation is done, time is not an issue anymore, as biological degradation is fully stopped for all intents and purposes. So the “resuscitation part“ can be done in the near, far or very far future.
  • Less funding is required, as research and regulation is simpler. Part of the process can possibly be done with more advanced and cheaper (in relative terms) technology in the future.

This is what I plan to do:

  • Dedicate the next 20 (or more) years to this field. This won’t be a quick win but a long climb.
  • Build a professional and scalable organisation with four main areas of activity: non-profit research, operative biostasis service provider, outreach/communication/advocacy, and very long-term asset management and governance. The first step has been made, I co-founded a non-profit research foundation in Switzerland (ebf.foundation) with five others with backgrounds in venture capital, biology, and technology, all of whom have a deep dedication to the space. The first seven-figure amount has been raised and 2020 will be the starting point for a long journey. Edit: The operative company “Tomorrow Biostasis” is now live as well, see www.tomorrowbiostasis.com for more information.
  • Research, research and more research. This will never stop.
  • Whatever is required to make this happen.

A few more points

  1. https://ourworldindata.org/life-expectancy
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC423155/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2690269/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_on_cancer
  5. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41576-018-0004-3
  6. https://waitbutwhy.com/2016/03/cryonics.html
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25867710
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25867710
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2781097/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26408851
  11. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/06/17/worlds-population-is-projected-to-nearly-stop-growing-by-the-end-of-the-century/
  12. https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/cancer-death-rates-by-age?country=~OWID_WRL

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