Every since Google announced the creation of “Calico”, a company to extend human life span, I have been very keen on seeing how things progress. Google has the funds and has the ability to tackle long-term projects. The significance of Google entering this arena cannot be overstated.
A recent article from the Venture Beat website (see link below) gives us a nice update on what is up so far. This includes an impressive list of the initial key members of the team which itself provides further clues on the likely approach Calico may take. At the same time, things are no doubt in flux as the directions and foci of Calico’s initial projects get shaped.
Researchers and bio-tech entrepreneurs we spoke with have vastly different ideas for how Calico will tackle aging. Rowe said it’s his “best guess” that Calico will focus on “biologics that promote tissue regeneration, extend the upper limit of human lifespan, and help seniors feel healthier.”
Dr. Peter Huber, a fellow at conservative think thank The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, predicts Calico will focus on genetic engineering to manipulate the body’s repair chemistry. Samuels expects the team will study the “whole human body and its aging rather than a narrow body part,” such as the human heart or the brain.
Researchers we spoke with seemed to agree on one thing: Calico is our best shot at making real process to prevent aging.
Another key component to progress in life extension will be public understanding, acceptance and support. This will likely take a while as there is a profound fog surrounding how people thing about this area.
Dr Aubrey de Grey believes that a key factor for public acceptance will come from definitive lab results. Namely, he sees this coming from experiments that demonstrate in mice that a significant level of rejuvenation (in middle age) mice is doable. In a February 2013 interview de Grey said that once a clear demonstration occurs,
“… all the other aspects of society driven by things like risk aversion will change completely. People’s priorities will be completely different in terms of what they want to spend money on and what they vote for the government to spend money on.”
I totally agree that this is true. Your life and financial priorities change when you realize that true rejuvenation therapies are around the corner. [My report “The End of Retirement As We Know It” lays out a number of specific recommendations]
See the video interview where that quote came from here;
Will proof of concept of anti-aging therapies in mammals be enough to turn the tide in public ambivalence? Personally, while convincing proof in other animals will help, the reluctance of a large part of society to see healthy life extension as desirable will likely mean it will take much more. A large amount of grass-roots discussion, debate and communication at all levels of society, led by those who have thought it through will be needed.
The positive future of life extension needs to be clearly imagined, along with a clear acknowledgement and exploration of the problems and challenges. Only then will the broader public be inspired to get behind the dramatic reduction in suffering and loss that is at our finger tips via the development of effective rejuvenation therapies. The freedom to choose to remain healthy will not be won easily, but we can all do our part.
Live long, live well and prosper!