As we start the new year, it is helpful to draw attention to the sobering fact that no credible human rejuvenation therapies are available today, and it is doubtful that such therapies will see the light of day in the short term. Greg Fahy’s recent monumental collection of interventive gerontology articles, The Future of Aging: Pathways to Human Life Extension (review forthcoming in Cryonics magazine), leaves little doubt about this predicament. It should also be emphasized that, with the possible exception of Robert Freitas’s comprehensive nanomedical overhaul of human biology, none of the envisioned strategies for life extension and rejuvenation (including SENS) confer increased protection to the brain in the case of severe traumatic insults or accidents. This fact alone highlights the fundamental importance of cryonics as the core element in life extension. The idea that rejuvenation will make cryonics redundant has been one of the main obstacles for young people to engage in cryonics activism.
There is a broad consensus in the life extension community that more resources need to be allocated to combating aging as such, as opposed to increasingly futile efforts to extend life by treating aging-associated diseases. Unfortunately, the objective to launch a serious rejuvenation research program has limited mass appeal so far. As a consequence, we will have to get involved ourselves. Hopefully we can shift the focus from extensive hypothetical discussion about the consequences of human enhancement technologies to supporting and engaging in real experimental research to make these technologies facts of life.
In line with the foregoing observations, we suggest to consider the following areas for your support.
1. Cryonics. The first sensible step is making cryonics arrangements. Without cryonics arrangements you may not be able reap the benefits of anti-aging and rejuvenation treatments. Without cryonics arrangements you will remain vulnerable to a large number of personality-destroying diseases and accidents. In addition to making cryonics arrangements, support the major cryonics organizations and their research efforts.
2. Chemical Brain Preservation. Chemical brain preservation is an envisioned alternative (or complement) for human cryopreservation. At this point, there are no organizations offering chemopreservation of the brain but there is a new organization that aims to research the technical feasibility of the procedure.
3. Rejuvenation Research. The emphasis of interventive gerontology should be on rejuvenation as opposed to extending the maximum human lifespan by halting or slowing aging. Interventions aimed at rejuvenation have the distinct advantage that short-term empirical validation of their efficacy is possible. Rejuvenation therapies may include genetic manipulation, regenerative medicine, organ replacement and reversal of accumulated damage. A this stage of our knowledge, no privileged position should be claimed for any approach absent hard empirical breakthroughs in rejuvenation.
4. Nanomedicine Research. The logical evolution of medicine is to intervene at a progressively smaller scales. From “crudely” cutting into tissue, to pharmacology, to manipulating bio-molecules at the molecular level, nanomedical control of morbidity and aging is a prerequisite for resuscitation of cryonics patients and comprehensive rejuvenation. Biological and mechanical pathways to nanomedicine have been outlined. Whatever your position is on the relative technical merits and projected timelines of such alternative approaches, the evolution of medicine into nanomedicine should be supported and accelerated.