In 2016, an American real estate investor named James Strole founded the Coalition for Radical Life Extension, an Arizona-based charitable organization whose goal is to bolster the mainstream science support that will one day be the Could significantly prolong people's lives. The standards of modern medicine allow us to live longer than ever before. However, this is not the concern of Strole. What good are a few poor years? He is interested in extending life not by days and weeks, but by decades and even centuries, until the mortality becomes voluntary ̵
Life extenders (or long-lived or immortals) fit exactly two types. The first are rationalists: scientific researchers in the field of gerontology, the study of aging, who deal with the many technical difficulties of ending entropy. Strole is the second type. As a businessman, he has no formal scientific education, but is committed to the cause and strives to gain new insights. He hopes to live indefinitely, or at least until 150. Ultimately, however, he depends on researchers finding a way. Think of him less as a gerontological groupie than as a polite, optimistic megafan sitting on the edge of science and wanting a big break.
He is not alone. Life extenders have become a passionate and ever louder bunch. It is well known that Silicon Valley venture capitalists and billionaires, all non-gerontologists, and almost all men who believe death is undesirable and seem to have earned so much money that they need an infinite amount of life to spend it. But now there are only mortals, heads full of fantasies forever. People have longed for immortality for as long as they lived. So far, the search was unsuccessful – we are still dying! But good news: Paradise should now be closer than ever, and private clinics and online pharmacies promise to get us there, "there's" the future, and all that.
Strole was an evangelist of human immortality since he was a child when his grandmother died. He was still new to the world and, like most of us, felt death at some point as deeply unfair.
In the early 1970s, when he was in his twenties, he began to tour the US, a public speaker who shared the then limited gerontological research, but nevertheless praised his possibilities and the anti-aging benefits of a positive Mindset advocated: "Is not life great? If you really try, you can live forever! "Since Strole is not scientifically recognized, his advice was largely based on inspirational healthy lifestyle tips, so be careful. Nevertheless, his message was radical and he was not always well received. The public, who distrusted Strol's ideas, condemned him for testing God's will or disturbing the natural order. His concepts contradicted the common belief that we live and then die. Particularly angry spectators described him as "the devil". Now and then he received death threats.
Nevertheless, he insisted. He was fortunate to work in an area that meant he was familiar with inside information, and he was convinced that a major breakthrough was imminent. To fully prepare his body for the centuries of life, he followed a strict health regime. He fasted, sapped, cleaned and devoured supplements, and urged the public to do the same. Eventually a community formed that was driven by a common, urgent aversion to death. "We realized then how important it is to do everything to stay alive," he says.
Strole is now 70. He lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, a desert city. In Lifespan mode, he avoids dairy and rarely touches bread, though he devours a whole heap of other things. He has recently taken pills called "cognitive" which he takes twice a day and who are said to have all sorts of nourishing effects on his brain. (What good is it to maintain the body, if not the mind?) The pills are part of a self-directed anti-aging process that requires a lot of swallowing. Some days, Strole 70 takes supplements, including a tablet that "stimulates the mitochondria" (mitochondria produce energy) and its effects are similar to "a shot of coffee minus the jitter", as well as vitamins, nutrients and metformin, a diabetes medication has become so popular among life extenders that it is called "aspirin of anti-aging". In the early morning, when the air in Arizona is still vivid, he dives cold into his pool to make his immune system function better, and eventually he lies open on an electromagnetic mat that silently opens against his body and "bangs the veins "and performs a respiratory regimen that" balances the hormones ".
These are typical strategies for extending life, though most people supplement regimes with their own ideas. Some fast. Others arrange expensive stem cell replacement therapies. To preserve a lithe spirit, gerontologist Marios Kyriazis, who is in his sixties and directs the British Longevity Society, reads the newspaper upside down, and whenever that becomes too easy he reads the newspaper upside down and in a mirror. Think of it as an alternative to sudoko.
What good is that? The current life extension strategy is twofold. First, reach a "wellness foundation," says Strole. Second, stay alive until the gerontological breakthrough is imminent. All that is needed is "to live long enough for the next innovation" and assuming you can buy another 20 years. "20 years here, 20 years there, everything adds up and suddenly you are 300. This is a common view. Last year, British billionaire Jim Mellon, who wrote a book on longevity entitled Juvenescence said, "If you're still 10 to 20 years old, if you're not over 75 and if If you stay in reasonable health for your age, you have a great chance of being over 110 years old. "110 seems to be a modest goal for most. Why not forever? "It's not a big quantum leap," explains Strole. He refers to the analogy of a ladder: "step by step" to unlimited life. American futurist Ray Kurzweil, another supplement enthusiast, coined a similar metaphor in 2009, referring instead to "Bridges to Immortality".
Where to start with the almighty question : Why would anyone think? that's a good idea. Strole is openly afraid of death (who is not, he argues), even though he seems more motivated by a kind of curiosity. We live our lives knowing that one day they will end. Imagine what we could achieve if this were not the case. (It's not clear what Strole wants to accomplish: Self-Realization? World Peace? This tricky puzzle?) The American entrepreneur Dave Asprey, who is 46 years old, but wants to live more than 180 years and takes 150 daily supplements. told me, "I can not imagine that there are not so many exciting new problems to solve!"
This motivation is widespread – the burning desire to help – and may be viewed as morally virtuous or terribly presumptuous, according to your opinion, the altruistic potential of a group of disproportionately wealthy middle-aged men. (Is it possible that the future will become a haven for the rich, who experience life as a succession of exquisite events and do not understand the concept of entropy as relief or flight?) Few life extensionists openly reveal hedonistic impulses. "You can only smoke so many Cuban cigars," says Asprey, "before you say I need to buckle up." When I asked the British gerontologist Aubrey de Gray why indefinite life appeals to me, he replied: "A joke:" My whirlpool. "
De Gray, a serious scientist, considers extending life as a health issue that is perhaps the most convincing argument in the field. Gerontologists do not hope to end the death, he says. Instead, "We're interested in people not getting sick when they get old." No matter how much society struggles against the concept of immortality, no one really wants to suffer from Alzheimer's or suddenly become ill with cardiovascular disease. Gerontology is the act of developing age-related disease therapies, de Gray argues – to reduce the causes of death, not death itself. "The benefits of a longer life are not the point," he says. "The benefits are that there is no Alzheimer's disease." For de Gray, indeterminate life is a by-product, not a goal.
Are we in for a breakthrough? So far, research has yielded modest returns. Gerontologists prophetically speak of potential, but most warn that significant human development is a long way off – almost within sight, but not quite. Richard Hodes, the director of the National Institute of Aging, a US government agency, told me that although research on animals has led to a "dramatic lifetime extension," many of them have many times over: "There were far fewer quantitative effects Biologist Laura Deming, who founded the Longevity Fund in 2011, a venture capital firm that supports "high-potential longevity companies," told me start-ups continue to successfully track biological aging indicators – inefficient cells, mitochondria decline – but in humans: "We do not really know what will and will not work at the moment."
Much of gerontology is focused on identifying types of damage that accumulate with age and ways to stop or reverse that accumulation. It has been found, for example, that with age, certain cells become ineffective, but still remain nearby and, like comatose guests, get in the way at the end of a house party. The removal of these cells has helped mice have a longer, healthier life (this is called senescence). Similar forms of genetic engineering have been successful in other animal models. However, to reach the mainstream, gerontologists must persuade government agencies to support the adoption of humans. This is a complicated and tedious task because death is a normal human process. Why play god?
In any case, a single longevity strategy is unlikely to help us much. Life-prolongers enjoy a metaphor: people are complicated machines, they say, like cars, but muddy. And what happens to a machine if you do not care? It rusts. It stutters and bubbles until it comes to its inevitable end. De Gray sees aging as a "multifaceted problem". People suffer many different types of damage. We do not just rust. We scratch. We dent. Garbage collects in our footwells and dirt is produced in our engines. We need several repair strategies – constant fine-tuning. What good is it to remove these aging cells as this molecular waste continues to build?
De Gray shares the conviction of Strole that innovation will come. Unlike Strole, however, he considers current strategies to be almost pointless. He does not take hundreds of supplements. He does not pay for stem cell transfusions. "I want to wait and see," he says. At 56, he is happy to get involved in treatments that "are becoming more and more effective … so that I do not have to use chunky first-generation therapies that may have side effects".
This seems to disturb neither Strole nor others in the community. Time is running out! Bring the treatments! At RAADfest, the annual coalition conference, "The Woodstock of Radical Life Extension", visitors can discover the latest anti-aging products, of which there are many. Try DHEA PRO-25, an "anti-aging hormone". Or NAD + PRO, advertised to "increase physical and mental energy". Or piracetam from the family of "smart drugs" or nootropics, which claim to improve brain function. Strole called the area: "The marketplace of your future". It is popular with RAADfest guests because it has the power of its promise: the ability to realize the hoped-for self. This is Wellness 2.0 – beyond cosmetics. We have been against skin aging for years. Why not our interior?
Jim Mellon is said to have called the longevity market "a source of money" and to have asked friends to invest. The business is already lucrative, but it is a market that hardly seems to notice its effectiveness. The majority of anti-aging products remain unregulated – popularly "patent pending" – and more than a few seem completely useless. Earlier this year, the US government issued a statement condemning the anti-aging trend of the transfer of young blood into older bodies. A practice that has proven effective in mice, but which, according to the FDA, "should not be considered safe or effective." in humans. (The treatments cost thousands of dollars and led to concern that "patients are being pursued by unscrupulous agents.")
A decade ago, the American Association of Medicine publicly condemned the sale of "anti-aging hormones," an industry reportedly worth $ 50 billion. "Despite the widespread promotion of hormones as anti-aging agents on non-profit websites, there is a lack of scientific evidence to back up these allegations."
The oldest person Jeanne Calment, who survived, reached the age of 122, although she may not have been the best example of good health: she smoked until the age of 117 Well, sleep well, work out, reduce stress, and rely on modern medicine, which has significantly increased average life expectancy over the past 160 years.
Strole does that and more. As far as it goes, he says. He is 6ft 4 and 13st – "the perfect weight" – with a smooth, gray strand of hair. Maybe his regime is effective. Or maybe he has, like Calment, won some kind of genetic lottery, his healthy hair predisposed. It is difficult to say exactly, but from that moment on he will die. What happens if a breakthrough does not happen in his life? "Well, then we're in a bit of hot water," he says. But "it's better to try than not to try." It's better than just settling down. Do not go quietly into the night. "