An alarming fact about the anti-aging community

Past and Present

Ten years ago teenager me was hope­ful. And stupid.

The world ne­glected ag­ing as a dis­ease, Aubrey had barely started spread­ing memes, to the point it was worth it for him to let me work re­motely to help with Me­tuse­lah foun­da­tion. They had not even re­ceived that ini­tial 1,000,000 dona­tion from an anony­mous donor. The Me­tuse­lah prize was run­ning for less than 400,000 if I re­mem­ber well. Still, I was a be­liever.

Now we live in the age of Larry Page’s Cal­ico, 100,000,000 dol­lars try­ing to tackle the prob­lem, be­sides many other amaz­ing ini­ti­a­tives, from the re­search paid for by Life Ex­ten­sion Foun­da­tion and Bill Faloon, to schol­ars in top uni­ver­si­ties like Steve Garan and Ken­neth Hay­worth fix­ing things from our mod­els of ag­ing to plas­ti­na­tion tech­niques. Yet, I am much more skep­ti­cal now.

In­di­vi­d­ual risk

I am skep­ti­cal be­cause I could not find a sin­gle in­di­vi­d­ual who already used a sim­ple tech­nique that could cer­tainly save you many years of healthy life. I could not even find a sin­gle in­di­vi­d­ual who looked into it and de­cided it wasn’t worth it, or was too pricy, or some­thing of that sort.

That tech­nique is freez­ing some of your cells now.

Freez­ing cells is not a far fu­ture hope, this is some­thing that already ex­ists, and has been pos­si­ble for decades. The rea­son you would want to freeze them, in case you haven’t thought of it, is that they are get­ting older ev­ery day, so the ones you have now are the youngest ones you’ll ever be able to use.

Us­ing these cells to cre­ate new or­gans is not some­thing that may help you if medicine and tech­nol­ogy con­tinue pro­gress­ing ac­cord­ing to the law of ac­cel­er­at­ing re­turns in 10 or 30 years. We already know how to make or­gans out of your cells. Right now. Some or­gans live longer, some shorter, but it can be done—for in­stance to blad­ders—and is be­ing done.

Hope ver­sus Reason

Now, you’d think if there was an al­most non-in­va­sive tech­nique already shown to work in hu­mans that can pre­serve many years of your life and in­volves only a few triv­ial in­con­ve­niences—com­pared to chang­ing diet or ex­er­cis­ing for in­stance- the whole longevist/​im­mor­tal­ist crowd would be lin­ing up for it and keep­ing back up tis­sue sam­ples all over the place.

Well I’ve asked them. I’ve asked some of the adamant re­searchers, and I’ve asked the su­per­wealthy; I’ve asked the cry­on­i­cists and sup­ple­ment gorg­ers; I’ve asked those who work on this 8 hour a day ev­ery day, and I’ve asked those who pay oth­ers to do so. I asked it mostly for self­ish rea­sons, I saw the TEDs by Juan En­riquez and An­thony Atala and thought: hey look, clearly benefi­cial ex­pected life length in­crease, yay! let me call some­one who found this out be­fore me—any­one, I’m prob­a­bly the last one, silly me—and fix this.

I’ve asked them all, and I have noth­ing to show for it.

My take­away les­son is: what­ever it is that other peo­ple are do­ing to solve their own im­pend­ing death, they are far from do­ing it ra­tio­nally, and maybe most of the money and psy­chol­ogy in­volved in this whole busi­ness is about buy­ing hope, not about star­ing into the void and find­ing out the best ways of dodg­ing it. Maybe peo­ple are not in fact go­ing to go all-in if the op­por­tu­nity comes.

How to fix this?

Let me dis­close first that I have no idea how to fix this prob­lem. I don’t mean the prob­lem of get­ting all longevists to freeze their cells, I mean the prob­lem of get­ting them to take in­for­ma­tion from the world of sci­ence and biomedicine and ap­ply­ing it to them­selves. To be­come users of the tech­nol­ogy they are boast­ers of. To be­have ra­tio­nally in a CFAR or even homo eco­nomi­cus sense.

I was hop­ing for a grandiose idea in this last para­graph, but it didn’t come. I’ll go with a quote from this emo­tional song sung by us dur­ing last year’s Sec­u­lar Sols­tice celebration

Do you re­al­ize? that ev­ery­one, you know, some­day will die...

And in­stead of send­ing all your goodbyes

Let them know you re­al­ize that life goes fast

It’s hard to make the good things last