[Paleopsych] Passage from "Fantastic Voyage"

Steve Hovland shovland at mindspring.com
Sat Mar 12 01:23:42 UTC 2005

Do we have the knowledge and the tools today to live forever? If all 
science and technology development suddenly stopped, the answer would have 
to be no. We do have the means to dramatically slow disease and the aging 
process far more than most people realize, but we do not yet have all the 
techniques we need to indefinitely extend human life. However, it is clear 
that far from halting, the pace of scientific and technological discovery 
is accelerating.

According to models that Ray has created, our paradigm-shift rate-the rate 
of technical progress-is doubling every decade, and the capability (price 
performance, capacity, and speed) of specific information technologies is 
doubling every year.  So the answer to our question is actually a 
definitive yes-the knowledge exists, if aggressively applied, for you to 
slow aging and disease processes to such a degree that you can be in good 
health and good spirits when the more radical life-extending and 
life-enhancing technologies become available over the next couple of 

Longevity expert and gerontologist Aubrey de Grey uses the metaphor of 
maintaining a house to explain this key concept. How long does a house 
last? The answer obviously depends on how well you take care of it. If you 
do nothing, the roof will spring a leak before long, water and the elements 
will invade, and eventually the house will disintegrate. But if you 
proactively take care of the structure, repair all damage, confront all 
dangers, and rebuild or renovate parts from time to time using new 
materials and technologies, the life of the house can essentially be 
extended without limit.

The same holds true for our bodies and brains. The only difference is that 
while we fully understand the methods underlying the maintenance of a 
house, we do not yet fully understand all of the biological principles of 
life. But with our rapidly increasing comprehension of the human genome, 
the proteins expressed by the genome (proteome), and the biochemical 
processes and pathways of our metabolism, we are quickly gaining that 
knowledge. We are beginning to understand aging, not as a single inexorable 
progression but as a group of related biological processes.

Strategies for reversing each of these aging progressions using different 
combinations of biotechnology techniques are emerging. Many scientists, 
including the authors of this book, believe that we will have the means to 
stop and even reverse aging within the next two decades. In the meantime, 
we can slow each aging process to a crawl using the methods outlined in 
this book.

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