Anders Sandberg, Aubrey de Grey, Nick Bostrom on Future of Human Aging

>Three of my friends and fellow futurists commenting on the future of future of human aging.

Anders focuses on uploading the brain (the best preservation, but most challenging),

Aubrey de Grey on our attitudes on change.

And Nick Bostrom on the uncertainties implicit in the future.

All three honest and straightforward as usual (though I disagree slightly with Nick Bostrom on overpopulation).

Uncertainty and Conditioning

>The article below quotes research stating that uncertain outcome produces more uncertainty than clear negative outcomes. That makes sense from an adaptive standpoint.

Makes me wonder if that is the the same mechanism underlying the advantage of inconsistent conditioning over consistent conditioning in operant behavior.

Woman Gets New Windpipe Grown from Her Stem Cells

>Now this is really exciting.

New Scientist: Woman Receives Windpipe Built from Her Stem Cells

Organ transplants have lots of problems, from the number of donors and availability of the right organ, to the issues of transport and logistics, and especially immune rejection.

For a while researchers have dreamed of growing new organs using someone’s own genetic material, so they can place them in the body and have them be exact genetic matches. That would eliminate the need for orgon donors and the risk of immune rejection.
We are not there yet, but this case is very close. The researchers used the connective tissue from a windpipe from a dead organ donor but removed all living cells. Then they used the female patient’s own stem cells (extracted from bone marrow) to grow a fully functional windpipe on that scaffolding (in particular to grow new cartilage), which they then ‘transplanted’ into her.

In principle the same technique could be used to regrow all sorts of organs, though actually growing the organs and having the right scaffolding is still extremely tricky and has only been demonstrated for a few organs. Even so, progress is being made at a remarkable rate.

First Potential Anti-Aging Drug Clears Mouse Trials

>Back in 1990 or so, Tom Johnson demonstrated that it is possible to slow the aging process in a multi-cellular organism.

Since then, our knowledge of the biology of aging and the interconnections of caloric restriction, the effects of red wine, mitochondrial function, and the genetics of aging have advanced tremendously.

Maybe. 🙂

In any case, the first drug created as an attempt to directly manipulate the underlying causes of aging is getting very close to human trials. It might not work – most drugs fail in trials – but it might just be found to be effective in, say, protecting against diabetes, or stabiliizing blood sugar, or helping people lose weight.

Note that in the mouse trials, this drug – which is a synthetic analog of resveratrol, a beneficial compound in red wine – keeps mice skinny and healthy even when they are on a high fat, high calorie diet. It also increases their endurance. Mice on this drug are more fit and can run longer than mice not on it. In short, it looks a lot like what happens to an animal under Caloric Restriction, except that the animals can still eat.

Sounds like something people might pay for, eh? Assuming of course that it works in humans, is safe, and doesn’t have side effects that people would find intolerable. A lot of promising drugs that work in other animals fail to get to humans for those reasons.

Still: Whether this particular drug succeeds or fails, Pandora’s box is open. Nothing about human lifespan or anything else about the human organism should be taken as fixed any longer.