To live forever is an age old dream of humankind. Aubrey de Grey thinks it is within our reach and we should go full steam ahead with the research to make death obsolete. Peter Thiel gives Aubrey's research more umpf by pledging up to $3.5 million for it. That is serious money.
Not so fast, says Stanford Neuroscience Professor William B. Hurlbut. Besides the biology that Aubrey de Grey is a bit too optimistic about, there are several ethical issues that should be thought through as we head into longevity research: The relationship between the generations, the meaning of embodiment in the pace and purpose of our lives, and perhaps questions related to ongoing adaptive evolution of our species.
On Friday July 20th we will have the rare opportunity to hear both of them present their findings followed by a question and answer session.
Aubrey de Grey is a biomedical gerontologist based in Cambridge, UK, and is the Chairman and Chief Science Officer of the Methuselah
Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity dedicated to combating the aging process. He is also Editor-in-Chief of "Rejuvenation Research",
the world's only peer-reviewed journal focused on intervention in aging. His research interests encompass the etiology of all the accumulating and eventually pathogenic molecular and cellular side-effects of metabolism ("damage") that constitute mammalian aging and the design of interventions to repair and/or obviate that damage.
He has developed a possibly comprehensive plan for such repair, termed Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS), which breaks the aging problem down into seven major classes of damage and identifies detailed approaches to addressing each one. A key aspect of SENS is that it can potentially extend healthy lifespan without limit, even though these repair processes will never be perfect, as the repair only needs to approach perfection rapidly enough to keep the overall level of damage below pathogenic levels. de Grey has termed this required rate of improvement of repair therapies "longevity escape velocity".
William B. Hurlbut is a physician and Consulting Professor at the Neuroscience Institute. After receiving his undergraduate and medical training at Stanford University, he completed postdoctoral studies in theology and medical ethics, studying with Robert Hamerton-Kelly, the Dean of the Chapel at Stanford, and subsequently with the Rev. Louis Bouyer of the Institut Catholique de Paris.
His primary areas of interest involve the ethical issues associated with advancing biomedical technology, the biological basis of moral awareness, and studies in the integration of theology and philosophy of biology. He is the author of numerous publications on science and ethics including the co-edited volume Altruism & Altruistic Love: Science, Philosophy & Religion in Dialogue and Science, Religion and Human Spirit. He is also co-chair of two interdisciplinary faculty projects at Stanford University, Becoming Human:The Evolutionary Origins of Spiritual, Religious, and Moral Awareness and Brain, Mind and Emergence.
In addition to teaching at Stanford, he has worked with NASA on project in Astrobiology and is a member of the Chemical and Biological Warfare working group at the Center for International Security and Cooperation. Since 2002 he has served on the President's Council on Bioethics. He is the author of Altered Nuclear Transfer, a proposed technological solution to the moral controversy over embryonic stem cell research.
Official Website: http://www.futuresalon.org/2007/06/science-and-eth.html
Added by finnern on June 25, 2007