Futurists, life extension advocates, transhumanists and others have been speaking for several decades already about the possibility, desirability, and broader consequences of significantly extending the human healthy lifespan. In this vision, the deteriorating effects of infirmity and old age could be radically postponed, and perhaps abolished altogether, via improvements in regenerative biotechnology.
Forget "70 is the new 50". We might have the possibility of "150 is the new 50". And alongside the existing booming cosmetics industry, with huge amounts spent to reduce the visible signs of aging, we might envision a booming rejuvenation industry, reversing the actual underlying biochemical damage that constitutes aging.
Recently, the pace of change in the field of healthy life extension seems to have increased: almost every day there are reports of possible breakthrough treatment methods, unexpected experimental results, new economic analyses of demographic changes, and innovative theoretical ideas. It's hard to keep up with all these reports.
How can we evaluate this flurry of change?
Held in conjunction with the UN International Day of Older People (http://www.longecity.org/forum/topic/72013-promoting-longevity-research-on-october-1-%E2%80%93-the-international-day-of-older-persons/) (which occurs each year on 1st October), this event brings together a panel of expert speakers - William Bains, Michael Price, Alex Zhavoronkov, and Sebastian Sethe - who will each give their assessment of "what's new in the field of old age":
• What are some of the most significant research findings and other potential breakthroughs from the last five years?
• What is the likelihood of significant practical change in healthy longevity within, say, the next 10-20 years?
• What would be the economic, social, and psychological implications of such changes?
• Are there any new grounds for scepticism or fear regarding these potential changes?
• If individuals wish to help accelerate these changes, what should they do?
• What are the major obstacles that could prevent real progress being made?
2pm-4pm, Saturday 27th September 2014.
Venue: Room B04, Birkbeck College (http://www.bbk.ac.uk/maps), Torrington Square WC1E 7HX, London.
Room B04 is on the Basement floor in the main Birkbeck College building, in Torrington Square (which is a pedestrian-only square). Torrington Square is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations.
Coffee and other light refreshments can be purchased from the Costa Coffee shop in the reception area of the building, either ahead of or after the meeting.
The event will be followed by a chance to continue the discussion in a nearby pub - The Marlborough Arms (http://www.taylor-walker.co.uk/pub-food/marlborough-arms-bloomsbury/pid-C7440), 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ.
About the speakers:
William Bains is a scientist, entrepreneur and teacher in the life sciences. He is an associate faculty member for the Cambridge University course in MBE (Master of Bioscience Enterprise) and a visiting scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
William is the author of the 2008 book "Venture Capital and the European Biotechnology Industry", http://www.amazon.co.uk/Venture-Capital-European-Biotechnology-Industry/dp/0230217192/ , which takes a hard look at why do so many European biotechnology companies fail.
For more details, see http://www.williambains.co.uk/.
Michael Price has been involved in UK cryonics, extropianism, longevity research, and futurism for 30 years.
Michael trained as a physicist and has a BSc and MSc from Imperial College, London, where he studied unified field theories.
Michael will give reasons for not expecting much progress with healthy life extension (in supplements, mainstream medicine, or SENS) in the next 10, 20 or so years (i.e. ahead of a potential Technological Singularity), but will argue that there is more we can do to improve our health and longevity in the meantime than most people realise.
Alex Zhavoronkov is a scientist working in biotechnology, regenerative medicine and aging economics. He is the director of the Biogerontology Research Foundation, a UK-based think tank for aging research, and is the director of the International Aging Research Portfolio, open-access repository of biomedical grants". He is the adjunct professor at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and heads the laboratory of regenerative medicine at the Federal Clinical Research Center for Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Immunology in Moscow.
Alex earned two bachelor degrees at Queen's University in computer science and commerce. He has a masters in biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University, and a PhD in physics and mathematics from Moscow State University.
He is the author of the 2013 book "The Ageless Generation: How Advances in Biomedicine Will Transform the Global Economy", http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Ageless-Generation-Biomedicine-ebook/dp/B00BU3SV52/.
Alex is the co-founder and CEO of Insilico Medicine, a company dedicated to drug discovery for cancer and aging, located at the Emerging Technology Centers of the Johns Hopkins University. For more details, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Zhavoronkov.
Sebastian Caliban Sethe has worked in legal, regulatory and ethical issues with a focus on regenerative medicine for over ten years. His PhD (law) focussed on innovation governance of life extending technologies. Mainly based in London, he routinely advises clinicians, academics, industry stakeholders and policy makers on biomedical innovation across the EU.
Sebastian is chairman of LongeCity.org, a grass-roots non-profit organisation which has provided a forum for discussions and information exchange about life extension since 2002.
For more details, see http://www.longecity.org/ .
Covering meeting costs:
A small fee (£5) is payable to attend this meetup. This fee covers room costs. Please pay in advance, online.
This will be refunded if the meeting is cancelled or rearranged, or if the attendee cancels at least 3 days before the meetup.
Alternatively, if there are still seats available, payment can be made in cash at the door on the day. (Requesting payment in advance assists with accurate planning of the event.)
Journalists are welcome to attend the meeting free-of-charge - please contact the organiser, notifying us in advance of your plans to attend.
Members of Longecity (http://www.longecity.org/) are also welcome to attend the meeting free-of-charge, provided you contact the organiser by the day before the event, giving your name.