Aubrey de Grey has set himself a simple task. The 54-year-old cofounder of the SENS Research Foundation wants to end biological aging for good. So sure is he of his mission, he proclaims the first human being to live to the age of 1,000 has already been born. De Grey believes that, within the next 20 years or so, scientists will finally solve one of humanity’s greatest problems.
“The fact is, aging kills 110,000 people worldwide every fucking day,” de Grey said at a Virtual Futures event attended by Inverse in London on Wednesday, in a conversation with group director Luke Robert Mason. “It doesn’t just kill them. You have to take into account all the suffering that comes before.”
Through his foundation, de Grey is working to solve seven types of aging damage that he believes are the key to a breakthrough. These are tissue atrophy, cancerous cells, mitochondrial mutations, death-resistant cells, extracellular matrix stiffening, extracellular aggregates, and intracellular aggregates. It may sound like a complex salad of jargon, but de Grey claims that because science has an understanding of how to fix all these damages, aging can end for good.
“It unequivocally causes far more suffering than anything else that we have to experience,” de Grey said, “and contrary to the impression that most of humanity has forced itself into, it’s indeed a problem which is amenable through technological intervention.”
In the future, de Grey imagines humans will develop rejuvenation clinics to regularly combat these seven issues and send people on their way. These clinics may stay in the realm of the super-rich for a short time, but de Grey believes that a movement will very quickly form to bring these technologies to the general public.
“It will become impossible to get elected unless you have a manifesto commitment to have a real war on ageing,” de Grey said. “Not only in getting the therapy developed as quickly as possible, but also putting in place the infrastructure.”
De Grey dismisses the idea that any of this would be bad for the planet. As he sees it, the question of whether there’s too many people in the world is more an issue around whether our current technologies and consumption rates are destroying the environment. That, he said, is a reason for transitioning the world onto clean energy.
“The fact is, there is no such thing as overpopulation in an absolute sense,” de Grey said.
With the thousand-year-old human fast approaching, a transition to renewables can’t come soon enough.