> > 1) When do you expect medicine to become available to significantly
> > extend the human life span?
> Medicine *now* extends the human life span. In those places which do
> not have medicine, the human life span is significanltly shorter than in
> places which have access to cutting edge medical technology.
Correct, life span in developed countries almost doubled in the
last century. Though I think there may be some question as
to the sources of that. In particular, I think Robin Hanson
has done some analysis that suggested you couldn't tie the
extension directly to improved health care. I'm not sure if
it is written up however.
> > 2) When do you expect the techniques for near-immortality to arrive?
> > From what I have read, it seems like this will come from nanotechnology's
> > mature stages.
> Yes, nanomedicine is the best bet for significant life extension and
> anti-aging treatments.
I disagree. I think we can get many of the benefits nanotechnology
promises with advanced biotechnology.
Some things I'm expecting this decade:
a) Tying most major diseases to their genetic polymorphisms (or gene
combinations) that cause them.
b) Relatively inexpensive gene chip tests to allow you to be aware of
your polymorphism risk profile and take preventive measures.
c) Rationally designed drugs, radioimmunotherapy, angiogenesis and
telomerase inhibitors to take a big stick to cancer.
d) Some of the first real anti-aging drugs -- Alteon's Alt-411
being the first example, and Simon Melov's antioxidant enzyme
mimics (also being worked on by Oxis, MetaPhore Pharmaceutical,
Centaur Pharmaceuticals, etc.)
e) A reasonable chance for growing replacment organs from your own
f) The development of more robust gene therapy methods that allow you
to patch genomes with at first a few and eventually hundreds of genes.
Those should buy you a pretty big increase -- perhaps 10-50 years.
If we ultimately figure out what "aging" is (f) might allow us to
significantly slow it down.
So I don't think we are going to require robust molecular nanotechnology
(of the type required to construct nanorobots) to make significant
progress on aging.
> A book by that title has recently been published, [snip]
The real advantage of nanorobot based nanomedicine is that it
will allow you to develop much better diagnostic methods
(detecting cancers very early), allow you to work around
mis-programming of our geneitc program (e.g. the septic shock
resulting from an overreaction of the immune system during
bacteremia [bacteria in the blood]), and develop systems that
would augment the body sufficiently that you can survive
what otherwise would be unsurvivable events (e.g. respirocytes
that would allow you to survive heart failures of 15-30 minutes).
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