Can Your Body Be Hacked to Achieve Radical Longevity?
Could humans someday live to be 1,000 years old? Life extension and radical longevity are rising topics of conversation among futurist circles... and wealthy tech entrepreneurs are listening.
Could humans someday live to be 1,000 years old? Life extension is a rising topic of conversation among futurist circles (including several prominent Big Think experts). What's important now is that wealthy tech entrepreneurs are beginning to listen and the promise of major potential breakthroughs in the coming decade has their ears ever-widening. Christian Borys writes over at The Daily Beast about several current projects in place that hope to achieve what is commonly called radical longevity:
"One of the new leaders of the movement is Joon Yun, a hedge fund manager who has created a $1 million prize called the Palo Alto prize to initiate the development of breakthroughs in the science of human longevity. Instead of accepting that humans all have to die by the age of 120, he wants people to consider the possibility of maintaining the wellness of our 20s far past our 120s. In other words, he believes we can be as healthy in old age as we are in youth."
Yun's focus is on homeostatic research. You're likely familiar with the concept of homeostasis. If not, Borys explains:
"Homeostasis is like a control system for the human body and as you age, this control system naturally erodes. It’s like an old engine that gradually loses strength, until one day, it stops working."
If you think of homeostasis like the utilities that feed a house: As a house ages, the pipes begin to rust, wires fray, and suddenly your radiator decides it doesn't want to work anymore. What Yun wants is a way to maintain upkeep of the body's utilities so that everything still works at 100 like it did at age 20.
Meanwhile, Borys writes that The Singularity is Near author Ray Kurzweil shares this sense of optimism:
"Kurzweil says scientists have the opportunity to work on the fundamental structure of the body in the same way that an engineer can develop software. Armed with genetic code, scientists may have the ability to reprogram humans."
Another Big Think expert quoted in the piece is Aubrey de Grey of the SENS research foundation, who argues that doubters of radical longevity fail to see aging and death as medical issues that can be cured.
While the above is all tremendously intriguing, the theory and pursuit of radical longevity remains a contentious issue within scientific communities. Here's Borys again:
"However, many scientists do not agree with de Grey and are quite vocal about it. Dr. Richard Miller, who has a Ph.D. in Human Genetics from Yale, has been critical of de Grey’s work for quite sometime. Miller, along with many colleagues, published a scathing review of de Grey. In it writing that 'the idea that a research programme organized around the SENS agenda will not only retard ageing, but also reverse it — creating young people from old ones — and do so within our lifetime, is so far from plausible that it commands no respect at all within the informed scientific community.'
That said, there are still plenty of innovative minds at work toward or invested in achieving life extension. Venture capital trickles in here and there — the SENS research foundation has a modest though not insignificant $5 million annual budget — but the promise of potential breakthroughs in the coming decade would almost certainly mean more investment in this type of work. As with many fascinating ideas explored on Big Think, all that we can really do is wait and see.
Read more at The Daily Beast.
In the video below, futurist and tech entrepreneur Peter Diamandis discusses efforts in gene sequencing that could one day make 100 years old the new 60.
Photo credit: Vahan Abrahamyan / Shutterstock
Why self-control makes your life better, and how to get more of it.
(Photo by Geem Drake/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
- Research demonstrates that people with higher levels of self-control are happier over both the short and long run.
- Higher levels of self-control are correlated with educational, occupational, and social success.
- It was found that the people with the greatest levels of self-control avoid temptation rather than resist it at every turn.
Ready your Schrödinger's Cat Jokes.
- For a time, quantum computing was more theory than fact.
- That's starting to change.
- New quantum computer designs look like they might be scalable.
Quantum computing has existed in theory since the 1980's. It's slowly making its way into fact, the latest of which can be seen in a paper published in Nature called, "Deterministic teleportation of a quantum gate between two logical qubits."
To ensure that we're all familiar with a few basic terms: in electronics, a 'logic gate' is something that takes in one or more than one binary inputs and produces a single binary output. To put it in reductive terms: if you produce information that goes into a chip in your computer as a '0,' the logic gate is what sends it out the other side as a '1.'
A quantum gate means that the '1' in question here can — roughly speaking — go back through the gate and become a '0' once again. But that's not quite the whole of it.
A qubit is a single unit of quantum information. To continue with our simple analogy: you don't have to think about computers producing a string of information that is either a zero or a one. A quantum computer can do both, simultaneously. But that can only happen if you build a functional quantum gate.
That's why the results of the study from the folks at The Yale Quantum Institute saying that they were able to create a quantum gate with a "process fidelity" of 79% is so striking. It could very well spell the beginning of the pathway towards realistic quantum computing.
The team went about doing this through using a superconducting microwave cavity to create a data qubit — that is, they used a device that operates a bit like a organ pipe or a music box but for microwave frequencies. They paired that data qubit with a transmon — that is, a superconducting qubit that isn't as sensitive to quantum noise as it otherwise could be, which is a good thing, because noise can destroy information stored in a quantum state. The two are then connected through a process called a 'quantum bus.'
That process translates into a quantum property being able to be sent from one location to the other without any interaction between the two through something called a teleported CNOT gate, which is the 'official' name for a quantum gate. Single qubits made the leap from one side of the gate to the other with a high degree of accuracy.
Above: encoded qubits and 'CNOT Truth table,' i.e., the read-out.
The team then entangled these bits of information as a way of further proving that they were literally transporting the qubit from one place to somewhere else. They then analyzed the space between the quantum points to determine that something that doesn't follow the classical definition of physics occurred.
They conclude by noting that "... the teleported gate … uses relatively modest elements, all of which are part of the standard toolbox for quantum computation in general. Therefore ... progress to improve any of the elements will directly increase gate performance."
In other words: they did something simple and did it well. And that the only forward here is up. And down. At the same time.
These modern-day hermits can sometimes spend decades without ever leaving their apartments.
- A hikikomori is a type of person in Japan who locks themselves away in their bedrooms, sometimes for years.
- This is a relatively new phenomenon in Japan, likely due to rigid social customs and high expectations for academic and business success.
- Many believe hikikomori to be a result of how Japan interprets and handles mental health issues.
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