Aubrey de Grey debates the goal of defeating aging entirely

Aubrey de Grey will propose the motion ‘This house wants to defeat aging entirely’ and Professor Colin Blakemore will be opposing. The debate will be chaired and moderated by Professor Sir Richard Peto. This debate will address whether it is feasible and appropriate to consider aging as a target of decisive medical intervention, raising the possibility of substantial extension of human lifespan.

Aubrey de Grey is currently Chief Science Officer of SENS Foundation, a biomedical research charity that aims to develop, promote, and ensure widespread access to rejuvenation biotechnologies that address the diseases and disabilities of aging. SENS Foundation aims to bring aging under comprehensive medical control. Its research agenda consists of the application of regenerative medicine to ageing – not merely slowing the ageing clock, but resetting it to early adulthood.

Colin Blakemore is Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Oxford Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences. He is an expert in vision, development of the brain and neurodegenerative disease. He is active in communication of science and is president and adviser to several charities concerned with brain disorders. Prof. Blakemore was formerly Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council, the UK’s largest public funder of biomedical research.

The main part of the debate starts at about 10 minutes.

Aubreys opponent has the usual arguments. Humanity cannot defeat aging, because we have tried before and failed. We should not try to defeat aging because living too long will be bad for the environment and overpopulation.

Colin also brought up the need to get rid of nuclear weapons and fight climate change.


The US alone spends over $4 billion per year fighting global warming and that does not include the cost of implementing new clean energy sources or remediating cars and other buildings which will cost trillions. How will not spending $100 million per year to fight aging make a material difference with those problems ? How does not spending $100 million fighting aging get rid of any nuclear weapons ? Would the logic work the same as not funding cancer research at Harvard until there were no handguns in Boston ?

Strong action against carbon dioxide will cost trillions of dollars and takes over 50 years to have an impact.

More immediate impact by against against soot and methane mainly in the developing world. (United nations study)

(Action on short term climate forcers)

Fight indoor air pollution. Get no soot cookers to the poor. Stop slash and burn agriculture.
Get a half degree to a full degree of reduced temperature increase over 30-50 years.

Costs a few tens of billions for initial half a degree and then hundreds of billions to do the soot remediation on cars, industry and buildings.

How does this good priority global project what we should spend on medicine ? or anti-aging research ?
Is the UK going to pay for the no-soot cookers for India ?
How does it impact global charity funding ? Do we demand that the charity donations for local clothing for the poor be spent on more urgent global priorities ?

Do we demand that advertising and promotion asking for charity for some diseases be banned because we do not want charity dollars to be diverted from brain diseases or cancer diseases to lupus ?

It mainly came down to the fear/boogy man of the long term population situation.

Well people eating right, exercising and not smoking would add 10-14 years to lifespan. There is the real possibility of significant success over the decade or two against cancer (cheap early detection and treatment) and against heart disease which could add 5-10 years to lifespan. Should those treatments and research be banned ?

There is various work to boost crop yields by 50 to 100% over the 2-4 decades Yield can increase by 15-25% per decade.

Also, it is the case that meat uses 4-10 times the grain to produce the same amount of cow meat.
So, are we saying that we have to let grandma and grandpa die so that the family can eat meat ?
One if that were somehow the rationing choice of a fixed amount of resources per extended family then my family would choose to ration and share the resources to feed the grandparents. Of course we would not need to ration food because we have an abundance of excess spending.

If we had to ration to allow the older people in our family to not be forced to die then we would do so and work towards building the more efficient cities, buildings,
vehicles, and agriculture to support the population.

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