Ray Kurzweil Predicted Simulated Biology is a Path to Longevity Escape Velocity

There is a lot of reports that Ray Kurzweil predicted immortality will be achieved by 2030. Here is the section of the September, 2022 interview with Lex Fridman where Ray talked about Longevity Escape velocity starting around 2030.

His belief is based upon going all in with rapidly improving AI to speed the advance of antiaging medicine. I get to the specifics of Ray’s beliefs and statements and the actual work of applying AI to accelerate drug discovery and progress with antiaging work.

Demis Hassabis and Deep Mind developed Alphafold to solve protein folding. This is the leading edge of AI for accelerate drug discovery.

The significance of AlphaFold
AlphaFold has demonstrated significant progress in tackling the protein-folding problem. Hassabis shared, “Prior to us entering the field with AlphaFold 1 in 2018, and then AlphaFold 2 in 2020, if we look at the decade of progress before that, from 2006 to 2016, on the previous CASP editions, you can see that essentially there’d been no progress for pretty much a decade.”

AlphaFold, a system capable of predicting protein structures with remarkable accuracy, could have far-reaching implications for the future of drug discovery and development. Hassabis believes that this groundbreaking technology will usher in a new era of digital biology, saying, “AlphaFold, I think, is that proof of concept.” He added that the system promises to herald “the dawn of a new era of what we like to refer to as ‘digital biology.’”

AlphaFold is not the only system from a tech company focused on proteins. Scientists at Facebook’s parent Meta have also developed an AI language model known as ESMFold to predict the unknown structures of more than 600 million proteins pertaining to viruses, bacteria and other microbes. The researchers repurposed the model, first designed for decoding human languages, to make accurate predictions regarding proteins’ 3D structure.

Virtual Cell

Deepmind is also working on a number of other projects in chemistry and biology to expedite the drug discovery process. Hassabis envisions the development of a “virtual cell” that models all cellular dynamics and can be used to perform in silico experiments. This would streamline the research process, requiring wet lab validation only at the final stage.

Meta and Deepmind could both offer useful approaches. That is, ESMFold’s speed advantage could complement AlphaFold’s higher accuracy. Researchers could potentially use ESMFold for initial predictions or for large-scale projects, and then refine the results using AlphaFold for specific proteins of interest. This combination could optimize the research process and maximize the benefits of both models.

Breakthroughs like AlphaFold and ESMFold have the potential to catalyze progress drug discovery and other scientific fields, potentially helping usher in a new era in digital biology. Hassabis’ presentation showcased DeepMind’s ambitious vision, while stressing the need for safety, responsibility and ethics in AI development.

A Virtual Cell could be achieved by 2030 and it could speed up some work. It could then be expanded to virtual organs and then virtual bodies for fast virtual clinical trials.

Ray believes there is an accelerating pace of technology and the growing power of AI is now widely accepted. The biotechnology revolution has arrived and has begun to radically change the way medical problems are solved. As these concepts become reality, the question of whether we want to live forever is becoming less theoretical and more real. Here is an excerpt from that Singularity University Alumni conversation.

Ray on Simulating Biology – Applying AI to Biology
Ray said — We are now applying AI to life extension. We’re actually simulating biology, so we can now do tests with simulated biology. Take the Moderna vaccine for example. They actually tested several billion different mRNA sequences and found ones that could create a vaccine. They did this in three days and that was the vaccine. They then spent ten months testing it on humans, but it never changed. It remained the same and it’s the same today. Ultimately, we won’t need to test on humans. We will be able to test on a million simulated humans which will be much better than testing on a few hundred real humans.

It is good that we had the vaccine otherwise many more people would have died. I’m not saying we’re there yet but we are beginning to simulate biology and ultimately we’ll find solutions to all the problems we have in medicine using simulated biology. So, we’ve just begun. I think we’ll see that being very prominent by the end of this decade. But people have to want to live forever. If they avoid solutions to problems then they won’t take advantage of these advances. So we’ll have the opportunity, but that doesn’t mean everybody will do it.

18 thoughts on “Ray Kurzweil Predicted Simulated Biology is a Path to Longevity Escape Velocity”

  1. Human longevity 6 times that of dogs has already reached its possible maximum.
    Nobody sems able to explain how we increased our long longevity in the old past.

    • Based on our size, and as mammals, humans should probably live about 25 years. But we are descended from tree dwellers, who typically live at least twice as long as ground dwellers because, frankly, being eaten less often makes longer lifespans useful in the evolutionary way.

      Additionally, domesticating a wild animal tends to double its lifespan and, unless someone here actually was raised by wolves, we are all domesticated.

      So, double 25 for being a tree dweller and that gets you to 50, double that again for being domesticated and, voila, we have 130 pound humans living as long or longer than 13,000 pound elephants.

      There is still room for improvement. Due to massive repairs and ruthless culling we have populations of cells in our own bodies that are immortal. They are the ones involved in sex and they are why our children are not already old when they are born.

      Nature, through evolution, being oh so practical, decided that the cost of extending this protection to all the cells in our bodies was prohibitive and stopped doing it for most cells. So it only kept doing it for the ones it absolutely had to and we have the system we have now, where everything else gets discarded every so often. But what we see as ourselves is part of that disposable part, and the metabolic cost of having to maintain it all would now longer be deal-breaker for most of us. So we are starting to tinker . . .

      Consider that unicellular organisms that reproduce by splitting don’t get old, if they each believed themselves to be the original, they would think they were immortal. This is because they are biologically immortal. Since we evolved from unicellular organisms then our own cells were all once the same way. Evolution sacrificed this to make us more efficient, but now that “we” exist we are ready to say that being less efficient is a price we are willing to pay for regaining biological immortality.

  2. A star-ship traveling at close to light-speed would have nearly (not quite) infinite mass relative to its point of departure. What effect will that have on the universe?

  3. AI is going to save us. So don’t stop training large LLMs. Disconnect them from the internet
    if you are afraid. Close them in a foolproof vault. Let’s throw in all the hardware that we can, and see what abilities emerge.

  4. Reprogramming genetic code is possible. After all DNA is a database with data and a program how cells and other structures should develop, behave.

  5. I imagine these will come from the same vein of research LLMs emerged: transformer or similar NNs applied to all the data we have and can muster about cell’s biology, the more types of cells and data, the better.

    The resulting models will be necessarily humongous, making anything we have now look like a toy, but affordable for humanity a few years hence.

    Hoping that we can ask the for magical formulas that we can apply to the cells and organs, trying to understand and reverse the ravages of aging.

    Not sure it will succeed, but it surely will be able to create some terrific poisons (AI can do that now) and lethal viruses, given it’s much easier to kill than to keep something alive, even more forever.

  6. It depends on machine learning and later Ai progression. Hopefully it will be available for everyone and not just the rich ones.

    Things can happen faster than anticipated or not if progress will hit plateau.

    • Given we share the same biology with the rich -as of yet-, I don’t see why anything they learn won’t be universally applicable for making remedies for all humans.

      If you mean distributing them to everyone, it will be foolish to invent any barriers for sharing it commercially or otherwise.

      We barely tolerate there are billionaires because we all share the same frail human nature. they get old and die just as much as the lowliest pauper. If billionaires start becoming forever young and immortal, we will be facing a “nothing to lose” revolt the likes we have never seen.

      • I still don’t think that all the knowledge may be shared in altruistic sense.

        Access to healthcare and medical treatments is not equally distributed. This means that the rich have access to medical treatments that are not available to the general population. Same things may apply to age extension.

        There may be resentment, but not necessary the revolt, because the rich have more power, means to control the media, others to their ends.

        I can’t say how will things turn out, who knows.

        • The ‘trickle-down’ effect is the best way to distribute technology and services. It is almost always the case that a product/ service has to be scaled up -at least- to be more cost competitive and that takes time to industrialize/ optimize. By the way, if we force producers to only distribute that which can be made available to everyone simultaneously or don’t do it – it won’t be done or it will go black market. You can’t force equality on the smart people who make great things happen or they will refuse to participate – Ayn Rand-style. Besides, I am not sure that it matters ‘who got it first’ – seems like BHL-anarchy.

          I remember the legend of the ‘dis-satisfied Equalists’: likely just an anecdote:
          A drug costs $200 each and takes 20 days to distribute with the existing infrastructure. It is most effective at 5 days, very effective at 15 days (likely a gradient), and ineffective at 40 days. For the most part, everyone diagnosed gets it at 20 to 25 days, therefore fairly effective.
          A group of rich people say they will pump $1B into the system, effectively $1000 for each of them only, to improve distribution. From this, the rich people will jump the line and all of them only receive it at 3 – 5 days, while allowing the improved system to get it to everyone else in 12 to 15 days, an obvious improvement. The Equalists don’t care, they block the infusion, insisting that All get it from 12 to 15 days. Ther rich people decline. Is this the world preferred?

  7. There’s a huge difference between immortality in 2030, and the tools to attain it in 2030. But it seems with enough biological knowledge we could actually roll back some of the critical effects of aging, to buy people like me time for the real cures.

    Looks like it might be going down to the wire for people in my generation.

    • Concur completely, Brett.

      It was about 15 years back, I think, when either Aubrey de Grey or Kurzweil adjusted an earlier prediction out to 2045 as being the year which, if you could make it there, you might someday see your one thousandth birthday.

      Seems like the past fifty years or so I’ve been aware that my life has been racing towards what might be a photo-finish race with this kind of technology.

      The margin might be so close that it makes one wonder. The same way you might wonder why the universe is seemingly flat, so perfectly balanced, between open and closed that we’ve never been quite sure. Maybe it has to be flat for us to be here, despite that seemingly being one chance in an infinite number.

      Then there is this story I think I read back in the 80s, over 40 years ago. The Ultimate Anthropic Principle by Edmund Wood, and I think it was in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. I’ll quote the tail end of the story below.
      Fritz is gone, but I’m still here. And as long as it is theoretically possible for my mind to continue to observe the universe, it will do so.

      But that brings me to you.

      Ever wonder why you were born when you were? What I mean is, why now, of all possible times? Why not back in the Old West, or when knights and crusades were all the big deal? Why not in biblical times, or when there were cavemen?

      The answer is that only now, with genetic engineering and computers and cryogenics and all those other complicated things, only now do you have a chance of not having to die. You hear it, now and then, from big-domed philosophers of science. “This may be the first generation that never needs to die.”

      Well, maybe not the generation, but I’m not talking about generations. Not about groups. Not about anybody but one person. You.

      Think about the times you might have died. Rock climbing in summer camp, when you slipped and almost went over the edge. Swimming, when you came up under the pier and damn near drowned. In traffic, when the car bore down on you, but you jumped back out of the way just in time. You didn’t even spill your ice cream. The time you touched the electric outlet and got that weird buzzing sensation through your fingers and wrist halfway up to your elbow.

      You didn’t die. Naturally you didn’t. Do you have any idea, for sure, that you can die?

      Did you think this was my story?

      And, of course, such a principle does not invite one to test it, not least of all because it does not imply any sort of immunity to pain, or being permanently maimed.

      • You are not the first person I see talking as if there was some specialness on the lives they are living, and in the peculiar moment we are passing through. Some even go as far as declaring the simulation true, and them as the protagonists.

        I don’t think so. We have the main roles of our lives because we are alive, but that’s it. Once it’s over, it’s over.

        But I concur this nerve wrecking race towards the end of death has this peculiar scent of conspiracy.

      • The many worlds theory of quantum immortality: no matter how poor the odds of your living through the next second, in one of the infinity of realities branching out from now, you did. And what other universe could you observe?

        I’d need an awfully long string of absurd coincidences saving me before I’d believe that…

        • Yar, the problem being I don’t believe there really are an infinite number of world-lines, not even in potential. In theory, you could cut a loaf of bread into an infinite number of slices, but these slices wouldn’t really be slices of bread once they got below the thickness of the molecules, or much of anything at all once they got below the width of atoms.

          The granular (bubbly?) nature of reality suggests that the number of potential world-lines, rather than being truly infinite, may only be “nearly infinite” which still sounds pretty good, but every time you flip a coin you can cut that number in half and, eventually, there wouldn’t even be two left to be cut in half. And with all the uncountable billions of chemical reactions going on in the cells of your body that would all have to do flukish things on a continuous basis to keep you going past your time, I don’t believe any of us can expect to become something akin to the wandering Jew, even relative solely to ourselves, at least, not without a lot of scientific assistance.

      • I would say that at this stage – if One is checking out in the next 1 – 5 years, your best bet for some type of immortality is to have your head vitirifed at a reputable cryo place for $50k with a 1-in-10ish chance of them being able to retrieve a personality/ memory fragment in the next 20+ years, which could then be uploaded to and merged with an LLM to provide a type of interactive repository for your descendants and/or other interested parties to interact with. I forsee a type of ‘city of memories’ where people can chat with the 2020s ‘departed’ -or- of course, the hard-religious zealots may make any type of cryo or ‘unnatural’ life extension unlawful with immediate and total disposal of all entities and destruction of such knowledge.

        • Woah. the cryogenics industry is an unresolved legal morass. Ownership of the body? Time-out of coverage? Agreement to terminate on unsuccessful/ unsatisfactory resurrection? Family rights and protections? Perpetual funding? Relief due to negligence of the facility? Transfer to permanent facility on resurrection? Good article at FightAging on the process…

    • You are absolutely correct. Even if the technology to enable longevity escape velocity exists in 2030, the current system incentivizes an incremental, treatment-oriented approach to maximize long-term profits. The powers-that-be love to keep people dependent on expensive prescription drugs, most of which are me-too drugs of marginal benefit. But it doesn’t end there. There’s the whole intellectual property system, which is easily and legally gamed to further extend monopoly protection. And then you have the lobbying, and various political incentives that operate in near lockstep with the interests of big pharma/healthcare/insurance. If disruption is going to come, then it will come from the smaller up-and-comers.

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