The paper, which was based on two international lists of the world’s oldest people, has created a controversy. On statistical grounds, it was dismissed as “a travesty” by German demographer James Vaupel. And gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, who has been working for years on rejuvenation biotechnologies, told Nataure News: “The result in this paper is absolutely correct, but it says nothing about the potential of future medicine, only the performance of today’s and yesterday’s medicine.”
De Grey believes that it is possible for people to be effectively immortal – or at least to live long enough so that they will be killed by a lightning bolt rather than by old age. He envisages lifespans of over 1000 years. Other scientists are lobbying to have ageing classified as a disease rather than as a life event. In other words, death would be treated as a medical failure than as something natural and expected.
Immortality is an obsession in Silicon Valley. Russian businessman Dmitry Itskov, is determined to celebrate his 10,000th birthday; Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, says that a passive acceptance of mortality is “incomprehensible,” and Google has launched a venture to “cure death” called Callico.
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BioEdge: Is immortality just a pipe dream?