August 08, 2003



Seven Questions with Aubrey de Grey

This week's special guest, Aubrey de Grey, answers the Seven Questions about the Future.

  1. The present is the future relative to the past. What's the best thing about living here in the future?

    For me, there's nothing different about living in the future than in the present in terms of desires. I don't want to live longer in order to be able to do things we can't do yet — go to Mars, that sort of thing. I want to live longer so that I can carry on doing what I already enjoy about life today.

  2. What's the biggest disappointment?

    Disappointment about living in the future? I guess I don't really understand the question. As humanity becomes more in control of our environment, we'll have more choices to live how we want to live, so ideally there should be no disappointments. Things may go badly wrong of course — but nothing is certain to go wrong.

  3. What future development that you consider likely (or inevitable) do you look forward to with the most anticipation?

    The development of engineered negligible senescence, of course!

  4. Assuming you live to be 100, what will be the biggest difference be between the world you were born into and the world you leave?

    Um, do you mean if I die aged 100? I fully intend not to leave the world at such a paltry age. But even if I died aged 100, that's still 60 years away — far too long to be able to make such predictions. Hmm, well, in 60 years we'll definitely have aging under complete control — I guess it would be difficult to imagine a bigger difference than that.

  5. What future development that you consider likely (or inevitable) do you dread the most?

    None, really — I think that all the bad future developments that we might experience are ones that we should be able to avoid, so none of them qualifies as likely. Hey, I'm an optimist, okay?

  6. Assuming you have the ability to determine (or at least influence) the future, what future development that you consider unlikely (or are uncertain about) would you most like to help bring about?

    That's another hard one, because I tend to find that anything I want to bring about is something that plenty of other people also want, so it's not a matter of whether the development would happen but when. If you allow "expedite" as well as "bring about", the answer is of course the same as above, the development of engineered negligible senescence.

  7. Why is it that in the year 2003 I still don't have a flying car? When do you think I'll be able to get one?

    You don't have one because it's very hard to build something that fits the bill — fast, safe, affordable. "Safe" is probably the hardest. When will they become available: I suspect never, in fact, because quite soon we will know that the end of aging is on the way, and the consequences in terms of increased risk-aversion will be so great that there won't ever be a market for things that risky. In theory they might eventually be risky only for people on the ground, not for the occupants, but that's quite enough: back in 1999 I predicted that, once we cure aging, driving (even on the ground!) will be outlawed as too dangerous for others. Remember also that when we have so many more years ahead of us, we won't need to be in such a hurry all the time, so flying cars would only be for recreation anyway.


(What's the deal with these seven questions?)

Posted by Phil at August 8, 2003 05:38 AM | TrackBack
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