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September 14, 2009

Aubrey de Grey now calls Actuarial Escape Velocity, the Methuselarity

Fighting Aging reports that Aubrey de Grey has a new term for actual escape velocity, Methuselarity

A recent issue of Studies in Health Technology and Informatics includes a number of interesting papers on longevity science, or that relate to developing the tools and research community to enable engineered longevity. You might start with an essay by Aubrey de Grey, in which he coins a new term for an aspect what has in the past been called actuarial escape velocity - the point at which steadily increasing life expectancy rises by more than one year with each passing year:

Aging, being a composite of innumerable types of molecular and cellular decay, will be defeated incrementally. I have for some time predicted that this succession of advances will feature a threshold, which I here christen the 'Methuselarity,' following which there will actually be a progressive decline in the rate of improvement in our anti-aging technology that is required to prevent a rise in our risk of death from age-related causes as we become chronologically older. Various commentators have observed the similarity of this prediction to that made by Good, Vinge, Kurzweil and others concerning technology in general (and, in particular, computer technology), which they have termed the 'singularity.' In this essay I compare and contrast these two concepts.

At present, life expectancy is increasing at about one year for every five years that pass - only 20% of what is needed to keep our expected remaining years of life increasing at the same speed with which we age. That said, it is worth remembering that life expectancy is a statistical construct based on past data - it is a helpful measure of progress, but not necessarily an indication of where we are now. I suspect it lags present medical advances, for example, because their effects on mortality rate might not show up for a decade or more.


The Singularity and the Methuselarity: Similarities and Differences

Aging, being a composite of innumerable types of molecular and cellular decay, will be defeated incrementally. I have for some time predicted that this succession of advances will feature a threshold, which I here christen the “Methuselarity,” following which there will actually be a progressive decline in the rate of improvement in our anti-aging technology that is required to prevent a rise in our risk of death from age-related causes as we become chronologically older. Various commentators have observed the similarity of this prediction to that made by Good, Vinge, Kurzweil and others concerning technology in general (and, in particular, computer technology), which they have termed the “singularity.” In this essay I compare and contrast these two concepts.




Wikipedia on actuarial escape velocity.

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