There will be no one technological breakthrough that achieves this. It will be achieved by a combination of regenerative therapies that repair all the different molecular and cellular degenerative components of aging.
I estimate that the Methuselarity* will be reached with medicines that get people to live 30 years longer than they otherwise would, i.e. that push the maximum lifespan out to 150. There will be a small "cusp" - a small period when we can get people to 150 but no further - and that will translate into a small number of people who reach 150 but still die of old age because we couldn't QUITE rejuvenate them fast enough. So the first person to reach 150 will almost certainly not reach 200. But the first person to reach 200 will have a pretty good chance of reaching 1000.
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David Brin is pessimistic about significant life extension without solving one of the major technological challenges.
All advances to date have involved allowing ever-greater percentages of humanity to hit the "wall" at age 100, and maybe coast a few years beyond. Getting beyond that will require either;
1) THOROUGH nanotechnology, applied down at the INTRA-cellular level, or
2) genetic recoding to enhance repair capabilities in new ways (good news for our great grandchildren, maybe, or
3) gradual replacement of failing parts and systems with prosthetics, or
David Brin has written a longer article on his views on aging and immortality.
He seems to believe that tissue engineering, organ replacement and stem cell therapies will be too expensive even if they were to be successful in radical life extension.
Cynthia Kenyon, a scientist who directs the Hillblom Center for the Biology of Aging at the University of California, San Francisco is looking for genes that control aging, and by manipulating a single gene in worms, the altered worm took two days to age, as opposed to one for normal worms.
"People who live to 100 have these gene mutations, which means there is something we can push on," Kenyon says. She thinks its time to go after the underlying cause of many diseases, which is aging, and see if we can't slow the process in humans the ways she did in the lab with worms. "Aging is a way bigger risk factor for cancer than smoking," she says. "Like an old car, we just wear out."
She got some push-back on the panel about her enthusiasm for unlocking the mystery of aging, and how realistic that might be. She pointed out that there are turtles and fish that live to be 200. "They may not be able to play the piano, but they have sophisticated internal systems, and they live way longer than we do," she said.
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