Forever Young: Will we soon be immortal? A dream that will soon come true, believes José Luis Cordeiro. The futurist and transhumanist is researching eternal life and explains the technologies that could make it possible.
José, what is the biggest lesson you have recently learned?
Because of COVID-19, people understand now that the most important thing in our lives is our life. We need to remain healthy, we need to remain alive. COVID-19 is a very small pandemic compared to the bubonic plague for example. If we react so strongly to this small pandemic, we have to react even stronger to the mother of all pandemics and diseases – aging. If we stop aging, we stop heart trouble, cancer, Alzheimer's and many other diseases. The fight has to move from COVID-19 to aging.
Some experts in the field focus less on immortality, but rather on preventive medicine. What's your view on that?
I think we are very close to stop and reverse aging, and also, to cure all diseases. In the next 20 years, we will see more technological advances than in the last 2000 years. That's hard to understand, because we think linearly since we grew up in a linear world. But today, we live in exponential times with exponentially changing technologies. To give you an example: with the mRNA technology that has been used for many of the COVID-19 vaccines, scientists are now trying to develop new vaccines for cancer, malaria, and HIV. We will see incredible advances in the next few years. I am very optimistic.
"In fact, our biggest problem is human stupidity." - José Luis Cordeiro
Which technology will be dominant in the fight of aging?
We have a convergence of exponential technologies and everything will be put together with the help of artificial intelligence. AI is very important, since we have limited human intelligence. In fact, our biggest problem is human stupidity. We make many mistakes, don't communicate well, and have huge problems such as poverty, hunger, and diseases. With AI, we will become more enlightened and will be able to solve those issues - including aging.
AI seems to replicate human biases. How can it help us to be more enlightened in this way?
AI is learning from us, but it will also learning from other sources such as science per se. AI can also learn from different biases, and there are research groups working on open source AI and other possibilities. I am very excited about AI and not worried about it. I want to be more intelligent and if I cannot do it naturally, I will be happy to do it artificially.
Enhancing human intelligence … Could you paint a picture for us?
AI will allow us to communicate faster, to expand our memories, to acquire knowledge. Today, we are already similarly enhanced by cell phones, computers, or even electricity. Imagine our lives a couple of centuries ago without those things. In the future, we will be able to do much more with much less. We are moving from a time of scarcity into a time of abundance. And that is partly due to AI.
What will this look like on a physiological level for individuals?
Following one of the plans of Neuralink by Elon Musk, we will be connected to the cloud. We will basically be able to know everything, we will have Wikipedia and Google connected to our brain giving us immediate answers to almost anything. Additionally, we will have unlimited memories and speed connections. We will have incredible communication capabilities from brain to brain, which is very fast, efficient, and broadband – fantastic new possibilities. Speaking takes place at a narrow bandwidth, which is slow and inefficient.
In his books, Yuval Harari is speaking of the emergence of a new human race in this context. What's your take on that?
Yuval Harari is a very good historian, but he is not a very good futurist. He thinks linearly. He suggests that immortality will take a century or longer. Immortality, however, is within reach. Rejuvenation technologies will be available to everybody who is interested in the next two decades. It will be even faster than the adoption of mobile phones. Today, everybody in the world, even in the poorest parts of Africa or India, can have a cell phone, if they want one. When technologies begin, they are expensive and inefficient. Later, they get democratized, become inexpensive, and quickly, everybody has access to them. The same will happen to AI and rejuvenation technologies.
There are different approaches to gain immortality. Which one is promising in your opinion?
We will become immortal in at least two different ways. The first is hardware immortality. We will be able to replace and replicate our organs - by regenrative medicine, biotechnology, cloning, 3D printing, or moving them into cyborg bodies. The second is software immortality. We will connect our brains to the cloud and will be able to upload our minds into the cloud. That's fascinating. It will open new opportunities such as travelling faster and farther into space, because our biological bodies are not suitable for space travel today.
Let's talk about José as a human while he is still a human. What has brought you to the field of immortality?
I am an engineer and have always been excited about novel technologies. Additionally, I have always enjoyed life. And if I could live a longer and healthier life - why not? I have also learned about the existence of biologically immortal cells such as cancer or germ cells. These cells do not age and they didn't spend a single Euro to stop aging, nor did they go to school. Today, we have scientists, engineers, and investors putting billions of dollars and all their knowledge into rejuvenation technologies. And there are small organisms like hydras, medusas and the immortal jellyfish that don´t age either. Nature proves that immortality is possible, in fact, it already exists. We only need to replicate nature`s mechanisms and improve them. We are still learning. The 2012 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded for the discovery of genes that can accelerate, stop, or reverse aging. This discovery was made only recently, we will discover much more in the coming years. I believe in a synergy and convergence of new technologies that will give us many surprises. Normally we talk about four major NBIC technologies: nano, bio, info, and cogno. This NBIC convergence will change everything.
Do you have a personal routine to keep yourself young until immortality will be available?
My friend Ray Kurzweil talks about three bridges to immortality. Bridge 1 covers the 2010s and represents the things that your mother has told you: eat well, sleep well, exercise, meditate, don't drink too much, don’t smoke, etc. I have tried all of it. Currently, we are at the beginning of Bridge 2 during the 2020s, thanks to the exponential advances in biotechnology. We are discovering the potential of new drugs and treatments such as Senolytics, Metformin, or Rapamycin. Bridge 3 uses nanotechnology and will be achieved in the 2030s. By 2045 at the latest, we will be able to become immortal using AI and all the other exponential tecnologies that will help us to rejuvenate. If we stay alive for a couple of more decades, we will live long enough to live forever.
Since I am in my mid-30s, does it make sense to keep up with my extreme fitness routines?
We need to stay healthy, fit, and positive as much as we can. It is important to do all the things necessary defined by Bridge 1 to stay in good physical condition. We are between the last mortal generation and the first immortal generation, where do you want to be?