CGP Grey: The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant

The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant is a call to action to bring aging under medical control.


There’s a good chance that ten or fifteen years from now, we’ll look back at this moment in history and realize that we were living through the beginning of a revolution, the first baby steps of what would eventually become a global movement. Maybe it’ll take longer, but just like it was for human flight, the unmistakable signs of the upcoming paradigm shift are all around us.

The tide is turning on aging research

If you are paying attention to the field of rejuvenation biotechnology, you’re noticing how more and more experts have dared to “come out” and speak of aging not only as a medical problem to be solved but also one that we might just be able to relegate to medical history books in the relatively near term; you’re noticing the technical progress, big and small; how the topic is moving from fringe to mainstream; how more people join the cause; and how previously dismissive and uninterested people now react to this change, either by disputing the feasibility or desirability of defeating aging.

Similar signs were visible at the dawn of the age of flying machines, including enthusiastic pioneers, harsh critics and skeptics, progress and setbacks, and increasing interest of the public; however, while disputing the feasibility of human flight was common, very few people went around saying that it wasn’t desirable and predicting that all manner of disaster would strike had we ever managed to get an airplane working.

In the age of information technology, one such sign of impending change is when popular content creators begin to show increasing interest in a previously largely neglected subject—which, with some luck, may, in turn, be just a preamble to the subject going viral. In the case of rejuvenation biotechnologies, the earliest of these signs are certainly the two videos Kurzgesagt created in collaboration with the Lifespan.io team in late 2017—“End Aging?” and “Cure Aging?”—as well as the plain-spoken “Why die?” by CGP Grey, who took the matter even further, criticizing not only the human acceptance of aging but the alleged necessity and desirability to “die at some point” altogether.

Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant animated

Showing remarkable interest, commitment, and even courage—given that such a bold stance on aging and death is regrettably still somewhat unpopular and easily attracts gratuitous hostility—CGP Grey has produced a second video, this time an animated version of Prof. Nick Bostrom’s “The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant”. The fable is a powerful metaphor for aging and the acceptance mechanisms that have led humans to schedule their entire lives around its diktat.


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Once upon a time, the planet was tyrannized by a giant dragon. The dragon stood taller than the largest cathedral, and it was covered with thick black scales. Its red eyes glowed with hate, and from its terrible jaws flowed an incessant stream of evil-smelling yellowish-green slime. It demanded from humankind a blood-curdling tribute: to satisfy its enormous appetite, ten thousand men and women had to be delivered every evening at the onset of dark to the foot of the mountain where the dragon-tyrant lived. Sometimes the dragon would devour these unfortunate souls upon arrival; sometimes again it would lock them up in the mountain where they would wither away for months or years before eventually being consumed.

We unanimously praise CGP Grey’s skilfully and faithfully crafted rendition of the fable and his dedication to the cause. We look forward to seeing more of his much-needed contributions; in the meanwhile, you can enjoy The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant below.

About the author
Nicola Bagalà

Nicola Bagalà

Nicola is a bit of a jack of all trades—a holder of an M.Sc. in mathematics; an amateur programmer; a hobbyist at novel writing, piano and art; and, of course, a passionate life extensionist. Nicola produced the Lifespan.io YouTube show - LifeXtenShow until 2021. He is no longer part of the Lifespan.io team having left in 2021 to seek new opportunities and challenges.