VitaDAO, the world’s first decentralized intellectual property collective, hosted a discussion and AMA on Youtube yesterday. The event featured guests Dr. Aubrey de Grey from SENS Research Foundation and Vitalik Buterin, one of the co-founders of Ethereum.
Introducing Aubrey de Grey and Vitalik Buterin
Dr. Aubrey de Grey is a British biomedical gerontologist who researched the idea for and founded SENS Research Foundation. He is Editor-in-Chief of Rejuvenation Research, is a Fellow of both the Gerontological Society of America and the American Aging Association, and sits on the editorial and scientific advisory boards of numerous journals and organizations.
Aubrey is a well-known figure in the rejuvenation biotechnology community and has been trying to convince the public that aging is a problem worth tackling for the best part of 20 years. When he originally set out to do this, he was often portrayed as a crackpot for suggesting that aging could be solved.
However, in more recent years, his ideas have gained increasing traction as research has built up in support of his ideas. He has become a leading figure in the field and very much a driving force for its progress.
Vitalik Buterin is a 27-year-old Russian-Canadian programmer and is considered to be one of the most influential people on Earth. In 2013, he developed Ethereum, a unique platform for online services, and became the co-creator of the Ethereum cryptocurrency.
Vitalik has been a keen supporter of rejuvenation biotechnology and has donated considerable sums of money to the field through his cryptocoin wealth. Indeed, he is such an avid supporter of increased longevity through science and technology that he said that The Best Thing to Donate Money to Is the Fight Against Aging during a 2018 interview with us.
The key points from the AMA
The topic at hand was rejuvenation biotechnology, web3, and where the two might intersect to support the development of longevity tech. Web3, in the context of Ethereum, refers to decentralized apps that run on the blockchain, allowing anyone to participate without the monetizing of personal data.
Lifespan.io President Keith Comito attended the event and gave his impressions below.
- There is a large amount of capital in cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum and Bitcoin, and if the crypto community gets behind an idea, it can drive progress quickly: Vitalik gave Zero Knowledge Proofs as an example.
- Vitalik is seeking ways to facilitate broad collective funding of public goods instead of case-by-case outcomes that require narrow funding channels. This has thematic overlap with the strategy of focusing on aging instead of disparate end-stage diseases in isolation.
- There was additional discussion on how blockchain facilitates new governance possibilities and models (like DAOs), and Vitalik believes that grander imagination is needed to envision new possible futures.
- Blockchain involves notions of “legitimacy” to work (like which fork people go with when a token branches), which Aubrey relates with notions of public consensus on acceptable biology research, and what kind of futures people allow themselves to expect.
- Vitalik believes strongly in the power of telling a compelling story in order to drive change, including the value of memes and narratives to help bring the value of life extension research to the public. This strongly overlaps with our own work, especially the films and videos that we are making about longevity, rejuvenation, and life extension.
- I asked a question on how blockchain might help the field of longevity beyond just funding – such as facilitating crowdsourced clinical trials, standardization of / access to health and biomarker data, etc. – to which Vitalik responded that this question is a tough one, and that blockchain technologies may need to mature more fully before large-scale changes of this nature can take effect.
- Aubrey hints that a mysterious big player will be joining the fight against aging in a month or two. Some commenters speculate it could be someone like Jeff Bezos, as Aubrey referenced Larry Ellison and Larry Page during the relevant discussion.
- The conversation concluded with discussion on how different cultural narratives shape perception of aging throughout the world, and the possibilities for cryptocurrency – and blockchain generally – to catalyze progress and positive societal change in this perception globally.
In the last few years, there has been a huge increase in interest and support from the crypto community for rejuvenation biotech, and Vitalik Buterin is doubtlessly part of the reason why. Needless to say we are happy that such a visionary sees the value of this kind of work and hope that it may inspire others from a tech background to get involved in the fight against aging.
We would like to thank Vitalik Buterin, Dr. Aubrey de Grey, and the VitaDAO team for making this livestream possible. If you would like to learn more about VitaDAO, check out our interview about Biotech by Democracy with founder Tyler Golato.