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«I plan to be younger in  the future»
José Luis Cordeiro, zvg.

«I plan to be younger in
the future»

José Cordeiro is convinced that victory over death is only a matter of time. He believes people will soon be able to choose the age at which they want to live.

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José Cordeiro, living forever has been a dream of human beings since their beginning. Currently, we live for around 100 years, whales and turtles live even longer. Is that fair?

Different species can have vastly different lifespans. There are trees that can live for thousands of years, some algae as well. Among the animals there are some clams that are 700 years old, sharks that are 500 years old – we even found harpoons from the Middle Ages in a living shark. Whales and turtles live over 200 years. On the other hand, we have little mice, which only live for two years. We are biologically quite similar to other mammals; we share around 90 percent of the genome with them. But a mouse only lives for two years, while a whale lives for 200 years.


Have there been any successes in making animals live longer?

Thanks to experiments, we have been able to double the lifespan of mice; there are now some mice that live for five years, which would be equivalent to a human living for 200 years. Flies like the Drosophila melanogaster live four times as long now, which would be equivalent to a human living for 400 years. Methuselah worms have had their lifetimes multiplied by a factor of 10 – that would be a human lifespan of 1000 years. This progress has happened in the last few years, and it’s just the beginning.


How does it work?

Scientists have discovered that aging is flexible, and that it can be reverted. In 2012, the Nobel Prize in Medicine was given to a Japanese scientist called Shinya Yamanaka, who discovered four genes that control aging, among more than 20 000 genes in mice. It is now possible to modify these genes to accelerate, stop or reverse aging. Yamanaka was able to reverse aging at the cellular level in 2006, and other scientists at Harvard University did it at organ level in 2020, demonstrating that it is possible to rejuvenate the eyes of mice.


Can this be applied to human beings?

There are several biotech research companies like Altos Labs, financed by billionaires like Jeff Bezos, that have the objective to rejuvenate cells, organs and eventually complete organisms. There is a lot going on: Scientists are experimenting with gene therapies, cell therapies, organ transplants, organ 3D printing, nanobots in the circulatory system, young blood transfusions, or immuno therapies, amongst others. There are also other treatments that have already shown to extend both the healthspan and the lifespan of model animals like worms, mosquitoes and mice.


Peter Thiel said1: «The germ cells don’t die, they reproduce, but we, the carriers, die. This is shocking on the one hand and exciting on the other». Do organisms already carry a spark for immortality?

Indeed, there are biologically immortal cells, and there are also biologically immortal species – in the sense that they do not age.


A species of jellyfish called Turritopsis dohrnii seems to be immortal.

Yes, and there are Hydras and Medusa who do not age biologically, so they are biologically immortal. They can still die or be killed, but they do not age. Humans also have cells that do not age, as all multicellular organisms do – they are our reproductive cells, the germ cells, which produce sperm in men or eggs in women. When we die, germ cells die with us, but not because they age. Cancer cells also do not age: they are mutations of aging cells that stopped aging. So, if cancer found out how to stop aging and discovered immortality, we will too. All these cells prove that immortality is possible, it already exists in nature.


But also death is still possible.

If a piano falls on your head, you will still die. Like today, there will be accidents, homicides, suicides. Immortality will not be a curse as you won’t be forced to be immortal.


What are the implications for society? Will there be sexually attractive 120-year-olds, who are leading an active sex life?

Yes. Most people will probably choose to live in a human age between 20 and 25. Being young, healthy and sexually active is fantastic! If they can choose, people will want to have a better and healthier life. And why not: a more sexual life.


So, the world will get very crowded by 20- to 25-year-olds. Even more so if they reproduce.

I do not think that is going to be a problem. 230 years ago, Thomas Malthus said humanity would end, because London had a population of one million people and England one of ten million. Today twelve million people live in London.


Population growth is not a concern for you?

Quite the opposite. We actually should have more people because of the immense power of their brains, the most advanced structure in the known universe. There is nothing we know of that is more complex than the human brain. It is the reason why we advanced so much in the last two centuries, and it was not the end when Malthus said so. We need more human brains.


People will want to have immortality for their cats and dogs.

Probably, and I think that’s fine. We want our pets to live forever, just like we want our families and our friends. One thing that will have to change is marriage. Currently it is «till death do us part». But with rejuvenation, unless one kills the other, marriage won’t end. I doubt that many people will want to be married to the same person for a million years.


What about religion? Will it disappear?

The religions we have now will disappear. The death of death implies the death of traditional religion – because it needs death. Islam, Judaism and Christianity explained it through an afterlife – when you die, you are resurrected. Hinduism, Taoism and Buddhism believe in reincarnation – but you have to die first.


Who will fight against immortality?

Socialists will be concerned about immortality because it will be expensive in the beginning – but it is going to be democratized very quickly, and everybody will be able to be immortal, not only billionaires. Some people might not want immortality, for religious, philosophical, ethical or moral reasons. For example, the Amish: they do not use phones, cars or airplanes, consequently they will probably not adapt this technology. Let them die, they are free to die, if they want to.


But you do not plan to die, right?

I don’t plan to die, and I plan to be younger in the future. I like to take pictures of how I am today, so when I look at these pictures in the year 2045, I will remember how old I was. In the year 2045, we will look back on how primitive we were in 2023, that we let people die. When we are so close to cure aging, this is really the most beautiful time to ever be alive and to remain alive for as long as you want. Because again, this will be free. This is an additional option and I think 99 percent of humanity will take it.


I don’t plan to die, and I plan to be younger in the future. I like to take pictures of how I am today, so when I look at these pictures in the year 2045, I will remember how old I was.


There will be an even greater focus on security. As a devotee of liberty, I am quite afraid of people who want to have a 100 percent secure world, because that would be totalitarian world. What are the implications of immortality for personal liberty?

As a libertarian myself I hold up three important principles: liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Longevity will let us expand all of those. We are moving into a world of abundance and will leave the world of scarcity behind, as we produce more and more with less and less. This will improve living standards and free people up to do the things they want.

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