The impression of immortality – both as an existential yearning and scientific possibility – has never been alien to me. But the explicit recognition that I wanted immortality – or more so that I wanted indefinite longevity – crystallized in the middle of my first year as an undergraduate student at the University of the West Indies. I was twenty-one.
The motivation for my desiring indefinite longevity adopted the form of the idiosyncratic and irrational fear of walking among the bookshelves of the university library – a fear that I had felt for a long time (in smaller libraries) but which became particularly pronounced during my visits to the university library. I have always known the modus operandi of that fear.
The library, not merely a vast repository of knowledge, was a taunting exhibition of my ignorance. What I knew was intolerably insignificant relative to the worlds of knowledge bound up in the totality of books.
It was not so much that my knowledge was incomplete (an inexorable fact) but that my understanding had not attained the heights which I presumed it capable of scaling. I also knew that my expected life span was insufficient to amass the knowledge and understanding which would permit me my goal of seeing the universe stripped down to the fundamentality of its nakedness.
One night, after a particularly uncomfortable visit to the library, I sat down and acknowledged that the only means to such an end was the realization of radical life extension.
That very night I set out to discover whether any scientist or research facility was engaged in work on life extension science. I confess that I half expected to find life extension in the disreputable state of a mere curiosity or fringe science.
Fortunately, my immediate discovery of the work of British biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey dispelled any doubts as to the scientific feasibility of life extension. De Grey’s views on life extension resonated with my own intuitions and I quickly perceived his SENS program as the foundation upon which I wanted to build by own assault on aging.
The SENS program is bold and unapologetic, clearly formulated, scientifically cogent, morally grounded, and eloquently articulated – characteristics reflective of de Grey himself.
A defining feature of SENS is its recognition of aging as the result of a process of damage accumulation intimately tied to metabolism – a view which I share, notwithstanding the insights offered by programmed theories of aging with which it can find some reconciliation.