#ilia stambler (Ph.D., researcher at Bar Ilan University, Israel) is the author of "A History of Life-extensionism in the Twentieth Century" (longevityhistory.com). He is an activist at the International Longevity Alliance, IEET and Israeli Chapter of Humanity Plus (US). We asked him four questions about the past, present, and future of #life extension. Our exclusive interview for Blasting News.
Longevity in Europe, United States and...
BN: In your book “A History of Life-extensionism in the Twentieth Century” you focus on the importance of culture. In which ways culture may affect #medical research?
Ilia Stambler: It is possible to produce excellent science, but if the society is not willing to support it, if it burns the scientists at the stake or makes them starve – the scientific development and utilization are blocked. The society, the people must want the science to develop, in particular, the life-extension science, to allow the scientists to fulfill this cultural demand.
BN: In your book, you pay particular attention to France, Germany, Russia, and United States. Do you see other countries, outside the Western world, in which the life-extension movement is strong enough to influence biomedical research?
Ilia Stambler: The countries that formed the focus of the book – the so-called “Western Countries” – were mainly chosen because of the accessibility of materials and language. And objectively, in the twentieth century, much less scientific research was performed elsewhere. Yet, presently, the “non-Western” countries are quickly catching up and in some ways exceeding “the West” in longevity research – especially in the developed Asian countries. Also, the interest in the subject in the so-called “developing countries” is growing rapidly. I do believe that the goals of universal life extension can only be achieved if this research is supported globally and equally.
The radical life-extension
BN: I ask you to turn from historian into a futurist. Which cultural and biomedical changes do you forecast in the twenty-first century?
Ilia Stambler: Clearly the possibility of combating degenerative aging processes and extending healthy life should become common knowledge. This will be a true paradigm shift, both for culture and science. The practical and accessible technologies for life extension, such as regenerative medicine and effective anti-aging medications, may follow. It is our common interest to make every effort that those technologies should arrive as soon as possible, not just within this century, but hopefully within ours and our loved ones’ life time.
BN: And which are, according to you, the main cultural and material obstacles on the way to radical life-extension?
Ilia Stambler: The paradigm shift asserting the possibility and desirability of significant life extension has not yet received wide acceptance. Most people still do not believe that combating degenerative aging and achieving significant healthy life extension can succeed, which makes them rationalize and invent reasons “Why life extension should be bad for us?” (boredom, overpopulation, etc.). With the understanding that life-extending technologies are possible, the question becomes “How do we achieve them sooner?” “Where there is a wish, there is a way.” Still, mere wishes are not enough, the research needs actual funding and incentives – therefore creating strong support for healthy life extension research should become a new social, cultural and political priority.