Immortality is within our grasp. The knowledge exists—if aggressively
applied—for you to slow aging and disease processes to such
a degree that you can be in good health and good spirits when the
more radical life-extending and life-enhancing technologies, now in
the research and testing pipeline, become available. We already have
the means to dramatically slow down disease and aging far more than
most people realize.
We are in the early stages of multiple profound
revolutions spawned by the intersection of biology, information science,
and nanotechnology. With the decoding of the genome and our efforts
to understand its expression in proteins, many new and powerful technologies
are emerging. These include rational drug design (drugs designed for
very precise missions, with little or no side effects), tissue engineering
(regrowing our cells, tissues, and organs), reversal of aging processes,
gene therapy (essentially reprogramming our genetic code), nanobots
(robots the size of blood cells built from molecules placed in our
bodies and bloodstreams to enhance every aspect of our lives), and
many others. Some of these transformations will bear fruit before
the ink is dry from printing this book.
Consider the metaphor of maintaining a house. How
long does a house last? The answer obviously depends on how well you
take care of it. If you do nothing, the roof will spring a leak before
long, water and the elements will invade, and eventually the house
will disintegrate. But if you proactively take care of the structure,
repair all damage, confront all dangers, and rebuild or renovate parts
from time to time using new materials and technologies, the life of
the house can essentially be extended without limit.
The same holds true for our bodies and brains. The
only difference: while we fully understand the methods underlying
the maintenance of a house, we do not yet fully understand all of
the biological principles of life. But with our rapidly increasing
comprehension of the biochemical processes and pathways of biology,
we are quickly gaining that knowledge. We are beginning to understand
aging, not as a single inexorable progression, but as a group of related
biological processes. Strategies are emerging for fully reversing
each of these aging progressions, using different combinations of
biotechnology techniques. In the meantime, we can slow each aging
process to a crawl using the methods outlined in this book.
Many experts, including the authors, believe that
within a decade we will be adding more than a year to human life expectancy
every year. At that point, with each passing year, your remaining
life expectancy will move further into the future.
Radically extending longevity will occur in three
steps or bridges. This book is intended to serve as a guide to aggressively
apply today’s knowledge to live long enough—BRIDGE ONE—to
take advantage of the full development of the biotechnology revolution—BRIDGE
TWO. This, in turn, will lead to the nanotechnology-AI (artificial
intelligence) revolution—BRIDGE THREE—which has the potential
to allow us to live indefinitely.
BRIDGE ONE (APPLYING TODAY’S KNOWLEDGE): The
leading causes of death—heart disease, cancer, stroke, respiratory
disease, kidney disease, liver disease, and diabetes—do not
appear out of the blue. They are the end result of processes that
are decades in the making. To help you understand how longstanding
imbalances in the metabolic processes underlying life functions can
lead to disease, we have developed Ray & Terry’s Longevity
Program, which is presented throughout the course of this book.
Conventional medical care is geared toward dealing
with long-term degenerative processes only after they erupt into advanced
clinical disease. But by this time it is often too late. It’s
like approaching a cliff, but walking backward. You need to recognize
that you’re getting closer to the edge and stop. Once you fall
off, it’s difficult to do anything about it. That’s what
FANTASTIC VOYAGE is all about: to provide the knowledge and the specific
steps to take, sooner rather than later, to extend your life, your
vitality, and your well-being.
Our paradigm shift rate—the rate of technical
progress—is doubling every decade. The capability of specific
technologies such as genetic sequencing and nanotechnology is doubling
even faster: every year. These emerging transformations in technology
will usher in powerful new tools to expand your health and human powers.
Eventually, the knowledge represented in this book will be automated
within you. Today, however, you have to apply that knowledge yourself.
BRIDGE TWO (BIOTECHNOLOGY): As we are learning about
the information processes underlying biology, we are devising ways
of mastering them to overcome disease and aging and extend human potential.
One powerful approach is to start with biology’s information
backbone: the genome. With gene technologies, we’re now on the
verge of being able to control how genes express themselves. Ultimately,
we will actually be able to change the genes themselves: not just
designer babies, but designer baby boomers.
Another important line of attack is to regrow our
cells, tissues, and even whole organs, and introduce them into our
bodies without surgery. One major benefit of this “therapeutic
cloning” technique is that we will be able to create these new
tissues and organs from versions of our cells that have also been
made younger—the emerging field of rejuvenation medicine. Drug
discovery was once a matter of finding substances that produced some
beneficial effect without excessive side effects. This process was
similar to early humans’ tool discovery, which was limited to
simply finding rocks and natural implements that could be used for
helpful purposes. Now that we can design drugs to carry out precise
missions at the molecular level, we are in a position to overcome
age-old afflictions. The scope and scale of these efforts is vast.
BRIDGE THREE (NANOTECHNOLOGY): As we peer a couple
of decades into the future, nanotechnology will enable us to rebuild
and extend our bodies and brains and create virtually any product
from mere information, resulting in remarkable gains in prosperity.
We will develop means to vastly expand our physical and mental capabilities
by directly interfacing our biological systems with human-created
Biological systems are remarkable in their cleverness.
In the 15th century, Leonardo da Vinci wrote, “Human ingenuity
may make various inventions, but it will never devise any inventions
more beautiful, nor more simple, nor more to the purpose than nature
does; because in her inventions nothing is wanting and nothing is
superfluous.” We share da Vinci’s sense of awe at the
designs of biology, but we do not agree with him on our inability
to improve on nature.
Da Vinci was not aware of nanotechnology, and it
turns out that nature, for all its apparent creativity, is dramatically
suboptimal. For example, the neuronal connections in our brains compute
at only 200 transactions per second, millions of times slower than
even today’s electronic circuits. Despite the elegant way our
red blood cells carry oxygen in our bloodstream and deliver it to
our tissues, it is still a slow and cumbersome system. Robotic replacements
already on the drawing board will be thousands of times more efficient
than red blood cells.
The reality is that biology will never be able to
match what we will be capable of engineering, now that we are gaining
a deep understanding of biology’s principles of operation.