the key message?
We make the scientific case that immortality is
within our grasp. We explain how to slow down aging and disease processes
to such a degree that you can remain in good health until the more
radical life-extending and life-enhancing technologies – now
in the research and testing pipeline – become available.
What sort of life-extending
technology are you referring to?
Fantastic Voyage is a guide for aggressively applying
today’s knowledge – we call it Bridge One – to enable
you to live long enough to take advantage of the full development
of the biotechnology revolution – Bridge Two.
What are some examples of
Biotechnology is providing the means to actually
change your genes: not just designer babies but designer baby boomers.
We’ll also be able to rejuvenate all of your body’s tissues
and organs by transforming your skin cells into youthful versions
of every other cell type. Already, new drug development is precisely
targeting key steps in the process of atherosclerosis (the cause of
heart disease), cancerous tumor formation, and the metabolic processes
underlying each major disease and aging process. The biotechnology
revolution is already in its early stages and will reach its peak
in the second decade of this century.
And this will bring radical
Well, biotech is Bridge Two, which, in turn, will
allow you to reap the benefits of the nanotechnology-AI (artificial
intelligence) revolution – Bridge Three – which does have
the potential to allow you to live indefinitely. With nanotechnology,
we can go beyond the limits of biology, and replace your current “human
body version 1.0” with a dramatically upgraded version 2.0,
providing radical life extension.
And how does that work?
The “killer app” of nanotechnology is
“nanobots,” which are blood-cell sized robots that can
travel in the blood stream destroying pathogens, removing debris,
correcting DNA errors, and reversing aging processes. The nanotechnology
revolution will reach its peak in during the 2020s.
Haven’t there been
promises in the past along these lines?
Until recently, there was relatively little that
could be done about our short life span, other than to rationalize
this tragedy as “a good thing.” But that is now changing.
We have devised a new program that enables even older baby boomers
like ourselves to live long enough to live forever by aggressively
reprogramming our biochemistry to forestall aging and disease processes.
Where is this ultimately
going to take us?
Within a quarter century, nonbiological intelligence
will match the range and subtlety of human intelligence. It will then
soar past it because of the continuing acceleration of information-based
technologies, as well as the ability of machines to instantly share
their knowledge. Intelligent nanorobots will be deeply integrated
in our bodies, our brains, and our environment, providing vastly extended
longevity, full-immersion virtual reality incorporating all of the
senses (like the “Matrix”), "experience beaming”
(like “Being John Malkovich”), and vastly enhanced human
intelligence. The result will be an intimate merger between the technology-creating
species and the technological evolutionary process it spawned.
Okay, let’s get practical,
how do I slow down aging now?
1. The most unique aspect of our program is to supplement
aggressively. Our bodies evolved in a different era when short life
spans were in the interest of the species, thereby freeing up scarce
resources for the young and those caring for them. So we need to reprogram
our biochemistry to change the ancient programs in our genes. We provide
a detailed guide to which supplements will contribute to your health
and slow down aging based on your particular health situation.
2. Eat foods that slow down aging and disease processes.
For example, sugars and simple starches increase insulin resistance,
a key source of aging, so we recommend a low “glycemic index”
diet. Sugar and starch also promote what’s aptly called AGEs
(advanced glycation end-products), which are damaging cross links
that form between the body’s proteins.
3. Chronic inflammation underlies every step in
heart disease, and promotes all major degenerative diseases, but you
can reverse inflammation with anti-inflammatory foods. For example,
it’s important to emphasize the anti-inflammatory fats found
in such foods as fish, nuts, and extra virgin olive oil.
4. Each of us is different, so we provide guidance
on how to customize your program based on test results, including
genomic tests. We also provide guidance on exercise and stress management.
This sounds complicated.
Fantastic Voyage is not a one-trick pony. Many popular
health books provide a single key idea. But our bodies are complex,
and no one message captures the key to slowing down aging. There are
a dozen important aging and diseases processes, and we provide programs
to address each one. So we don’t give you menu plans and schedules.
Rather, by truly understanding how your body works, you can set your
own priorities, and devise your own customized program.
Can we really forestall diseases
like heart disease and cancer?
The leading causes of death – heart disease,
cancer, stroke, respiratory disease, kidney disease, liver disease,
and diabetes – do not appear out of the blue. You don’t
catch them walking down the street one day. They are the end result
of processes that are decades in the making. We help you understand
how longstanding imbalances in the metabolic processes underlying
life functions can lead to disease.
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
Why are you delivering this
Technical progress progresses exponentially, and
we’re just now reaching the rapid part of the curve. 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 Fantastic Voyage will be automated within
you. Today, however, you have to apply that knowledge yourself.
Give me a surprising idea
to slow down aging.
Supplement with phosphatidylcholine (PtC), a fatty
substance that is a major component of cell membranes. As you age,
the PtC in your cell membranes diminishes dramatically, and is replaced
with hard fats and cholesterol. This is one important reason that
an elderly person’s skin is less supple, and organs less effective.
Supplementing with PtC can stop and even reverse this process.
What’s another one?
The prescription drug metformin can significantly
reduce the effects of insulin resistance. One adult in three has what’s
called the “metabolic syndrome,” also known as “Syndrome
X,” which results in a serious inability to process sugar and
refined carbohydrate foods like pasta and bread. Most people who have
this are not even aware of it. Moreover, almost all adults develop
some level of insulin resistance as they age, which is a major contributor
to heart disease, stroke, and other diseases. Metformin combats this
aging process. In animal tests, metformin (and an earlier version
of this drug called phenformin) extended life spans, and produced
similar metabolic changes as caloric restriction, even though the
animals were not eating less.
So how have you guys done
in the aging department?
Ray: My father’s premature death at age 58
from heart disease and my own diagnosis of type II diabetes at the
age of 35 defined my early health concerns. The conventional medical
treatment made my diabetes worse and did little to alleviate my concern
about a genetic predisposition to heart disease. As an inventor, I
studied the literature, devised my own program, overcame my diabetes,
and wrote a best-selling health book about the experience. More recently,
I have become aware of a more insidious challenge: middle age. Working
with Terry over the past five years, we applied the same belief in
the power of ideas to the problem of aging.
I take 250 supplements a day and really feel that
I’m reprogramming my biochemistry, just like I would reprogram
I’m 56 chronologically, but my biological
age, according to an extensive set of tests, is about 40, not much
changed from 16 years ago. In many ways, I’m healthier and younger
than I was 20 years ago. I have no indications of diabetes. My glucose,
HgA1c (a test of glucose levels over the past 90 days), cholesterol,
homocysteine (test of methylation processes), C-reactive protein (test
of inflammation levels), and other test levels are all at ideal levels.
My overall feeling: so far, so good.
Terry: It is said that among the things you can
do to enjoy a long and healthy life, it is best to start by “picking
your parents wisely.” I am fortunate that both are alive and
well at 80 years of age. They are physically and mentally active and
enjoy a varied social and cultural life. So it would appear that I
started life with “a leg up” on longevity, thanks to their
genes. Things aren’t always so straightforward in medicine,
however. My genomic testing revealed that I harbor several harmful
genetic tendencies. Although I have enjoyed excellent health so far,
I am now at the stage of my life where one’s genetic predispositions
have a way of manifesting themselves as “full blown” diseases.
But with the genetic information I now possess, I've been able to
take specific measures to maintain my health, using the best of the
Bridge One ideas we present in Fantastic Voyage. I am very optimistic
about what the future Bridge Two and Bridge Three therapies will be
able to do for both myself and the rest of humankind.
Isn’t it natural to
It may be "natural," but we don’t
see anything positive in losing our mental agility, sensory acuity,
physical limberness, sexual desire, or any other human ability. We
view disease and death at any age as a calamity, as problems to be
overcome. Until recently, there was relatively little that could be
done about our short life span other than to rationalize this tragedy
as a good thing. We now have another option.
Your book promises the end
of aging, not just slowing it down. Is that realistic?
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
Isn’t it a bit of hyperbole
to say you can live forever?
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.
Aren’t the designs
of nature optimal?
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 either biotechnology or nanotechnology,
and it turns out that nature, for all its apparent creativity, is
Tell me more about bridge
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. We now have a powerful new tool called
RNA interference (RNAi), which is capable of turning specific genes
off. It blocks the messenger RNA of specific genes preventing them
from creating proteins. Since viral diseases, cancer, and many other
diseases use gene expression at some crucial point in their life cycle,
this promises to be a breakthrough technology. Ultimately, we will
actually be able to add new genes by “infecting” our cells
with specially designed viruses that insert new genes in our genome
in just the right place.
Another important line of attack is to regrow our
own 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.
For example, we will be able to create new heart cells from your skin
cells and introduce them into your system through the blood stream.
Over time, your heart cells get replaced with these new cells, and
the result is a rejuvenated “young” heart with your own
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. We are learning the precise biochemical
pathways that underlie both disease and aging processes, and are able
to design drugs to carry out precise missions at the molecular level.
The scope and scale of these efforts is vast.
And Bridge Three?
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 and
inexpensive raw materials, 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
As one example, the interneuronal connections in
our brains compute at only 200 transactions per second, millions of
times slower than even today's electronic circuits. Circa late 2020s,
billions of nanobots traveling in the capillaries of the brain will
interact directly with our biological neurons providing a vast expansion
of human intellect. They can also provide full immersion virtual reality
from inside the nervous system by shutting down the signals from our
“real” senses and replacing them with the signals that
are appropriate for a virtual environment.
Another example is our red blood cells. Despite
the elegant way our red blood cells carry oxygen in our bloodstream
and deliver it to our tissues, it is a very slow and cumbersome system.
There’s a design for such robotic red blood cells called “respirocytes”
by Rob Freitas, a nanotechnology expert, which are thousands of times
more efficient than biological red blood cells. Analyses show that
with these respirocytes, you could sit at the bottom your pool for
four hours without taking a breath.
There is another Freitas design that will be able
to augment your immune system, basically robotic white bloods. It
will have the capability to destroy any virus, cancer cell, or other
invader hundreds of times faster than our biological immune system.
We’ve actually watched our own white blood cells destroy a bacterium
through a microscope. Although our white blood cells are clever, they
are very slow, the process of killing a germ takes over an hour. The
robotic versions will do a more thorough job in seconds. They will
be able to download software from the Internet to combat specific
types of pathogens. If that sounds particularly futuristic, we’d
point out that we already have brain implants, such as the FDA approved
neural implant for Parkinson’s Disease, that can download new
software from outside the patient.
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.
What about government opposition
to new technologies such as stem cell therapy? Is that going to hold
These obstacles end up being stones in the river
of progress; the broad progression of technology just flows around
them. Stem cell research is a good example of this. The research has
continued despite opposition from the government and elsewhere. And
the controversy has only served to accelerate other ways of accomplishing
the same thing, which ultimately will provide superior approaches.
For example, there has been substantial recent progress on transdifferentiation:
turning one type of cell, such as a skin cell, into another type.
After all, what’s the difference between a skin cell and a pancreatic
Islet cell, or a heart cell? They all have the same genes. The difference
is that different genes are expressed, and we’re learning the
molecular triggers that control gene expression. By adding certain
chemicals such as peptides and short RNA molecules to cells, we can
transform their cell type. This has already been demonstrated. If
you want new heart cells, creating them from your own cells has important
advantages: you’ll have an inexhaustible supply of them, and
these new cells will have your DNA, thereby avoiding an immune system
In general, opposition to technology tends to focus
narrowly on very specific techniques. The flow of progress in biotechnology,
nanotechnology, and other new methodologies is so broad and diverse
that these types of controversies do not significantly affect the
overall rate of advance.
If people stop dying, isn’t
that going to lead to overpopulation?
A common mistake that people make when considering
the future is to envision a major change to today’s world, such
as radical life extension, as if nothing else were going to change.
The three intertwined revolutions of biotechnology, nanotechnology,
and “strong AI” (artificial intelligence at human levels
and beyond) will result in other transformations that address this
issue. For example, nanotechnology will enable us to create virtually
any physical product from information and very inexpensive raw materials,
leading to radical wealth creation. We’ll have the means to
meet the material needs of any conceivable size population of biological
humans. Nanotechnology will also provide the means of cleaning up
environmental damage from earlier stages of industrialization. In
recent years, gains in prosperity have resulted in declines in population
growth, although a dramatic drop in the death rate will reverse that
to some extent. But dramatic increases in productivity will enable
us to provide for all of our physical needs.
Won’t it get boring
to live many hundreds of years?
If humans lived many hundreds of years with no other
change in the nature of human life, then, yes, that would lead to
a deep ennui. But the same nanobots (robots the size of blood cells)
in the bloodstream that keep us healthy (by destroying pathogens and
reversing aging processes) will also vastly augment our intelligence
and experiences. By traveling noninvasively into the capillaries of
the brain, these nanobots will interact directly with our biological
neurons to create full-immersion virtual reality experiences from
within the nervous system, and provide intimate connection to greatly
enhanced intelligence. We won’t be bored.