Altos Labs aims to make humans immortal / Humans + Tech - #97
+ Singapore has deployed robots to patrol public areas + This app lets hungry people secure their next meal with a text + Other interesting articles from around the web
Would you like to live forever, or even double your lifespan? Some of the world’s billionaires are funding Altos Labs, a venture with precisely that aim.
Among other reasons explained after the article below, I am too curious about death to prolong life longer than necessary. What’s your perspective?
Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever
Yuri Milner, a Russian born millionaire, hosted a large group of scientists at his house last October to discuss how biotechnology can make people younger [Antonio Regalado, MIT Technology Review]. The meeting led to the formation of Altos Labs. Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner are among key investors in Altos Labs.
Altos Labs is recruiting top scientists, paying them lavish salaries with the benefit of focusing only on research without applying for grants constantly. Along with no immediate expectation to produce revenue.
“The philosophy of Altos Labs is to do curiosity-driven research. This is what I know how to do and love to do,” says Serrano, who plans to move to Cambridge, UK to join an Altos facility there. “In this case, through a private company, we have the freedom to be bold and explore. In this way it will rejuvenate me.”
Any treatment for a major disease of aging could be worth billions, but Altos isn’t counting on making money at first. “The aim is to understand rejuvenation,” says Serrano. “I would say the idea of having revenue in the future is there, but it’s not the immediate goal.”
Altos will also be working with a related technology for measuring the relative age of a cell, or a person. That biological-clock technique, pioneered by Horvath, involves measuring the “epigenetic” marks on genes. These molecular features turn genes on and off, but their pattern becomes disorganized as people age. Such a biomarker of aging would be an important way to measure the effect of any longevity or age-reversal drug that is developed. It’s difficult to run a medical study that demonstrates life extension, since it would take too long, but a biomarker could be employed instead.
They are pursuing anti-ageing technology in the immediate future, but immortality is their goal. Altos Labs is not alone. Five or six other companies are pursuing longevity technologies, including Calico Labs, announced in 2013 by Google’s co-founder Larry Page.
I’m personally against immortality. Life and death are an intrinsic part of nature. Humanity’s belief that we are above nature and not a part of it leads to the pursuit of immortality. The earth cannot sustain an ever-growing human population. We need to make space for future generations. Accepting death when your time comes is an act of kindness.
Singapore has deployed robots to patrol public areas
Singapore is testing using Xavier robots to patrol public areas and identify humans breaking the rules. Two robots have been deployed to a public space with high foot traffic to identify rule-breakers, including those disobeying COVID-19 safety measures [M. Moon, Engadget].
Over the next three weeks, the robots will monitor the crowds of Toa Payoh Central to look for what the nation's authorities describe as "undesirable social behaviors." Those bad behaviors include the "congregation of more than five people," which goes against its COVID-19 safety measures.
In addition, the Xavier robots will look for instances of smoking in prohibited areas and illegal hawking. It will patrol the vicinity for improperly parked bicycles and for any mobility device and motorcycle using footpaths and sidewalks, as well. If the robot detects any of those behaviors, it will alert its command center and then display a corresponding message on its screen to educate the public.
This app lets hungry people secure their next meal with a text
The team at Not Impossible Labs have developed products that allow deaf people to experience music, children in South Sudan to use prosthetic limbs, and people with ALS to speak to loved ones using only eye movements. Their latest innovation is Bento, a service that routes food supply in the US to the people who need it [Talib Visram, Fast Company].
“How do you create something that requires the least amount of effort, for the most amount of impact?” Ebeling asks.
What emerged was an easy, text-based system. People in need of food are enrolled using databases from nonprofits and government agencies like the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and L.A. Care, whose work is already dedicated to serving those populations. Individuals simply text “HUNGRY” to a number; during a five-step text process, they choose a local restaurant or grocery store and select a meal, and then pick it up when it’s ready. They can rely on the system for every breakfast, lunch, and dinner they need, for as long as they need.
The ease of use also allows people to get their meals in a dignified way. The team found that many people would skip meals if they had to line up conspicuously at somewhere like a food bank, embarrassed to be seen by others in their community. “Why not create a situation where their dignity can be preserved, where they’re just seen as anybody else?” Ebeling asks. “Why do we have to put them into scenarios where they’re called out as ‘those people’?”
What a fantastic service. Users of the app can even specify any dietary constraints or preferences, such as being vegan and vegetarian.
Other interesting articles from around the web
🧑💻 Intentional connection in the digital office [Seth Godin]
Seth Godin is one of my favourite bloggers and authors. Here is one of his articles from this week on connections in digital offices.
The real challenge of remote work isn’t that it somehow erases the mysterious serendipity of magical office collisions. The problem is that making connections digitally requires enrollment and effort. If we do it with intent, it actually works better.
We can collaborate in real-time on shared documents with people we’d never be able to meet face to face.
We can have a six-minute impromptu brainstorming session and have it transcribed to a shared doc–anytime we have the guts to invite the right people to the right platform and say ‘go’.
We can share a screen when we get stuck, and we can share it not with the closest person, but with the best person.
💬 High Court rules media are liable for Facebook comments on their stories. Here’s what that means for your favourite Facebook pages [David Rolph, The Conversation]
A High Court in Australia ruled 5-2 that publishers are liable for defamatory third party comments posted on their social media pages.
A publisher can be held responsible for defamatory comments readers leave on its Facebook pages, the High Court ruled today, in a decision that could have far-reaching consequences for social media users throughout Australia.
This decision may mean anyone who runs a social media page can theoretically be sued over disparaging comments posted by readers or random group members — even if you aren’t aware of the comment.
In other words, if you post content on your social media page and encourage or invite comments — and people post defamatory comments there — you’re legally the “publisher” of those comments and can be sued, thanks to today’s ruling.
The ruling means that any publisher on any platform that has a commenting feature has liability. Ridiculous.
🦿3D printing is giving Paralympians an edge [The Next Web]
One-off, exclusive equipment that most Paralympians need is expensive to produce. 3D printing is levelling the playing ground and helping regular athletes compete with those that are more well-off.
3D printing can deliver bespoke equipment at a more affordable price. Several former Paralympians, such as British triathlete Joe Townsendand US track athlete Arielle Rausin, now use 3D printing to create personalized gloves for themselves and their fellow wheelchair athletes. These gloves fit as if they were molded over the athlete’s hands, and can be printed in different materials for different conditions. For example, Townsend uses stiff materials for maximum performance in competition and softer gloves for training that are comfortable and less likely to cause injury.
3D-printed gloves are inexpensive, rapidly produced, and can be reprinted whenever they break. Because the design is digital, just like a photo or video, it can be modified based on the athlete’s feedback, or even sent to the nearest 3D printer when parts are urgently needed.
Quote of the week
For to age is to live and to live is to age, and being anti-age is tantamount to being anti-life.
—Anne Karpf, sociologist and award-winning journalist, and author of “How to Age”
I wish you a brilliant day ahead :)