The field of longevity science—also called life extension research or anti-aging science—seems to be everywhere in mainstream news these days. The transhumanist idea of conquering human death with science (and possibly even living indefinitely) is catching on. Everywhere, more and more people seem to be supporting the possibility of it.
One dashing 29-year-old scientist is helping to bring longevity research into people’s houses—specifically into their kitchens. Maria Konovalenko(link is external) is one of the lead organizers and authors of the forthcoming Longevity Cookbook(link is external), full of recipes and ideas that will help you live far longer.
Maria is studying biology of aging in a joint PhD program between University of Southern California and the Buck Institute(link is external), and has been involved in fighting aging for seven years now as a vice-president for the Science for Life Extension Foundation. Maria has a background in molecular biological physics, is one of the organizers of the Genetics of Aging and Longevity conference series, and is the Longevity Advisor of theTranshumanist Party(link is external). I had a chance to interview her, and here is our conversation below:
Q. Maria, what gave you the idea for a Longevity Cookbook?
A. For many years my team and I have been facing the same questions: What can we do to achieve a breakthrough in life extension? How can we accelerate the basic research on aging? How can we help as many people as possible live to see radical rejuvenation and life extension technologies invented?
The goal of longevity suggests two obvious lines of action. First of all, you need to utilize the existing knowledge and correct your lifestyle accordingly to live as long as possible. Unfortunately, public access to scientific research on nutrition is quite limited and often hindered by pseudoscientific and unprofessional advice. In order to achieve some clarity we need to analyze hundreds of thousands of academic publications using modern bioinformatic methods. Secondly, you need to accelerate possible discoveries in life extension. This is a very hot topic at the moment, especially here in the San Francisco Bay Area, but the discussion is done in extremely generic terms. Meanwhile, society should know what kind of research needs to be done. A clear picture would undoubtedly broaden the scale of the vital scientific research.
We also noticed that the majority of radical life extension and immortality advocates adopted these ideas after reading books on relevant topics, and came to a logical conclusion that a book on life extension strategy would be highly relevant and much appreciated.
Q. What do you hope to accomplish with the book?
A. Firstly, we want to show everyone what should be done right now to live longer. Secondly, we strive to motivate people to live longer. Thirdly, we would like to expand the on-going research on aging ten-fold.
Q. Several commercial initiatives are working on the problem of aging. Should we rely on them?
A. We believe that the cure for aging can only be created as a result of a non-profit effort. This is an insanely complicated task that requires open data and a broad scientific discussion. A commercial venture cannot work this way. When money is king, all efforts are geared toward making more money. We, on the other hand, want to extend lifespan and improve health in the first place.
Q. Tell me about the others involved with creating the book?
A. There is Anna Kozlova, who is working in the field of organic chemistry. She is also a filmmaker.
There is also Anastasia Shubina, who is a genetic engineer, and she is also studyingphilosophy.
Steve Aoki (link is external)has also recently joined our team. Being a superstar DJ and a talented musician and producer, Steve Aoki has a unique perspective on the future filled with innovation and technology, that he introduced in his album Neon Future I and in his latest release Neon Future II.
We are also working with remarkable scientists, and I think we will increase our scientific advisory board to 20 of the world’s leading researchers. We will also need to attract designers, bioinformaticians, chefs, and specialists in motivation. Longevity Cookbook is a large-scale project.
Q. What is your favorite recipe in the book?
A. Speaking of food, I would prefer the diet that inhibits mTOR signaling and reduces inflammation. We will reveal what kind of food that is in the cookbook.
IF we are talking about the “recipe” of scientific research, then I love the idea of making the bacteria that live in our body act in favor of our longevity. We will talk in more detail about various scientific approaches to longevity in the book.
Q. The field of longevity seems to be exploding in popularity. Tell me your thoughts and where to do you see the field 10 or 15 years from now.
A. Well, it all depends on us. Our book is about that the idea of sitting and waiting, when science will do it all, is a pretty stupid idea. Longevity research needs support, and not only in PR, but primarily in money. A lot of money. It pretty much depends on what politicians we will elect – whether they will act in our interest for us to stay alive, or not.
If you want me to be some kind of medium and share a prophecy with you, then sure, I think in 15 years genetically modified stem cells and therapeutic cloning technologies will be a very hot topic. I’d like to highlight this one more time: how far technological progress moves forward depends on the people of power acting in favor of radical life extension.
Q. Maria, what is your main goal?
A. My goal is to make people live as long and as healthy as possible using the advances of science and technology.
The website for the Longevity Cookbook is here(link is external).
Also, an Indiegogo fundraising campaign for the cookbook is here(link is external).
Zoltan Istvan is a futurist, philosopher, journalist, and transhumanist. He is founder of the Transhumanist Party(link is external) and is its 2016 US Presidential candidate(link is external). You can find him on Twitter(link is external) and Facebook(link is external). Zoltan is also the author of the award winning, #1 Philosophy bestseller novel The Transhumanist Wager(link is external).
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