2029: The Year We Reach Longevity Escape Velocity

There has been a recent flurry of articles claiming that Ray Kurzweil has made a new, shocking prediction that humans will reach Longevity Escape Velocity by 2029. This is the tipping point when most people who are diligent about their health will begin to add more time to their remaining life expectancy than is going by. What the headlines missed is that Kurzweil introduced this idea twenty-four years ago in his book, The Age of Spiritual Machines. Specifically, he predicted that bioengineering would slow aging dramatically and prevent or reverse most diseases by 2029. He and Dr. Terry Grossman went on to write an entire book on the topic published in 2004, Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough To Live Forever. Kurzweil has been working in the field of artificial intelligence, tracking the exponential growth of technology, and predicting its impact on our lives for the last sixty years. And now we are beginning to see his predictions come to life. 

Twenty-four years ago, Kurzweil also predicted that artificial intelligence (AI) would pass the Turing Test by the year 2029, convincing us that it was human. Stanford University was so alarmed that they organized a global conference and invited AI leaders from around the world to talk about it. About 80 percent of the experts who attended agreed that computers would pass the Turing Test, but not for 100 years.   

Since then, AI has advanced exponentially, just as Kurzweil predicted. It is the driving force behind the recent breakthrough in Large Language Models like ChatGPT, which can answer any and all questions in a matter of seconds, as though it was the smartest person on earth. Not surprisingly, most tech experts now agree with Kurzweil's original prediction, and some even say it is too conservative. 

What does this mean for our health? 

Artificial intelligence is spreading through every industry, including medicine. Take the Moderna Covid vaccine as an example. Scientists formulated it in just two days by using AI to simulate biology. They fed every possible combination of mRNA sequences into a computer and used AI to simulate the impact of each. They tested several billion sequences and found the vaccine in just two days. The process then slowed as they tested the results on humans for ten months before releasing the vaccine to the public. But soon, Kurzweil predicts, we will have enough confidence in AI to rely on results tested by biological simulations alone, without humans.

Rather than testing medical treatments for years on a few hundred subjects that don’t match your genetics, scientists will test on a million or more simulated humans in just a few days. Kurzweil predicts that we will cure cancer in this way, by feeding every possible method that can detect cancer cells from normal cells into a computer. Scientists won’t evaluate the methods beforehand; they will simply feed the information in and ask AI to evaluate it, provide results, and then test the results on simulated humans. This will be done a thousand times faster than conventional methods and will be applied to every health predicament. As a result, we will be able to overcome almost every significant health problem by 2029.

This will lead us to Longevity Escape Velocity. And while it won't protect us from getting hit by the proverbial bus, it will solve one of our biggest problems – aging – and will unlock the potential to live indefinitely.



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