Interview with David Gobel
David Gobel is an inventor, philanthropist, futurist and ardent supporter of rejuvenation technologies. He is known as one of the founders of the Methuselah Foundation and the author of the Longevity Escape Velocity (LEV) concept with Aubrey de Gray , but his achievements are not limited to this. David graciously agreed to give the LEAF a very interesting interview.If you are not familiar with the Methuselah Foundation - this is probably the oldest organization supporting and promoting anti-aging biotechnology, it is also a business incubator for bioengineering start-ups in this area and supported the launch of many of the projects mentioned on our website. Detailed information about this organization can be obtained from our earlier publication .
We hope you enjoy the answers of David as well as us.
Nicola Bagala : David, you are known in the community of life extension activists as the founder of the Methuselah Foundation. In addition, you also participated in a number of projects, some of which are not related to rejuvenation technologies. Could you briefly tell about your career?
David Gobel: I was lucky to experience a lot as a businessman. From selling candles on a motorcycle when I was a teenager, to working with IBM, entrepreneurship taught me a lot every time. Having founded several software development companies, I became a serial entrepreneur. For example, in 1991, I participated in the creation of Knowledge Adventure. Then we created a non-linear video, in which the user's mouse movements are non-linearly reflected on the base of video frames. As a result, we were able to produce six multimedia bestsellers, including 3D Body Adventure.
In 1995, together with Steven Spielberg, Intel, Sprint, and Tandem Computers, I participated in the creation of Starbright World - a broadband network that allows sick children both from the apartment and from more than 110 hospitals to "go outside and play" in a rich virtual world where they can chat with friends and family members.
After 9/11, I felt I should contribute to improving public safety, and in 2002 I joined the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and eventually became the Chief Venture Strategist in the Security Operations Office (Office of Security Operations). There, I headed the new direction of venture investment in the profile of the Department of Homeland Security. In the same place, I put forward the concept of the Idea Factory (IdeaFactory), which was awarded the Team Innovation Award of the Department Secretary.
Nikola Bagala : How did your participation in the life extension movement start, did you realize the problem from your own aging, or did someone introduce you to this idea?
David Gobel: It all started with my understanding that the health care system is broken, just as the city’s unplanned and senseless growth. Our health care system responds to systemic crises instead of preventing them, because it is more attractive. Economic incentives guide the development of science on the wrong path, which leads to the creation of non-optimal technologies and methods of treatment. I came to the conclusion that we need to restart the system. After much research and reflection, I decided that such a reboot should lead to a slowdown and reversal of aging and rejuvenation of the body. I believe that this will lead to a reduction of suffering in the world and new opportunities for both personal and civilizational development.
Nikola Bagala: You and the Aubrey de Gray founded the Methuselah Foundation in 2001. Could you tell us how this idea came about and how the organization developed over the years.
David Gobel : I founded a non-profit organization in 2001. When Aubrey and I began to cooperate, I proposed a new name and we adopted it in 2003. Instead of telling this story, I will give you a link to the newly written history of the organization on our website. Of course, nothing stands still, and we are launching several new projects this year.
Nicola Bagala : The Methuselah Foundation has allocated millions to research in the field of regenerative medicine, supporting projects such as Organovo , Oisin Biotechnologies andSENS Research Foundation . Can you tell us what results they have achieved thanks to your support?
David Gobel : Organovo has developed and is now selling very accurate three-dimensional models of human liver and kidney tissues for scientific research, doing research on order, and two years later they plan to deliver live tissue patches for the liver to medical institutions.
Another of our companies, Silverstone Matchgrid, saved more than 1,000 lives through our investment in paired kidney donation. This software is now used in more than 35 hospitals in the United States, Europe, and soon in Saudi Arabia.
I don’t think it makes sense to talk more about the SENS Foundation - it’s a fantastic organization and we are proud of its success at the Methuselah Foundation.
We have high expectations from Oisin Bio and OncoSenX projects . We expect that by the middle of 2019 they will enter the first phase of clinical trials. We hope to provide treatment to some patients earlier than previously thought possible, since DFA has increased its accessibility thanks to the new “Right to Try” law.
Leucadia therapeutics- This is a startup developing Alzheimer's disease therapy. It is actively developing, and we expect significant news this year. The research community finds the possible key role of restoring the newly discovered structures of cleansing the brain, which has been the key idea of Leucadia since 2015.
Instead of continuing, I want to say that we at the Methuselah Foundation try to be modest in describing our successes. We prefer that fame be given to companies and their scientists. For our part, we focus on the main thing: how many people could avoid suffering, how many people escaped death, how much happiness and tranquility was experienced thanks to our philanthropists, shareholders, non-profit organizations and companies. Of course, we expect that there will be failures, if they are not there, then we are not trying hard enough. Fortunately, our approach is still working.
Nikola Bagala: It is very impressive that among your partners NASA. In 2016, the US agency launched the Vascular Tissue Challenge as part of your organization. Could you tell us about this particular project, how is the Methuselah Foundation connected with it and how is it developing?
David Gobel : The Methuselah Foundation within the New Organ Alliance Initiative was responsible for attracting the current 13 world-class members. We held 3 conferences to promote the competition in conjunction with NASA and NASA Ames Laboratory. The prize is valid until 2019, but we believe that the prize will be received earlier, given the level of participants and their progress. After the limitations on growing vessels are overcome, the development of three-dimensional artificial human organs will be significantly accelerated.
NASA also began publishing a series of video clips about the competition.
Nikola Bagala : SENS Research Foundation was formed in 2009. However, it was originally part of the Methuselah Foundation program. Why was it decided to divide your organizations?
David Gobel: Aubrey is well versed in biology, and the development of his qualifications has led to the emergence of the SENS project. I have the skill to launch "impossible" projects so that they do not end in failure. He wanted to do laboratory research, which requires significant capital, but I wanted to create and develop companies to the level of raising capital and bringing to market / practical use in medicine and let the proceeds back in the second round. With his experience in the pharmaceutical industry, Mike Cope made it possible for both of us to fulfill roles that correspond to our strengths while maintaining cooperation between us. This allowed us to move to the goal independently and, probably, much faster than it would have been possible under other conditions.
Nikola Bagala : The Success Story of the Methuselah Foundationimpressive . One of the recent events was the launch of the Methuselah Fund in 2017 as a subsidiary. Can you tell us how his mission differs from the mission of the Methuselah Foundation?
David Gobel : Methuselah Fund or M Fund gives philanthropists the opportunity to receive investment income based on the development of the life extension industry. Over the years, many of our philanthropists have made donations and now, with the advent of investment opportunities, we want to give them the opportunity to invest.
We are pleased to announce that we have recently closed the initial round of fund raising. Our portfolio now includes four companies and we are exploring the possibility of establishing new companies. We are especially proud that each of our participants is a person driven by our mission who most wants to see a solution to the problem of aging.
Over the next few weeks we will announce the launch of a few more startups, so stay tuned.
Nikola Bagala : Does the Methuselah Foundation participate in promoting its ideas among the public, in addition to research funding?
David Gobel: The Methuselah Foundation launched a project to inform the public about the importance of a dialogue about life extension research and its impact on society. In total, we have released five videos that are posted on Hulu and YouTube.
We believe that Methuselah Mouse Prize contributed to the development of life extension as an attractive research goal for biogerontologists. We do not participate in politics. We simply believe that a healthy life is better, and it is more correct that it be longer.
Our argument is the inevitability of extending healthy life. Our goal is to bring the therapy to use in medicine. We do this with prizes, grants and companies.
Nikola Bagala : Could you tell us which projects are planned to be launched?
David Gobel: We are preparing a lot of projects, but some are not yet ready for publication. We will talk about them in the coming weeks.
Nikola Bagala : The Group of 300 is a way to honor the group of early supporters who supported the project of extending life against the background of public ridicule, which in the early 2000s was widespread. Unfortunately, even now, although the level of acceptance of the direction among experts and higher, the idea is still perceived with mockery, indifference and sometimes almost religious rejection. Why do you think this happens and what to do about it?
David Gobel: We unconditionally believe in the right of everyone to express personal opinions on whether aging should be considered a disease. We are aware that ethical issues can frighten people who see problems in the growth of life expectancy. We recognize that not everyone will want to live much longer and some people will consciously choose to lead a lifestyle that leads to premature aging. We strive not to change their opinion, but to encourage respect for different opinions.
Science and technology have improved our quality of life, so that we have a choice. For example, we can go to the refrigerator and choose whether to have chicken, steak or vegetables, knowing that unused products will not spoil until the next day. Some 150 years ago, people did not have such luxury. As a species, we thrive when we have a choice and access to the new. Also, thanks to refrigeration technology, we can adhere to different diets in order to maintain health. We can say that we live longer because we can plan our food. But few people have strong emotions about the invention of refrigeration technology.
The public perception of aging as an engineering problem, and not the natural course of things, will change over time, as the perception of other frightening technologies has changed. There was a time when it was thought that only birds should fly. It was believed that: "If God wanted people to fly, he would give us wings . " Now we say: “If God wanted people to fly, he would give us imagination (which we have) .” It is clear that the flight was created by man, and life extension will also be created.
Nikola Bagala : You were the first to come up with the concept of Longevity Escape Velocity - LEV. How far we are from it, believing that progress will go at the current level without the emergence of new serious problems.
David Gobel : I believe that over the next three years some anti-aging therapies will be available as part of clinical trials that guide patients along the LEV path. I believe that after this progress will be accelerated by drawing attention to the first successes. We are already seeing glimpses in this direction.
Nikola Bagala : MFoundation's motto - “Let 90 become new 50 by 2030” is not as bold as the concept of LEV, which many people are skeptical about. On the other hand, the year 2030 will come only after 12 years, so that your motto also seems very bold. Do you still believe that you will be able to achieve results in time?
David Gobel : Yes, provided that new companies receive the necessary funding so that they can make their results available to society without distracting from the main research. Scientific results are already there, the matter of funding and obtaining permits. We can really achieve this goal, and we make every effort to that end.
Nikola Bagala: In addition, in order not to die of old age, do you have any dream that can be realized only with a significant prolongation of life?
David Gobel : At 65, we are still children. I believe that for every 10 years of life a person can change beyond recognition if the body remains young. The danger is that if we can become younger, retaining the accumulated knowledge and experience, we will become either devilishly cunning or productively wise. I look forward to continuing the path to productive wisdom and joy from the returned youth.
Nikola Bagala : You are also a futurist. Staying within the assumptions, how do you imagine the world in 50 years? Best and worst scenarios?
David Gobel: Many of your readers are familiar with Ray Kurzweil's idea of technological singularity. My argument is that, as in physics, nothing survives getting beyond the horizon of events. It disappears into oblivion. We have already entered the socio-economic horizon of events, comparable in scale to that which occurred in 1453-1455 in connection with the invention of the printing press, the fall of the Byzantine, Holy Roman and Catholic empires. Typography led to moderate changes in society in the first 50 years, but then caused an explosion of the Renaissance and the discovery of the New World. After that, the Reformation occurred, which changed the entire socio-political landscape of the West. And this is happening again now.
There is no term for describing this state, so I’ll call it simulflation. Simulflation is the simultaneous collapse and explosive development of the technological phase, just as a supernova star collapses and expands when fuel reserves are depleted. As the collapse of the new elements begin to be used as fuel.
We are experiencing technological simulation, similar to the period between 1910 and 1929, when technological innovations increased the inflow of investments to the level of bubbles, which led to huge technological breakthroughs, cost reduction and creative destruction. Now the laws of Moore, Metcalf and other power laws (genomics) lead to the destruction of industry, commerce and trade barriers. This leads to a permanent decrease in the reserve of pricing, which leads to a decrease in the cost of labor. It is the main component of business expenses, which is why its decrease leads to an even greater collapse due to automation. Simultaneously with the accelerating deflationary decrease in prices, the currents are untied from the goods (gold) so that the restriction on the amount of money issued by governments is lifted. This leads to monetary inflation and this money goes to investing in securities and digital (crypto) assets. This further accelerates price inflation. Thus, deflationary and inflationary processes occur simultaneously and, eventually, simullation leads to exhaustion and collapse of the current global economic system.
According to Martin Armstrong, in 1900, about 40% of the US labor force was employed in agriculture. By the end of the 1920s, the economy was completely restructured. Productivity has increased significantly due to electrification, which has increased the production of goods, and the internal combustion engine, which profoundly changed agriculture. Previously, 25% of agricultural land was used to feed horses and mules. When these horses and mules were replaced by tractors, the land suddenly became free. The overall productivity of agriculture has increased dramatically and exceeded market demand, which led to overproduction and under-consumption. The Great Depression led directly to World War II. To a supernova explosion, if you so wish.
We are on the verge of a new, even greater horizon of events. Answering your question, the next 50 years will either lead to a world of unprecedented well-being and increased well-being, or we will personally encounter the great Fermi Paradox filter. We are in for either the fate of Krell (the Forbidden Planet), or we can become God in the literal sense. Due to the exponential growth of human capabilities, there will be no intermediate option. So it makes me happy that so many people support our work with the best of intentions and not just financial gain.
Nicola Bagala : If you could say to every person in the world the words that he would remember all his life, what would it be?
David Gobel : The idea of money is a mass psychosis that prevents us from being who we are and who we can become. It exists because we do not believe each other and, perhaps, do not believe in ourselves. We must overcome this limitation. We must learn to understand and appreciate good without the need for “additional encouragement,” which we call money. Until we understand this, a longer life does not greet us with happiness.
Nicola Bagala : Many thanks to David for his wise remarks. His optimism and enthusiasm are contagious, and we hope that he is right in his predictions. Without people with a similar commitment to our cause, the science of rejuvenation would not have reached its current level.
Translation performed Pattern, SENS Volunteers group