Next-Gen LONGEVITY SCIENCE With XPRIZE Founder Peter Diamandis, MD | Rich Roll Podcast
(bright upbeat music) Certain species of sea life like the bowhead whale, large mammal can live for 200 years. And Greenland sharks can live 400 or 500 years. And so the question is, if they can live that long, why can't we? (gentle upbeat music) It's either gonna a hardware problem or a software problem, and we're gonna have the tools to fix that. And I think, we're on the precipice of that.
(bright upbeat music) I'm seeing what's going on in all of these different fields. And I have zero question about reaching longevity escape velocity. Hey everybody, welcome to the podcast. Today, we continue a conversation that has been ongoing for some time on this podcast around the subject matter of health span extension and the fascinating emerging science and technology of longevity. My guest for this exploration is Peter Diamandis. Peter is a graduate of MIT in Harvard Medical School.
He's perhaps best known as the founder and executive chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, as well as being the executive founder of Singularity University. Peter was named by Fortune as one of the world's 50 greatest leaders. Over the course of his career, he started over 20 companies in the areas of longevity, space, venture capital, and education. He's also a New York Times bestselling author. And his latest book, which he co-wrote with Tony Robbins is entitled, "Life Force." And that book provides the framework for today's discussion about the future of healthcare, the emerging science of life extension, and the philosophical implications of all of this.
In addition, we talk about the evolutionary implications of self-aware artificial intelligence, we discuss the future of education, also the importance of mindset in solving our biggest problems, as well as this pivotal role in the growth of privatized space exploration. And let's not forget, why he thinks bringing back the woolly mammoth is a good idea. Suffice it to say, we cover a variety of fascinating ground in this one, I really enjoyed Peter's company. So please hit that subscribe button. And here you go. This is me and Peter Diamandis.
Peter, it's so nice to meet you. Thank you for doing this. I followed your work for quite some time. I'm excited to meet you and talk to you.
There's so many threads that we can pull today. And I think just as an introductory note, the way that I think about you is as somebody who's made a name for himself being somebody who's all about big bold ideas, moonshot thinking, and how to kind of disrupt this disruptive approach to solving or approaching and solving the world's biggest problems and reimagining a better future for humanity. And you've got your tentacles in tons of stuff. I think today, we're gonna focus on probably our shared favorite subject, which is health and extending health span. Before we get into anything though, I gotta know what's in your...
You came here today with a big green smoothie. You got it in front of you there, I need to know what's in that. Athletic green, so I do an intermittent fast every day through till about 2, 2:30, and I'll drink some athletic greens just to flavor the water and give me a little bit of extra benefit. There you go.
Big supporter of the podcast. I'm a big fan of athletic. I had mine this morning as well, so good to know. Cheers.
You've got this new book out, "Life Force" that you co-authored with Tony Robbins. So I wanna dig into healthcare, the future of healthcare, health span, longevity, and all of that. But I think to begin, it's probably worth just canvasing the current state of healthcare and how you think about it as a basis point for how we're going to disrupt this broken system, and reimagine a better, newer one.
Yeah, it's completely ridiculous. It's a system that deserves to die under its own weight. And just like Google disrupted libraries, and like when's the last time you went to a library, and then provided ubiquitous access to information, we're gonna see the same thing happen in healthcare.
And it's really going to be not the existing healthcare companies that make the transition, it's gonna be a flock of new ones. And the healthcare companies of the future may sound like Amazon and Google and Microsoft and others, Apple, to add to the list. It's really gonna be the convergence of these exponential technologies, convergence of AI, and sensor technologies, and synthetic biology, and quantum computing. One of the things I'm clear about is this decade, we're gonna see healthcare move out of the hospitals, out of the doctor's office, into your home, onto your body. And it's gonna become, what has historically been a reactive generic system. I mean, you know the numbers as well as I do that when you have an FDA approved drug that you've been given to take, you think it's gonna work for you, but it works for like 10% to 20% of the people it's prescribed for.
It just may not be working with you, your physiology, your genomics, your microbiome, and so forth. And the potential is a completely personalized, completely preventative and predictive model where the recommendations I'm getting from the healthcare AI, it's about making yourself the CEO of your own health. I think about that. I think about Jarvis from Ironman, that AI, that Ironman has really continuously measuring my biology from sensors I'm wearing that are implanted, that are in my bed or the chair, that's measuring exactly what's going on all the time and giving me recommendations.
This is the future of healthcare. This is where we're going. And it's a future of healthcare, which like Google is demonetized and democratized. It's gonna be the best healthcare ever. And it's gonna be the lowest cost healthcare available to everybody.
The democratization aspect of it though, only comes in time as most of these things go, they begin very expensive in that early stage. And that's sort of a hurdle that has to be addressed. But I mean, currently, when you look at our healthcare system, particularly in the United States, it's sort of sinking under the bloat of its bureaucratic morass, and it's a situation in which we're dealing with human beings at the late stages of whatever's ailing them. You don't go to the doctor unless something's wrong with the exception of the occasional check in or whatever, which is fine, but we're dealing with all of these conditions once they have progressed and matured to a certain point, and then it becomes a situation in which the doctor is diagnosing and prescribing a medical intervention that oftentimes at least, pharmaceutically is treating a symptom and not the underlying condition. And with the advent of these technologies, it seems to me, a lot of this has to do with early detection at the very outset of these situations, so that they can be addressed, because once they've crossed a certain threshold and matured to a certain point, they become almost impossible to untangle or reverse.
Catch cancer at stage zero or stage one, you've got a 95% to 99% chance of a complete cure. Catch it at stage three, or God forbid, stage four, your chance of a cure is down to like 10%. And we're all developing cancers all the time, I think that's something that people would understand that is the normal course of what's going on in biology, but we have our immune systems that find the cancer and zap it before it gets uncontrollable. And it's when your immune system gets exhausted or your cancer has certain tricks to hide itself from your immune system, that it can get out of control. And yeah, it's about early diagnosis. And one of the things I'd like to talk with you about, if not now and a little bit later in our conversation is the incredible progress in diagnostic technologies.
I just went two days ago for my annual health upload. And this is not like, listen to your lungs and your heart and tap your knee and prostate exam. No, this is undigitized, on your 50 gigabytes of data about me, full body MRI, brain MRI, brain vasculature, and AI-enabled coronary CT. So we're using a platform called Clearly, that is looking for soft plaque, not calcified plaque. If it's calcified, it's safe, it's not gonna rupture, it's like cemented into the wall.
And if it's not including the coronary artery, that's fine. But if it's soft plaque that can rupture and block, that's where it's dangerous. And the old CTs don't find that, Clearly does. And so, that I do every year, which is brand new technology that we've got at Fountain Life. I did it a year ago and I had a really good score.
It wasn't perfect. I put some interventions in place and it's my cardiac status has significantly improved in a year, but I can measure that. And that gives me inspiration to keep going.
Then we do, part of this upload is your genome, your microbiome, your full blood omics. We do a Grail liquid biopsy test. Tell me what is that? So, Grail, a guy named Jeff Huber who was a senior VP at Google, beautiful guy.
His wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, was probably stage three, might have been stage four when it was too late, and she passed. And being the entrepreneur he was, he said, there's gotta be something better we can do. We've gotta be able to find these cancers in the body.
So he partnered with a group within Illumina, which is the major sequencing company out there. And developed what's called the liquid biopsy. And so, when a cancer is growing at someplace in your body, you don't know where it is, it's dividing and cells rupture, and the DNA from those cancer cells becomes accessible in your bloodstream. And so Grail is a blood test you take and it looks for 50 different cancer markers in your bloodstream.
And depending on how old you are, because the frequency of cancer is increasing, it's a test you do, today, I do it once a year, eventually, I'll do it every six months, who knows, maybe even a quarter, it's relatively low cost compared to the expenses. And so, if you detect a cancer, you're then beginning to look, and the full body MRI will show that to you as well. So for me, it's like a forest fire. When you wanna put the forest fire out when it's at ignition or when it's in it's configuration? Right, so right now, when we think about the sort of things that we should all be doing on a daily basis, there's a lot of low hanging fruit. A hundred percent.
It's like- Gets you to the basics. It's something we talk about all the time. Yeah, it's sleep, nutrition, exercise, reduce your stress, mindfulness practices, community, sort of finding purpose in your life, all of these sorts of things. And then beyond that, we start to venture into this terrain that is in your Bailiwick.
And I've had some of your colleagues on the show, Matthew Walker to talk about sleep. I've had David Sinclair on a couple of times, and you've gone down that rabbit hole of the emerging science, and then Sergey Young who as you know 'cause you work with him, his book just paints this wild picture of the future. We're at the very early stages of this where we're wearing aura rings and whoop. And we have, yeah, like all that kind of stuff. But this is just very nascent in terms of what's to come. So I wanna get into some of these emerging technologies in a little bit more detail.
That's the fun part. Why don't we, yeah... And then I have some philosophical kind of thought experiment questions that I wanna throw your way. But let's talk about where we're at, and what's to come with respect to things like genomics, AI, sensor tech, 3D printing, and the like. Sure, sure.
I mean, let me just say that the basics are still critically important. Sure, I mean, in the pyramid of everything, like you're not gonna get away with much if you're not taking care of those things, right? A hundred percent. So I feel a moral obligation to tell people a few basic things, which are the same things that you've talked about and written about in your career. Sleep is fundamental. Matt Walker, UC Berkeley, brilliant thinker here.
He wrote a great book called, "Why We Sleep." I commend it amazingly. And if evolution could have gotten rid of a single hour of sleep, the advantage of a subpopulation of humans that slept seven hours versus eight hours is huge. It hasn't, we need eight hours of sleep. And I used to brag when I was in medical school about being good on five or five and a half hours.
Now I'm bragging about hitting eight hours every night and do that with a great eye mask, or about taking the temperature down to 64 degrees, having a cooling mattress and really getting asleep at 9:30 and waking up at 5:30, just like consistency. And not watching TV. I actually put on an audible book with a timer to go off in 15 minutes to get to read a bedtime story. On diet, again, fundamental for me, it's a whole plant diet. I've gone vegan, I've gone keto.
I'm back to sort of a whole plant with some Mediterranean sort of fish and eggs, and then intermittent fasting for 18 hours and then eat for six. You do that every day? Every day, yeah. Well, let me just say, I do cheat occasionally with the kids on a Saturday morning, but I try not to. Yeah, and it's interesting, when you are doing intermittent fasting, I have incredible amount of energy.
And people would think, well, I need the food to fuel me and so forth. When I eat food after I've been fasting, it pulls the blood into your digestive system. And it makes you lethargic like on Thanksgiving day. And then of course, exercise, fundamental again, you know more about that than I do. But I try and take almost every meeting I possibly can as a walking meeting, or a walking phone call, or a walking Zoom.
So I try and get my 10,000 steps in a day. And then, I do a heavy weight workout twice a week and lightweights the other days. Yeah, well you look great. You're like, you're 60? I'm 60, I feel like I have a mental image of 28. And there is that, I mean, David Sinclair talks about the difference between the biological clock and the kind of, what does he call? Chronological and biological.
Yeah, so where are you on that scale? So, yeah David, when we wrote our book, "Life Force," we say David Sinclair is two ages, he's chronologically 53, and his biological age was 33. He was like, holy cow, that's amazing. I'm 60 and 49 and a half. And so, I'm gonna keep trying to get it down as far as I can.
And where are you at in terms of some of the Sinclair protocol with the NMN and the Metformin and rapamycin and all of that kind of stuff? 'cause it seems like there's some debate. Yeah, there's an ongoing debate as to the veracity of all of that. So I'm all in.
No, actually, I'm probably a 9 out of 10. I'm not a toe in person. So I jump and then figure out how to build a parachute. So where am I on that regard? I've got, I'm taking probably about 50 supplements a day. I do a monogram of Metformin. Metformin is a very cheap medicine.
It is a medicine, your prescription for it. And it's also known by the name Glucophage and it reduces access to glucose in the bloodstream and the cells, it's thought to impact the mitochondria. It's one of the safest drugs out there.
It appears, there's a large study that Dr. Nir Barzilai at Einstein Medical School is working on right now, that Metformin from the data he's looked, extends your life, it reduces the prevalence of cancer, and has got very low impact. I'm then taking a number of other supplements from Quercetin to turmeric.
Antioxidants, anti-inflammatories. And I'm supplementing my testosterone. I think that's a really important thing that people need to realize, our bodies were never designed to live past age 30. On the Savannahs of Africa, a hundred thousand years ago, you'd go into puberty at age 12 or 13, and you were pregnant by age 13 or 14, and then by the time you were 28, your kid was having a kid.
Yeah, grandparents in their twenties. And the worst thing you could do to perpetuate the species, was steal food from the mouths of your grandchildren. And so you would die.
You'd give your bits back to the environment. And so there was no selective pressure to keep you in homeostasis in your forties, fifties, or sixties, 'cause you had done your deed, you had reproduced already. And as a result, we go out of homeostasis. Our pituitary, our hormonal levels are all decreasing and it is possible.
And I think the right thing to do to optimize your testosterone levels. And the challenge is that different kinds of physicians have different sense of what's normal. So you might not have your doctor suggest testosterone supplementation until your testosterone level is down below 200 or 150, where you probably wanted to be in the 500 to 800 or a 1000 level to really have the vitality and energy to build muscle, to have clarity of thought. So I take 0.2 ml injection subq twice a week. And I've thought about rapamycin. I have not started on that.
Fountain Life, which I mentioned, which does all the diagnostics, has a regenerative medicine side as well. And we're working with the Buck Institute on trials and in investigation new drug around rapamycin, around stem cells, around Dasatinib and Quercetin. These are this senolytic medicines out there.
And there's a lot of data coming in, it's the early day still. But this decade is gonna be magical. Yeah, how long before you think we reach what you've talked about as achieving longevity escape velocity, maybe like describe what that is? So today, science is having breakthroughs that are extending your life every year.
And on the average, for every year you're alive, science extends your life for about a quarter of a year. There is a point and Ray Kurzweil talks about it extensively. And Ray wrote the preface of our book. He's one of my mentors, one of the greatest thinkers on exponential technologies.
He's my co-founder at Singularity University. And I asked him, when do you think we're gonna reach longevity escape velocity, which is the point that for every year you're alive, science is extending your life for greater than a year. Sort of a departure point. And his answer about when we'll get there, he said is about 12 years. That's his guess. Now, if someone else said it, I wouldn't give it that much credence.
But if you Google, Ray Kurzweil's accuracy on his predictions, it's like 86%. I mean, the guy is extraordinary in his predictions of the future. And then, I was in a conversation with George Church who else write about extensively in the book. And I asked George, when do you think we're gonna, George is a professor of genomics at Harvard Medical School, same as David Sinclair.
They're fantastic friends and collaborators. And George said, within the next 15 years. And so, I'm like, that's kind of insane. Right, let's assume for a moment that that's correct. 15 years from now, give or take, we'll be able to, every year that you live, there will be an incremental- (indistinct) of life span. Yeah, sufficient enough, such that the perpetuation of life would seem to never cease.
Yeah, it's like, we have a 24,000 mile diameter or circumference of the planet. And if you're in a jet going at a thousand miles an hour Westward, the sun never sets. And that is, and if you go faster, the sun will rise. You're in stasis.
And so, it's somewhat similar in that regard. And it gets you thinking, which is, to use a phrase from one of Ray's books, "Fantastic Voyage," it's living long enough to live forever. Now, let's put aside the idea of living forever as a moment, but how long can we live? When I was in medical school years ago, Rich, I remember watching a TV show on "Long Lived Sea Life."
And I didn't have much time for TV. I would basically just watch Star Trek, whenever I could, which was my sort of vitamin dosage. And what I learned was that certain species of sea life, like the bowhead whale, large mammal, can live for 200 years. And Greenland sharks can live 400 or 500 years. Sea turtles, similar, multi-hundred year lifespan.
And so the question is if they can live that long, why can't we? And I remember thinking, it's either gonna be a hardware problem or a software problem, and we're gonna have the tools to fix that. And I think we're on the precipice of that. And from a philosophical point of view, like that conjures up a conversation around the appropriateness of all of it, does it not? I mean, you're somebody who's always been very optimistic.
You've written a couple of books where you kind of canvas these emerging technologies and you characterize them in very favorable terms. So you're not one to be prone to dystopian scenarios. But I can't help but think like in the event that perhaps, we could live to something like 200 years, like what would that mean? Like how does that impact our psychology as a species? How does it impact how we think about risk? How does that impact overpopulation on a planet of decreasingly limited resources, et cetera? So how are you wrapping your head around all of that? I know you got a whole thing.
Let's open the story, I love it. So first of all, a study came out six months ago done by Lang School of Business, Oxford and Harvard that looked at the impact of extending the lifespan by just one year of every human on the planet. The economic impact is $38 trillion global economy of being able to keep you and me in the game a year longer. So it's a massive, positive impact to the global economy, earning potential, being productive. Now the question about overpopulation, and I write about that in the chapter on exponential tech and longevity.
And a lot of people are concerned about overpopulation of planet earth. Then there's a lot of people, including myself, Elon Musk, I had this conversation with him last April. They're concerned about massive under population of planet earth.
I have a hard time seeing that being a reality. Well, look at the numbers. So 50 years ago, the average was 5.7 children per family globally. Today, that has dropped to 2.4 children per family globally. Replacement level is 2.1. The idea being when you raise the floor on economic wellbeing and you increase access to education, the number of kids goes down.
Significantly. And so, the US is below the replacement level. Most of Europe is below replacement level. Japan, China, below the replacement level. And the concern is that rather than going out with a bang, it's gonna be a whimper that we're gonna peak.
And we will peak just like peak oil and peak natural gas and all those other scarcity mindset. We're gonna peak at nine, nine and a half billion people, and then a very rapid decline. And the numbers post COVID is that the reproduction rate has dropped precipitously post COVID.
So we talk about the great resignation and having difficulty finding people, which is true. I'm involved in a dozen companies and hiring people is getting harder and harder. I'm gonna want to keep people in the game. And why do people stop working? Because they're in pain or they're tired, they don't have the energy. And so, but if you can have the vitality, the aesthetics, the cognition, the mobility, at a hundred years old that you had at 50 or 60, it's amazing time to be alive. I can't help, but think, if you could live to 200, the possibility certainly exists that you would have multiple partners across that period of time.
And you might have multiple families. Like I had a whole family with two kids with this person, and now I'm gonna have two kids with this, you could do that three or four times over. And multiple careers, three or four times over. The reality is that our existence, our societal structure, our laws, are built around a very different age. We don't have a true democracy of a representative democracy 'cause the communications didn't exist back hundreds of years ago to be able to count everybody's vote, but they do now.
And the idea of social security was designed and developed when the average lifespan was like 55. You would retire, go on social security, 18 months later you were dead. And so, all of this is changing. For the financial advisors listening to us or the people who are dependent upon financial advisors, making sure you have enough money, if you're gonna add 20 or 30 healthy years is an important conversation to have. And it's not being heard sufficiently.
'Cause I think, this is the direction that we're heading. Sorry to interrupt the flow. We'll be right back with more awesome. But I wanna snag a moment to talk to you about the importance of nutrition. The thing is, most people I know, actually already know how to eat better and aspire to incorporate more whole plants, more fruits, vegetables, seeds, beans, and legumes into their daily routine. Sadly however, without the kitchen tools and support, very few end up sticking with it.
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It's also interesting to think about how we calibrate risk also, because if you're faced with the prospect of living that long, how do you think about like, oh, am I gonna play football in high school? Am I gonna go skydiving? Like why would you incur any unnecessary risk that could threaten your ability to live for another century? There's a great science fiction story called "The Puppet Masters." I think it's by Larry Nevin or David Brin. And it's a society that has achieved longevity escape velocity. And they got to a point where they're so risk averse, they have no corners on their tables.
They don't wanna like bump themselves. And I think... It's hard to anticipate what that psychological makeup would be, because we have no experience with something like that.
I think the single most important thing around the psychological makeup of longevity is having purpose long enough, enough of having a bigger future for yourself than your past. To keep you wanting to stay in the game, that keeps you excited for there's probably a great French term, the V day, whatever. That keeps you excited about. Like for me, Rich, as you know my early passions in life were all space. It was the "Apollo Program," it was "Star Trek." It was all of that stuff.
And it's just now, and I worked for 20 plus years in the commercial space industry. It's just now through the work that mostly Elon's doing, and to some degree Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson and others that we're opening the space frontier. I want to go and walk on the moon, start a city there. I want to go and mine the asteroids.
I want to see that future. But unless I'm able to tack on an extra 30 healthy years of my life, it's gonna be just out of reach. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, it is worth mentioning, in talking about private spacecraft and everything that we're seeing going on right now, which is unbelievable, that it really all tracks back to your initial XPRIZE. Like everything that we're seeing in the private space with space exploration, I don't, would it have happened, had you not created that initial XPRIZE? I mean, maybe it would have, but it was really an inflection point for this whole thing.
Thank you, it was like, when I grew up, my parents were both in medical field. My dad both born in Lesbos. So my dad came over, became an OB-GYN.
My mom should have been a doctor, she managed the office for him, and it was always expected, I become a doctor. That was it, it was like, it is like that old joke around the presence being inaugurated and his mom is there and the person goes, "Mrs. so and so, aren't you so proud of your son, "he's become the president?" She goes, "Yes, "but you see that guy next to him, "that's his brother, and he's a doctor." It was like that kind of a thing. And so, space captured my heart and I wanted so desperately to become an astronaut. And so I went to medical school, if I wasn't a fighter pilot, being a medical doctor was the next highest probability of being an astronaut core.
And I got to meet lots of astronauts. I did research on them, befriended many of them, the Apollo astronauts, the Shuttle astronauts. And what I learned really boggled my mind. First of all, my chances of becoming a NASA astronaut like one in a thousand. I'm 5'4 and a half, I'll add the half there. And my chance of becoming a NASA astronaut, I have more of a chance becoming NBA all-star than I do.
It's like, it's crazy. Half the astronauts selected in the core have never flown, they're called penguins 'cause they have wings and they don't fly. And then, if you do get to fly, on the average at most, it's two flights during your career. And I'm like, that's just not my vision of going to space.
I wanna go like every weekend if I want to go. And so I made a wholesale shift to commercial space, and really began focused on how do I open it up commercially? How do I build a business an exothermic economic reaction? Started something called International Space University, started at a company I'm very fond of called Zero-G. With Ray.
Yeah, with Ray. Ray Kurzweil, myself and Byron Lichtenberg co-founded that, the three of us. And it took us 11 years to get approval from the FAA to do that. But our highlight was flying Stephen Hawking into Zero-G, world's expert in gravity and the weightlessness. It was amazing. I remember that.
And then I was given a copy of the Spirit of St. Louis Lindbergh's biography by a dear friend, Gregg Maryniak. And I'm reading this book in the Chronicles, something called the Orteig Prize. It was a $25,000 prize offered in 1919 for the first person to fly between New York and Paris. And it was considered craziness.
The idea you can fly that distance. And nine teams went after this $25,000 prize. Four of them died in making the attempt. And Lindberg who was the most unlikely guy to do it, had been flying only for two years. No one would sell him an airplane or an engine, 'cause they were so scared that he would fail and give them a bad reputation. He makes the flight 33 and a half hours from a Roosevelt field to Le Bourget.
Becomes the most famous humans on the planet, aviation skyrockets. And it was cause of that prize. And I was like, that's what I'm gonna do I'm gonna create a prize. And so I announced the idea of a $10 million prize for the first team who could build a private spaceship, carry three adults up to a hundred kilometers, land and do it again within two weeks.
And lo and behold, we had 26 teams from seven countries, guy named Burt Rutan, who had built the Voyager airplane that flew nonstop around the world, backed by Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, built SpaceShipOne and claimed the prize in 2004. I think the legacy of that was one, we had to change all the regulations and that was a big deal. The regulations for commercial private human space life did not exist. And we worked, we said, listen, this price is gonna be won in Russia or Argentina. So we got the laws changed here and then most other countries copied as they do.
The FAA is usually the leader here. Was that part of why it took that many years or was it just the technological development? No, it's the technology, it was the capital that was required, aggregating the capital to build these ships was, 'cause everybody said, listen, can anyone really pull it off? Why isn't NASA doing it? And aren't you gonna die trying? And so that just made it very risk averse for everybody. And as a result of that, it took eight years for the prize to get one. Branson came in, bought the rights to create Virgin Galactic. And then I've known Jeff Bezos since college. My first group ever was College Space Organization.
I was one of the MIT chapters, one of the present chapter. 'Cause you had this double life through College and med school, in the space world, starting all these organizations. And then going through medical school and trying to make my parents happy.
I remember I met with Bezos in Seattle after like the year after he started Amazon and I was like, "So Jeff, "what up with Amazon? "I thought you wanted to do space?" And he goes, "Well, I'm gonna make my money in Amazon, "then I'll go spend it in space." Like a simple, two step plan. Right, that clarity all the way back then. Yeah and then he and Elon who I've known through since 2000, I was trying to get Elon to fund the Amir Ansari XPRISE before I had the money and then the Ansari family funded it. But this idea that you can inspire small teams to do crazy things is huge. And bringing this back to health and longevity, working with David Sinclair and George Church, we've designed and developed and initially funded by Sergey Young to give him credit.
We've got an age reversal XPRISE that we're very close to launching. And when Sergey first went to do a longevity prize and I've been the biggest longevity fan involved in this industry for a decade now, I was like, man, I just don't see how we're gonna make an XPRISE out of it. And the more I started studying it and kudos to Sergey, I was like, oh, interesting.
And it was okay, we're not gonna do a longevity prize. We're gonna do an age reversal prize and it's can we... And to win this prize, you need to demonstrably through a number of very specific mechanisms, demonstrate the age reversal of three independent tissues or organ systems in the human by 20 years or more in a repeatable fashion. Yeah, it's a pretty high bar, especially when all of the, it seems like all of the science right now is in mice and rats and the like. Yeah, it is. That work is going from mice and rats into dogs.
And when I asked David and George again, my two sort of superstars and in the book "Life Force," we have these heroes and David and George are definitive heroes in the book. Ask them, when do you think we're gonna be seeing the gene therapies that were used to reverse the age in mice? The answer is, "We'll likely see it being tested in humans "in five years time." Which sounds insane.
Is that once again to kind of regulatory hurdles or more about the progress of the science itself? I think it's both, the FDA is a governor like limiting the speed by virtue of wanting to make sure it's done well and doing it safely. When I was in medical school and graduate school, I was in a Richard Mulligan's Lab at the Whitehead Institute at MIT in Harvard. And it was the earliest days of gene therapy and this incredibly brilliant man envision of being able to use a virus in this case, it had no associated virus, that you've stripped out the virus's DNA and put in the DNA that you want, and using this virus to go and infect the specific cells in the human body and inject this piece of programming into it, was a massively brilliant idea. And unfortunately, when it was first tested, it killed the young patient.
And it really set back the field like five to 10 years, I don't know the exact number. And then it was eventually successfully trialed in what's called bubble boy's disease when you have no immune system. And it was successful. And now it's an extraordinary tool in the toolkit. But you don't wanna make that mistake. You don't want to have something set back the field.
So there's caution in doing it in mice and rats and Guinea pigs and dogs and primates, and then eventually humans. Well, there's certainly a qualitative difference between extending the life of cells, human cells or decreasing the rate at which they decline. And it's another thing altogether to "reverse their aging." So how do you demarcate the difference between those two? So here's the question. And it's one that when I first thought about it and I'm not sure if I heard it posed or just my mind came up with it, which is when we're born, we have 3.2 billion letters from our mother,
and 3.2 from our father, and that same genome is there when we're 20 and 40 and 60 and 80 and a hundred. And the question is if it's the same genome and it is basically the same genome, why do you look different? What, why? Then it turns out it's not your genome, it's your epigenome.
Epi from the Greek word for above, it's the controls of which genes are turned on and which genes are turned off. So as you well know, every cell in our body has the genes to become any other kind of cell in our body. And when we begin life, we are a pluripotent stem cell, stemness means the ability to differentiate into bone, muscle, ligament, whatever it might be. But once it's differentiated, that cell is only expressing the proteins for a muscle cell or only expressing the proteins for a skin cell. The other proteins that are used in the eye or the brain or the liver are wrapped up and tightly bound in this system called our histones that limit it from being expressed. And so it's why your cells don't all of a sudden start becoming other types of cells.
You don't want, sort of your muscle becoming skin cells and that's your epigenome. And what David Sinclair does a beautiful job in his book "Lifespan," which I command to everybody in discussing that our epigenome changes over time. And you can measure your epigenome, looking at methylation patterns, the methyl groups of CH3 attached to different parts of your DNA that control whether it can be red or not red, and whether it's wrapped and tightly or not. And he then goes on and talk about what a system called a Sirtuin systems, right? There are seven Sirtuin genes and seven Sirtuin proteins that are controlling two different functions that are critical to your existence. One function that the sirtuins control is your epigenome. The sirtuins are controlling, keeping your muscle cell a muscle cell, keeping your skin cell a skin cell.
The other thing that sirtuins are controlling is DNA repair. So just living life, being hit by cosmic rays, by chemicals in the environment, by secondhand smoke, whatever it might be, we're constantly being hit by these mutagens that are causing double strand breaks and single strand breaks and other kinds of DNA damage. The number I just read the other day is a thousand to a million DNA hits per day per cell. I mean, it's insane. But luckily our cells have evolved these DNA repair mechanisms.
And our Sirtuins are over seeing that and supporting a DNA repair. And as we get older, the DNA repair is getting more and more burdensome and it's distracting the sirtuins from their other function of epigenetic regulation. But it's even worse than that because the fuel that sirtuins are using is something called NAD. And we can talk about NMN which is a precursor. And as you age your NAD levels in your cells plummet to under 50%, again, in our forties, fifties, and sixties, because our body was never designed to live that long.
There was no homoestasis at that point. And so the way I visualize it in my mind is your genome is like the keys of a piano. Your epigenome is the piano player, and if you're playing the right keys at the right time, you're expressing yourself properly. Now imagine that the piano player at the same time, they're playing the concerto need to go and repair this thing over here.
And the amount of time they're having to repair is they're being distracted over and over and more and more frequently. And then imagine that the food that they're being fed to energize them is getting less and less. They're becoming weaker and weaker and more and more distracted. And so your epigenome gets dysregulated and we then see skin changes, we see more cancer, we see a whole slew of different age-related situations.
So the idea being that by ingesting this exogenous NAD precursor in the form of NMN, you're alleviating some of that burden and allowing a better regulation. You're giving your sirtuins more energy to fight their good fight. And what is the relationship between all of that and this conversation around declining telomere lengths and how that impacts our aging? So I won't dive into areas that I'm not fully sure about. But I mean, telomeres are the end caps of our cells that get shorter and shorter as we age. So there's something called the hay flick limit, which is your cells are able to replicate about 50 times. And then they do one of three things.
After they've reached about 50 replications, they should have the decency to die, or if they don't, they could become cancer cells and the regulatory breaks are taken off and it can grow out of control. And the third thing maybe that happens is they become senile cells, also called zombie cells. And they just sit there and they produce inflammatory factors.
And I think the number is like 3% of our cells in our body are senile cells. In our skin, in our liver, in our lungs and our kidneys. And so there's a whole new set of medications called senolytic medicines, which are looking to identify and zap those senile cells to kill them.
And the reason for that is if you're able to do that, it reduces inflammation in the body, which is one of the big cause of aging as well. Right, that's Senescence. Yes.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let's go back to the Pluripotent cells, the stem cells. I think what you're doing with Celularity by capturing these cells in the form of the placenta is pretty interesting. Yeah, it's fascinating.
So one of our partners in the book is Dr. Bob Hariri who's my older brother from another mother. He's a pilot, he was a neurotrauma surgeon.
And early in his career when his wife was pregnant with his daughter, Alex, Bob found something curious that normally when I was in medical school and he was in medical school, you're taught that the placenta is sort of the support mechanism for the fetus. And when he looked at his wife's echo was like, it was clear the placenta was huge compared to the fetus and like why, if it was a support mechanism it should be growing at the same time. Long story short, he was the first person who really recognized the placenta is the source of, I think of it a 3D printer that manufactures the baby, generates all of the cells, all the stem cells. And when you have a baby, typically the labor and delivery will charge you to incinerate and get rid of the placenta. And he said, instead of doing that, we should be collecting this incredible organ and collecting from it stem cells, exosomes, natural killer cells, and T-cells each for a different reason.
And he started doing this work as an entrepreneur, got bought by a company called Celgene, which is now part of Bristol Myers Squibb, but Celgene was a hundred billion dollar company. And Bob was running cellular medicine at Celgene. About four or five years ago, I helped him spin what is now Celularity out of Celgene, take the whole cellular medicine division out. And we started this, Bob's chairman and CEO.
And I'm very proud to be vice chairman in the company. And what Celularity does is a number of things. Number one, we're the largest bank of placenta's on the planet. So when my wife and I had our two boys, we banked their placenta's.
There's a company called LifebankUSA, which is a division. Anybody listening who is pregnant or knows someone who's pregnant, I think it's a more imperative to save the placenta. Yeah, it's an insurance policy out on your children's future.
Yeah, it's like, that's the placental cells are like the original boot disk, the original software. And from that, you'll be able to have so many benefits of regrowing organs, or there's a whole series of cancer diseases where you're gonna want to have access to that original clean zero-day genome. So Bob realized this, and what Celularity is doing is it's doing, it's mining the placenta for products. So first thing is now natural killer cells.
And natural killer cells are the part of your innate immune system that can detect cancer and zap it. Can detect cells infected by viruses and zap them. And it turns out that in a mother who's pregnant, who has cancer, the probability of a cancer metastasizing to the child is like near zero. And it turns out that the natural killer cells from the placenta find any cancer cells and zap them. But when you're older as a human and you have immune exhaustion, which occurs, your immune system starts declining, you don't have the ability to detect the cancer.
So what we do is we use the natural killer cells from the placenta intravenously against a number of cancers. We're now going into glioblastoma, which is that terrible fatal brain disease. And I can't discuss the results yet, but we're super excited about this. So natural killer cells and T-cells from placenta as a supercharged, very vital youthful cancer mechanism.
And then stem cells, as the means to augment your stem cells. When you're born compared to age 80, your stem cell populations are down like a hundred fold or a thousand fold in different compartments. And your stem cells are the regenerative engine of the body.
You can think of the body as a mansion with a army of workers that support everything being right. But as you age, the workers become senile, they die, and the mansion starts falling apart. Same thing for stem cells in your body. So can you revitalize it? In fact, this book "Life Force began.
Yes, 'cause Tony had this stenosis issue right on his back. Yeah, he was chasing a 22 year old skier, what do you call it on the surfboard? Snowboarding? Snowboarder and trying to keep up. And he takes a bad fall. Buddy broke his neck, had actually basically done a really bad rotator cuff.
And all of the surgeons were like, "You need surgery, you need surgery, you need surgery. And Tony is the guy that gets the fifth, sixth and 10th opinion. And he reached out to me one day and said, "What do you think?" And I said, "You should talk to Bob Hariri about stem cells. And talking to Bob is like asking someone to give you advice in basketball and talking to LeBron James.
He's like the top of the game. And so Bob advises him where to go get stem cell treatments. And after three days, one shot in the shoulder and three days of IVs, just for 30 minutes a day, his pain is gone, his pain in his back is gone. And a couple of months later his MRI is normal and he's like this regenerative medicine stuff is amazing.
And results would vary. And Tony is definitely a mind over matter kind of guy. So if it's gonna work for anybody, it'll work for him. And we began a journey. So as part of the XPRISE, I run an adventure trip every year for our benefactors.
And we were piggybacking at the Vatican and running a longevity adventure trip, and I invited Tony to come. And he came on this trip. In fact, we opened the book with that story.
And he met all of these incredible physicians and researchers, George Church was there, Martine Rothblatt, a multitude. And he goes all in, he studies. And so he said, "This is my next book."
He invited me to coauthor it with him, which had been a joy. And that's how we got to where (indistinct). And here we are and you're doing podcasts. Yeah, exactly.
Let's talk about some of the other interesting developments in this space. Where are we in terms of AI and machine learning and sensor tech and 3D printing? Like, how is that going to, like, at what point can we start to see that being introduced into our kind of diagnostic regimen? Yeah, so AI is here now. AI is out competing physicians almost everywhere in terms diagnostic. So AI is diagnosing lung cancer, prostate cancer, Alzheimer's. The idea that a human doctor, as good as we are at pattern recognition can outdo an AI is getting less and less likely.
In fact, I think it's gonna become malpractice to diagnose somebody without AI in the loop very soon. Yeah, when the data sets as they get larger and larger and larger. The ability for an AI to detect something is gonna far exceed the human by capacity. By a massive margin.
And every hour of the day, there are probably dozens if not hundreds of journal articles written. And in AI can consume all of them. But no physician can keep up with the volume of accelerating, exponentially growing research.
And so AI is here right now. There's another place that's being used. One of my companies, my venture friend, Bolds invested in this called in Silicon medicine, and a brilliant Russian AI scientist, Alex Krizhevsky has built this out of Hong Kong and it's using something called, Generative Adversarial Networks to design, which is a type of AI machine learning to design customized drugs for specific targets. But it's doing it like a hundred fold faster and a hundred fold lower cost. And the eventual where this is eventually gonna go combining even quantum computing, 'cause quantum chemistry, looking at predicting how molecules are interacting with each other is where I think quantum computing's gonna have the biggest impact is we're gonna be able to simulate drugs for you, specifically for you, for the surface antigens on your cells and create drugs N of 1. And so there's just, AI is, it's biotech gene therapies, CRISPR, all of those areas in AI and then sensors.
So today we talked, we opened with this conversation that I think we're gonna move the healthcare out of the office, out of the hospital, into the home. And you're gonna have injected sensors subdermally, you're gonna have sensors you've swallowed, sensors on your clothing, on your bed, on your hands, whatever it might be, in your toilet, that is measuring the parameters all the time. And passively, uploading it to your AI.
That is constantly, you hop in your autonomous car, your AI says, listen, I'm not taking you to the office, I'm taking you to the office and be gone, but I'm not taking to where you're going or going to this center, 'cause I've detected small mRNAs in your bloodstream that indicates you got an impending cardiac event. You have this very optimistic perspective on AI. Your friend, Elon doesn't necessarily share that optimism. I mean, it is, I find myself when you were describing that, I find myself equal parts fascinated, but also terrified of some kind of weaponized dystopian version of artificial intelligence and how humanity isn't always so great about contemplating the unexpected downstream consequences of some of these technological advances that were hell bent on.
I mean, we're going to do it no matter what. Yeah, there's no on off switch, there's no (indistinct) switch. But we're not very good about taking a beat and saying, what are we really doing here? And how can we enact measures now in this premature phase to prevent some of the predictable, negative consequences.
We're actually better than you might think. So when I was in medical school I remember, recombinant DNA, the first restriction enzymes for being able to accurately cut DNA at different locations came in and it was predicted to be this disastrous implications for terrorism and Hitler youth and clone babies. And it was just like, front covers of magazines were predicting doom and gloom. And what happened was that the science community got together at a place called Asilomar north of here. And they had the Asilomar conferences and they created their self-regulatory structures to preventing these things from happening. And we haven't had any issues in 40 years.
And the fact of the matter is, our brains are wired to give much more credence to negative news than positive news. Because as we were evolving on the Savannahs of Africa, you missed a piece of good news, like some food, too bad. You missed a piece of bad news, like a rustle in the leaves is a lion and not the wind- You're dead. You're dead. Your Genes are out of the gene pool. And so we have an ancient piece of our temporal lobe called the amygdala that scans everything we see and everything we hear for negative news and you're glued to it.
And so, I call CNN the "Crisis News Network" or the "Constantly Negative News Network." I don't have a good version for Fox. But we're bombarded by all this negative news, but it hasn't actually all...
So another thing that we do is we see a potential piece of bad news out there and we project it all the way to here and we're like, we're screwed. But what we forget is that we have increasing technologies that are giving us the resources to solve those problems. So the environmental disaster of the 1890s, do you know what it was? No. Massive environmental disaster. Horse shit in the streets.
Yes, horse shit in the streets. Yeah, exactly right. People were moving out of the rural area into the downtown urban area, they were bringing their emotive force, the horse with them and horse shit was piling up every place. And they redesigned the stoops to have little runways so that when it rained, kind of the shit would flow downhill literally, but it was causing disease and the predictions were disastrous. And what happened, the car came in and the car displaced the horses and got rid of that issue.
But it created a bigger problem- Well, and we're gonna solve that bigger problem. And I truly believe we are. We're on the verge of fusion. If you've been tracking what's going on, and it's pretty extraordinary. We're seeing this year, we're gonna create more photoable take, electric capacity in the United States than any other form of over half of the US electric. New electricity production is gonna be a affordable take.
And we're seeing amazing progress on batteries. And I just had incredible conversation with a team out of Google on zero-point energy, but I won't go there too, its another conversation. Well, there was that news item the other day.
I didn't read past the headlines, but that nuclear fusion machine that creates infinite energy. What is that about? So I think that's, it's really the fusion work that's going on right now. So there's about, I would've never thanked this, but there's like a dozen VC-backed fusion companies.
And this is harnessing the power of the sun, which creates no radioactive waste. But is able to provide a massive abundance of energy. And so the prediction and I talk about this in my books that we're heading towards a squanderble abundance of energy. And interestingly enough, we're moving very rapidly in solar and solar and wind, incredible progress.
The poorest countries in the world are the sunniest countries in the world. They may become net energy exporters, and then we may see fusion coming in and displacing all of that. So not, I'm not sure how we got onto this conversation, but.
Well, the idea of being optimistic about the future, I was sort of challenging you with a dystopian counterpoint, but I think, yeah, it's this Stephen Pinker idea of life is actually a lot better than you think. And we have this tendency to look in the past and think that it was a lot rosy (indistinct) was. We romanticised the past and it was short and brutish and you died at 40 from TB. Honestly, the poorest people amongst us today are living better than the Kings and Queens did.
It just, we compare ourselves against our neighbors and we compare ourselves against people we don't even know. And we forget, it's like, we don't look at how far we've come. We look at sort of this potential perfection. But it's amazing what we have access to.
Well, certainly to ponder the viability of printing organs or just the rudimentary implications of VR headsets on medical students who could put themselves in the position of performing cutting edge surgeries, that they wouldn't be able to bear witness to, like all of the learning tools that are now available, certainly in the sensory tech that would allow us to have interventions at a very early phase. Like these are all fantastic things. But then I read like this idea about bringing the woolly mammoth back to- Yeah, I love it. So like- I love it.
And I'm like, all right, well, this is right out of the script of any bad sci-fi movie idea of humans gone wrong. (Peter laughing) Or is it? So we have caused huge extinction events of our own and is it bad to bring back an extinct species? Not all, we can stop short of the T-Rexs and the Velociraptors but the woolly mammoth, the sabertooth tiger, the dodo, whatever it is, interestingly enough, I'm an investor and an advisor to colossal the company full disclosure, that's doing that. Ben Lamb is a brilliant CEO, it's backed by George Church. It's been one of his pet projects and also bringing back extinct plants that