Ray Kurzweil’s Plan for Cheating Death

February 3, 2006

Originally published in The Futurist March-April 2006. Reprinted on KurzweilAI.net February 3, 2006.

This article is a response to Ray Kurzweil’s feature in The Futurist, Reinventing Humanity. You can also read other responses to Kurzweil’s article by John Smart, J. Storrs Hall, Damien Broderick, and Richard Eckersley. Ray Kurzweil’s response to Eckersley’s comments can be found here.

Click here to read a PDF of the full feature.

I first met Ray Kurzweil in 1999 at a Foresight Institute meting in Palo Alto. I was there to get some background information on nanotechnology for a new book I was writing. As I stood in the lunch line, a healthy appearing man in front of me was engaged in animated conversation with a not nearly so healthy looking second man. Their topic of conversation was vitamins and nutritional supplementation, a topic of great interest to me, a nutritionally oriented M.D.

I joined the conversation, and the healthy looking man introduced himself as Ray Kurzweil. Ray and I continued our dialog via email after the conference ended, and a few months later, he flew from his home in Boston to Frontier Medical Institute, my longevity clinic in Denver, for a comprehensive longevity medical evaluation. In Denver we performed a comprehensive battery of tests designed to uncover any health risks he might still have so that together we could better optimize Ray’s already very sophisticated program for health and longevity.

From the beginning, it was obvious that Ray would be a unique patient. I have many engineer patients in my practice (and Ray is an engineer by training), so I am not surprised when a patient comes to see me with a notebook of spreadsheets detailing various data extracted from their daily lives: blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, blood sugar levels, amount of exercise, etc. carefully tabulated for several years. But all previous data collections I had seen, even those organized into Excel and meticulously graphed, paled in comparison to Ray’s. His data collection was so thorough and meticulous that he could tell me what he ate for lunch on June 23, 1989 (as well as for every other day for several years before that date or since). And not only what he ate, but the number of grams of each serving and calories consumed, as well as the number of calories he burned that day through exercise – every day for decades!

As a result, it came as less of a surprise for me to learn that Ray was taking over 200 supplement pills a day. Ray’s approach had been to accurately assess his personal health risks and then quite simply to “reprogram his biochemistry.” Ongoing testing indicates that he is doing a remarkable job, as measurement of his biological age in my clinic indicates that he is now almost two decades younger than his chronological age, and all of his health risks appear under optimal control.

Ray was already working on his new book, “The Singularity is Near,” at that time, and I had just completed my first book, “The Baby Boomers’ Guide to Living Forever.” It was natural that our email dialog moved into discussion of the prospects for truly radical life extension for people of all ages, including older boomers like ourselves. As our emails multiplied into the many thousands, we decided to organize the information and see if we had the makings of a new book that we would coauthor. I created a preliminary table of contents, Ray organized the information from our emails and another 10,000 emails or so later, our joint book, “Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever” was written in the midst of Ray’s writing of “The Singularity Is Near.”

Ray felt that he was writing these books together as a unit and that there was synergy between them. “The Singularity Is Near” details Ray’s vision of the astounding possibilities of the world of the near future as the singularity unfolds sometime within the next few decades. In “Fantastic Voyage” we provide readers with the information they need to live long enough and remain healthy enough to fully experience the wonders of life in the post singularity world. In writing these two books has Ray painted a clear picture of the future and provided a blueprint for how to get there.

© 2006 Terry Grossman. Reprinted with permission.