Quarterly Roundup – Q3 2016



1 Bitcoin = $609



Austrian Economics vs. Keynesian Economics

Bitcoin is quite literally applied Austrian Economics. An island of regulatory freedom in a Keynesian ocean. – Ansel Lindner

Bitcoin’s second halving means we are actually doing the experiment. Keep inflating fiat as Bitcoin keeps deflating. Let’s see what happens. – Balaji S. Srinivasan


World’s Best Performing Currency: Bitcoin up 40% So Far in 2016

Currencies Tracked by Blocklink in 2016 : Real-time FX Rates

  • Bitcoin was also the world’s strongest currency vs. the US Dollar in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015.
  • Gold is the world’s 2nd best performing currency up 24% year-to-date.
  • The best performing government currency is the Brazilian Real, up 21%.



Bitcoin: A Genius Combination

Bitcoin is a genius combination of Finance, Economics, Cryptography, Computer Science, Distributed Networks, and Game Theory. – Mark Howard


Confirmation Times and Fees

Despite the sky is falling FUD, bitcoin is working just fine.

Confirmation times and fees are still low even today: bitcoinfees.21.co



Investing in Bitcoin

Bitcoin price at start of:

50btc Era: $0

25btc Era: $12

12.5btc Era: $630

6.25btc Era: ?

Konrad S. Graf


  • Bitcoin has doubled in value in the last four months, in spite of the endless parade of charlatans continuously declaring it dead. You think if you ignore bitcoin it will go away. It won’t. It will continue operating flawlessly long after your national currency has died. – Saifedean Ammous
  • Everybody likes to think they’d have put $25k into Facebook in ’04. But digital currency as a category removes any excuse for not trying. – Balaji S. Srinivasan
  • If bitcoin was the sole world currency, between 7 billion people we would all own 0.003 BTC. –Laird 8 Badge




July 2016 Report: The Most Legitimate Altcoins

The Dominant Anonymous Coin

Litecoin may be minimally useful as a backup blockchain, but it would make more sense for the number 2 digital currency in the world to be an anonymous coin.

A strong, dominant anonymous coin taking the number 2 spot with litecoin 3rd would seem like a sane world.

Privacy improvements in digital currencies are needed and although I’d prefer it to see it happen in bitcoin, I don’t mind seeing separate currencies working on it too.

Spending bitcoin through mixers is still the most popular way to pay for products on dark markets, but altcoins are accepted on some sites.

At the moment Dash is the most dominant anonymous coin by market cap, and Monero is the most technically advanced.

After years of hype, the anonymous coin Zcash (formerly Zerocoin and Zerocash) is scheduled to be launched on 26th September 2016 (although they have missed all of their previous milestone so further delays wouldn’t be surprising).


CryptoNote Coins

CryptoNote is an open-source technology that allows the creation of supposedly anonymous cryptocurrencies.

CryptoNote coins are generally regarded as the most advanced in the privacy area.

In July 2014 Bytecoin was number 1 ($8.2mill market cap), almost double the value of 2nd place Monero ($4.4mill market cap).

Over the last couple of years Monero has performed very well compared to the premined Bytecoin scam and is now the number 1 CryptoNote coin with a market cap of $19mill compared to Bytecoin’s $7.4mill.

Unfortunately there are suspicions of scams surrounding many of the CryptoNote coins (although not Monero).



DREADz: If you were to buy $100 of one anon coin would you choose Dash or Monero or another I’m not aware of?

Peter Todd: Without a doubt I’d choose Monero over Dash – the latter is snakeoil, the former genuine crypto. – Sunday 26th July 2015

Monero was forked from Bytecoin. Unlike most CryptoNote coins it was not premined.

Monero is a slightly inflationary currency (below 1%, eventually settling at 0.37%). This is low enough to not be a major concern (and the rate of loss of the currency will probably offset the slight inflation)

Technical innovations include Monero’s invention of RingCT, which allows for Greg Maxwell’s Confidential Transactions scheme to work with Monero’s ring signatures, effectively hiding all amounts in Monero transactions.

I probably should get around to finally buying some Monero. xmr.to is a pretty clever service.

We’re going to find out the hard way that Bitcoin will get outcompeted by currencies like Monero and Zerocash if we don’t act to get better anonymity and privacy into Bitcoin itself – Peter Todd


Monero as a Backup Blockchain

Monero is an independent fallback for Bitcoin that is created in much the same spirit as Bitcoin: an anonymous creator that disappeared after the community took it over, pure PoW with no crazy nonsense like overly complex PoS schemes, an alternate EC curve to Bitcoin’s secp256k1, and specific differences (like the PoW and the minimum block reward)

Let me clarify that I am a huge believer in Bitcoin, and I’m not implying at all that Bitcoin will ever fail, but it’s comforting to know that in the event of a major, massively disruptive break in Bitcoin there is something else out there.”

Monero is a truly fungible, truly private cryptocurrency, that is constantly trying to build on and improve its privacy. – Riccardo Spagni, Monero Developer

Monero has many flaws and limitations compared to bitcoin like lack of network effect and relative security disadvantages. However, it is the number 1 ranked legitimate anonymous coin in the world.



A) Digital Currency Fund

Bitcoin 99%

Monero 1%


It really is all about Bitcoin. It’s just phenomenal compared to the alternatives. The opportunity cost of investing in something else is so high.

Monero is a worthy small addition as the most advanced privacy altcoin. Also, look to add a very small amount of Litecoin (smaller than Monero) when the price is historically low.


B) Digital Assets / Platform Fund

Counterparty 100%


This fund is completely separate to the main digital currency fund (and should be much smaller). It’s incredibly speculative and is more like a stock trading account.

Lee Banfield, July 2016 Report: The Most Legitimate Altcoins



September 2016: Monero Market Cap Surges Above $100mill

  • Darknet Markets Start to Take Notice of Monero 
  • More than 20x increase in value year-to-date

Image result for monero

It’s been obvious for almost two years that Monero should be a top-5 coin. – Dan McArdle

From what I’ve seen, Monero is the only altcoin with real privacy improvements. – Kyle Torpey

My view on Monero: does offer better privacy, built on some real dev work. Concerns: scalability, security, actual demand, competition. I like that it’s a POW algo. – Tuur Demeester




Bitcoin Analytics/Surveillance Companies

My attitude towards such services is that they’re great because they give us a target. Our job in developing the system is to make their job impossible.

They show us what is possible, so we have a target to improve upon. – Pieter Wuille


China Launches World’s 1st Quantum Communications Satellite. It’s a Big Deal.

  • The Satellite tests out quantum (and quantum-computer-resistant) encryption.
  • Initial results are encouraging. A quantum channel has been well established between the ­satellite and ground stations.
  • “Quantum teleportation” operates outside of space and time because the connection between entangled pairs exceeds the normal speed limit for information: the speed of light.
  • The University of Vienna’s Mr. Zeilinger said the satellite puts China and the field of quantum mechanics on the verge of a significant technological breakthrough. “In the long run, there is a good chance that this will replace our current communications technology. I see no basic reason why it won’t happen.” – Josh Chin

No biggie. It’s just a quantum satellite the Chinese plan to use for teleporting information in mathematical subspace using Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance.” That distance being 1,200 kilometers.

The satellite is the first of an intended global system of 20 such satellites in China’sQUESS (“Quantum Experiments at Space Scale”) program. The point of the project is to create uncrackable encryption keys.

Hopes for the project are pinned on two quantum concepts: superposition and quantum entanglement (“spooky action”).

Superposition refers to the idea that quantum particles can be in multiple states at the same time.

You can think of it in simple terms, like being both on and off at the same time, or up and down at the same time. But it’s actually even odder, because quantum particles can behave like waves, meaning they exist in all sorts of shapes at once.

It’s only when a quantum particle is observed that it stabilizes into one single state. This would be handy for an encryption key — if it were intercepted, and thus observed, it would no longer be in superposition and the owners of the key would know it had been compromised.

In quantum entanglement two particles form a single superposition together.

This means that their states are interlocked as if they’re a single entity: Changing the state of one simultaneously changes the state of the other. This exchange of information is called “quantum teleportation.”

Physicists know how to create pairs of entangled photons, sub-atomic light particles, and have observed them operating in sync between two of the Canary Islands. – Robby Berman

Image result for quantum entanglement

Initial results from the quantum satellite that China sent into space are encouraging, the project’s chief scientist said.

A quantum channel had been well established between the ­satellite and ground stations, Pan Jianwei, the nation’s leading ­expert in quantum physics, said at a technology exhibition in Hong Kong.

China had been exploring the military and commercial applications of quantum technology, and successful tests of the satellite ­system would pave the way for the construction of large quantum communication networks, he said.

Pan said his team had successfully passed photons, or particles of light, between the satellite and ground stations in Tibet and Xinjiang province.

The plan is to eventually send a quantum cryptographic key via the satellite from Beijing to Vienna to demonstrate that the technology can be used for unhackable communication.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China would be one of the first outsiders to try the network, Pan said.

Quantum communication is said to be hack-free because anyone who attempts to measure or clone particles will destroy their original quantum states.

China is not the only country trying to blaze a trail in quantum communication and improve data security. A team in Singapore is planning to launch devices into space that can entangle photons and in turn enable the city state to build a secure fibre-optic communication network. – Viola Zhou





$13 trillion of negative yielding debt and Amazon is selling a tablet for $33.

I was promised a hyperinflationary apocalypse.

Morgan Housel


The Real Bubble

I laugh when people say tech is a bubble.

The establishment is the bubble. Who’s around in 2025 – Google or the EU? – Balaji S. Srinivasan


The AI Gold Rush

Companies are lining up to supply shovels to participants in the AI gold rush.

The name that comes up most frequently is NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA), says Chris Dixon of Andreessen Horowitz; every AI startup seems to be using its GPU chips to train neural networks.

GPU capacity can also be rented in the cloud from Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT).

IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Google, meanwhile, are devising new chips specifically built to run AI software more quickly and efficiently.

And Google, Microsoft and IBM are making AI services such as speech recognition, sentence parsing and image analysis freely available online, allowing startups to combine such building blocks to form new AI products and services.

More than 300 companies from a range of industries have already built AI-powered apps using IBM’s Watson platform, says Guru Banavar of IBM, doing everything from filtering job candidates to picking wines. – The Economist




World’s First Self-Driving Taxis Introduced in Singapore

  • Autonomous vehicle software start-up nuTonomy has announced that it is the first in the world to offer autonomous taxi rides. It beat Uber, which has started offering rides in autonomous cars in Pittsburgh
  • Self-driving taxis can now be booked through an app by Grab, the biggest ride-hailing company in south-east Asia.

nuTonomy car

Autonomous vehicle software start-up nuTonomy has made rides on its self-driving taxis available to the general public in Singapore for free, expanding a first-in-the world run that was initially invitation-only.

The Singapore trial was limited to a 2.5 square mile (6.5 square kilometre) business and residential district called One North.

NuTonomy CEO Karl Iagnemma said that the test area has since been doubled by the government. The approved route does not include any highways.

NuTonomy, a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), announced that the public can now book self-driving taxis through an app by Grab, the biggest ride-hailing company in south-east Asia. The two companies announced a year-long partnership.

Image result for singapore

To book a ride passengers will have to select the ‘robo-car’ option on Grab’s app. Passengers have to be older than 18 years old, book in advance and sign a liability waiver. Rides will be free for at least two months.

“We will be combining nuTonomy’s self-driving car software with Grab’s app, with their proven fleet routing technology and their mapping capabilities,” said Iagnemma.

The cars – modified Renault Zoe and Mitsubishi i-MiEV electrics – have a safety driver in front who is prepared to take the wheel and a researcher in the back, who watches the car’s computers.

If a pick-up or drop-off point is out of approved testing perimeters the driver will take over for the rest of the journey, Iagnemma said. “It’s an evolution to identify where are the easy parts, where are the trickier parts where we need to spend more time,” he said.

Iagnemma would not say how many rides nuTonomy provided in the trial period, but said thousands signed up for the invited trial within the first 48 hours. The company said there have been no problems and plans to make its Singapore taxi fleet fully self-driving by 2018. – The Gleaner


Lyft CEO: Self-Driving Cars To Handle Majority Of Lyft Rides Within Only 5 Years

Lyft CEO and co-founder John Zimmer expects self-driving cars to handle the majority of Lyft’s rides within only 5 years, and all of them within only 10 years.

That means, going by Zimmer’s vision, by 2026, anytime you used Lyft to make a trip, you would be doing so in a self-driving car.

Interestingly, Zimmer also “expects” that private car ownership will “all but end” in most major US cities by 2025.

He sees a transition where driverless tech gradually increases in capability. Fixed-route autonomy would show up as early as 2017, while low-speed (under 25 MPH) autonomy on changeable routes would start as soon as 2018. Full autonomy would just be the next logical step, then. – James Ayre


Chris Dixon: In 2 years Everyone Will Use Driverless Cars on Highways

Within ten years, roads will be full of driverless cars.

Maybe within two, depending on where you’re driving.

That’s what Chris Dixon, a partner at prestigious Silicon Valley investment firm Andreessen Horowitz believes.

Dixon has written extensively about the future of autonomous vehicles and invested in a number of startups in the space, from self-flying delivery drones to Comma.ai, a company founded by a young man who built a self-driving car in his garage.

“All of the trends we’ve been observing over the last decade — from cloud computing to cheaper processing — have hit a tipping point,” Dixon says. “This is the core that’s getting people excited about AI, and specifically around autonomous vehicles and autonomous cars.”

Tesla autopilot

It’s also cheaper than ever to build a smart car. Dixon says many driverless car companies use tiny chips made by a publicly-traded company, NVIDIA. NVIDIA’s chips only cost a couple hundred dollars.

“For $200, you could get what 10 years ago was a supercomputer on a little board and put it in your car, and it can run one of these sophisticated deep learning systems,” he says.

Additionally, a lot of the AI for autonomous vehicles is open-sourced, like Google’s product TensorFlow. This allows everyone in the space to create more accurate technology faster, because they can learn from each other’s data sets and build off the findings.

” I bet in two years, it will be the norm that on the highway, you’re not driving half the time or you’ll be using driver assistants heavily,” he says.

“It’s easier on highways and in suburbs,” says Dixon. “So you can imagine pushing a button on your Uber or Lyft app, and depending on the situation and location, an autonomous car comes or a person comes.”

He adds, “When will an Uber roll up without a person in it in New York City? That’s farther away. But I think that’s more like five years away, not 20.”

Dixon likens the promise of self-driving to Henry Ford’s Model T, which was like the iPhone of the time — a real technology game changer. At first, consumer cars seemed impossible — roads weren’t paved and no one knew how to drive cars. But the product was a hit, and everything changed to make way for them. – Alyson Shontell





  • “In Europe and the US you’re about 9 months behind us when it comes to technology and that’s just a fact.”
  • 90 percent of the world’s electronics are made in this south China city.”
  • “Try doing something in the UK, it will take you about a month. Here you can do it in a couple of days.”
  • “Even if the US had the manufacturing capacity, key parts of the knowledge ecosystem currently exist only in Shenzhen. Shenzhen, like Silicon Valley, has become a “complete” ecosystem.”

There are plenty of tech towns around the world, but Shenzhen stands out above them all.

Here in the town the iPhone is made by Foxconn (it’s also home to Dell laptops, Microsoft PCs and Sony headphones, among millions of other products), just north of the crossing of Shennon Middle Road and Huaqiang Road in the southern China city of Shenzhen is the epicentre of global electronics.

It’s where trends begin, ideas become real, and products get pumped out by the billions.

You want a shop dedicated to 3D printers? Have three.

A glimpse of the latest virtual reality glasses? Just look in every other store in the vast, labyrinthine floors of the SEG (pronounced ‘sage’) Electronics Plaza, which is dedicated to gadgetry of all kinds.

With dozens of component markets and electronics stores in this area, it’s tempting to make comparisons with Akihabara in Tokyo, but Shenzhen’s market is probably twenty times bigger says Benjamin Joffe, General Partner at startup incubator HAX. – Jamie Carter

Virtual reality headsets are everywhere in Shenzhen

Originally a quiet agrarian province in southern China, Shenzhen’s population exploded in the 80s and 90s as migrant workers came to work in the city’s industrial factories.

Now a mega-metropolis with a population of up to 20 million, Shenzhen has become famous for creating consumer electronics – often imitations of premium brands – at a phenomenal pace.

Shenzhen has become the factory of the world where, if you can think of an idea, you can find someone – or lots of people – to make it. Want 5,000 iPhones branded with your company logo? Easy.

Alongside countless smartphone repair shops, Huaqiangbei is crammed with retailers selling copycat versions of iPhones, Samsung Galaxies and countless other high-end smartphones. But the Chinese have their own word for the act of making copycat products – they call it ‘shanzhai’.

Shanzhai encapsulates a way of working that’s fast, open and based on the sharing of resources and knowledge. The concept of intellectual property doesn’t have the same implications in China as we think of it in the west.

Bunnie Huang said: “I do find the core tenets of sharing intellectual property they have is very enabling”, hinting at a potential emerging paradigm shift when the fundamentals of tech innovation in the West clash with the Chinese models of business. – Matthew Reynolds




Artificial Intelligence: BabyX

  • “I was not expecting this for another 10 years” – Nathanael Ries

BabyX is a project for the creation of a virtual animated baby that learns and reacts like a human baby.

It uses the computer’s cameras for “seeing” and microphones to “listen” as the inputs.

The computer uses Artificial intelligence algorithms for BabyX’s “learning” and interpretation of the inputs (voice and image) to understand the situation.

The result is a virtual toddler that can learn to read, recognize objects and “understand.”

The output is the baby’s face that can “speak” and express its mood by facial expressions (such as smile and show embarrassment). – Wikipedia


Simple OpenCog Inference via Hanson Robot

We’re undertaking a serious effort to build a thinking machine.

No challenge today is more important than creating Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), with broad capabilities at the human level and ultimately beyond.

OpenCog is an open-source software project aimed at directly confronting the AGI challenge, using mathematical and biological inspiration and professional software engineering techniques.

OpenCog is an ambitious project with many challenges. We are however confident that our design and software is capable of human preschool-level intelligence after years — not decades — of sustained effort along our roadmap.  After that, progress will become increasingly rapid. – opencog.org

This demo showcases aspects of some recently completed systems integration — the Hanson Robotics HEAD software framework controlling robot Han Hanson, and OpenCog’s Probabilistic Logic Networks inference engine connected to OpenCog’s English language comprehension and generation pipelines. – Ben Goertzel



Sophia is Hanson Robotic’s Latest Robotic Creation



Google Turns on DeepMind AI, Cuts Cooling Energy Bill by 40%

  • This alone probably pays for the Deepmind acquisition. Shows how far below Pareto optimal limits even Google was. – Balaji S. Srinivasan
  • The electricity consumption of data centers is on a pace to account for 12 percent of global electricity consumption by 2017. – Dan Heilman

Google Uses AI To Cool Data Centers and Slash Electricity Use

  • DeepMind controls about 120 variables in the data centers. The fans and the cooling systems and so on, and windows and other things. They were pretty astounded. – Demis Hassabis, DeepMind Co-Founder
  • I don’t think most grasp the significance of this. Oil companies have similar systems they pay billions trying to optimize. – iandanforth
  • It’s all about optimization. It can be used in supply logistics, shipping logistics and dynamic pricing in addition to keeping an industrial area at the right temperature. We’ll be seeing AI being applied to a lot more areas. – Dave Schubmehl
  • Honestly, I’m skeptical a generalized AI will go fully conscious in my lifetime. But these specialized AI? These things are going to start changing our lives over the next ten years in unimaginable ways. The energy savings alone is incredible. – tendimensions

The amount of energy consumed by big data centers has always been a headache for tech companies.

Keeping the servers cool as they crunch numbers is such a challenge that Facebook even built one of its facilities on the edge of the Arctic Circle.

Well, Google has a different solution to this problem: putting its DeepMind artificial intelligence unit in charge and using AI to manage power usage in parts of its data centers.

The results of this experiment? A 40 percent reduction in the amount of electricity needed for cooling, which Google describes as a “phenomenal step forward.”

A typical day of testing, including when machine learning recommendations were turned on, and when they were turned off.

The AI worked out the most efficient methods of cooling by analyzing data from sensors among the server racks, including information on things like temperatures and pump speeds.

DeepMind’s engineers say the next step is identify where new data is needed to calculate further efficiencies, and to deploy sensors in those areas.

And the company won’t stop with Google’s data centers. “Because the algorithm is a general-purpose framework to understand complex dynamics, we plan to apply this to other challenges in the data centre environment and beyond in the coming months,” said DeepMind in a blog post.

“Possible applications of this technology include improving power plant conversion efficiency […], reducing semiconductor manufacturing energy and water usage, or helping manufacturing facilities increase throughput.” – James Vincent


Watson AI Reduces IBM’s Digital Ad Costs by 35%

  • Watson reduced IBM’s cost per click on average by 35%.
  • At its best, using Watson reduced the cost per click for IBM by 71% when compared to its previous buying methods.
  • About $27 billion will be spent on programmatic display ads in 2017, a 24% increase from the previous year

For almost a year now the company has been trying out Watson, its cognitive computer that learns and makes snap decisions on the fly, on making programmatic ad buys for a portion of its online ad campaigns.

The results proved so effective that IBM now says it will use Watson for all of its programmatic campaigns by the end of the year, a big commitment for a company that spent nearly $53 million on digital display advertising in 2014.

“Because of the volume and the dollars involved, trying to save those fractions of a dollar, or fractions of a cent, really matters to us,” said Ari Sheinkin, VP of marketing analytics at IBM. “What makes this really exciting is the system learns. That’s the essence of cognitive.”

IBM is working on making the technology available for agencies and exchanges so they, too, can eventually maximize ROI through what IBM calls “cognitive bid optimization.”

“It’s almost as if the system we’ve created right now is like a child prodigy who is already beating you at chess,” Mr. Sheinkin said. “But it’s actually only starting to learn. It’s only had so many campaigns to learn from, so it’s going to get better and better because every time it runs it learns from the last thing it did. And that is the most important, distinguishing feature.” – George Slefo


AI Saves Life By Identifying Disease When Humans Failed

  • Japanese doctors have, for the first time in history, used artificial intelligence to detect a type of leukemia.

Image result for ai healthcare

If you needed proof that the age of artificial intelligence is officially upon us, well, look no farther.

Reports assert that IBM’s artificial intelligence (AI) system, Watson, just saved the life of a Japanese woman by correctly identifying her disease. This is notable because, for some time, her illness went undetected using conventional methods, and doctors were stumped.

The AI’s positive identification allowed doctors to develop a treatment for the woman in question, ultimately saving her life.

The key to this success is the AI’s ability to take a massive amount of data and analyze it quickly. This is something that human physicians, sadly, cannot do themselves (or at least, they can’t do it with nearly the accuracy or efficiency).

The system looked at the woman’s genetic information and compared it to 20 million clinical oncology studies. After doing so, it determined that the patient had an exceedingly rare form of leukemia.

Initially, the woman had been diagnosed with, and treated for, acute myeloid leukemia; however, she failed to respond to the traditional treatment methods, which perplexed doctors.

Notably, the AI was able to diagnose the condition in just 10 minutes. – Jolene Creighton


The Singularity is Coming

Masayoshi Son (the 2nd richest person in Japan) cashed in on his investments this year, resulting in the sale of $18.6bn worth of shares in Alibaba and Supercell. In addition to those proceeds, SoftBank has $25bn in cash.

The asset sales have intensified the guessing game around the likely target of any new gamble by the mercurial chief executive.

“The next big investment could be in artificial intelligence and robotics,” Shigeyuki Kishida, a consultant at InfoCom Research, says. “AI is expected to penetrate various industries and Mr Son wants to create an underlying platform to support those industries.”

“I still have unfinished business regarding the Singularity,” Son told the Nikkei.

“There will come a time when the human race and super intelligence will coexist to create a richer and happier life.”

“That is what I want to devote my life to. I believe information revolution in the true sense has just begun. My work is not done yet.” – Leo Lewis, Kana Inagaki and Simon Mundy


July 2016 Report: Exploring Anti-Aging Strategies



Bridge 1 – What You Can Do Now to Live Long Enough to Get to Bridge 2

This stage involves using existing strategies to delay the buildup of damage in order to prolong your current life expectancy as much possible.

The most obvious options for achieving this are lifestyle approaches such as optimizing sleep, exercise, food, and stress levels.

Given the inadequacy of current methods to extend life dramatically, the whole point of Bridge 1 is just to live long enough to get to Bridge 2 in relatively good shape.


2020s / 2030s

Bridge 2: The Biotech Revolution

  • Ray Kurzweil’s Forecast: 2020’s
  • Aubrey de Grey’s Forecast: Mid 2020s

The next decade will be the most exciting in the history of biological sciences. – Craig Venter

This is the biotech era. In some ways it has already begun, think stem cells and CRISPR, but is not yet widely deployed. The biotech revolution is expected to bear fruit in the 2020s and 2030s.

As the biotech industry matures, we will have access to far more powerful methods than we currently do to reprogram our genes away from aging and disease.

A key turning point in the fight against aging is when cellular and molecular therapies have advanced to the stage that we can double or triple the lifespan of mice (at the moment we can manage 40%).

This is what Aubrey de Grey calls “Robust Mouse Rejuvenation” and he expects it to shake people out of their “pro-aging trance” as it will show without doubt that aging can be conquered.

He believes this will start an era of massive funding as people demand similar anti-aging treatments for humans.


2030s / 2040s

Life Extension Escape Velocity

  • Ray Kurzweil’s Forecast: 2029
  • Aubrey de Grey’s Forecast: Late 2030s / Early 2040s

This is when biotech (and ultimately nanotech) has matured to the extent that therapies and treatments are now good enough to maintain the damage accumulated in the body at a safe level indefinitely.

Ray Kurzweil describes this as when we have the means to extend your remaining life expectancy by an additional 1 year, every year that passes.

At this stage aging will be a solved problem.





Vitamin D

This is one of Ray Kurzweil’s Top 3 Supplements for Surviving to the Singularity.

He claims it is the most important vitamin to take and that there is tremendous amounts of research and consensus that it helps prevent cancer and other diseases.

Most people are deficient in vitamin D.

The latest news and research is best found at the Vitamin D Council’s website.




Spirulina algae is an antioxidant.

It is regarded as the most nutrient-dense food in the world.




Image result for phosphatidylcholine supplement

90% of the cell membrane in a 10 year old is made up of a substance called Phosphatidylcholine.

This depletes over time and the membrane gets filled in with inert substances like cholesterol and heart fats. By the time you’re 90 it’s down to 10%.

This is a major aging problem and is why the skin in an elderly person sags and organs don’t work very well.

The process can be alleviated by supplementing with Phosphatidylcholine.

It is one of Ray Kurzweil’s top 3 supplements for surviving to the Singularity.

Kurzweil says the best way to take it is intravenously to get it right into the blood stream where it can be delivered to the cells (every week he has an I.V). He also takes it every day orally and says this does a fairly good job.

More information about supplementing with Phosphatidylcholine can be found here.



Coenzyme Q10

Image result for coenzyme q10

Mitochondria are responsible for energy production in our cells. Coenzyme Q10 is a part of this energy generation.

Disruption to the mitochondria is a major part of the aging process and this supplement is claimed to help slow that down.

Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that lowers blood pressure and protects the heart.

It is one of Ray Kurzweil’s top 3 supplements for surviving to the Singularity.




Metformin releases more oxygen into cells, which is believed to result in longevity benefits.

It is a calorie restriction mimetic.

Calorie restriction is proven to extend the lives of a variety of organisms from yeast cells to monkeys. Metformin activates this response without us having to go through the ordeal of starving ourselves.

Metformin has extended the lives of lab mice by as much as 40% but unfortunately this doesn’t mean it will translate to a 40% increase in human life expectancy. It just doesn’t scale like that.

Aubrey de Grey believes that life extension gains in nominal years for humans will be limited because calorie restriction has considerably less benefits proportionally in long lived species than short lived species.

Upcoming Metformin FDA Trials known as TAME (Targeting Aging with Metformin) will be conducted on 3,000 people aged 70 to 80.

This trial is a milestone, as for the first time ever, the FDA are engaging in anti-aging medicine.

Up until now, the FDA has refused to engage with attempts to treat aging. This has been very damaging as it’s had a chilling effect on the medical community’s interest in developing drugs.

Metformin is commonly available and has been around for a long time (it was invented in 1959). It is very cheap at around 6 cents per pill. Some people experience side effects but on balance these are considered relatively minimal.

Overall, Metformin’s positive impact is likely to be a few years of life extension at best, but it still might be a good option until more powerful alternatives become available as we approach Bridge 2 in the 2020s and 2030s.

The FDA trials start this year. Results and a recommended course of action will become more apparent in 5 or 6 years when we can see if it helped delay death and prevent diseases.



Unfortunately benefits from existing supplements are likely to be minimal, although some are intriguing enough to be worth proceeding with depending on a person’s current profile.

Gene and cell therapy are the big hopes. These exist today in nascent form but need to mature if we are to enjoy life extension of multiple decades rather than the few years that can be currently gained.

Some of the most ambitious and intriguing work for achieving this is being done by the SENS Research Foundation who have been awarded multi-million dollar donations from Peter Thiel and entrepreneur Michael Greve.

SENS also crowdfunds specific projects and accepts bitcoin. Keep up to date with the latest news and developments at sens.org





Vitamin D






Coenzyme Q10







Near – Medium Term


Nicotinamide Riboside (NAD+)



Medium – Long Term

Stem Cell Therapy

Gene Therapy

Lee Banfield, July 2016 Report: Exploring Anti-Aging Strategies


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