BCG Henderson Institute

Why We Die with Venki Ramakrishnan

"There is no theoretical reason why we can't live beyond our current natural limit of 120, although this would require major breakthroughs in aging research."

In Why We Die: The New Science of Ageing and the Quest for Immortality, Venki Ramakrishnan explores the current research on and prospects for human longevity.

Ramakrishnan leads a group at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. For his research on the structure and function of ribosomes, he won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. From 2015 to 2020, he served as president of the Royal Society. In his new book, Ramakrishnan explains the mechanisms of aging and their potential impacts on life expectancy, health span, and lifespan.

Together with Martin Reeves, Chairman of the BCG Henderson Institute, Ramakrishnan discusses the likely social, economic, and ethical implications of increasing longevity as well as the specific efforts researchers are making to prolong healthy life—and how close they are to achieving a breakthrough. He shines a light on a set of technologies which could be every bit as impactful as artificial intelligence, which therefore also deserve our attention.

Key topics discussed: 

[02:28] Life expectancy vs. health span vs. maximum lifespan
[08:21] Mechanisms of aging
[13:25] Potential interventions for promoting longevity
[18:27] How close are we to a longevity breakthrough?
[24:02] Societal and ethical implications
[28:48] The art of communicating complex idea

Additional inspirations from Venki Ramakrishnan:

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