For futurist Ray Kurzweil, death is not inevitable. Along with Silicon Valley pioneers like Peter Thiel and Craig Venter, he is publicly confident that like most things, it can be disrupted.
Kurzweil recently invited Financial Times' reporter Caroline Daniel into his San Francisco apartment, revealing some truly fascinating tidbits, including his conviction that due to exponential advancements in health care -- largely stemming from the Human Genome Project -- "over the next 20, 25 years, we’re going to overcome almost all disease and ageing.”
In order to make it that long – while he estimates his “biological age comes out in the late forties" he is technically 67 – Kurzweil has adopted a very specific regime, one that his wife and children also follow.
Daniels sat down with him for a typical breakfast, which she reports consists of berries, smoked salmon and mackerel, dark chocolate, soy milk and porridge.
An odd combination of foods, perhaps, but not too far outside the realm of the usual. What sets Kurzweil's diet apart are the pills, which include a range of supplements for "heart health, eye health, sexual health, and brain health." Daniel reports that he takes 30 every morning, and 70 more as the day progresses. It may sound like a lot, but for Kurzweil it's actually a dramatic tapering off: He used to take 250 a day, but has recently "found more bio-available forms. So instead of taking 10 pills I can take two," he tells Daniel.
Kurzweil, whose father died at 58 from a heart attack, is a firm believer that our genes do not dictate our fates: "The common wisdom is it’s 80 percent genes, 20 percent lifestyle. If you’re diligent, it’s 90 percent intervention and 10 percent genes," he says.
This same refusal to accept conventional wisdom informs his thoughts about death, which he labels "tragic."
"We’ve learnt to accept it, the cycle of life and all that, but humans have an opportunity to transcend beyond natural limitations," he tells Daniel. "Life expectancy was 19 a thousand years ago. It was 37 in 1800. Everyone believes in life extension. Somebody comes out with a cure for disease, it’s celebrated. It’s not, ‘Oh, gee, that’s going to forestall death.’"