Sergey Young: Will Technology Save Us?

“Technology will save us!”

That’s the most common pushback we receive to Peak Prosperity’s concerns about the dangers of exponential resource depletion, overpopulation, and overindebtedness/overconsumption.

And it’s understandable: technological advancement has achieved wonders for mankind’s standard of living at an accelerating pace over the past several centuries. Billions have been lifted out of poverty. Human health and longevity (covid-19 aside) have been greatly boosted. We have conquered the earth, seas, air and space.

Are the pessimists wrong to bet against human ingenuity?

To explore that question head-on, Chris sits down this week with Sergey Young, longevity expert and founder of the Longevity Vision Fund and “right hand man” to Peter Diamandis of Singularity and XPRIZE fame.

A self-described technology optimist, Sergey has created a $100 million fund to counteract the damaging consequences of aging. He’s set for himself the goal to live to be 200 years old (in the body of a 25 year old) and to find an affordable way for everyone else to do the same.

Interestingly, while Sergey is much more sanguine about society’s future prospects than we are here at Peak Prosperity, he acknowledges that the pragmatic realists are a necessary ‘yin’ to the tech passionistas’ ‘yang’.

For an optimistic futurist, Sergey is surprisingly respectful of and in agreement with our focus on sustainability and on practical models for living within our means. He admits that technology isn’t a cure-all, and goes as far to say that if the future were simply left to the starry-eyed dreamers, we’d take a lot of leaps of faith that wouldn’t end well.

For one of the most balanced conversations on this topic we’ve yet experienced, click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Sergey Young (43m:32s)

Other Ways To Listen: iTunes | Google Play | SoundCloud | Stitcher | YouTube | Download |

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

i cant help thinking that we have not got a chance unless we go back to hard money. the world needs to operate efficiently and a hard money system will aid this with an allocation of resources more efficiently and with smaller governments and smaller populations

The way you frame the question is a fallacy on its face. “Are the pessimists wrong to bet against human ingenuity?”
Who’s a pessimist? Just because I dont think technology will “save us”, doesnt make me a “pessimist”. Thats a very sly propaganda tactic that is often used in the mainstream media. You frame the question is such a way that puts people either in your camp or labels them as “pessimists”.

Great conversation! But I’ve noticed that people who talk about the vision of extended life-spans are usually those with interesting work that excites them. I wonder how many people with no work or just hard drudge work needed to keep themselves and their dependents going, are longing to live longer? My circumstances place me among the most fortunate of mortals, but at 72, the thought of another 100 years is quite appalling. And that’s without considering the effects of my/our addition to a constantly growing population. I’m not arguing for or against here, just coming up against what I perceive to be realities vs the vision. But as Sergey said, if you want to do something, sometimes you have to be radical, and then things balance out later. All very interesting.

brushhog -
I chose to use that word because of how often it has been slung at me, Chris and the PP community over the past decade+ of delivering our message. I was wryly ‘embracing’ it to show it holds no power over us.
Man, being accused as a mainstream media propagandist? That for certain is a new one for me…

I can envision a future where local outbreaks will be somewhat contained with proper testing and contact tracing. What I can’t get my head around is a future where people can freely move from city to city asymptomatically and we somehow even loosely contain anything. I also do not foresee a future of economic prosperity if travel is limited.

I’m still at this point on my facebook page, fighting a skirmish that should have been over long ago. I’m the resident crazy. I’m the resident pessimist:

"So how deadly is Covid-19? While there is some discussion underway about exactly how deadly, I've seen no actual dispute among the community of epidemiologists and doctors/nurses on the front lines that it is "way worse than the flu." Let's dissect. First off, the difference between "case fatality rates" and "mortality rates" are important to remember; the former measures how many of those who get a particular illness will die from it, whereas the latter measures how much of any given population, regardless of whether they ever catch the illness, die of it. The difference is important to note because those advocating for rapid re-opening do so by quoting the low mortality rate, whereas the doctors in the field are warning to not re-open - or to re-open gradually and with much social distancing and facemasking - often cite the case fatality rate. For the most part, there's little point in measuring the mortality rate right now for a few reasons: 1) Not everyone will ever get any one particular illness 2) I don't care what my chances of dying of a virus/illness are in general, I want to know what my chances are IF I catch it. 3) Measuring mortality rates are only valid AFTER a particular illness has run its course through a population, because the denominator (the population of a nation) is constant while the numerator RISES with every new death. Once this thing has passed and we've reached herd immunity, THEN we can look at overall mortality, because right now the mortality rate will only go up. Right now, with deaths as measured by the sources I use, the mortality rate is 84,189/328,000,000, which would yield a mortality of roughly .000026%. Nothing to be worried about! The case-fatality rate, on the other hand, is both a better and yet more slippery measure to use. It is better because it measures the number of people who have died by the number of people who have caught the illness, but it is slippery because on the numerator side we aren't always measuring or labeling Covid deaths accurately (some states are intentionally mislabeling people who die of Covid as something else), whereas the denominator might be off because there are likely a fair amount of people out there who have it but haven't been tested and don't know. Much like the mortality rate, the Case Fatality Rate will be much easier to know for certain once this is all said and done. Adding to that uncertainty, I've seen some experts point out that the problem with measuring deaths today against the number of cases today is that it takes up to four+ weeks from onset of infection to resolve, either in death or recovery. So, to accurately measure you'd have to look at the number of deaths today against the numbers of confirmed cases weeks ago. Either way, based on a number of different studies and based on quite a few sites (like Johns Hopkins) which are tracking the CFR, it's definitely an order of magnitude worse than flu, but how much worse still needs to be triangulated much later on in the progress of this outbreak. Johns Hopkins asserts the CFR is around 6% overall, though of course that number fluctuates widely by age group, ethnicity, and other factors. But there IS a way to track how bad this outbreak is in real-time. How about looking at the average number of deaths within a nation - an average that takes into account good years and bad - against the number of deaths occurring during the Covid-19 outbreak? Granted, not all of the people dying right now are dying of the virus, but it's safe to say with so many people staying at home, every day causes of death like automobile accidents have probably dropped significantly, too, so it all balances out somewhat. Either way, a death rate significantly higher than the average would tell us something. Well, check it out:…/tracking-covid-19-excess-deaths… Yeah. So anyone peddling the snake oil that this is no worse than the flu needs to go back to the data and the science. I mean, I GET why one would not want to *believe* a virus/nature could get the better of us, or that we humans aren't far superior and able to solve every problem, or that bad things never happen to modern society. I get it! But if a person is willing to completely ignore the science and the facts in order to create a mental "safe space" where they can go to comfort themselves, well then the problem isn't with the science, the data, nor the facts. Stay home. If you must go out, be respectful and cover your mouth with a mask, just in case you are asymptomatic and spreading the virus unknowingly. Really, it's not that much to ask from the grandchildren of people who had to give it all to defeat the Nazis and Imperial Japan."
  Yet every prediction we have elucidated since January has come true. Those of us giving out early warning signals have been vindicated.   The problem? We don't write the history books, and we don't determine the dominant narrative. Thus, we are confined to back rooms, covered in tin-foil we ourselves didn't fashion, and lambasted as oddballs and conspirators.   But my garden is expanded, and my awareness is as well. They await a "return to normal" while I await the arrival of the new. A worthy trade-off.   PPers, stay the course. We knew it would come to these days, and we have been quietly putting things into place beforehand.   Chris, we wish we could have joined you up there. There just wasn't time enough to put those pawns on the chessboard.

In the circles I walk in, which include MBAs, CPAs, executives, and a wide assortment of other highly intelligent people, I feel the underlying message when I try to broach ANY of the things we discuss on PP is ‘thanks but leave your tinfoil hat at the door’. It is disheartening for sure. But I know that their point of views come from a non-data driven, emotional standpoint facilitated by a manipulative MSM and lying managers. As one of them said, “I have kids, I have to believe this will pass. There is an oil glut for god’s sake and demand keeps going up so no worries, and besides, the future is a lot brighter as technology will save us”.
I am left speechless at times by the head in the sand ignorance of even those who I have (may become had) high regard for. Denial rules. We are and will continue to pay heavily for that. It is challenging I find to maintain some relationships because of this.

I work with every day people and I hear alot of 5G stuff. Bill Gates is out to poison us. That stuff.
I just nod my head.
The people who believe the conspiracy stuff, were the same people a few months ago who thought this was no big deal. “It is just the flu.”
So in February, this is the flu. Now May, you suddenly have inside information that this is 5G and you know peeps in the Illuminati?
I think the Chinese were playing around in the lab, some got out and it got mismanaged by China. Something simple. NOT Illuminati.
But if you DO know any Illuminati, send me an invite, ROFL.

Yeah. So anyone peddling the snake oil that this is no worse than the flu needs to go back to the data and the science.
  Just talked to a gal whose father died in March. He was elderly, had co-morbidities and passed away. It seems now that some of his symptoms were the same kind of symptoms that a Covid-19 infected person could have. So they decided to change his cause of death to “The Virus”. Hmmm wonder how much $$$ the hospital received for each virus death? Science indeed. Not that I don’t agree. But money buys “The Science is Settled”! It must have been that garden hose I drank out of that caused my rebellious nature. And the fizzies, tether ball and other dangerous activities. You know merry-go-rounds, and reading banned books like Catcher In The Rye an The Great Gatsby? AKGrannyWGrit  

How about rewording “Are the pessimists wrong to bet against human ingenuity?” to “Are the (UFOs will save us) optimists right to bet for human ingenuity?” In the first, “pessimists”, “wrong”, and “against” are grouped together and therefore closely associated. It’s the same as grouping the optimists with UFOs.
I’m not betting either way until I see a working prototype that has been independently verified and can be manufactured to gigantic dimensions in a couple of years. One such “technology” that has been proposed are mechanical bees that will replace the ones we are killing off. I wonder if that idea came from Monsanto. They would make money producing the mechanical bees to replace the DNA based ones their products are killing off. It’s a win win for them,
Ingenuity (aka technology) that maintains the status quo requires a massive amount of energy and resources. Will it create them out of thin air? The bankers are experts at doing the latter with money. Are they innovative geniuses? I put the optimists at the same level as the bankers, and I’m a retired engineer. I have worked on a lot of high tech projects. They were all extremely fragile.

When you say ‘you’ I am assuming you are making a generalized observation and not referring to me specifically. If that is not the case, and it would appear so since your comment is in reply to mine, then your response is perplexing. I made no reference whatsoever to 5G or the Illuminati; Bill Gates, in other comments I have made, absolutely - the golden boy is no longer golden. There is a lot of rather credible information supporting that idea.
You have previously expressed in a comment that you are fatigued by all the Covid news. Many are, as am I at times. But that will not prevent me from keeping on at trying to find facts and data to understand what it is all about, why this has happened, whether or not it was intentional, and what can possibly be done to hold people accountable (the latter being laughable, I know…).
Exploring data and chasing down investigative journalism and other truth seeking people are important things to consider since the information gleaned goes to informing important life decisions. We are seeing evidence presented by Chris with the feel good stories of how advance information has definitely helped people to ready themselves for the havoc this virus is wreaking. It has helped people to formulate a Plan B or C as deemed necessary for their circumstances, which is far preferable to flying by the seat of one’s pants.
You are relatively new here. Many, many smart, thoughtful people have taken time and energy over a lot of years to contribute to the vast library of information that can be found at PP in the archives and current threads all with the end goal of helping foster understanding, educating and create awareness for others who are less informed - especially those who are new to the idea that the world does not work nearly the way most people think it does…
The FBI/CIA coined the term ‘conspiracy theorist’ to discredit anyone who questions what they were/are doing as a nut bar. Your comment strikes me as coming from someone who drank that particular Kool-aid. It would be nice to see less conjecture and more facts to support your thinking. Thank you!

A self-described technology optimist, Sergey has created a $100 million fund to counteract the damaging consequences of aging. He’s set for himself the goal to live to be 200 years old (in the body of a 25 year old) and to find an affordable way for everyone else to do the same.
I am sure Sergey is a nice guy, well educated and well intentioned and has a unique interest. A few years ago my husband and I would both get physicals and felt free to see our long-time Family doctor whenever we needed to. Today our deductible is in the stratospheric nose bleed realm. The cost for less and less health care costs more and more and more - it has become stifling. We no longer go to the doctor. And we are not alone. This podcast was like fingernails on a chalk board. It was difficult to get through. I had to ask myself why it was so disturbing. I feel it’s hypocritical. RIGHT NOW more people than ever have no healthcare, no jobs, are highly stressed and are being oppressed by the Jack Booted thugs of the corporate and political elite. It's the greatest transfer of wealth in history, right now. We are losing our Constitutional rights, freedoms and self respect. This is a life changing period in history. And discussing how we could live to 200 is ludicrous. Only the rich and powerful would have access to that science. And AI, don’t kid yourself it will be used on you, to control you and to manipulate you. NOT to benefit you. Remember The North American Free Trade Agreement, we were told it will create 1,000’s of jobs for Americans. Naive people believed that too. Weapons of mass destruction? Or how about this - - we care about you. No - they don’t! People are hurting. How about feeding the hungry, easing suffering, relieving pain and misery.   The world does NOT need Global dictators, war mongers, Serial killers, psychopaths, and Corporations who pollute, employ child slave labor in abhorrent conditions. And these pathetic folks could live 200 years instead of 80? God gave us a gift that misery only lasts one lifetime. It would be an act of evil to unleash a 200 year lifespan on an apathetic, indifferent and profit centric world. Just how much misery can a people, country or generation take? And we are asked to believe that technological advancements would be offered to all? Gullible, naive or cynical, which are you? It is sad we give little voice to the very real people who are being negatively impacted- due to current world events....right now!
A self-described technology optimist, Sergey has created a $100 million fund to counteract the damaging consequences of aging.
A world worth inheriting? Only after we have eased pain, misery and suffering should we spend time, energy, effort and money on extending our lifespan. 100 million could have eased a lot of pain and suffering! Maybe at a different time this would have been interesting instead of insulting. There is too much pain in our country. And just for the record, it’s not mine. No kudos here! AKGrannyWGrit  

…think I should have read the whole article before commenting?

Eternal Life is only a ticket to Eternal Torment and something only fools desire.
Where were you 500 years ago? Answer: Exactly the same place you shall be 500 years from now.
Embrace Life and learn to smile at Oblivion.

Sure, but (this is from a report now about a decade old, it hasn’t gotten better):

"We have found that 60 percent—well over half—of Americans are not regularly active. Worse yet, 25 percent of Americans are not active at all. For young people—the future of our country—physical activity declines dramatically during adolescence." Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General: Executive Summary, p. 3 (
According to a November 2015 article in The Journal of the American Medical Association, overall prescription drug use rose from 51% of the U.S. population in 1999 to 59% in 2012. The largest increase was in the use of statins to lower cholesterol – up 4 times, from 2% in 1999 to 8% in 2012. Next in growth were antidepressants, which doubled from 7% to 13%. The rates of multiple prescription drug use has increased across all age groups, and the overall number of Americans taking 5 or more medications daily rose from 8% to 15% over the 12-year period 1999-2012. I pulled those stats for a project I was working on mid-decade. I have not updated, but the situation has not reversed direction. My point: at least in these United States, co-morbidity is not either rare or limited to the elderly. Rather, it is becoming frighteningly more common for younger adults and children. Small comfort is to be found in the correlation between comorbidity and coronavirus.
I wonder how many people with no work or just hard drudge work needed to keep themselves and their dependents going, are longing to live longer?
Life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone. - John Mellencamp
People's attitudes about ways to pass time need a serious overhaul. I have friends who spend large portions of their "retirement" spare time and not an insignificant amount of cash, catch-and-release fishing for Muskies. These same friends don't understand why I spend a portion of my "retirement" making a nominal wage rate helping with the harvest. As a society, we need to reassess our priorities and what we see as entertainment and what we see as drudgery. A lot of what we have been taught is not working so well.  

Interesting discussion. Although it pains me as an engineer and scientist, I vote “no”, technology will not save us, only humanity can save us.
Technology specifically, and ingenuity in general are amoral. A hamer can be a tool to create, but in the wrong hands or under the wrong circumstances, it can be a tool that destroys.
The word “saving” has an ethical connotation; I’m inclined to ask “saving from what?”, and “who is us?”. Will technology “save” the wealthy from illness and death? If so what other ingenious methods and tools will be needed to maintain their status quo? Think of the CCP in China, that, with the help of western techcompanies created very innovative ways to control their populace. Did technology save them? Or, think about the great innovation of electrical cars, did that technology save the child laborers in Congo, digging up dirt with their hands so we can drive our green electrical cars?
Who decides for what purposes technology will be used, who is to benefit and who not? Which hands will wield the technology, and with what purpose? The “hands” that use the current crisis to enrich themselves and leave the less-connected to fend for themselves? The hands belonging to those who believe that their mortal coils, their believes, their sexuality, their color of skin, their reputation, are the only ones worth saving? The ones who cannot shed their evolutionary instinct to go with the flow and follow any leader?
So no, technology can not save us. It will change the stage, not the story.

If millions of us little guys fail, the big guys fail too. The corona virus has started a new world order survive together,the old days of to big to fail are gone.Something we learned from the great depression,then we forgot it.I am to little to fail!