Some of the voices of the past can appear entirely contemporary, because they saw further and with greater clarity than most of their peers. John W. Campbell, editor of Astounding Science-Fiction Magazine, died of heart disease at age 61 in 1971. In 1949 he wrote an editorial on the future of medicine, aging, and longevity that wouldn’t seem out of place today. He anticipated what we presently call actuarial escape velocity, or longevity escape velocity, the idea that gains in life span through progress in medical technology allow greater time to benefit from further gains – and eventually, we are repaired more rapidly than we are damaged, escaping from aging. These commentaries of past years, printed on paper, often vanish into the void. Fortunately this one remains.
As was the case for Timothy Leary in the 1970s, Campbell in 1949 overestimated what could be achieved with the technology of his near future. They were not the first to do so. Thus those of us who have advocated and raised funds for the rejuvenation biotechnology of today must have an argument as to why this decade is different, why