Book Image

Live Longer with AI

By : Tina Woods
Book Image

Live Longer with AI

By: Tina Woods

Overview of this book

Live Longer with AI examines how the latest cutting-edge developments are helping us to live longer, healthier and better too. It compels us to stop thinking that health is about treating disease and start regarding it as our greatest personal and societal asset to protect. The book discusses the impact that AI has on understanding the cellular basis of aging and how our genes are influenced by our environment – with the pandemic highlighting the interconnectedness of human and planetary health. Author Tina Woods, founder and CEO of Collider Health and Collider Science, and the co-founder of Longevity International, has curated a panel of deeply insightful interviews with some of today’s brightest and most innovative thought leaders at the crossroads of health, technology and society. Read what leading experts in health and technology are saying about the book: "This is a handbook for the revolution!" —Sir Muir Gray, Director, Optimal Ageing "You can live longer and be happier if you make some changes – that is the theme of this book. Well-written and compelling." —Ben Page, CEO, Ipsos Mori "Tina's book is a must-read for those who want to discover the future of health." —José Luis Cordeiro, Fellow, World Academy of Art & Science; Director, The Millennium Project; Vice Chair, Humanity Plus; Co- Author of The Death of Death About the consultant editor Melissa Ream is a leading health and care strategist in the UK, leveraging user-driven design and artificial intelligence to design systems and support people to live healthier, longer lives.
Table of Contents (8 chapters)

Life's beginning

Theories still abound. The leading contender, detailed in the BBC's wonderful program The Secret of How Life on Earth Began[1], explains that it all started in hydrothermal events in the deep sea.

The water was tepid enough, and alkaline enough, for precursor organisms to form in the porous sections of the rock, which in effect acted like "cells." These cells contained essential chemicals, and when a natural proton gradient developed, so that the proton concentration was higher outside the inner membrane than inside the membrane, it enabled cells to store and release energy (protons are subatomic particles occurring in all atomic nuclei, with a positive electric charge equal in magnitude to that of an electron). These cells were the ideal place for metabolism to begin and for the first molecules, like ribonucleic acid (RNA), to form by harnessing the energy created by the gradient, which also created the conditions for a cell membrane to emerge.

Many scientists have been involved in solving the mystery of life. Most people have heard of Charles Darwin, who developed the theory of evolution, and he, together with other lesser known figures like the Russian Alexander Oparin, proposed various versions of theories that life started with chemicals that began to form microscopic structures in a "warm little pond."

In 1953, one of the greatest scientific discoveries of the 20th century, that of the double helix structure of the DNA code by Watson and Crick, redirected the search for the origin of life by revealing the extraordinary structure inside living cells.

All living things are made of cells, which contain DNA, the instructions that tell a cell what it will become. Most forms of life are made up of just one cell. Bacteria are the most well-known group and are ubiquitous, included in almost all the branches of the "tree of life," as published in Nature[2] in 2016. An analysis of the tree suggests every living thing—including humans—descended from a bacterium.

More recent research[3] by Gustavo Caetano-Anollés shows that viruses emerged before bacteria, supporting the idea that viruses stemmed from the cellular domain, which may shape the ongoing debate over when viruses first existed. Caetano-Anollés came up with this theory by exploring protein folding and the origins of transfer RNA (tRNA), which is central to every task a cell performs and thus essential to all life. He discovered that tRNAs of each of the super kingdoms diverged from the overall tree, allowing him to determine the order in which viruses and each of the super kingdoms diverged.

Caetano-Anollés also studied how viruses swap genes with a variety of cellular organisms[4]. His findings suggest that viruses share genes with organisms across the tree of life.

Driven by such exponential developments in understanding the biological assets codified in life on the planet, scientists are now racing to put together what they call the "book of life[5],"the genetic sequences of all complex species on the planet and the relationships between them. So far, they have only decoded 0.28 percent of the relevant DNA, but with DNA sequencing seeing a million-fold decrease in costs since 2003 (when human DNA was first mapped), this has made it viable for Juan Carlos Castilla-Rubio, chairman of SpaceTime Ventures, to launch the Earth BioGenome Project. This project aims to fully sequence everything on the planet, on land and in the oceans, that has cells with nuclei, over the next 10 years. When it reaches full sequencing capacity, the project will be generating about 1,000 to 2,000 times more data than that produced by Twitter and YouTube combined.

Significant advances in AI and causal machine learning will be needed to decode the many complex networks at work in this most extraordinary book of life, which will provide a new foundation for biological discovery and innovation at an unprecedented scale.

Castilla-Rubio's aim is to create a new inclusive bioeconomy that can help solve the majority of humanity's problems in energy, water, food, materials, healthcare, and transport in a rapidly changing climate. Preserving life on the planet is not only critical to our own survival as a species, but also to preserving nature's vast biological intelligence, which has been codified in the book of life over the past 3.5 billion years of evolution.

Today, biology has become fully digital, so DNA information can effectively be coded as ones and zeros and can thus be programmed to unleash a powerful nature-inspired innovation engine. In Castilla-Rubio's view, biology will be the most valuable enterprise in the 21st century, and far more valuable than monetizing people's data, but it depends on sharing the value of the assets fairly between and across nations. This is the dual mission of the Earth Bank of Codes[6] that the Earth BioGenome Project launched in partnership[7] with the World Economic Forum.

What is AI?

AI is generally defined as the ability of a machine to show intelligent behavior. It is often confused with "machine learning," which is the ability of an AI system to analyze raw data and from that learn how to make predictions from new data.

Deep learning combines AI with machine learning and was inspired by how the human brain works, with its system of neural networks. An artificial neural network is literally a computer program or algorithm that organizes millions or billions of transistors in a similar way to how a brain's neurons interconnect to transmit nerve impulses.

Deep learning is being used widely in consumer technology and increasingly in health and medical applications.

Castilla-Rubio makes the crucial point that to maximize the societal value and public benefit from decoding the book of life, we need to engineer governance on data access, data sharing, and the use of protocols[8] to avoid the vast concentration of wealth and power in a few companies, and to proactively identify and manage the risks and the many unintended consequences that the book of life will certainly unleash. Engineering longevity is a case in point, and we will explore the ethical considerations and social and economic disruptions that it may bring to society at large in this book.