We are surrounded by limits. They shape things and concepts around us. As living beings, we are constrained to time and space, our possibilities are limited by the laws of nature. Our knowledge is restricted by the capacities of our senses. And we permanently feel the borders between the real and the potential, the potential and the impossible.
And yet, there is one thing we tend to forget about limits: Their nature seems to be always temporary.
Barricades can be jumped over, borders can be crossed, walls can be knocked down. 25 years ago, traveling the continent freely sounded rather illusionary to a good deal of the European population. In 1943, the chairman of IBM estimated that there was a worldwide demand for only five computers. And for centuries, the mere existence of gravitation made it sound very unlikely that objects of several tons could fly across oceans.
Yesterday’s “impossible” becomes today’s reality…a shift that can only happen when we dare to question, ignore and finally overcome limits. And that’s what this year’s TEDxVienna conference is dedicated to: UNLIMITED.
Aubrey de Grey – Fighting aging and death
The work of the British biogerontologist is swerving around one of the most essential and obvious limitations we are confronted with: aging and mortality. Aubrey de Grey questions the inevitability of the aging process. He argues that aging is a disease rather than a natural stage, and therefore can be cured by approaching it as an “engineering problem”. Breaking down the aging process to a set of separate biological problems such as cellular loss or mutations of chromosomes and mitochondria, they remain big challenges to solve – but can, eventually and step-by-step, be worked on in order to increase life expectancy drastically, based on the strong belief that we should not simply accept the fact that age naturally limits our capacities, our health, our lives. In a previous TED-talk, Aubrey provocatively stated that the first person to grow 1000 years old has already been born.
A short history of immortality
What would you do if your time on earth was unlimited? Is a longer life automatically a better life? And isn’t it the awareness of its finite nature that makes life precious? Then again – the fight against age and death has been fundamental for the development of modern science: One of the said features of the superior target of alchemists – the Philosopher’s Stone – was immortality. Aubrey de Grey certainly causes controversy. But what would unlimited thinking be without dispute?
And let’s face it… at the end of the day, the only thing that really proves impossible is the proof that something is impossible.
Join us on a journey without limits – at “UNLIMITED”, the TEDxVienna conference of 2013 – on November 2 at Volkstheater Vienna.