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tv   Fault Lines  Al Jazeera  September 15, 2015 2:30am-3:01am EDT

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parties at neighbouring embassies. i'm ray suarez, >> if you got to choose how long you would get to live for, how long would you want to live for? >> immortality >> why? >> i wouldn't die or anything >> what's wrong with dying >> well, i want to be with my family. i don't want to miss out on any of the fun >> my kids are probably like most kids out there. for them, the idea of living forever seems pretty great. >> would you want to live
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forever? >> (nods) >> why? >> so i can play video games for my whole entire life. >> as they grow up though, i know they'll have to face the realities of getting old. >> do you think your dad is old? >> he's a little bit old. >> i'm sorry what did you say? >> he's a little bit old >> but there's something happening in science right now that may mean my children won't necessarily age like i have, or even age at all. >> why do you think that i'm a little bit old? >> because you have lines, right up here in your face. >> today, there's a movement of people who are trying to defeat aging - and some of the ills associated with it. some say even death itself. >> this would be a change utterly unlike any change that has ever happened in all of human history. >> it's a prospect that seems both fascinating and terrifying. what price could we pay for this?
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and what would happen to life without what we've come to accept as its logical end? >> does it bother you to think of dying? >> (nods). >> why? >> because it makes me feel that i'm going to get really, really hurt from dying.. >> do you wonder what's going to happen to me after i die? >> i'm assuming you'll become a ghost >> what would that be like? >> probably scary >> i think it's scary to some people because you don't really get to live with your family any more. (starts to cry) >> are you getting sad? >> (nods) >> why are you getting sad? come here. is it the idea of not living with your family anymore? (he sits in josh's lap).
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i understand, i understand. >> the search for the secret to eternal life goes back thousands of years. so far, it's a quest that has utterly failed. but i've come to japan to meet a living being that i'm told actually has the ability to be live forever. >> in the remote beach town of shirahama, in southern japan, a man has made it his life's mission to unlock this creature's secret.
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>> nice meeting you. >> did you find some good stuff? >> yes. (shows bucket) >> professor shin kubota is a biologist with kyoto university. he explained to me that nature holds many mysteries which humans can learn from. >> the one thing that is not a mystery in nature, that's not a mystery, is wherever there is life.... there is death. >> ahhh... >> right? >> the immortal jellyfish -scientific name: turritopsis dohrnii- sounds fantastical. but what it can do is amazing - and its something no other known species on earth can do. these tiny organisms
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can reverse their aging process, reverting back to the original polyp form after reaching an adult state or experiencing trauma. but despite its name, this jellyfish is only technically immortal. >> why are the immortal jellyfish so hard to keep alive? >> the secret he says lies in studying what is the blueprint
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of all living species - the dna in its genome. >> you really enjoy these guys? huh? >> he hasn't yet found the key to our immortality. but to professor kubota, the jellyfish is an inspiration. >> professor kubota's dream may still be far from a reality, but many others are beginning to
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ask the same question he is: are we humans resigned to aging? is there any reason that we shouldn't be? across the world, it's precisely these thoughts that have sparked a movement. those at the forefront of digital innovation are building a new industry the titans of silicon valley are going after aging - merging the tools of technology with human biology. >>"please welcome bill maris" >> bill maris is the head of google ventures and is partly behind google's newest spinoff - the california life company or calico. >> i think it's possible in a generation or two at the most to cure cancer. >> calico has said one of its missions is quote devising interventions that enable people to live longer and healthier lives. >> the next 25 years in life sciences are going to be really surprising i think.
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>> and google is only the latest in big names trying to tackle aging. people like paypal co-founder peter thiel and oracle founder larry ellison have already invested millions of dollars into the so-called longevity movement. >> some of this money has gone to aubrey de grey - he's been talking about aging for decades. a lot of poeople in science say that he's more talk than real science but he claims this is no longer fringe thinking. he believes we can actually stay young or return to youthfulness. we're actually going to take him out and see just how young we feel. de grey is a biologist and co-founded the sens research institute in mountain view california which raises money to support anti-aging work by scientists. he says most people are stuck in a pro-aging trance - where we think growing old is inevitable rather than a solvable medical problem.
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>> we have a completely, biologically invalid and incorrect idea that there is some kind of black and white wall between aging itself - whatever the hell we mean by that. and the diseases of old age--like alzheimer's, or cardiovascular disease or cancer. >> he argues that we must treat aging as the disease itself. he's clear that this is about longer healthy life not just long life. >> but the ability to live forever? is what everyone is thinking about... >> the ability to live indefinitely because of being youthful indefinitely - eternal youth. that's the word you talk about. >> eternal youth? >> yes, not eternal life. eternal youth. >> and you think that could be possible? >> i think that could be perfectly possible. >> de grey became a lightning rod for controversy years ago when he claimed that the first person to live to a 1000 years has already been born. but he's found a relatively safe haven in the valley - and now with google in the picture, he says the landscape has
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changed. >> the fact that you've got people like larry page and sergey brin putting their money and their names behind their venture, the fact that you've got people with an enourmously good track record of taking on enormously hard problems and succeeding those are the people that will make the general public and then of course governments believe thath is not a pipe dream anymore. >> i kept trying to make him not be a boy... it's not working. >> transgender children. >> i'd sit alone, i'd eat alone, i have no one to talk to. >> some dismiss it as a phase. >> we're trying to pigeon-hole him into "tom boy". >> but is it reallt a crisis? >> when your child wants to die... that's what changes parents. >> meet the families on a life changing journey. >> i finally get to blossom into the beautiful flower i am!
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>> if there is a cure for aging, tech entrepreneurs won't be able to just write a program to increase lifespan. doing so will also require close collaboration with those that are studying the mechanisms of aging. at stanford university, stuart kim studies super centenarians - people who are over 110 years old. >> we know that about 40% of longevity is genetic. >> what's interesting he says, is that many of the people he's studied actually have fairly unhealthy lifestyles. >> healthy living could make you live a couple of years longer and we should all try to eat well and exercise to stay healthy. that's a good idea, your dna could let you live 30 years. that's the idea. >> scientists have already successfully extended the lives of organisms like roundworms and even mice by altering certain genes in their dna. now researchers want to see if manipulating human genes could extend our lives
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>> so if we could figure out the secrets in the dna we could acquire a different way to live longer and healthy that trumps all of the diet and exercise that you're doing right now. >> one of the biggest efforts to understand human dna sits right here - just off the beach in san diego and the man at the forefront is a scientist who's been known for pushing boundaries in biotechnology craig venter raced the government to sequence the first human genome in the early 2000s and then in 2010 created the first synthetic life form. he's now started a company called human longevity inc or hli >> each one of these boxes is 1350x what we could do 15 years ago. >> this is the world's largest human genome sequencing center. currently, hli gets samples from participants involved in various scientific studies around the
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world. >> venter says hli will collect 1 million genomes by 2020 along with terabytes of health data on each individual >> we now can amass these huge datasets which helps us to enables us to begin to understand the differences. >> because everything that affects you, what kind of diseases you come down with, whether you're skinny, whether you're obese-- all of these things are a result of your genome and the genome of the bacteria in your system. >> peter diamandis is a well-known entrepreneur in california and is the co-founder of hli. he's famous for backing futuristic endeavors like space tourism and asteroid mining. >> we're heading towards a world that's going to be massively data driven. the companies that are crushing it - uber, airbnb - are all data driven companies. and companies that aren't gathering data and using it to make decisions are going to be gone they will be destroyed. and are genetics are going to be part of the big data? >> most valuable data.
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>> number one life decision making tool. >> venter says their goal is to increase people's health span and hli will license their database for scientific research. but the implications of so much information seem to hint at something bigger. >> it starts changing the conversation around do you elect someone who's president without knowing their genome scan? >> i have the right to know whether you are going to come down with this disease or not. but its going to change life insurance, health insurance every aspect of our lives. >> it becomes fact-driven, information and knowledge driven so i've learned early on that knowledge is power. >> the scale of hli - sequencing one million genomes in such a short time is unprecedented. but people critical of this data collection point to other dna analysis companies that show the risk of handing over genetic
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information. one of them is 23andme, a company backed by google, which gives information on your ancestry by partially sequencing your genome. >> it's 99 bucks and i'm signing up for it because i want to know about my background and genetics. but the other side of that is this company 23andme is going to keep my dna and put it into their databases. >> after signing their privacy policy, 23andme sends a saliva kit in the mail. the company used to offer health information based on genetic indicators but the fda shut that down. now some say 23andme is shifting gears >> now, we've seen in just that last few months, multiple deals made between 23andme and major pharmaceutical companies, to sell it's dna database, so they actually changed the focus of their company. >> but 23andme told us that
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scientific research has always been part of their agenda. and they insist that they are not selling the data but rather giving access to the samples they have collected. and like most companies who broker genomic data, they claim that it's been de-identified and anonymized. >> you can make a claim that you're going to try to anonymize dna and you're going to use your best efforts and hopefully they are. but it's a false promise to be able to say that you can truly anonymize dna. it can't be done. >> even venter agrees that dna is not truly anonomous. >> i would not advise anyone to do what i did. and that's to be so public about your own genome? >> yes. >> the first study at hli has nothing to do with disease at all, >> i can only think about one thing at a time... >> but is to find out if scientists can reconstruct a person's face and their voice... >> because to them in their mind, this myth, safety... >> ....from only their genetic code. >> this is like minority report stuff. this is you can get a little dna
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from a crime scene and say here's what he looks like and here's what he sounds like. >> yep. >> that's what you want to get to. >> yep. >> so part of that says that it >> ...he implications of that can't be de-identified. >> right. >> dna cannot be de-identified. >> right >> he says that's why hli will not have an open database that any researcher can easily search through. >> that's why we put so much into database security so that we can protect the records to the extent one can in computer databases. >> but advocates of genetic privacy say it's actually very hard to control how genetic data will be used in the future even when companies have the best of intentions. >> what's the real threat? >> well we have one federal law on genetic discrimination, the genetic information nondiscrimination act. it focuses exclusively on health insurance and employment. but genetic information can be used to discriminate on a whole host of different areas,
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from disability insurance to long term care insurance. it can be used by a bank if they want to make a long term loan and they think there's information in your genome that you will not live long enough to pay back that long term loan. >> isn't it at some point a genie that gets out of the bottle and maybe a little too much power in people's hands? >> first of the all-- the genie is out the bottle. this stuff is moving, period. there's no way to put it back in the bottle. the only countermeasure for me, for all of this, is massive transparency. getting a point where, in fact, yes, the norm is that your genome is on the cloud and open to all. we're heading towards a society in which we're going to know anything you want anytime you want anywhere you want. there are no secrets anymore. >> and what's the impact of that? >> fundamental re-shift of society. >> that's why these next 30 years, everything changes. how we govern, how we raise our kids. how we think about the future. everything.
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>> business man bill browder.
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>> maybe there is a future where my children won't age or where they'll be able to live a lot longer... but there are still so many unanswered questions - ones that need to be raised before our society is outpaced by biotechnology. >> would it be okay in a world where rich people got to live longer than poor people? >> no. >> what's wrong with that? >> then it's no fair >> the truth of course is that it already happens... life expectancy is linked to income and this gap is only increasing. and as the boundaries of human longevity are pushed, there are concerns that it will grow even wider. >> the politically connected and the wealthy would benefit because they could afford the treatments and the technologies and they would have access to
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that. it would not be cost prohibitive to them. >> bioethicists point out that if private companies hold the cure to aging, longer life may be a public good. >> because they will control the dialogue of the discourse, the direction, the agenda. and they will put their agendas out there. they're also businessmen. >> my goal is to create wealth and to be able to use that wealth to do the things i think are important on this planet--and there's no larger marketplace. 60-70 trillion dollars of wealth held in the hands of people over 60. and how much would they spend for an extra 10, 20, 30 years of healthy life? it's a huge marketplace. >> what does it mean for essentially the haves and haves not. that the haves will have access to this kind of information and this kind of healthcare and the haves nots wont? >> so actually it has changed. mine was the only 100 million dollar genome - there wasn't a second one. now its 1500 dollars.
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and in the near future we'll be even more accessible >> but many are asking should we be chasing this at all while people in many cities and countries struggle to meet basic needs. >> the realities of surviving is what those people are concerned with. so food production, food consumption, clean water, better living conditions, that's what most people are concerned about. >> even billionaire bill gates has questioned the priorities of the longevity movement. >>"seems egocentric, while we still have malaria and tb, for rich people to fund things so that they can live longer... what do you think about that view? i mean, the hundreds of millions of dollars going into this, could go into mosquito nets in africa, >> it's a silly a argument because it's a need that you don't try and change healthcare in western society. it's not ok to have a 6 month kid die from a brain tumor if its preventable or treatable.
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why is that any different than dying from malaria in africa? it just a different scale problem with different populations. >> but what it truly means, in my belief, is that we're heading from a world of have and have-nots to a world of haves and super-haves. where we can meet the basic needs of every man woman and child. and yes, some people will be able to go to mars, and others to live hundreds of years, but we are truly transforming this world. we're creating a world of abundance. and for me that's one of the most important things we can aim towards. >> it's an optimistic vision, but is it masking a harsh reality? are we building a world where the poorest are outlived by hundreds of years? its depends on who you ask. >> it's not that i'm opposed to extending our lives but this really is just one more instance of the haves getting more. so if the question is is that morally acceptable, i think no, i think the answer is that we all of us,
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the haves in the world, have an obligation to devote far more, far far more than we do to improving the plight of those, the have-nots. >> shelly kagan is a moral philosopher at yale university and he teaches one of the school's most popular classes. it's called death. he says if science could really alter the upper bounds of human lifespan even by 50 years it would have major repercussions. >> that would be something we've never dealt with and have no idea at all what it would do, what kind of changes it would require in human society. >> even one of the biggest dreamers warns that we're not ready for this.
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>> professor kubota says that humans as a species have a fundamental flaw. as we chase longer lives, we're losing sight of our place in the world. and that maybe we need to learn how to live better today. >> most of us go through life, i think, discovering that we are making or have made choices but haven't really reflected hard on whether those were the right choices to make or what were our reasons, were those good reasons i think recognizing that death
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is really the end implies the finitude of existence, and then that has the implication then that it really behooves you to think hard, long and hard about what is worth doing with your life. >> farm workers striking in mexico... >> all that tension is about what's happening right now. >> unlivable wages... >> you can work very hard and you will remain poor. >> what's the cost of harvesting america's food? >> do you see how it will be hard to get by on their salary? >> yeah >> fault lines, al jazeera america's hard hitting... >> today they will be arrested... >> ground breaking... they're firing canisters of gas at us... emmy award winning investigative series... fault lines invisible hands only on al jazeera america
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>> israel's military storms a compound in occupied east jerusalem injury 17 palestinians. you are watching al jazeera live from doha. also coming up on the program, hungarian police detain more than 9,000 refugees crossing into the country from serbia. several european countries tighten border controls. malcolm turnbull is sworn in as australia's new prime minister, its fourth leader in two years.

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