Longevity is a Data Storage Problem

Ron Reiter
3 min readApr 19, 2019

I’m not a biologist. But I do know a few things about aging. And I did come to an interesting conclusion that may actually make you want to upload your DNA to your favorite cloud storage.

Cells replicate naturally. As they replicate, two things happen: the DNA is copied, and the size of the telomeres decreases. As the cell telomeres size reaches zero, the cell stops replicating and dies. One of the reasons cells stop replicating is because the DNA copy process has errors. Why? because it’s damn hard to copy 3 billion data points without errors when you’re a microscopic biological miracle.

The only way that our body can live forever is if we let our cells replicate forever while cleaning up what needs to be cleaned up. But if we don’t solve the DNA copy issue — our body will start deforming (e.g. get cancer or start malfunctioning) as our DNA gets more and more corrupted. Evolution has done a great job in limiting the number of times cells can replicate. The only downside is that you die at the end, but evolution doesn’t really care about that as long as you mate and have kids.

But humans have the natural tendency to want to live. To do this — we need to help evolution solve the one thing it did not manage to solve — storing our DNA in such a way that it won’t get corrupted.

As of today, it is possible to store billions of data points for ages — by using data replication. You simply store multiple copies of your data, with some error correction codes, and continuously check that some of your replicas were not lost every once in a while. This is basically what every data backup solution does. Kudos to the human body that can store about 3GB of data for 100 years, but we, humanity, can do a better job at it. (btw, you can compress it at a ratio of about 1000x because there’s a lot of similarity between humans)

So — what’s next for us? Until someone figures out a way to actually make you live longer, what we know for sure is that you should back up your DNA as fast as possible because aging naturally damages your DNA.

Here’s an interesting post about how to do it (I still don’t really know how to do it, but once I figure it out, I will let you know).

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