Is Longevity Escape Velocity Science Fiction?

The Fountain of Youth.  The Holy Grail. The Philosopher's Stone. Humanity's quest for immortality features several legendary artifacts. 

Meanwhile, in the modern era, we have put computers in our pockets, go to space on a regular basis, can grow organs in a lab and machine based algorithms run many aspects of our lives. These advances sometimes make science fiction look more like prophesy. 

Is living into the 13th decade of life or beyond actually possible? Could it happen sooner than you think? Or is it just fantasy? Should we consider the cautionary tale of Icarus who flew too close to the sun? 

A new series called "Let's Talk Longevity" kicked of with a conversation (sort of debate) between Drs. Aubrey De Grey and Charles Brenner, centering around the possibility of achieving "Longevity Escape Velocity" (LEV).

De Grey's position imagines the possibility (50% chance in next few decades) of a "Methusalarity" a moment in which we begin to reverse some aspects of "aging" , primarily via "damage repair" at such a rate that we are able to repair damage in the body as fast as or faster than that damage is occurring. More concretely defined, it can be thought of as 20-30 years more of expected healthy life at age 60 when anti aging therapies begin.

Among the preamble to this definition, he calls out some important caveats:

  1. "Aging" is primarily damage accrual
  2. LEV requires "repairing damage" which is different than delaying or slowing damage
As a counterpoint, Dr. Brenner posits that the current approach to assessing the feasibility of  achieving LEV is "science fiction." The claims are 'unfalsifiable' and stretch known science beyond reasonable limits.

Cornerstones of Brenner's arguments are:
  1. The age limit is genetically coded, optimized for reproductive health, and any "damage repair" mechanism would still come up against this hard limit.
  2. The applications and effects of interventions face seemingly insurmountable challenges of "complexity" and furthermore any of the interventions De Grey has proposed have yet to demonstrate an extension of the genetic upper limit.
A recap of the dialogue is below.