Aubrey de Grey has a good interview in Wired. I want to object to one claim:
You want prizes to be ways to attract people who get scared when you talk about science for more than ten seconds. So the language has to be very glitzy and superficial and populist. Whereas, a foundation that’s trying to get money to put toward research, you want to look really knowledgeable and responsible and low-key.
A ten second soundbite may be very important for the prize to get a widespread reputation, but there’s more to attracting large donors than that.
Aubrey later says a major hurdle to getting large donations for his research is
3) You’ve got to believe the organization you’re thinking of giving the money to actually has the ability to execute [a promising plan]
Anyone familiar with the difficulty of funding technology startups can see that even people who enjoy talking about science usually fail to predict how well an organization will implement a plan. This is exactly why wise people who understand Aubrey’s vision will mostly prefer to donate to prizes rather than his research. The knowledge required to predict whether the Methuselah Foundation will reward progress at slowing senescence is much less than the knowledge required to evaluate a research project. The prize should at least partly transfer the responsibility for spending the money wisely to the researchers who are most informed about their projects.