A growing number of tech billionaires have decided to use their enormous wealth to try and help humans “cheat death.”
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Alphabet’s Larry Page, Oracle’s Larry Ellison, and Palantir’s Peter Thiel are just a few of the super-rich who have taken a keen interest in the burgeoning field of longevity, according to interviews, books and media reports.
While breakthroughs are far from guaranteed, they are hopeful that various drugs, therapies, and other life science technologies will allow humans to live well beyond 100 years and possibly 200, 300, or even. more.
But will their efforts benefit humanity as a whole or only an elite? It is a delicate question which divides opinions.
The filter down effect
Tech investor Jaan Tallinn, co-founder of Skype, told CNBC that Silicon Valley’s quest to live forever will benefit humanity as a whole.
“I think unintentional death is clearly morally wrong, which makes the quest for longevity a morally noble thing to embark on,” Tallinn said. “Early adopters always tend to pay more and take greater risks than the ‘mass market’, so if therapies start on the expensive / risky side, that’s to be expected. “
Tallinn added that he thought it was “counterproductive” to demand that a new service be available to everyone before anyone was allowed to use it, but said he understood the ‘instinct.
“Extending the maximum lifespan significantly in the short term seems unlikely to me; but it is more plausible to identify and stop the factors related to aging that increase the preponderance and severity of age-related conditions, ”said hÉigeartaigh.
Some fear that the Earth’s finite resources will be strained if people live longer and healthier lives.
However, as significant progress in extending life is made, Ó hÉigeartaigh expects population numbers to be more stable in more parts of the world.
“I expect a significant extension of lifespan in a century or more, and by then I expect a parallel change in society’s attitude towards euthanasia,” he said. he said, adding that he thought euthanasia would be more acceptable and more common in the years to come.
What about climate change?
Jon Crowcroft, professor of computer science at the University of Cambridge, told CNBC they had better inject more of their billions into climate change mitigation technologies rather than longevity research.
“It’s kinda pointless to live forever on a dying planet,” Crowcroft said.
“I think it’s generally unfair to pit good causes against one another in a world where most resources are wasted on things that are morally unimportant or even reprehensible,” Tallinn said.
The billionaire’s pursuit of immortality
The anti-aging start-up, which is said to be researching biological reprogramming technology, is also said to be backed by Russian-Israeli venture capitalist Yuri Milner, who made his fortune as the first investor in Facebook.
Elsewhere, Oracle founder Ellison has donated more than $ 370 million to research on aging and age-related diseases, according to The New Yorker.
Meanwhile, Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page helped start Calico, a secret company that tracks mice from birth to death in hopes of finding markers for diseases like diabetes and disease. Alzheimer’s, according to a report from The New Yorker. Calico is part of Alphabet, the holding company that also owns Google.
One of the biggest life extension advocates among tech billionaires is Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and Palantir and supported Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.
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According to The New Yorker, both Thiel and Bezos have invested in Unity Biotechnology, a San Francisco-based company whose founder is said to have said he wants to “vaporize a third of human disease in the developed world.”
Life Extension Inventories?
It hasn’t happened yet, but Juvenescence continues to invest in a wide range of anti-aging therapies that it believes have the potential to extend human life.
One of those investments is Insilico Medicine, which aims to use artificial intelligence for drug discovery. Juvenescence has also supported AgeX Therapeutics, a California-based company that tries to create stem cells capable of regenerating aging tissue, and LyGenesis, which wants to develop technology that uses lymph nodes as bioreactors to regrow replacement organs.
Other billionaires, including Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder of Australian software company Atlassian, and NEX group founder Michael Spencer, have invested in Juvenescence.