Silicon Valley’s quest to live forever could benefit the rest of us

Jeff Bezos pops champagne after coming out of the New Shepard capsule after a space flight on July 20, 2021.

Blue origin

According to the poet Sir Alfred Tennyson, everything has to die, but that is likely to change soon.

More and more technology billionaires have decided to use their immense wealth to help the human “cheet death.”

AmazonJeff Bezos, alphabetLarry Page, OracleAccording to interviews, books and media reports, Larry Ellison and Peter Thiel of Palantil are just a few of the ultra-rich people who have a keen interest in the rapidly emerging field of longevity.

Breakthroughs are not guaranteed, but a variety of medicines, treatments, and other life science technologies allow humans to live well beyond the age of 100, and in some cases 200, 300, or more. I hope to be.

But do their efforts benefit humanity as a whole, or do they benefit only a few elites? It’s a tricky question to disagree with.

Filter down effect

“Technology that was initially only accessible to the rich is usually time,” said Stephen Schubert, a researcher at the London School of Economics and Political Science who specializes in “effective altruism.” It will be more widely available with. ” Indeed, this applies to everything from air travel to smartphones and medicine.

Skype co-founder and technology investor Jaan Tallinn told CNBC that the quest for Silicon Valley to live forever will ultimately benefit humanity as a whole.

“I think unwilling death is clearly morally bad, which makes it morally noble to engage in the quest for longevity,” Tallinn said. “Early adopters always pay more than the” mass market “and tend to take greater risks, so if treatment starts with an expensive and dangerous side, that’s to be expected. “

Tallinn added that making new services available to everyone before they became available was considered a “counter-effect,” but he said he understood his instincts. rice field.

Sean Oh Eigeartaigh, co-director of the Center for Existence Risk Research at the University of Cambridge, told CNBC that many advances in longevity science could bring broad benefits to the development of older age-related diseases such as dementia and the heart. Or he added that it could reduce the severity. health.

“It is unlikely that I will significantly extend maximum lifespan in the short term, but identifying and blocking age-related factors that increase the predominance and severity of age-related conditions It’s more reasonable, “said Óh Éigeartaigh.

Some are concerned that the limited resources of the planet can become tense if people lead longer and healthier lives.

However, by the time there is a meaningful life extension, Óh Éigeartaigh expects populations to become more stable in more parts of the world.

“We expect a meaningful extension of life to be more than a century away, and by then we hope that social attitudes towards euthanasia will change in parallel,” he said. He added that he believes it will become more accepted and more common in the next few years.

How about climate change?

Some think that millionaires should be able to spend money on what they think is appropriate, but everyone thinks that technology millionaires should spend money on life-extending research. Not at all.

John Crowcroft, a professor of computer science at the University of Cambridge, told CNBC that billions of dollars or more should be invested in climate change mitigation technology rather than longevity research.

“It’s a bit pointless to live forever on a dying planet,” Crowcroft said.

But Tallinn told CNBC that the efforts of tech billionaires to support longevity research are “worthy of praise.”

“In a world where most resources are wasted on something that isn’t morally important or even blamed, I think it’s generally unfair to match each other for good reason,” Tallinn said.

Billionaire chasing immortality

Bezos, the second wealthiest person in the world after Elon Musk, has invested a portion of his $ 199 billion in a new “rejuvenation” startup called Altos Labs. Report From the MIT Technology Review earlier this month.

Anti-aging startups, allegedly pursuing biological reprogramming technology, are also backed by Russian and Israeli venture capitalist Yuri Milner, who made a fortune as an early Facebook investor. It is reported that.

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 have launched Calico, a secret venture that tracks mouse birth to death, hoping to find markers for diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Assisted. Calico is part of Alphabet, a holding company also owned by Google.

One of the biggest supporters of life extension among tech billionaires is Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and Palantir and supported Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election.

Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal Inc.

VCG | Getty Images

In 2006, he donated $ 3.5 million to support anti-aging research through the non-profit Methuselah Mouse Prize Foundation. “The rapid progress of biological science is a treasure trove of discoveries this century and predicts a dramatic improvement in the health and longevity of all,” he said at the time. Thiel has increased its investment in the Methuselah Mouse Prize Foundation to $ 7 million by 2017. According to time..

According to the New Yorker, Thiel and Bezos are both investing in San Francisco-based Unity Biotechnology, whose founders reportedly said they “want to evaporate one-third of human illness in developed countries.”

Life extension stock?

On the other side of the Atlantic, British billionaire Jim Melon Told CNBC Last September, he planned to unveil his life extension company, Juvenescence, in the next 6-12 months.

That 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 lifespan.

One of those investments is Insilico Medicine, which aims to use artificial intelligence for drug discovery. Juvenescence also wants to develop technology to regenerate alternative organs using lymph nodes as a bioreactor with AgeX Therapeutics, a California-based company looking to create stem cells that can regenerate aging tissue. We are supporting.

Other millionaires, including Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder of Australian software company Atlassian, and Michael Spencer, founder of NEX Group, have invested in Juvenescence. Silicon Valley’s quest to live forever could benefit the rest of us

Back to top button