The Daily Beast
December 4, 2015
In 2015, tech billionaires pursued anti-aging and cheating death like never before.
Silicon Valley came up with a lot of things this year, like creating an on demand pot-to-front-door service, and devising a sparkly way of destroying enemies by shipping them glitter—but one thing it’s still working on is figuring out how humans can live forever. Research into surpassing life expectancy norms has become the pet project of tech billionaires, with entrepreneurs from Mark Zuckerberg to Sergey Brin writing out million-dollar checks to fund their quest.
The list of entrepreneurs jumping on the death-defying bandwagon has grown rapidly over the past few years, creating a veritable who’s who of generous donors. Notorious within the ranks are Peter Thiel, PayPal’s co-founder and developer of Breakout Labs, a funding body for radical research into early-stage science geared toward tackling degenerative diseases; Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who has donated some $430 million to anti-aging pursuits; and Paul Glenn, a venture capitalist who doles out grants to lab researchers at the likes of Harvard and MIT to investigate “the mechanisms of biological aging.”
“When I interviewed Glenn at his home, there was a book entitled Reversing Human Aging on the coffee table,” Adam Leith Gollner wrote in The Daily Beast two years ago. “I asked him how he felt about that idea—about making the Benjamin Button fairy tale real, in effect. ‘I’m of the anything-is-possible school,’ Glenn answered.”
The pursuit of stopping the clock on corporeal degeneration has become increasingly aggressive in those intervening years, with 2015 proving to be the most dogged yet. The 2045 Initiative—Dmitry Itskov’s life-extension organization seeking to transfer personalities onto non-biological items and, ultimately, immortality—projected that this year could be the first in which such a system was created.
The “brain computer interface” has been slated for launch anytime between now and 2020, dispelling naysayers’ qualms that such technologies only have a chance of existing in the very distant future. And there’s certainly no shortage of money to keep powering this research: Google co-founder Larry Page has diverted $750 million of the company’s funds to Calico, its life extension center; Pierre Omidyar, half of the brains behind eBay, has given millions to investigating disease recovery; entrepreneurs Peter Diamandis and Craig Venter set up Human Longevity Inc. in a bid to find a means of elongating the human lifespan.
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