Monetizing Immortality: How Silicon Valley's Tech Titans Are Trying to Disrupt Death

Monetizing Immortality: How Silicon Valley’s Tech Titans Are Trying to Disrupt Death

On Wednesday, Google introduced that it’s getting within the immortality recreation, with the launch of an absurdly formidable new enterprise that actually goals to cease demise. It burned by means of the media, spurred by a TIME cowl story. But Google is hardly the primary Silicon Valley large to combat outdated age.

Tech titans have poured thousands and thousands into the multibillion greenback anti-growing old trade, and, maybe unsurprisingly, the Valley stays a hotbed for the transhumanist motion, which goals to basically remodel the human situation, utilizing new applied sciences to improve our mental, psychological, and bodily capabilities—together with our capability to dwell eternally.

So far, we don’t know a lot about this new Google firm, besides that it’s referred to as Calico and might be led by Arthur Levinson, the previous CEO of biotech pioneer Genentech, who can be chairman of the board at Apple. According to the Google press release, Calico—an abbreviation for California Life Company—“will deal with well being and effectively-being, specifically the problem of getting older and related ailments.”

exclusive TIME magazine interview that accompanied Wednesday’s announcement, Google CEO Larry Page made it clear that his ambitions for Calico are much more grandiose. The new enterprise is a “moonshot,” Page says, a phrase he makes use of to describe Google’s typically outlandish makes an attempt to carry the world into the long run.

“Are individuals actually centered on the appropriate issues?” Page advised TIME. “One of the issues I thought was superb is that should you remedy most cancers, you’d add about three years to folks’s common life expectancy. We consider fixing most cancers as this enormous factor that’ll completely change the world. But whenever you actually take a step again and take a look at it, yeah, there are a lot of, many tragic circumstances of most cancers, and it is very, very unhappy, however within the mixture, it isn’t as huge an advance as you would possibly assume.”

In different phrases, curing most cancers isn’t large enough. In reality, Page means that the last word objective of Calico is to remedy, or relatively “clear up,” getting older and loss of life—a quixotic purpose even for an organization that’s constructing a driverless car and desires to use helium balloons to develop Internet entry.

But whereas Calico could also be some of the most excessive-profile and effectively-funded makes an attempt to cease the getting old course of, Page and Co. are hardly the primary Silicon Valley dreamers to seek for the Fountain of Youth. Here’s a rundown of Silicon Valley’s latest makes an attempt to discover immortality:

Ellison Medical Foundation:  Founded by billionaire Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, the fifth-richest particular person on this planet,  the Ellison Medical Foundation doles out greater than $forty million a yr for analysis within the biology of growing older, in accordance to government director Kevin Lee. The final objective of the Ellison Medical Foundation is just not immortality, Lee mentioned, however to discover cures for the illnesses that accompany getting old. “It’s about remaining wholesome for so long as potential,” Lee instructed me. “I suppose that is very potential. There’s good purpose to stay optimistic.”

Ellison, who is alleged to be obsessive about youth, age, and science, is maybe probably the most outstanding Fountain of Youth seeker in Silicon Valley. “Death has by no means made any sense to me,” Ellison instructed his biographer, Mark Wilson. “How can an individual be there after which simply vanish, simply not be there? Clearly the rationale they are not there may be they’re off doing one thing else… Death makes me very offended. Premature dying makes me angrier nonetheless.”

Prior to creating the Ellison Medical Foundation, the Oracle billionaire invested within the now-failed biotech agency Aeiveos, which had deliberate to examine the genetic make-up of centenarians. The firm, which barely survived previous its infancy, was created by an early Oracle worker Robert Bradbury, an Extropian who believed that genetic engineering might delay life.

Founders Fund: Led by billionaire PayPal cofounder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel, Founders Fund’s mottois “We needed flying automobiles, as an alternative we acquired one hundred forty characters.” Thiel, Silicon Valley’s leading techno-libertarian futurist,has been identified to dabble in transhumanism, and his enterprise capital fund invests closely in biotech and synthetic intelligence. Although these investments have been hit-or-miss—Halcyon Molecular, whose founder claimed he would live for “millions, billions, hundreds of billions of years,” tanked final yr—Thiel is not possible to surrender on his seek for the Fountain of Youth.

The SENS Research Foundation: Another Thiel-backed enterprise, this Mountain View nonprofit is dedicated to the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, a spread of regenerative medical therapies that restore injury to human tissue with the final word aim of suspending growing old. The basis was co-based by British biogerontologist and notable transhumanist Aubrey de Grey, who claims that “the primary individual to stay to be M,000 years previous is actually alive in the present day.” Grey can be the co-founding father of The Methuselah Foundation, which additionally obtained a hefty donation from Thiel.

Glenn Foundation for Medical Research: Funded by a 9-determine endowment by veteran California enterprise capitalist Paul E. Glenn, the Glenn Foundation’s stated objective is  to “lengthen the wholesome productive years of life by way of analysis on the mechanisms of organic getting old.” Like Thiel, Glenn has additionally donated to de Grey’s Methuselah Foundation.

Elixir Pharmaceuticals: A genomics-primarily based drug firm, Elixir is attempting to make a capsule that may decelerate the ageing course of and forestall age-associated ailments. The firm was co-based by Ellison Scholar Cynthia Kenyon, a molecular biologist recognized for locating a gene that prolonged the lifespan of worms 300 p.c.

Maximum Life Foundation: Founded by human longevity advocate David Kekich, the Maximum Life Foundation identifies and helps rising medical applied sciences with the objective of reversing the human ageing course of by 2033. According to the foundation’s website, Maximum Life has “developed a inventive funding technique that mixes capital preservation, liquidity, an annual dividend and enterprise capital returns… whereas growing applied sciences which might be designed to lengthen wholesome lifespans by 20 years or extra.”

The 2045 Initiative: Although not technically a Silicon Valley enterprise, the is without doubt one of the extra bold makes an attempt to make human beings immortal. The 2045 initiative goals to obtain immortality inside three a long time, and plans to achieve this by altering human evolution as we all know it. From Itskov’s manifesto on “We imagine that earlier than 2045 a man-made physique might be created that won’t solely surpass the present physique when it comes to performance, however will obtain perfection of kind and be no much less engaging than the human physique. People will make impartial selections in regards to the extension of their lives and the chances for private improvement in a brand new physique after the sources of the organic physique have been exhausted.”