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21 May, 2024
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Chasing immortality

The billionaires trying to defeat death

"The only sure thing is death and taxes," Benjamin Franklin said 230 years ago. Today, the richest people on the planet manage to own billions of dollars without paying the corresponding taxes. Having overthrown the certainty of taxes, they now aim to defeat death as well.

Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Google's Larry Page, Oracle's Larry Ellison and Palantir's Peter Thiel are just some of the billionaires working on new immortality technologies.

Although the success of these difficult endeavors is far from guaranteed, their hope is that various drugs, therapies and other health technologies will allow people to live beyond 100 years, possibly up to 200, 300 or even more.

Jeff Bezos, the richest man on earth, has invested part of his $ 200 billion fortune in a new "rejuvenation" startup called Altos Labs.

Having overthrown the certainty of taxes, they now aim to defeat death as well.

This anti-aging company is said to be involved in biological reprogramming technology and is invested by the Russian-Israeli Yuri Milner, who made a fortune investing in the first steps of Facebook.

Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison has donated more than $ 370 million to research into aging and age-related diseases.

And Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page helped create Calico, a secretive Alphabet startup that tracks mice from birth to death, in hopes of finding evidence of diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer's.

One of the biggest proponents of prolonging human life is Peter Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and Palantir.

In 2006, Thiel funded $ 3.5 million in anti-aging research through the non-profit Methuselah Mouse Prize. "Rapid advances in the science of biology promise a treasure trove of discoveries within this century, including dramatic improvements in health and longevity for all," he said at the time. In 2017, Thiel increased his investment in the Methuselah Mouse Prize to $ 7 million.

Both Thiel and Bezos have invested in Unity Biotechnology, a San Francisco-based company that wants to "eradicate one-third of human disease in the developed world."

On the other side of the Atlantic, British billionaire Jim Mellon told CNBC last September that he planned to put Juvenescence, his company that lengthens human life, on the stock exchange.

Among the anti-aging treatments that Juvenescence invests in is Insilico Medicine, which aims to use artificial intelligence in drug discovery.

Juvenescence has also invested in AgeX Therapeutics, a California-based company that seeks to create stem cells that can regenerate aging tissue, and LyGenesis, which wants to use lymph nodes as "bioreactors" to develop transplant organs. .

Immortality only for a few?

"Technologies that were initially only accessible to the rich usually become more widely available over time," Stefan Schubert, a researcher at the London School of Economics and Political Science, told CNBC.

Skype technology investor and co-founder Jaan Tallinn explains that Silicon Valley's quest to live forever will ultimately benefit all of humanity. "Those who are the first to adopt a new technology always pay more and take more risks from the 'mass market', so if treatments start with expensive and dangerous, this is to be expected," he says.

"I believe that life expectancy is a century or more away, and until then, I expect society's attitude toward euthanasia to change at the same time," said Sean OeEigeartaigh, co-director of the Center for the Study of Existential Risk. at Cambridge University. with information from CNBC


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