Over the past decade, billionaires as Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos Where Pierre Thiel have all invested in research on extending the longevity and the fight against aging. However, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Muskseems to be one of the few not to share this ambition.
Last month, we presented this statement from Elon Musk regarding the realization of this big project, which would be for him the accomplishment of a lifetime. On this occasion, the billionaire had then shared his opinion on this famous quest for immortality. He said:
I don’t think people should live too long. It would suffocate society because the truth is most people don’t change their minds. They simply die. And if they didn’t die, we would be stuck with old ideas and society couldn’t move forward.
However, this conception of human longevity seems very far from being shared by his billionaire counterparts, especially those in Silicon Valley. Some have made colossal investments in research on the subject.
At the start of 2022, we had already revealed to you that Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, had invested heavily in the start-up Altos Labsofficially launched last year. According to its website, the San Francisco-based biotech company focuses on “cellular rejuvenation programming”a theorized method that could act on illnesses, injuries and even disabilities.
And according to CNBCBezos and Peter Thiel, known for being the co-founder of Paypal and an early investor in Facebookalso both invested in Biotechnology Unita company based south of San Francisco that researches senescent cells, which stop dividing in humans as they age. The goal of this company would therefore be to develop “transformative drugs to slow down, stop or hold back diseases linked to aging”.
Unity Biotechnology had raised over $300 million before going public in 2018. And as of the start of the week, its market capitalization was $73.06 million, down significantly from its September 2018 peak of nearly $972 million.
the holy grail of billionaires
And Thiel is perhaps one of Silicon Valley’s best-known proponents of investing in the field. A start-up the billionaire helped fund, called Ambrosia, had revisited a 1950s practice called parabiosiswho notably experimented with the cutting and suturing of circulatory systems in rats.
The studies did not seem to yield concrete conclusions, but the company, based in Monterey, California, still undertook human trialsby injecting blood from people under the age of 25 into participants aged 35 and over, claiming rejuvenating effects. In 2015, Thiel then declared toInitiated :
It’s one of those very strange things where people had done these studies in the 1950s and then it was completely dropped. I think there are a lot of these things that have been strangely under-explored.
And for good reason. Because in 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a parabiosis warning. It would seem that the Ambrosia company is no longer operational today.
That hasn’t stopped other billionaires from pursuing similar end goals. Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are co-founders of the Breakthrough Prizewhich awards $3 million annually to scientists who make “transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life.” In a 2015 event, Zuckerberg said :
What interests me most are questions about people. What will allow us to live forever? How to cure all diseases? How does the brain work? How does learning work and how can we empower humans to learn a million times more?
And according to the New Yorker, Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle Corporationknown in particular for offering software related to database management systems, has donated at least $370 million to research on aging. Likewise, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page helped launch start-up Calicoa subsidiary of Alphabet specializing in biotechnology and which also conducts research on diseases related to aging.
In other words, it would seem that Musk is one of the few to oppose many of his Silicon Valley peers and who, unlike others, is not afraid of death, seeing it instead as a source of relief.