Imagine this: you are successful, admired, feted, fabulously wealthy, so wealthy that you never think about money, except for the occasional joy from remembering you have more than just about any human ever or the rare rage that bubbles up because you must acknowledge, at least to yourself, that a handful of competing humans actually do have more than you, more than you are likely to ever have, but this thought passes, overwhelmed by the bounteous truth: you have the best home, the best food, the best sycophants, the best toys, the best whores, the best connections, the very best doctors, doctors who are expert in appearance and vigor, able to provide services that keep you vital and strong and healthy, far more so than all your peers, and if they can’t, they know who can, you need never worry about being told no. Now imagine this: you’re 40, or 50, or 60, or god forbid, 70, and you are going to die, soon.
Is it any wonder the titans of Silicon Valley are pouring money into life extension efforts — both public and non?
- The market for regenerative medicine currently stands at $1.6 billion and is forecast to reach $20 billion by 2025
- The number of 85+ between 2010 and 2050 is estimated to create by 351 per cent
The money’s there, that’s obvious, nearly every human wants to live longer and better and will pay for it, but the promise of adding one year of healthy life, ten years, fifty years, that’s what gets the attention of Silicon Valley’s wealthiest.
(Peter) Thiel has invested in 3D printing of organs, human genomics. Holds stake in 14 health and biotech cos working on anti-aging. Says he wants to live till at least 120.
Calico, or California Life Company, is an anti-aging research centre that’s got funds of $750m from Google which (Larry) Page co-founded.
Sergey Brin has personal investment of $150 million in firms researching DNA. He hopes to someday “cure death”.
(Facebook CEO Mark) Zuckerberg co-sponsors $33 million Breakthrough Prize for Life Sciences for curing age-related diseases with Google’s Sergey Brin.
Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison’s “Ellison Medical Foundation has spent $430 million since 1997 on mostly anti-aging research.”
Ellison adds: “Death has never made any sense to me. How can a person be there and then just vanish, just not be there.”
Ellison will die, whether it makes sense or not. But his money and research should help many live longer.
Of course, the rich aren’t the only ones pushing anti-aging research forward. DIYers, crazy or not, broke or not, are also attacking the margins of science.
“A biohacker for me is somebody who is doing something clever or interesting in biology,” says Josiah Zayner, a molecular biophysicist who runs The ODIN, a company that sells do-it-yourself genetic engineering kits.
Zayner is one of the leading figures in the biohacking movement and is the main organizer of the BioHack the Planet Conference, a yearly gathering of citizen scientists. This year, over 100 members of the biohacking community met in Oakland, California to discuss a wide array of issues from at-home genetic engineering to questions on bioethics.
(Biohackers) shared mission is to put this technology into the hands of as many people as possible.
We still have an FDA, numerous medical bodies, clinical research methodologies, all of the 20th century’s infrastructure to make sure the treatments, procedures, pills, experiments and machines all achieve their maximum purpose for the least collateral harm.
That will change.
Like aging, change will be forced upon what we know and what we esteem.
It won’t all be for the worse.