The dream of eternal life is probably as old as man himself. Instead of myths, Silicon Valley is banking on technology to potentially extend human life.
Already in 2018 wrote Der Spiegel that the Silicon Valley elite are driven by the hope of “conquering death, or at least keeping it at bay for a while”. Tech investor Peter Thiel is said to have invested millions of dollars in more than a dozen companies working on life extension methods.
OpenAI founder Sam Altman, who is currently busy with the hype surrounding the AI chatbot ChatGPT, is apparently convinced that human life can be extended. Conversations with Thiel and a sensational study from 2020 had convinced him.
In it, the researchers at the University of California at Berkeley described how rejuvenation could be achieved in mice through plasma exchange. What was special about it was that it did not use blood from young mice, but a saline solution containing albumin.
Under this impression, it sets in MIT Technology Review report now close, Altman may have poured a big chunk of cash into startup Retro Biosciences in 2021.
At its public launch in April 2022, Retro announced that it had raised $180 million in its first round of funding the year before. As it turns out, the entire sum came from Altman.
The startup, which promises to be able to extend human life by around ten years, had previously kept the major investor secret so as not to provoke a “distraction”. With the public attention for Altman surrounding the ChatGPT success, there appears to have been a change of heart.
Altman himself, who knows the retro boss Joe Betts-LaCroix from his time as president of the tech incubator Y-Combinator, is not only making his fortune available for research into life extension.
Also in 2021, Altman even put $375 million into startup Helion Energy, which is working on generating energy through nuclear fusion.
Incidentally, Peter Thiel is also involved in this startup. The Silicon Valley grandees are also concerned with the topic of CO2-free energy production. In addition to Thiel and Altman, Amazon founders Jeff Bezos (General Fusion) and Bill Gates (Commonwealth Fusion Systems) are also involved in such startups.
While Altman claims to have scraped together all the assets available to him for the two major investments in 2021, Elon Musk is critical of nuclear fusion.
The Tesla and SpaceX boss sees wind and solar energy – plus batteries as storage – as the best solution for future energy generation. And Musk also has a different opinion on eternal life than Thiel or Altman: eternal life would be bad for society.