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In the past, research on life extension has been a legitimate pursuit for academics in molecular biology. Scientists and researchers are trying to find ways to stop death through medical interventions. Aside from these people, many billionaires are trying to find ways to live longer. These can include changing their lifestyle to consuming a vegan diet or taking human growth hormone pills. There’s probably something about gaining so much money that makes them hunger for life even more than the average Joe.
There had been new leads in the research of extending human life that shows the fountain of youth might be closer than what many would believe. If these ideas will be implemented, researchers claim they could estimate life to be extended up to a thousand years.
Until this day, people who are studying gerontology and anti-aging are providing reassurance that they are close to solving the problem of aging. Many years have passed and still, no one has been able to figure out life extension. No matter how much money one has, bribing oneself out of dying is just not possible. But that hasn’t stopped very rich individuals from trying to find ways.
Let us take a look at some of the people doing research on life extension as well as those who are funding it.
1. Aubrey de Grey
Aubrey de Grey is a biomedical gerontologist and author who is probably one of the most popular figures when talking about anti-aging. He is currently the Chief Science Officer of the SENS Research Foundation and is known for his view that medical technology might one day allow human beings to live for a thousand years.
His research focuses mainly on whether regenerative medicine is able to prevent the process of aging. He is working on the development of what he calls “Strategies for Engineer Negligible Senescence” or SENS. This is a collection of proposed techniques to rejuvenate the human body and prevent it from aging.
He has by far identified seven types of cellular and molecular damage that are caused by essential metabolic processes. SENS is the panel of the foundation he manages that might one day discover therapies to repair these damages.
2. Ray Kurzweil
Most people have accepted the fact that our lives have a limitation. We can have up to 70 years hopefully, but probably many won’t be able to reach the 100th mark before they die. The world will go on even when we are no longer here. This is an awareness of our own mortality and is what makes us human.
But not for Ray Kurzweil. A world-famous inventor and computer scientist, Kurzweil decided man years ago that mortality did not suit him. He believes he doesn’t have to die and he was not going to if he can change that. He really believes that he can help it by working feverishly on a task of gaining life extension.
Kurzweil is currently working as an adviser to the pet project of CEO and co-founder of Google, Larry Page, which is focused on finding a cure for aging. He works alongside the younger and brightest minds of this generation on artificial intelligence, among other things. Kurzweil believes that we can one day combine artificial intelligence and the human consciousness to be able to cheat death once and for all.
3. Peter Thiel
The co-founder of PayPal and the first investor in Facebook, Peter Thiel, has recently revealed to Bloomberg Television that he is taking human growth hormone so he can achieve his goal of reaching 120 years of age. He is also following a Paleo diet, abstains from consuming sugar, runs regularly and drinks red wine.
He has been able to fund more than $6 million to Aubrey de Grey’s SENS Foundation which is dedicated to extending human life. In one of his interviews, he identified three primary ways one can approach death. “You can accept it, you can deny it or you can fight it. I think our society is dominated by people who are into denial or acceptance, and I prefer to fight it” Thiel said.
Apart from all these, he has also funded millions of dollars to other startups that are working on anti-aging medicine and spends much time researching therapies that he can use personally to extend his life. He is also especially fond of the idea that transfusing blood plasma from younger donors to older people might make the latter younger overall.
4. Dmitry Itskov
The Russian multimillionaire began the 2045 Initiative which has the goal of helping humans achieve immortality in the next three decades. Based on his manifesto, Itskov’s primary aims are to produce technologies that enable the transfer of an individual’s personality to an advanced non-biological carrier. This should extend that person’s life to the point where it can achieve immortality.
For humanity to evolve into the new kind of humans, we will have to give up on our biological bodies, says Itskov. He believes that choosing artificial and machine bodies is the way to achieve life extension. He says that this can be achieved by making a backup of our minds into cyberspace, and simply download ourselves into the bionic avatars.
Itskov, a fanatic transhumanist, believes that we might one day see people who are part machine and part robot soon. He truly thinks that immortality can be achieved by the year 2045.
5. Davel Gobel
This man is the co-founder of the Methuselah Foundation together with Aubrey de Grey, a company that aims to make advances in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine for people to live longer. With funding provided by Peter Thiel, the foundation has already given more than $4 million in support and development for research into extending lifespans.
They are giving away the Methuselah Prize to encourage scientists to continue working on anti-aging research. The goal of the organization is to make people who are 90 years old feel like they are 40 years younger by the year 2030. They are also treating the way we age as a ‘medical condition’ that can be cured.
Gobel is also known for making popular the idea of the ‘longevity escape velocity’. This is a hypothetical situation wherein life expectancy would grow faster as time passes. This essentially means that the first 1,000-year-old individual could simply be 10 years younger than the first 150-year old person in the world.
6. Sergey Brin
Out of all the rich people who are encouraging the research on immortality, there is one individual who has a strong chance of putting legitimacy to the quest for eternal life: co-founder of Google Sergey Brin.
Although his partner Larry Page focuses more on the business side of things, the role of Brin has been to explore technological opportunities. He looks into technologies in development that are viable for the future. This means checking into everything from artificially grown burger patties to prototypes of Google Glass, a robotic eyewear synced permanently to the Internet.
Under the leadership of Brin, Google has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund the Singularity University. Here, people pay five figures for a weeklong seminar about the capacity of technology to solve death and aging. They took Ray Kurzweil under their wing a few years back who claims that human beings will one day merge with computers to essentially become immortal super beings.
7. Larry Ellison
The CEO of Oracle Corporation and one of the richest persons in the world, Larry Ellison, feels disgusted by death. For him, it doesn’t make sense that one can simply exist and then just vanish. He thinks that although death may not make sense, he believes there is a way it can be defeated.
That is why Ellison set up the foundation dedicated to ending mortality or even to understand age-related diseases and disabilities. They are spending real money too, with the Ellison Medical Foundation giving more than $40 million per year.
Ellison’s biographer, Mark Wilson, notes that Ellison looks at death as another type of corporate opponent that he can “outfox”. It is the reenactment of The Seventh Seal, with the crusading knight as Ellison and the grim reaper as a rival company he is about to beat.
8. Craig Venter
He is best known for working on decoding the first human genome, yet his work in science goes much further. He founded Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), which is a genomics-based biotechnology company. They intend to enhance and extend the lifespan of human beings and change the way we age.
Venter takes the power of the human genome to combine it with high tech DNA sequencing and stem cell advances. They want to decode and fix the factors that add to diseases as we grow older. Their goal is to create a human database so that they can predict diseases. They have reportedly raised more than $70 million in venture capital already.
Venter does not only want to lengthen the life of a human being, but want to improve the performance of an individual to become more productive.
9. Martine Rothblatt
Rothblatt is taking a different approach to the anti-aging trend we are learning about nowadays. Instead of keeping human beings alive in their current physical forms, she believes that life extension can come by blending biology and technology together. But instead of cyborgs and robots, the founder of Sirius Satellite Radio is thinking along the lines of a human brain being put into a software program. This should enable a person to continue to be alive but in a high-tech form.
She started the nonprofit company known as Terasem Movement. This is where people can store their “mind files”, which are digital records of a person’s life. These files are spread out across social media, email and computer files in the hopes that when technology one day catches up, they can be used to bring that individual back to life.
These so-called “mind files” have personality profiles, memories in the form of images and videos, biographical information and many more. At this time, it is just like a digital scrapbook. They hope that one day advances in artificial intelligence would make these “mind files” useful for human consciousness.
10. Don Laughlin
The billionaire and founder of the popular Riverside Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, is betting on cryogenics. He wishes to live forever and is a future customer of Alcor Life Extension Foundation. This is a Cryonic preservation facility based in Scottsdale, Arizona. When he dies, his body would be put into cryo-preservation at -360 degrees. He will be revived and cured of any health issues in the future once technology catches up.
At this time, Alcor Life Extension Foundation is a leading provider of Cryonics. This is the practice of using super cold temperatures to preserve human beings. As soon as possible when legal death has been announced, customers who availed of their services would be put into a sort of antifreeze solution is put into the patient to enter most of their cells in the body.
This process is known as vitrification. It avoids ice crystal formation and lets the body cool without damage from freezing. They are then placed into a liquid nitrogen container and moved to be stored for an indefinite amount of time. The goal of the foundation is to preserve human beings until medical technology is advance enough to bring them back from the dead.