Can tech giants disover away to live forever?
This sounds good.
es, too. Among them:
Metformin, a medication doctors currently prescribe to patients with diabetes, may reduce DNA damage and help keep cells working normally.
Rapamycin, an immunosuppressant, has shown promise in keeping cell growth and reproduction regular in aging cells.
And in studies, tanespimycin, a drug used in cancer treatments, has helped clear the body of cells which no longer divide properly. It’s not yet clear which of these compounds (if any) will help humans live longer, but the results of early studies are promising.
But these Silicon Valley companies seem more interested in out-of-the-box approaches to longevity.
Most of the interventions they’re looking at aren’t approaching any “anti-aging treatment” that would actually help the average person, nor are they intended to — many of the investors pouring money into these efforts are doing so mostly to help themselves.
The lack of a scientifically proven intervention for extending life isn’t stopping the tech leaders from trying out a few themselves. Peter Thiel is definitely not but maybe kind of receiving injections of blood drawn from healthy young folks, a technique that hasn’t been shown to work in humans and is based on some very scary studies in mice.
At 32, Serge Faguet, founder of video platform TokBox and Russian booking web site Ostrovok, claims he’s spent $200,000 on “biohacking,” including hearing aids to augment his already-perfect and microdoses of MDMA, all in an effort to live his best life (what happens when he actually does get old, well, we’ll have to see).
Image Credit: Emily Cho
They do this with the knowledge that, if somehow they do find an intervention to extend the human lifespan, it will almost certainly be too expensive for the average person to afford, which would create two entirely different classes of humans — one group with money that can see 150, and another that just has to take whatever small insights trickle down from the top.
“The disparity of wealth in the United States will create a “class of immortal overlords,” former Facebook President Sean Parker said at a cancer innovation event last November. “Because I’m a billionaire, I’m going to have access to better healthcare so… I’m going to be, like, 160 and I’m going to be part of this class of immortal overlords.”
To think that money and a bit of self-experimentation can solve an issue that plagued humanity and has been unsolved since humans evolved, to create two biologically separate classes of human beings — and be fine with it?
There might be something going on there, you know, psychologically, to explain a bit of that. Are these entrepreneurs just in denial about their own deaths? Because they already changed the world so much by creating the thing that brought them to prominence, are they just bored now?
There’s some hubris in there for sure, says Waite, the psychology professor. “Aren’t they masters of the universe? They think they can have everything just because they’re rich, but it’s so not true.” Sounds a lot like the same kind of pride and arrogance shared by Gilgamesh and Tithonus and Dorian Gray.
Faith — where it’s allocated, and where it’s not — could also be playing a role. “Traditional religion in the Bay Area is being replaced with another sort of faith, a belief in the power of technology and science to save humanity,” according to an article about Christianity in Silicon Valley published by Quartz. Combine this new governing philosophy (what others have called a “religion of technology“) with leaders who are too young to find peace in the concept of death and who haven’t experienced the kinds of traumas that might inoculate them against some of that fear? You get a perfect storm of longevity obsession.
So far, there are no drugs or infusions or special herbs you can eat to live a longer, healthier life. No, the only thing proven to help you live longer is exercise and a healthy diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. No shortcuts.
If Silicon Valley entrepreneurs really wanted to “disrupt” death, they would do more of that, and blow less money on the kind of outside-the-box schemes that might soothe their egos, but won’t really help anyone along the way.
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