A Cure For Death? Immortalists And Entrepreneurs
Will there be a cure for death in your lifetime? I won’t even parse the built-in paradox in that sentence, but I will give you an answer to the question, upfront. The answer is Maybe. Now that may seem disappointingly vague, but the mere fact that the answer is not No, is amazing.
In fact. there a group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs mad on the heels of a solution. Why? Because they are getting older. After all Gates and even Zuckerberg are no longer spring chickens. Baby Boomers, as they near the finish line, are particularly interested in this subject. Peter Thiel, the tech billionaire is after it, as is Jeff Bezos. Since Bezos has a shot at being the first ever trillionaire, money is not an object. Google has even invested a billion and a half dollars in their Calico Longevity Lab. There are even Venture funds and foundations focused solely on longevity engineering, a cure for death.
“Death makes me very angry . . . It doesn’t make any sense to me. Death has never made any sense to me. How can a person be there and then just vanish, just not be there?”
– Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corporation
Genetics May Be The Key
Why is this happening now? I mean people have been chasing the elusive ‘Fountain of Youth’ since Ponce de Leon. It’s all in the Genes.. The understanding of genetics is evolving at an astonishing pace. I was born before Watson and Crick had discovered the double-helix and today you can do gene hacking yourself in the kitchen. Some current research is focused on telomeres, the protein caps on chromosomes that protect them from aging. Elizabeth Blackburn won the Nobel in 2009 for her work on telomeres. Other research, like at the Salk Institute, has had some success reversing epigenetic changes in mice and human embryos. The researchers, by reprogramming genes, have not only been able to slow aging, but to reverse it, bingo!
Please understand that none of these dreamers and innovators ignores the fact, even if successful, body parts wear out, cancer strikes or strokes appear in the night. But a cure for death: would living to 150 at least, be so bad? The jury’s out on that one. What do you think?
Immortalists And Hubris
Meanwhile, is it hubris or vanity that drives the longevity entrepreneurs? I’d contend that it takes a certain amount of hubris and vanity to believe you can achieve the impossible, or at least do something that’s never been done before. Take Elon Musk. Spaceship to Mars, why not? Power 40,000 homes in Australia with solar and batteries for free, sure. Build a car company worth more than General Motors, piece of cake. Well not really. These big accomplishments require vision, resources and a lot of hard work. The Silicon Valley girls and boys have all three.
Digital Alternative To Immortality
Now, I think there may be a viable, if not better path, to immortality. That is to transfer you brain, emotions and and personality to the cloud. The reason it may be better is that computer servers, especially with backups, are more durable media than our bodies. If we were truly able to capture the essence of our beings and upload them, we could live a pretty full life digitally forever. There is plenty of research and progress being made on this parallel course.
“In time, you will discover ways to move your mind to more durable media.”
– Nick Bostrom, Director- Future of Humanity Institute
Some of my friends think I might be pretty obsessed on the subject of a Cure for Death. Maybe because I did spend three years writing my thriller novel, Not So Dead on the subject, but I can’t think of a bigger puzzle to solve. Can you?