Revelations 9:6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
- The billion-dollar search for immortality
- Altos Labs’s Cambridge Institute of Science What does the company actually do? “Cell rejuvenation,” or “sell rejuvenation.” Depending on how you hear it
- Altos Labs is pursuing a lavishly funded quest to unearth the secrets of ageing.
- Last year, the Silicon Valley venture revealed it had raised $3 billion from investors, making it one of the best-financed start-ups in history.
- Altos’s leaders, however, are in the business of managing expectations. Hans Bishop, the president, has said his focus is on increasing “healthspan” rather than lifespan, and that any extension in longevity would be “an accidental consequence”. The idea is that, by focusing on “reprogramming” cells with various proteins, Altos can find medicines that treat many diseases at once by targeting the underlying problem: ageing.
- [More companies are in this race] Calico was set up a decade ago by Google co-founder Larry Page, though it has yet to unveil a product. Other players include Unity, BioAge, BioViva and AgeX Therapeutics. Billionaires — including Milner himself, Page, and Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel — are regularly glimpsed behind the scenes.
- [In a separate story there is] Bryan Johnson, who injected himself with his son’s blood and spends $2 million a year in the hope of achieving the body of an 18-year-old.
- Amazon CEO [When he stepped down] in 2021, Bezos urged shareholders to stay nimble, quoting Richard Dawkins: “Staving off death is a thing that you have to work at… If living things don’t actively work to prevent it, they would eventually merge with their surroundings and cease to exist as autonomous beings. That is what happens when they die.”
- philosopher Ingemar Patrick Linden, who calls the suggestion that everyone should die at a natural age “appalling”
- fellow tech titans articulated a very different philosophy of ageing. In 2005, Steve Jobs reflected on his pancreatic cancer diagnosis and offered a powerful rebuke to Silicon Valley-style transhumanism. “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there,” he said. “And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.”
- But that is as it should be, he said, because “death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”
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