by Michelle Quinn
August 09, 2016
of Youth, 1546
painting by Lucas
Cranach the Elder.
is the siamese twin of Technocracy. Both believe
that science can solve all problems.
is the science of social engineering.
Transhumanism is the science of human
fascination with a fountain of youth
Hang around Silicon Valley for awhile and the obsession with
immortality is clear.
Techies want to solve that granddaddy of
Peter Thiel, the billionaire
investor behind Facebook and co-founder of PayPal,
recently made headlines for his reported personal and professional
interest in whether blood transfusions from younger people can
improve and even extend life for older people.
Ewww... Vampire alert...
Ghoulish and ethically questionable as it may seem, Thiel's interest
in young blood and other life extension gambits shouldn't come as a
In the eyes of many technologists, the human body is just another
machine that can be tinkered with and tweaked.
is seen in his
offices at the Presidio in
San Francisco on
Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014.
(John Green/Bay Area
News Group Archives)
"Why are tech leaders interested in
immortality? It's a combination of scientism and extraordinary
wealth," said Adam Gollner, author of 'The Book of Immortality.'
"Are Silicon Valley CEOs investing
millions into physical immortality any different from the
fantastically rich and all-powerful emperors in the Tang dynasty
of China who died taking mercury-based elixirs of never-ending
life? Time will tell."
That interest in immortality is a good
A generation of tech billionaires are
funding the most cutting-edge research in science and medicine.
Their support could result in a longer and healthier life for all of
"Biology has become an engineering
project, and a lot of tech people are engineers," said Sonia
Arrison, author of '100 Plus,' a book on longevity research and
the implications of people living longer. Thiel wrote the
The idea of extending people's healthy
"used to be a pipe dream," said
But it is,
"no longer a crazy idea. It's not
something that's unattainable. Society has the tools to make our
lives longer and healthier."
In 2004, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs
spoke movingly of his own brush with mortality in a commencement
speech at Stanford.
He concluded that,
"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."
But that view is in sharp contrast to
some of this generation's tech moguls.
Thiel, for example, has railed against Zen-like acceptance of
"The way people deal with aging is a
combination of acceptance and denial," he told MIT Technology
"They accept there is nothing they
can do about it, and deny it's going to happen to them."
Thiel has not only funded anti-aging and
longevity research, but is also taking steps to live to 120, his
stated goal. He takes human growth hormone and has said he will
participate in cryonic freezing upon his death.
A spokesman for Thiel declined to
Larry Ellison, Oracle's co-founder and executive chairman,
has long held an interest in funding life extension, primarily
Ellison Medical Foundation.
He, too, appears to maintain an almost
childlike rage about accepting death.
"Death makes me very angry," he has
"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?"
Bill Maris, chief executive of GV,
the venture arm of Google's parent company, Alphabet, told
Bloomberg that science has the tools to slow aging, reverse disease
and extend life.
"I just hope to live long enough not
to die," he quipped.
That is Groucho Marx funny.
But it also speaks to the opportunity
that science, technology and medicine have right now to push for new
Literature is full of the vain and misguided who lost their souls
And yes, holding on to a youthful ideal
does seem empty - and expensive. Ambrosia, the Monterey firm
doing the young-person blood plasma infusion trial is reportedly
charging participants $8,000 each.
But when it comes to the wealthy technologists who are trying to
take on death, battle dementia, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancer and
every other disease the Grim Reaper throws at us as we age,
why shouldn't we be rooting for them?