As technological innovations in healthcare advance, the human race edges ever closer to the dream of eternal youth.
But some people want to get there faster than others, and if you’re a billionaire with money to burn – then why would you not make use of your vast fortunes to achieve the goal of unearthing that mystical fountain of youth? Some of the latest research released this week reveals some pretty crazy methods that the world’s wealthiest people are looking at to increase their lifespan.
So here they are, some of the most extravagant health innovations the super-rich are investing in for their quest of immortality.
“YOUNG BLOOD” TRANSFUSIONS
Believe it or not, there are companies out there conducting trials into the effects of transfusing blood from young, healthy people (specifically those between ages 16 and 25) into those who feel that they’re getting on in years.
Billionaire PayPal co-founder turned venture capitalist Peter Thiel has been rumoured to have interest in this process, specifically related to a start-up company called Ambrosia. Trials are said to range from £6,000 to £215,000 and although trials on mice have shown that younger blood invigorates older test subjects, human trials have been less successful.
The low-temperature freezing of a human body, with the hope that resuscitation may be possible in the future. It currently costs £61,000 or $80,000 to freeze your head or £152,000 or $200,000 for your entire body.
The benefits are suggested to include the possibility of being reanimated once cures to diseases and a way to halt or reverse the ageing process has been discovered. And it’s not just humans that can benefit from the freezing process. The Cryonics Institute, for example, offers a range of options for pets: £4,000 for cats or dogs and even £760 for a pet bird. The billionaires who choose to give this method a go are hoping they won’t be lonely in the distant future, assuming that they’re ever unfrozen. However, despite the huge amounts of money funnelled into it, the research community at large views it as pseudo-science. Nevertheless, there are several companies offer the service, namely Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Cryonics Institute, Suspended Animation Inc. and KrioRus.
Again, Peter Thiel is very vocal in his endorsement of this process via substantial investments, proving that the mega-rich see some potential in the method of life extension. However, one of the most famous people associated with cryonics is Walt Disney. While the rumours of him being frozen after his death have been falsified, the process itself is very real.
Apocalypse insurance is the idea of stockpiling essentials and property in remote locations to prepare for a global catastrophe. Competing with billionaires on this type of insurance will cost between £10.5m or $13.8m and £76m or $100m.
Notable Billionaires that have invested in this method include Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison and Steve Huffman, Reddit’s CEO, who has claimed that he had corrective eye surgery and stockpiles weaponry, food and gold coins to make sure he’s ready for a disaster scenario. The assumed benefit here is that if there’s a global collapse, it seems savvy to have gold, guns and a place to hide.
And it sounds pretty popular according to estimates, which from insiders claim that upwards of 50% of Silicon Valley billionaires have some form of ‘apocalypse insurance’.
If MIT-backed research company Nectome is anything to go by, the next step in human consciousness could involve uploading your brain to the cloud so you could live forever. While that sounds like something from a sci-fi flick, there’s actually there’s some serious money being invested into this project, with around £1 million in funding and a £900,000 federal grant from the US National Institute of Mental Health. There are other companies researching ways in which humans can live on via digital consciousness, too. Take the Terasem Movement Foundation, for instance, who is looking to create ‘mindware’ which would be used as part of a ‘nanotechnological body’ (a robot essentially) that would allow you to live without the constraints of pesky things like death and old age.
Even Google’s director of engineering, Ray Kurzweil, has plenty of positive things to say on the subject. “We’re going to become increasingly non-biological to the point where the non-biological part dominates, and the biological part is not important anymore,” he said. “In fact, the non-biological part – the machine part – will be so powerful it can completely model and understand the biological part.”
The obvious benefits of this innovation are the chance to live forever in digital form – actual immortality. However, the process is described by the company itself as ‘100% fatal’ and, as no successful trials have been completed, it’s probably best to wait and see. If you’ve got the dosh and the guts, though, you can sign up for a waiting list. It just requires a deposit of £7,600.
Several billionaires have started a modern space race, with many looking to space as a solution in case living on earth becomes unsustainable. As well as being a smart investment where tech development is concerned and the commercial aspects netting them some big revenue, there’s a clear ulterior motive of hedging bets in case our planet suffers a crisis. After all, who doesn’t dream of a nice holiday home on Venus?
Creating a more efficient way to travel through space also raises the possibility of humans colonizing other planets and mining valuable resources from asteroids.
Current companies injecting billions into this space include SpaceX, who plans to charge £44 million, or $55.8m per person to reach the International Space Station, however, if you just want a short trip to the stars it will cost between £57,000 or $75,000 with World View Enterprises, and £189,000 or $250,000 with Virgin Galactic.
And we may be even closer to living the interstellar life than you may think. Dr Igor Ashurbeyli, a Russian billionaire and rocket scientist, is currently developing a project called ‘Asgardia’ which he envisions as “the first fully independent ‘nation’ in space, with its own government, virtual currency, justice system, and calendar”.