The companies that want us to live forever

Over the last couple of years, we’ve witnessed a surge in companies that seek to use technology to improve our lives or make them somehow easier. If we take a minute to think about it, we can come up with many examples: Uber made it possible for us to have someone pick us up simply by clicking a button; Rappi and PedidosYa allowed us to order whatever we want and receive it at home in a matter of minutes; and with Netflix and Spotify, we can access pretty much any song, series or movie we want. And the list can go on.

Not so long ago, we started seeing many startups that are planning on extending our lives, one way or another. We are talking about companies working at the intersection of science, technology and health, which seek to help us live longer, better, or forever. Hollywood, is that you? It seems so. But this wasn’t taken from a movie. There are actual businesspeople and scientists who want to bring this idea to life.

And what I like the most is that this isn’t just a lone dreamer’s vision. There are many startups that are giving it a go and are backed by some of the most influential people in the tech world. 

Altos Labs is probably the most famous one, not necessarily because of its achievements—because all of these companies are just starting out—but rather because of one of its most recent investors. One of the people who took a chance on this company is none other than Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the wealthiest person in the world.

The company hasn’t disclosed its plans, but apparently it’s working on cellular reprogramming, a method to rejuvenate cells which, according to some scientists, could extend human life.

But Bezos is not the only one interested in knowing if there’s a way to, at least, extend life. Calico Labs, an Alphabet company, was founded in 2013 by Larry Page, one of the creators of Google, and it has exactly the same purpose. Behind Calico—short for California Life Company—you’ll find Cynthia Kenyon, a molecular biologist who specializes in the topic of aging.

The Silicon Valley Health Institute is a group that gets together every month to discuss studies related to longevity and how to “reduce the degenerative effects of aging.” The president of the board is Dave Asprey, who, after making millions with the dot com bubble, stated that he was “never going to die” and that he would actively work towards that goal. Easy-peasy. Asprey is now a leader in biohacking, a movement that uses technology to improve or extend the capabilities of the human body.

Altos Labs, Calico Labs, the Silicon Valley Health Institute, and many other startups around the world share the same mission: first of all, understanding how the aging process works in humans; then, researching whether science and technology can help slow this process down, stop it, or perhaps even reverse it.

For now, it seems like just a gamble, perhaps the most ambitious one we’ve seen in the tech world so far. But we would’ve never imagined that there would be self-driving cars, rockets that can be reused after an AI-guided landing, companies that want to send us into space and even take us permanently to Mars. So, who knows what the future holds?

By Axel Marazzi

Axel is a journalist who specializes in technology and writes for media such as RED/ACCIÓN, Revista Anfibia, and collaborates with the Inter-American Development Bank. He has a newsletter, Observando, and a podcast, Idea Millonaria.

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