When they aren’t investing in space shuttles and sprawling tech campuses, the super-rich are looking at mind-blowing methods to increase their lifespan.
Analysis by commercial finance experts ABC Finance has revealed some of the strangest and most extravagant approaches billionaires have turned to in their quest for immortality.
‘Young blood’ transfusions
The first on the list is straight out of a sci-fi blockbuster. Believe it or not, there are currently three US companies conducting trials into the effects of transfusing blood from young, healthy people – mostly aged 16 to 25 – into those who are getting on in years.
In case this all still sounds a little bit far-fetched, there has been enough progress made to prompt the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in February to issue a statement that the process “has no proven clinical benefits” and is “potentially harmful.”
While trials on mice have shown younger blood invigorates older test subjects, human trials have been much less successful.
This is unlikely to deter interest from those who have the cash for a pint or two of youthful plasma, though. As of the start of 2019, Alkahest, the Young Blood Institute and start-up Ambrosia offer trials of the service for £6,000 to £215,000.
Billionaire PayPal co-founder turned venture capitalist Peter Thiel has made headlines over the past few years for his rumoured interest in this process.
This isn’t new ground for Thiel, who has made investments in several medical research start-ups looking at ways to extend life via his Breakout Labs fund.
If you had the chance to be preserved after death and resuscitated in a future where medical science is light-years ahead, would you take it? For some prominent billionaires, the answer is a resounding yes.
One of the most famous people associated with cryonics is Walt Disney. Although the rumours of him being frozen after his death have been debunked, the process itself is very real.
And Peter Thiel – yes, him again – is the most vocal in his endorsement of this process via substantial investments, proving that the mega-rich see some real potential in the method of life extension.
Despite the huge amounts of money funnelled into it, though, the research community at large is known to view the method as pseudo-science.
Regardless, those with the means may be happy to fork out £61,000 to freeze their head, or £152,000 for their whole body, at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, the Cryonics Institute, Suspended Animation Inc. or KrioRus.
Would you consider uploading your brain to the cloud if it meant you could live forever? What if you knew to do so you’d have to be euthanised as part of the procedure?
Now we’ve really crossed the line into futurist fiction territory – or, if MIT-backed research company Nectome is to be believed – the next step in human consciousness.
It’s easy to laugh these ideas off as Silicon Valley gone mad, but there’s actually some serious money being invested in this project – about £1m in funding, and a £900,000 federal grant from the US National Institute of Mental Health.
To even sign up for the waiting list at companies like Nectome and the Tarasem Movement Foundation, you’re required to put down a deposit of £7,600.
But that’s the price you pay to live forever in digital form – even if the process is “100% fatal” and, as of yet, no successful trials have been completed.
The end of the world could take many forms. Perhaps the global economy will collapse and lead to a state of worldwide anarchy, maybe there will be a pandemic that will decimate the population – that’s not even going into risks posed by solar flares. If this is all starting to sound a little bit paranoid, you obviously aren’t sitting on billions.
Reddit’s CEO Steve Huffman has provided the best insight into this mentality, claiming that he had corrective eye surgery and stockpiles weaponry, food and gold coins to make sure he’s ready for a disaster scenario.
If his case sounds like an anomaly, estimates from insiders suggest more than half of Silicon Valley billionaires, including Peter Thiel, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison and Steve Huffman, have some form of “apocalypse insurance,” ABC Finance said.
You’ll be looking at £10.5m to get yourself a secure New Zealand hideaway fit for a billionaire, or £76m to see out the apocalypse in a luxury Hawaii estate.
When you’ve accumulated all the money it’s possible to get your hands on here on earth, it makes sense that you’d set your sights a bit further. That’s exactly what several super-rich individuals are currently doing – with a “billionaire space race” now underway.
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 Mars?
Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to charge £44m 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 via World View Enterprises, or £189,000 with Virgin Galactic.
Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Paul Allen’s Vulcan Aerospace also offer services.