How to Get Rich and Never Die Trying – Info Entrepreneurship
During the coffee break after Csoka’s presentation, I pace the hallway turned ad hoc snack bar, taking in the crowd. I realize the conference attendees can be divided into three categories: entrepreneurs (mostly young, well-dressed white guys), investors (mostly slightly older, well-dressed white guys), and radical life-extension evangelists (white guys of all ages, many of whom have ponytails).
What these men have in common is that they all look younger than they are. “I’ve done an exotic treatment or two,” says Bobby Brooke, the boyish 38-year-old CEO of Intervene Immune, a company that’s working to clear out the thymus (a little organ between your lungs that controls large swaths of your immune system). He also plays basketball three times a week and tries to limit his calorie intake. “I take an 80-20 approach” between conventional and experimental health treatments, Brooke says, before biting into a slice of pizza. “There are limits to what diet and exercise can do.”
When it comes to sussing out a life-extender’s true age, you should look at the eyes, says a British man named Reason, who won’t share his given name. “It’s the fine lines at the edge,” he says, that belie a person’s age. The man called Reason is in his late forties but has the air of a goth PhD candidate, complete with black leather blazer, black polo shirt, and black socks with gold toes that poke out of black flip-flops. He has a shock of strawberry blond hair making its way down his back in unruly curls.
“Hair is very weird,” Reason says. “People are just absolutely fixated about hair. Hair aging is so decoupled from the rest of aging. Its own little ballgame running on the side. But of course you can’t really explain that to the rest of the world.”
A software developer by trade, Reason got into radical life extension after experiencing what he calls a “visceral bolt from the blue.” He adds, “I woke up one day and thought, ‘Wow, I really don’t want to die.’” In the early 2000s, he started a blog, initially called The Longevity Meme, to publish news on the current state of anti-aging research. He still updates the site, now called Fight Aging, and since its founding has branched into investing in biotech companies and founding his own company.
As his name might imply, Reason carries with him a libertarian streak and has utmost faith that the free market will eventually produce inexpensive treatments for life-ending diseases. The traditional pharmaceutical research world, he argues, “is really, strongly, enormously biased against doing two things at once.”
Unlike Big Pharma, which Reason says specializes in “attempts to ameliorate a problem by attacking one thing,” the life-extension corner of the biotech industry focuses on the root cause of all disease — physical decay — in the hopes of achieving a breakthrough. In the process, this part of the industry is rewriting the rules of medicine, in much the same way that Amazon has done for retail and Uber has for affordable transportation.
To most people, the idea of a handful of upstart companies holding the keys to eternalish life sounds dystopian. After all, it stands to reason that a product that could legitimately stave off mortality would be able to charge customers whatever it wanted, pushing economic inequality to existentially dire extremes.
The man named Reason firmly believes this will not happen, just as firmly as he believes the sky is blue or hair is weird. “This stuff will be cheap,” he says. “Everybody ages for exactly the same reason. The therapy that works for Person A will work for everybody else,” he says, which will lead to “mass manufacture at the scale of being used by the entire population.”
Of course, scientifically sound anti-aging treatments don’t yet exist, and the preliminary approaches these folks are exploring remain prohibitively expensive. Reason isn’t worried. “If you hate rich people, think about this,” he tells me. “Rich people get access to really expensive, crappy versions of this technology. They’re guinea pigs. Eventually, treatments become cheap.”
Before we part ways, Reason offers to send me a link to a guide he’s written on how to order “technically illegal” anti-aging treatments on Alibaba (vendors on the site are, he says, “surprisingly reliable”).
Article Prepared by Ollala Corp