Silicon Valley bigwigs like Larry Ellison, Peter Thiel, and Sergey Brin are trying to end aging

Tech elites look to live forever
Tech elites look to live forever

Founders of some of the world's top tech firms have joined scientists and Hollywood stars in search of the fountain of youth, according to a feature in the latest issue of The New Yorker.

Amazon's Jeff Bezos and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, for instance, have invested in start-up Unity Biotechnology, founded by a unexpectedly youthful-looking entrepreneur who hopes to "vaporize a third of human diseases in the developed world," The New Yorker reported.

"One class of investor, like Fidelity, finds my youthful appearance alarming," Unity's co-founder told The New Yorker. "Another class — the Silicon Valley type, a Peter Thiel — finds anyone who looks over forty alarming."

The National Foundation for American Policy found that immigrants have started more than half of the U.S.'s billion-dollar start-up companies. One example is Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who emigrated from the former Soviet Union.
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Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison has donated $370 million to aging research, The New Yorker said. Meanwhile Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page helped launch Calico, a secretive venture that's tracking mice from birth to death in hopes of finding markers for diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer's, the report said. Calico is part of Alphabet, the holding company that also owns Google.

While some venture capitalists are lured by biotech start-ups that leverage big data and machine learning, the slower pace of biological research can be disappointing to investors, experts told The New Yorker.

And even within the tech community, views vary on how long human life should be extended, and at what cost. Some believe there are biological solutions that will allow humans to remain in their bodies longer, while others foresee a future where men merge with machines.

When CNBC reported on Silicon Valley's life-extending ambitions last year, some experts were skeptical.

"The best advice is to stay as active as you can, stay connected to other people, and eat less," John Newman, assistant professor of geriatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, told CNBC. "You'd be surprised how much we have found fundamental mechanisms of aging to be involved in these simple things."

For more on the tech leaders leading the fight on aging, see the story in The New Yorker.

— CNBC's Josh Lipton contributed to this report