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Can Yuri Milner and Jeff Bezos End Death?

Yuri Milner
Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images
Theodore Schleifer
January 25, 2022

For as long as I can remember, journalists and supposedly savvy observers have been reflexively dismissive, if not outright hostile, to Silicon Valley’s ongoing obsession with life-extension research. There is, after all, something seemingly contemptible—and a little bit funny—about billionaires wasting money on futile efforts to live forever. The very notion brings to mind the stories about Peter Thiel injecting himself with teenage blood (which he has denied), or Larry Ellison deadpanning that death just “never made any sense to me,” or Nick Bostrom and Ray Kurzweil signing up to have their bodies cryogenically frozen. 

That’s not a stereotype: tech leaders have provided much of the funding in the life-extension field, through both philanthropy and for-profit investing. At a time when real people are suffering from more devastating problems—malnutrition in the developing world, Black maternal mortality in the United States, not to mention the latest strands of COVID-19—it can feel out of touch, even unseemly, to see very wealthy people focusing on the one thing they themselves cannot escape… death.