Yun wants to push the human lifespan beyond the current accepted maximum of 120 years. It is not the first time that Yun has put his money on the table in the name of human longevity. Last year he challenged scientists to extend the life of mice by up to 50%, and pledged $1 million as part of what he called the “Palo Alto Longevity Prize.”
His new initiative has already attracted 15 teams of scientists keen to “hack the code of life” and win themselves $1 million. Yun spoke to The Guardian and outlined his theory on human longevity, claiming that the average 25 year old has a 0.1% chance of dying before their 26th birthday due to age related illness. If we could prevent this probability from rising due to old age then people could feasibly live up to 1,000 years.
The idea of such long human lifespans may seem hard to believe, but Yun is convinced that scientists are capable of solving the mystery and granting us what is, to all intents and purposes, indefinite life. The social, economic and environmental implications of such longevity do not bear thinking about if it were to be accessible to all mankind, but perhaps any potential treatment will be available to only the incredibly wealthy.
Growing interest in extending human lifespan
Yun, president and co-managing member of Palo Alto Investments, seems committed to supporting research in the field. It seems unlikely to be the last prize that he dangles in front of the scientific community. Yun certainly has deep enough pockets, with the company holding more than $1 billion in assets.
The prizes offered by Yun are part of a growing interest in human longevity research in Silicon Valley. Back in September 2013, Google announced the creation of the California Life Company, otherwise known as Calico. The work of the biotech company remains shrouded in mystery, but it is thought to be working on anti-aging drugs.
It will be interesting to see if scientists can indeed find the Fountain of Youth, and how society will keep control of the potential uses of that knowledge.