In the past few months when ChatGPT has exploded, its director Sam Altman can be said to be the brightest star CEO in the technology circle, and even the veteran "net celebrity" Musk in the technology circle has recently been overwhelmed by him.
As the CEO of OpenAI, Sam Altman's every move now attracts the attention of countless people. People are eager to get a glimpse of the future direction of technology from his words and actions, so as not to miss the next wave of technological revolution.
▲ Sam Altman (left) and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (right) Picture from: Wired
In a recent report in the MIT Technology Review, one of Sam Altman's big, little-known investments was made public. Unexpectedly, his bet was not on hot fields such as artificial intelligence and autonomous driving, but on anti-aging technology that the public is not very familiar with.
More specifically, he wants to extend the average life expectancy of humans by another 10 years.
Is it future technology, or a fantasy?
In 2022, a biomedical startup called Retro Biosciences announced that they had received a massive $180 million investment to fund a goal that sounds pretty crazy: extending the average human lifespan by 10 years.
In the report at the time, Retro Biosciences only briefly outlined their ideas and research methods, but kept silent to investors.
Now, the identity of the mysterious investor has finally been revealed – it is Sam Altman who secretly supports this ideal project dedicated to transforming lives.
Before co-founding OpenAI, Sam Altman served as president of venture capital firm Y Combinator.
During his tenure, Sam Altman has always favored science and engineering-related startups. Under his leadership, Y Combinator has become one of the world's most famous and successful incubators and venture capital institutions.
After leaving Y Combinator, Sam Altman still keeps a close eye on cutting-edge technology. In 2021, Sam Altman, who is now CEO of OpenAI, made a bold decision to invest $375 million in nuclear fusion startup Helion, his largest investment in a startup.
He once mentioned in an interview that intelligence and energy are the two areas he is most interested in at present, because these two can essentially change the quality of people's lives.
Now, we can add another line to his list of interests: anti-aging technology.
▲ Retro Biosciences official website
The report of MIT Technology Review mentioned that Sam Altman invested almost all of his working capital in Helion and Retro Biosciences, which also reflects the attractiveness of the technology that Retro Biosciences is researching. No less than controllable nuclear fusion.
From ancient times to the present, "immortality" has always been the highest ideal pursued by human beings, but countless precedents have proved that death is a natural law that all living things cannot violate, so the technology of immortality is just like making perpetual motion machines, it is impossible Realized, meaningless scientific research.
Humans cannot change the fate of death, but perhaps we can extend the distance to the end.
▲ Retro Biosciences
Joe Betts-LaCroix, CEO of Retro Biosciences, said that they have found anti-aging mechanisms in non-human mammals and are committed to applying these methods to humans.
On the matter of anti-aging, the scientific community has done some research.
As early as 2005, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley found that sharing blood and organs between old and young mice could rejuvenate the tissues of the old mice and reverse aging.
At that time, researchers believed that the blood of young white mice might contain special proteins or macromolecular substances, which could restore youth to old white mice.
In 2020, a new study by the same research team showed that it only needs to dilute the blood plasma of old white mice with normal saline and albumin (the blood of young white mice is no longer needed), and the brain, liver, muscle and other parts of old white mice can be affected. to a rejuvenating effect.
Irina Conboy, a professor of bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley, explained that the white mice may increase the level of certain proteins in the blood as they age, and these proteins may become harmful at this time; when we use young mice Replacing or neutralizing them with protein revived the mice.
Irina Conboy also believes that aging may be related to the temporary decline in the regeneration ability of organisms, so even if a person is very old, in theory, by replacing damaged cells and tissues with healthy cells and tissues, the regeneration ability can be restored to youth. level.
These studies gave Betts-LaCroix a lot of inspiration. He wanted to use another idea to achieve anti-aging-cell reprogramming, a technology that makes cells younger through genetic engineering. He also believes that using cells to deal with the toxins produced by the human body is an important direction of anti-aging exploration.
With these thoughts in mind, Betts-LaCroix found Sam Altman and had an in-depth discussion. Sam Altman's reply was:
Why don't you do all these things together?
So the two hit it off, and Retro Biosciences was born. Sam Altman provided Betts-LaCroix with sufficient start-up capital and experimental funds, and handed over the company's decision-making power to Betts-LaCroix.
Prior to this, Betts-LaCroix had been reluctant to disclose the relationship between Sam Altman and Retro Biosciences because he believed that Retro Biosciences should rely on its own technology to move forward instead of relying on the "Sam Altman" sign.
▲ Retro Biosciences
Betts-LaCroix said that Retro Biosciences has achieved certain results in anti-aging research. Some experimental results show that mice treated with plasma exchange seem to become stronger after treatment. Betts-LaCroix believes that the company has "preliminarily verified life extension." the concept of".
But to achieve his lofty goals, there are still considerable difficulties to overcome. Essentially speaking, "extending human life span by 10 years" is similar to "controllable nuclear fusion". Both are long-term basic scientific researches that "already have eyebrows but can't see the end".
Meanwhile, Retro Biosciences has many competitors in the antiaging space. Previously, the Saudi Arabian government had planned to set up a laboratory called Altos Labs to study anti-aging treatments.
The Saudi government has established a non-profit organization called the Hevolution Foundation, which plans to invest $1 billion a year in support of Altos Labs' research. Under the lure of huge salaries and benefits, Altos Labs has poached 24 university professors to participate in research, bringing together almost half of the top scientists in this field.
▲ Picture from: The New Yorker
Sam Altman doesn't seem too concerned about the growing competition in the antiaging space. He said that most biotech companies have been accustomed to moving slowly, resulting in "poor management" in general. To survive in the competition, Retro Biosciences needs "OpenAI-style efforts."
Retro Biosciences may not bring Sam Altman a substantial return on investment for a long time to come, but he remains confident that startups that get off to a tough start are more likely than startups that get off easy Success, which is why he dared to bet on Helion and Retro Biosciences.
The success of OpenAI has verified Sam Altman's vision to a certain extent, and no one can say whether Helion or Retro Biosciences will become the next OpenAI.
#Welcome to pay attention to Aifaner's official WeChat public account: Aifaner (WeChat ID: ifanr), more exciting content will be presented to you as soon as possible.