Home » News » Sam Altman, the founder of OpenAI, invests $180 million in a startup focused on life extension.

Sam Altman, the founder of OpenAI, invests $180 million in a startup focused on life extension.

(Image Credit Google)
Image Credit: Retro Sam Altman, the founder of OpenAI, has, so to speak, a finger in several tech pies. The controversial former head of the startup accelerator Y Combinator and current king of ChatGPT isn't just interested in getting his company's artificial intelligence-powered chatbot into classrooms. He also wants to live forever, or at least if researchers currently believe it is feasible for humans. According to MIT Technology Review's original report on Wednesday, Altman has invested a sizable sum in the biotech startup Retro Biosciences. The company, which boasts the lofty goal of extending "the healthy human lifespan by ten years," reportedly received a $180 million secret investment from the tech entrepreneur. Retro's strategy statement states that it seeks to accomplish this by identifying and demonstrating anti-aging mechanisms in non-human mammals and then applying those scientific techniques to humans. A second Y Combinator alumnus and CEO of a health startup, Joe Betts-LaCroix led Retro as it went public in April 2022. At its launch, the business claimed to have raised $180 million in its initial round of funding, all of which, according to Tech Review, appeared as a 2021 confidential check from Altman. Retro initially chose to keep Altman's involvement a secret. After initial worries that Altman's name might "prove a distraction," the outlet reported, the company has now made its funding source public. The founder of OpenAI is probably very busy overseeing ChatGPT's viral rise to fame and the ensuing AI arms race it sparked, but he has undoubtedly found the time to spend money on the things that are important to him, such as fending off the inevitable (?) oblivion and other elusive, breakthrough technologies. Sam Altman Image Credit: Cdn Altman made a significant investment in Retro in 2021, but that same year it also poured an even larger sum ($375 million) into the moonshot nuclear fusion power startup Helion Energy. Helion aspires to create a "limitless source of clean energy," through the thus far, unresolved question mark technology of crashing atoms together. Even though physicists and the Department of Energy declared a significant advancement in fusion energy at the end of 2022, we are still a very, very long way from living in a world where fusion reactors are the norm, despite how often businesses say this is the case. Like fusion, extending our lives has long eluded scientists' grasp. Since we have been conducting science (and creating myths), the issue of whether or not the human lifespan has a fixed limit has been debated. With the help of specific interventions, people might be able to live much longer than we do now, according to some recent—albeit very contentious—research. At least Altman is all in. Altman is said to have depleted his savings by investing a total of $555 million in a scientific search for a fountain of youth and a far-off potential renewable energy source. This is a lot. He said to Tech Review, “I essentially took all of my liquid net worth and invested it in these two companies.” However, in his opinion, the expenditure was well worth it. Among other things, Altman told TR that he is "super confident" that the fusion will succeed. For another, he hopes to one day be able to benefit from his financial support. He said in an interview with Tech Review, "I hope to use a Retro therapy someday. It's not terribly surprising that Altman seems to want to live a little longer. The founder has a long-standing friendship with Peter Thiel, a notorious and fervent opponent of death. Furthermore, among Silicon Valley types who cannot imagine a world without them in it, immortality is a well-liked niche interest. Approximately eight years ago (again: Recall Peter Thiel?), Altman told Tech Review that he first became interested in "young blood" research, which involves replacing the fluids of elderly mice with more recent juice. He reportedly first expressed a desire to give Betts-LaCroix money to further her anti-aging research because of this growing interest and a conversation about a 2020 plasma mouse study. A business partnership grew out of those first conversations.

By Omal J

I worked for both print and electronic media as a feature journalist. Writing, traveling, and DIY sum up her life.


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