Meet five powerful men spending their considerable fortunes to extend life.
Russian billionaire and media mogul Dmitry Itskov made a big splash last year when he created the 2045 Initiative, which brought 30 top Russian scientists on board to create an international research center to study immortality. The 31-year-old president of New Media Stars, a Russian company that runs several online news outlets, has implored other billionaires to start funding “cybernetic immortality and the artificial body.” His plan: transfer the human consciousness to a remotely controlled avatar, or a synthetic brain — what he sees as the next step in human evolution.
Don Laughlin, the 81-year-old billionaire and founder of the Riverside Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, is also placing his bets on cryogenics for everlasting life. He is a future customer of Alcor, a Cryonics preservation facility is based in Scottsdale, Ariz. Upon death, his body will be cryo-preserved at minus 360 degrees following his death until he can be revived and cured of any health problems. He plans to take his money with him: His assets would also be frozen.
David Murdock does not count on living forever, but he does plan to live to at least age 125. To make it happen, the 89-year-old billionaire follows a strict regimen of exercise and a diet of vegetables and fish, and he’s invested much of his cash into longevity research. Murdock made his fortune in the 1980s after taking over the nearly bankrupt Hawaiian owner of Dole Food Co. DOLE He has since spent millions of dollars in recent years on scientific research on food science and nutrition, including how eating certain plants keep your alive longer. He started the California Health and Longevity Institute, which is a spa retreat that gives nutritional education, fitness training, lifestyle consultations, advanced diagnostic technology, personalized care, and medical screenings to enhance longevity. Another project, Duke University’s MURDOCK Study aims to understand the genetics of diseases and cures.
John Sperling, who has a reported net worth of $1.2 billion, made his fortune after the initial public offering of the Apollo Group APOL , which owns the for-profit University of Phoenix. Sperling, 91, has since assembled a team of scientists who aim to alleviate human suffering and fear of death — using everything from therapeutic cloning, stem cell medicine and genetic engineering to enhance human biology. He also funded the Kronos Longevity Research Institute, which does clinical research on age-related diseases.
Canadian billionaire Robert Miller is a private man — as you can see from this photo — who avoids the limelight, but it doesn’t mean he wants to disappear after he dies. The 67-year-old businessman who built Future Electronics into the world’s third-largest electronics components distributor, has given his fortunes generously to charity. But one organization particularly intrigued him: the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, which uses cryonics or ultra-cold temperatures as soon as possible after legal death to preserve the brain. “Members” are to be reawakened when future medical technologies are developed. Miller has donated to much of Alcor’s research, literally an investment in his future since Miller plans to be cryo-preserved after death.