How to Live Long and Prosper, Silicon Valley Style

January 20, 2016, 8:23 PM UTC
This enormous section of the Milky Way galaxy is a mosaic of images from NASA's WISE. The constellations Cassiopeia and Cepheus are featured.
This enormous section of the Milky Way galaxy is a mosaic of images from NASA's WISE. The constellations Cassiopeia and Cepheus are featured. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Photograph by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images

Is there anything scarier than death? Silicon Valley doesn’t seem to think so.

The flock of new apps trying to cheat death is growing, as startups sign on to develop new ways to extend life through tech.

Humai is the most ambitious of the new apps. It’s a startup geared for “life extension technology.” That means the company could someday put your brain into an “elegantly designed bionic body” for you. How nice.

Or, if you’d rather just keep things virtual, there’s, which is basically an interactive photo album for your loved ones. Out now in a private beta launch, it’s a more interactive way to grieve than looking at old home movies. With, a dead person’s avatar can actually talk back—almost like engaging in a conversation with the beyond. It’s not free, and can be paid for either as a monthly subscription while you’re still alive, or as a cool upfront payment (of thousands of dollars), as Ozy reported Wednesday.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen techies swoon for a chance to live a little closer to eternity. Seems the titans of Silicon Valley take that whole Star Trek “Live Long and Prosper” mantra pretty seriously. They’ve done well at the prosperity part already, and now it’s time to figure out how to live longer.

Google (GOOG) parent Alphabet’s CEO Larry Page started up Calico back in 2013. The “California Life Company” aims to discover new ways to prolong life through research and biotech, enlisting Apple Inc. Chairman Arthur Levinson as CEO, with the backing of Google co-founder Sergey Brin. As with most things Alphabet, it’s kept pretty well under wraps, so it’s hard to know exactly how much progress they’ve made in the two-plus years they’ve been at the life-extension game. Other eternity investors include eBay (EBAY) founder Pierre Omidyar and PayPal (PYPL) co-founder Peter Thiel, among others, who all seem excited by the idea of squeezing a few more years out of life on Earth—to the tune of millions of dollars in investments. In fact, Thiel isn’t just interested in a few more years, he’s a member of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, a project refining Austin Powers-style cryonic human freezing, known as “vitrification,” at sub-180-degree Fahrenheit temperatures.

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But just as moguls race for a few more years (or decades?) on Earth, scientists are discovering that you can get younger after all—as long as you live in an alternate universe.

In this week’s edition of New Scientist, theoretical physicists Alan Guth and Sean Carroll of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and California Institute of Technology, respectively, say they’re getting close to proving that time can flow in the other direction … in other universes. The physicists argue that if time on Earth is an arrow pointed in one direction, there could be other universes where the arrow of time is pointed the other way.

See why mortality has risen for white middle-aged men:

But none of this search for prolonging life, freezing life, or easing bereavement puts an end to the final question here on Earth: How will you die? A new model released Tuesday from statistician Nathan Yau has answers, statistically speaking. Yau uses cause of death data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to pick most likely scenarios, from 14 of the leading causes. Because for now, and in this universe, death remains a question of how and when, not if.

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