Which Individuals of Great Personal Wealth To Pitch?

The healthy life extension community has certainly grown and become more mainstream over the past five years. This is all to the good, especially when the concepts of radical life extension and the prospects for research to achieve it are becoming more widely understood, both inside and beyond the scientific community. As Gandhi famously said, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." On this scale, we're doing pretty well - scientifically literate folks aren't laughing any more, and the laughter fades from other segments of the population as media coverage spreads. Instead, we see a battle of ideas between those opposed to the very idea of healthy life extension, scientists arguing over timescales, funding and possibilities, and advocates for longer, healthier lives telling them to get on with it.

One common form of advocacy movement can be thought of as a pyramid; a large number of supporters and hard workers support a few people who are deliberately placed to catch and focus media and public attention. We humans have brains designed for village life - we like to relate to individuals rather than organizations or causes, and organizations providing individuals for that purpose tend to outperform. The apex of one of the pyramids I am involved in is biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, author of the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (which I'm sure comes as no surprise to regular readers). By acting as a focal point for a portion of the healthy life extension community, Aubrey finds doors are opened that would otherwise be shut. Media coverage, organizational support and a network of supportive contacts are required in order to generate more of the same - in much the same way that the easiest way to make money is to start with a pile of money. It's a positive feedback look - growth and success inspires more growth and success. Every avalanche starts with a pebble, but it's a great deal of hard work to get the first few hundred pebbles to see it your way. After that, the options become more interesting.

Aubrey de Grey, and by extension the rest of us, are seeing new opportunities on the horizon. Invitations to self-important global conferences beyond the scientific community (such as TED) are a currency that can be grown and eventually bartered into relationships with wealthy philanthropists ... and thus funding. Give it a couple of years at the present rate of growth (of the Mprize for anti-aging research, of media coverage of SENS, of the supporting community, of connections to the wealthy and influential) and Aubrey will be pitching billionaires.

Which billionaires should Aubrey de Grey be pitching for funding for his proposed Insitute of Biomedical Gerontology, or for a series of research prizes focused of repairing the biomolecular damage caused by aging? Or rather, at this stage, which billionaires should Aubrey and his supporters be considering for cultivation? We know that John Sperling and Larry Ellison have a strong interest in aging and longevity research, and have already devoted large sums of money to the cause. Does this make them better or worse candidates? The executive director of the Ellison Foundation is a skeptic when it comes to SENS, for example. While it would no doubt be possible to pitch Ellison directly in years ahead, it may not be as fruitful as pitching another billionaire who has not spent years forming an existing set of opinions on the topic.

Have thoughts on the matter? Comment away...

Comments

Well, Bill Gates certainl respects and values RayKurzweils opinions and expertise in great many areas. It would be the most sensible thing in my opinion to have a CRON dinner (by courtesy of April :-) ) arranged with Aburey de Grey, Ray Kurzweil, MR and Bill Gates.

I could imagine Ray would be willing to do so. No?

Just my 2c.

(imagine instantily getting a milion or so dollars fro the gates fund to the mprize plus the avalance of publicity)

Posted by: Curious at July 24th, 2005 12:04 AM

How about a Billionaires Club?

According to MAROTTA ON MONEY by David and George Marotta, there are 691 billionaires in the world according to a recent survey. Most are in the United States, and the others are scattered throughout 46 other countries. Because of the surging world economy, 104 newcomers were added to the list last year.

Here's how Billionaires Club would work:

Instead of any one individual doing all of the contributing, make an arrangement whereby each contributed only 1.5 million. Multiply that by 691 and you've got over a $billion, enough to kick start the program.

In return for joining the club, they would get first (but not an exclusive) crack at any life saving technologies that result from SENS, MPrize and/or the IBG.

1.5 mil is a cheap price to pay to access the most advanced life extension that money can buy.

Posted by: Frank at July 24th, 2005 6:17 PM

It is possible that the MPrize would be easier to sell than SENS. This could especially be the case with the Ellison Foundation.

Posted by: Anonymous at July 25th, 2005 1:19 AM

Go for the two Google guys. One, I believe, is a self-described transhumanist, and the other I doubt is that far away- plus they are intelligent young guys, so receptive to the possibility and that it might personally benefit them. Also, I think they were looking for some good charitable causes anyway.

Posted by: Maru at July 25th, 2005 8:16 PM

Yeah, google is a good idea. How about google spending 0 dollars and just do a "google day" you know with logo pointing to the mprize and links on how to sponsor. That'd cost zero and would do *wonders* in terms of publicity.

I am certain some activist will take this idea up :-) and pitchit accordingly. I have not the slights clue on how to address there guys. I can mail support but that is way too low in the foodchain to have an effect.

Posted by: Curious at July 26th, 2005 10:30 AM

well, i went ahead and postet the idea to google. No idea if it helps... cost me nothing :-)

Posted by: Curious at July 26th, 2005 10:41 AM

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