The AI and biotech pioneer Alex Zhavoronkov PhD has announced the Longevity Pledge. He is inviting founders and the wealthy to join him “to make longer, healthier human lifespans a reality for everyone”.
Through his personal pledge Zhavoronkov has committed all of his wealth and resources, as well as all of the remaining time to supporting and developing research and clinical solutions for extending healthy productive longevity for everyone on the planet.
The pledge, which is now open for anyone to commit to, is reminiscent of The Giving Pledge in which some of the world’s wealthiest people have pledged to give all or a substantial proportion of their wealth to good causes during their lifetime.
But Zhavoronkov’s pledge is different. He is pledging not just financial wealth but the wealth of his time, giving it to others to help them make progress in the area of human longevity.
Specifically he has pledged to commit:
- his entire fortune (including future earnings) to the cause of human longevity
- 100% of his time to advising, founding, creating and pursuing longevity initiatives
- invest solely in companies with the potential to extend healthy, productive life, forming a global longevity ecosystem. “These companies can grow, become sustainable, give rise to other companies, and return profits that can be reinvested in other longevity enterprises.”
Zhavoronkov’s Longevity Pledge is flexible. It features a “select-your-commitment version” that lets supporters opt-in to as their resources allow.
It is open to anyone to commit to, but Zhavoronkov is proposing it primarily to founders, “altruistic billionaires” and the world’s top 1% wealthiest people.
Zhavoronkov sees longevity for all as a primary objective for social good, and worthy of financial support. And of course his thinking combines not just longevity itself, but productive, healthy longevity. For all, not just the wealth elite.
“Making productive longevity, or the ability to live a longer, healthier life, is the most altruistic cause you can support.
“If we could extend everyone’s life by just one more high-quality, healthy year, our world would benefit from roughly 8 billion more impactful years in a few generations. These years could mean thousands of new medical and scientific discoveries, impactful action on climate change, and more.
“This is no time to waste. I hope my example will motivate people with similar backgrounds to not only commit their wealth, but also their intellect, skills, and ingenuity to this strangely underappreciated cause.”
Zhavoronkov and longevity
Zhavoronkov is the founder and CEO of Insilico Medicine, a specialist in artificial intelligence technologies for drug discovery and biomarker development.
He is a member of the Longevity Science Foundation Visionary Board, as well as the founder and Chief Longevity Officer of Deep Longevity, and an adjunct professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Ageing.
He serves on the Visionary Board of the Longevity Science Foundation, is part of the advisory board for longevity and biotech venture capital firm LongeVC and advises multiple other non-profits and startups working in longevity biotechnology.
He is the author of “The Ageless Generation,” published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013, which explained the pressing need to accelerate aging research to revive the global economy and avoid economic collapse.
Longevity funding and investment
Longevity is the focus of others of course, including tech pioneers and founders. There are numerous research projects and investment funds operating in this area, including:
- The Longevity Fund
- The Longevity Science Foundation
- The Longevity Tech Fund
- Google’s 2016 spin-off Calico Labs
X Prize founder and Executive Chairman Peter Diamandis is a long-time writer, speaker and investor in longevity initiatives. Coinbase co-founder Brian Armstrong and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos have both invested in longevity-focused companies and research.
What Zhavoronkov will fund
Zhavoronkov lists many initiatives which he aims to fund having made his pledge, including:
- Longevity biotechnology education – including increasing accessible education resources.
- Supporting young scientists – at high school and undergraduates.
- Supporting conferences
- Conference travel grants
- Supporting media resources and think tanks
By inviting others to join the Longevity Pledge, Alex Zhavoronkov believes that four significant breakthroughs for human longevity will be accelerated from some 20 or so years hence to being broadly available in five years:
- The development of AI-powered drug discovery platforms that will significantly derisk, accelerate, and democratise the discovery of novel therapeutics.
- Personalised medicine, treatment and drugs: develop fully automated systems that can customise care to each patient and help discover novel therapeutics and therapeutic combinations for individuals.
- Cryotherapy/cryobiology and biostasis: allow doctors to freeze and unfreeze organs rapidly, and possibly entire bodies, to enable long-term storage, transport, and even “biostasis” for the terminally ill or irreparably frail.
- Artificial intelligence and robotics-powered hospitals: Zhavoronkov’s ultimate goal is to create an AI/robotics-driven preventative and regenerative research hospital, derived from the above accelerated developments.
Zhavoronkov’s focus on accelerating change has led him to conclude that the issue needs a far wider audience of supporters.
“Like climate change or poverty, ageing research requires everyone on the planet to become involved. But unlike climate change, ageing is causing millions of casualties and suffering worldwide today and right now.”
- Factfulness: Ten reasons we’re wrong about the world (Hans Rosling)
- Is it time for an X Prize for fundraising? (16 February 2017)
- Bold: how to go big, create wealth and impact the world (Peter H Diamandis and Steven Kotler)