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Silicon Valley Thinks It Should Live Forever

• August 21, 2013 • 10:38 AM

Larry Ellison. (PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

A bunch of rich guys can’t imagine what the world would be like without them.

The average lifespan of an American human being is currently 79 years. But there is a group of men who think that number is too low because that number is not “infinity.” In the latest display of human ignorance toward the planet we inhabit, a bunch of Silicon Valley techno-dudes want to live forever.

Yesterday, Adam Gollner’s new book, literally The Book of Immortality: The Science, Belief, and Magic Behind Living Forever, was released. And today’s he’s writing for The Daily Beast about some of the topics covered in the book, most notably the group of mega-rich men who think that life should never end.

Here’s one example:

“Death makes me very angry,” admits Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corporation and the fifth-richest person in the world (his net worth is $43 billion, according to Forbes). “It doesn’t make any sense to me. Death has never made any sense to me. How can a person be there and then just vanish, just not be there?”

If it doesn’t make sense to Larry Ellison, who views death as “just another kind of corporate opponent he can outfox,” then it just can’t be right.

Then there’s Google co-founder Sergey Brin:

Under Brin’s aegis, Google has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Singularity University, where executives pay five figures for weeklong seminars about technology’s capacity to solve “humanity’s grand challenges” (including aging and death). Google recently hired the radical futurist Ray Kurzweil to be their director of engineering: he famously claims humans will merge with computers over the next few decades to become immortal superbeings.

If there’s anything this planet needs, it’s more people. Death is scary, sure, but it hasn’t always been that way. Human beings die; it’s a defining characteristic of life: it ends. (Not the first time I’ve written that.) Looking at death as a problem—or even worse, a corporate opponent!—ignores the complicated way things are, in exchange for the easy myopia of how you—“you” being “male billionaire”—think things should be.

Today’s Sergey Brin’s 40th birthday—but I guess that doesn’t matter.

Ryan O'Hanlon
Senior Digital Editor Ryan O’Hanlon joined Pacific Standard from Outside, where he was an assistant online editor. He is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, and his writing has appeared in Deadspin, Grantland, The Awl, New York, The Atlantic, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter @rwohan.

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