Sam Altman’s mission to increase human lifespan with a $180 million shipping container experiment at Retro Biosciences

As OpenAI’s CEO, Altman is widely considered to be the face of artificial intelligence, reprogramming the way we’ll live and work for years to come. His relentless push into the future of tech — including early investments in Reddit, Stripe, Airbnb, and Instacart — has made him a billionaire at least a couple of times over.

But computers aren’t his only passion. Over the past three years, Altman has been quietly spending a considerable amount of time and money on a more biological kind of moonshot: trying to reprogram the human body.

In 2021, during a relative “lull” between becoming the CEO of OpenAI and unveiling ChatGPT to the world, Altman started a $180 million side project. Called Retro Biosciences, the startup’s goal is simple yet supremely ambitious: Add 10 healthy, enjoyable years onto the back end of our lifetimes.

To pull this off, Altman teamed up with Joe Betts-LaCroix, a Harvard, MIT, and Caltech-trained scientist, biophysicist, and computer whiz who once developed the world’s smallest personal computer. While he isn’t trained in geroscience, Betts-LaCroix has been a longtime promoter of more hard science and “deep biology” for longevity through his nonprofit Health Extension Foundation.

To the casual observer, biohacking might seem like Altman’s quirky pet project, a distraction from his day-to-day steeped in the business of all things tech. But Retro Biosciences actually fits quite neatly into Altman’s futuristic worldview.

As a doomsday prepper who says he has a stash of guns, gold, and land tucked aside for a just-in-case scenario, it makes sense that Altman is concerned with the future of society, and focused on identifying threats to our existence. He also feels strongly that he is someone who can help solve all of these existential problems, future-proofing our world.

Is this just what happens when you become rich and powerful in Silicon Valley, you become convinced you can fix everything? Or is it Altman’s rugged, take-charge and fend-for-yourself ethos as a prepper that drives him to tackle both the future of fusion energy and human longevity, in addition to all the chips and AI stuff?

Whatever it is that drives him, shockingly, this slightly longer-lived timeframe he imagines for our bodies is actually plausible.




Retro Biosciences



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