WOULD you like to live forever?
From daily sessions in sub-zero cryo-chambers to stem cell injection and transfusions of teenagers’ BLOOD, their bizarre attempts to become superhuman have fuelled a multi-million dollar industry.
It may sound like something out of a sci-fi novel, but there’s a growing band of Silicon Valley billionaires who believe they can achieve eternal life through “biohacking” – the process of making alterations to your body to keep it younger.
Netflix’s new drama Biohackers, released on Thursday, (Aug 20) seizes on the terrifying trend by imagining a secretive lab where a young student, played by Luna Wedler, discovers a sinister experiment using the techniques on an entire town.
Here we meet the real Silicon Valley biohackers – the men who want to be immortal.
Peter Thiel – Thirst for young blood
Paypal founder Peter Thiel has a gruesome plan to achieve eternal life – by injecting the blood of teenagers.
The practice, known as parabiosis, is not as impossible as it seems – in 2016, a start up firm called Ambrosia started offering transfusions of “young plasma” for £6,000 a time.
The billionaire mogul, 53, has said: “I'm looking into parabiosis stuff, which I think is really interesting. This is where they did the young blood into older mice and they found it had a massive rejuvenating effect.”
It’s not known whether Thiel has acted on his impulse but he has previously admitted to taking human growth hormone to slow his decline into old age, and he stands against the “ideology of the inevitability of death.”
Elon Musk – cyborg brain implants
The billionaire Tesla boss has long argued that humans need to become cyborgs – half man, half robot – in preparation for an inevitable AI revolt.
In July 2019, the 49-year-old ploughed £80million into founding the company Neuralink, which aims to develop a terrifying electronic brain implant to connect us to technology.
The proposed implant is injected into the bloodstream and forms a mesh around the brain which controls smart devices, connects to the internet and even allows us to communicate telepathically.
While it sounds like an episode of Black Mirror, many people are already embracing cyber implants.
In Sweden, 3,500 people have inserted microchips into their bodies, which function as contactless credit cards, key cards, and rail cards.
Filmmaker Rob Spence has also developed a camera which can be implanted in the eye.
Jack Dorsey – saunas and ice baths
One of the best known proponents of biohacking Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey swears by extreme temperature changes, using saunas and ice baths to give himself a brain boost.
The 43-year-old starts every day with a sub-zero bath, claiming: “Going into an ice-cold tub from being warm in bed unlocks this thing in my mind and I feel like… I can do nearly anything.”
In the evening, he sits in a 220 degree sauna for 15 minutes – with an infrared lamp to make him sweat more – before plunging into an ice bath for three minutes, repeating the process three times.
The social media millionaire also practises an extreme fasting technique, eating just one meal of fish, chicken or steak a day, between 6:30 and 9 p.m.
Occasionally, he fasts all weekend, eating nothing and drinking only water, admitting the first time he tried it he was hallucinating by day three.
Before work, he fits in two hours of meditation before walking the five miles to his office.
He also uses a standing desk with an infrared desk lamp from SaunaSpace, which the company claims promotes anti-aging.
Ben Greenfield – eating ants and massaging rectum
A cult figure among biohackers, Ben Greenfield has turned experimentation on his own body into a multi-million dollar business.
His bizarre biohacks include eating ants so he can absorb their energy and strength, regular coffee enemas and massaging his rectum with glass rods to promote prostate health.
Every six months the self-styled fitness guru injects himself with stem cells harvested from his body fat and stored when he was younger, so that he can “inject the young me into the old me.”
He has also filmed himself injecting stem cells into his own penis, to boost his sex life.
“I wanted to go from good to great, and to get a bigger d***,” he says.
Other boosts to the body and brain include a 12 to 16 hour fast every day, a mouthwash made from essential oils, bone broth and collagen smoothies and meals of “organ meat” that he has hunted himself with a bow and arrow on his 10 acre Washington ranch.
Dave Asprey – cryotherapy chamber
Entrepreneur Dave Asprey has spent over £800,000 “hacking his own biology” and says he expects to live to 180.
Growing up a “fat kid”, Asprey lost 100lbs in his twenties and claims to have “upgraded his brain by 20 IQ points.”
The 46-year-old created the Bulletproof Diet, which advocates eating high fat food, only 35g of protein a day, and carbohydrates just once a week, as well as fasting until noon and eating in a six hour daily window.
He also claims his Bulletproof Coffee, made with butter, is a brain booster, and takes over 100 supplements a day to slow the aging process, including the anti-dementia drugs Methyl B1-2 & Methyl Folate.
Asprey uses a variety of biohacks which include lying underneath an ultraviolet light for 10 minutes, to slow down aging, standing on a vibrating plate and spells inside a cryotherapy chamber, in temperatures of 150 degrees below zero.
HIs daily workouts include 15 minutes on an exercise bike linked up to a face mask which varies his oxygen intake to give him “more energy”.
Asprey is also a fan of stem cell therapy to “reverse the aging process” and says, “I’ve had stem cells injected pretty much all over my body.
“In fact, I’m the second person ever to have stem cells injected into my brain for preventative reasons.”
Rich Lee – human vibrator
Cyber biohacker Rich Lee takes a more invasive approach, having had magnets that function as headphones implanted in his skull in 2013.
The 42-year-old from Utah also injected "armour" in his lower legs which hardens on impact to act as built-in shin guards.
In 2016, he spent £10,000 in an attempt to turn himself into a human vibrator after going through a divorce.
He developed the Lovetron9000, a device implanted in the pelvis which makes the penis vibrate during sex, and has since quit his warehouse job to market the idea.
"If it started to go mainstream … and you're the guy at the bar who doesn't have a Lovetron9000, I think it's going to suck for you someday," Lee says.
Serge Fauget – muscle growth hormone and MDMA
After becoming a millionaire in his late twenties, tech entrepreneur Serge Fauget spent £140,000 attempting to optimise his sleep, nutrition and diet – including experiments with MDMA and narcolepsy drug modafinil – saying he intends to “live forever.”
He uses a £4,000 hearing aid in public to enhance his already perfect hearing and has a glucose level monitor implanted in his belly fat.
The Russian-born businessman eats one low-carb meal a day, fasts three times a week and injects daily doses of muscle growth hormone somatropin.
He takes up to 60 pills a day, including natural supplements and prescription medicines such as antidepressants and lithium to boost his mood, although he has never suffered from depression.
His drug cabinet also includes oestrogen blockers, to boost testosterone, the anti-diabetes drug metformin, thought to have anti-aging properties, and statins to lower cholesterol.
“I don’t want my hair to fall out,” he told The Guardian. “I don’t want to have cancer when I’m 80.”
Single Fauget says he prefers to hire “sugar-baby-models for sex” than have a relationship and that having children is out because they are not a good ROI – Return on investment.
Joshua Zaynor – injecting edited DNA
Former NASA scientist Josiah Zaynor is notorious in the biohacking community after a stunt in October 2017, when he injected himself with genetically engineered DNA on a live stream.
He claimed the DNA had passed through the gene-editing device CRISPR to disable its myostatin, the hormone that inhibits muscle growth.
After biohackers began to follow his lead, he said he blamed himself for the dangerous trend and admitted: "There's no doubt in my mind that somebody is going to end up hurt eventually," he said. However, his company, The Odin continued to sell his DIY genetic engineering kits.
A year earlier he performed a faecal transplant on himself – where the gut bacteria from a healthy donor’s stool is planted in the gut of another.
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