Silicon Valley’s quest for immortality through science and technology could disrupt the political landscape beyond recognition.
In fact, some Silicon Valley plutocrats believe technology could soon offer some practical form or immortality or life extension, Future Human’s Jeff Bercovici notes. For instance, PayPal cofounder Max Levchin reportedly hopes to upload his brain into a computer or an android body.
Alphabet cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have a whole company; Calico, devoted to cheating death by biology. Meanwhile, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is spending hundreds of millions on aging research, Town & Country claims. Even Mark Zuckerberg is spending $3 billion on an initiative to cure all diseases.
How Silicon Valley’s quest for immortality could reshape politics
It is not clear how realistic these efforts to cheat death are, but one thing is certain they will cost a lot of money. Hence, the quest for immortality will affect the technocracy’s thinking on many issues including politics.
Notably, the quest for immortality will shape the tech elite’s thinking on taxes and their political loyalties. To elaborate an aging plutocrat who thinks spending a lot of money on research and development (R&D) will make her immortal could think like this:
- “I need to keep my taxes as low as possible to have as much money to spend on life extension as possible.”
- “We must limit government spending as much as possible to keep my taxes low.”
- “I must limit the size and scope of government as much as possible to keep it from seizing my wealth before I become immortal.”
- “I need to make sure political leaders share my beliefs by paying them off.”
- “I must promise to share my fountain of youth with my friends the politicians so they will have a vested interest in my plans.”
Not coincidently, this sounds a great deal like the present agenda of the American Republican Party. In particular, Congressional Republicans like former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) will do anything to keep taxes low.
How Silicon Valley’s Quest for Immortality helps Trump
Notably, one of Silicon Valley’s most famous immortality seekers; PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel, is an outspoken Trump supporter.
In fact, Theil gave a speech for President Donald J. Trump (New York) at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Moreover, Bloomberg reports Thiel has already pledged to support Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign.
Hence we have to ask, does Thiel believe in Trump or is he backing the candidate most likely to sign big tax cuts and neuter government? Notably, Trump signed Congressional Republicans’ $1.5 trillion tax cut for the rich in December 2017.
Does Silicon Valley’s Quest for Immortality Threaten Average people?
Thus the attitude of Silicon Valley’s immortality seekers is apparently: “let America and average people go to hell, I want to live forever. Therefore, cut spending on everything to the bone, and eliminate as many taxes as possible.”
Therefore, tech titans could do vast harm to our nation for what could be a fantasy. Importantly, philosopher Yuval Noah Harari notes that the belief in immortality does not have to be realistic to shape people’s thinking.
For instance, Communist leaders murdered and starved tens of millions of people in the quest for their imaginary utopia. Moreover, the Communists wrecked the economies of dozens of nations for their fantasy of equality.
Just the idea it might be possible to live forever through technology or science, could shape the political agenda. For instance, liberal tech billionaires will write checks to tax-cutting Republicans to keep the funds for their immortality R&D flowing. Meanwhile, aging Democratic politicians will vote for tax cuts for access to Silicon Valley’s fountain of youth.
Silicon Valley’s Quest for Immortality is a political issue
Hence, Silicon Valley’s Quest for Immortality is a political issue. However, it is a political issue we are not discussing yet.
In the final analysis, I think Silicon Valley’s Quest for Immortality will become a major political issue in the next 20 years. For instance, just the rumor that rich people have the fountain of youth but refuse to share it will stoke a lot of anger.
Moreover, the image of Larry Ellison wasting billions on life-extension; while the school roof leaks, will be too good a selling point for demagogues to pass. Religion will complicate matters because some believers will see Silicon Valley’s Quest for Immortality as heresy.
Notably, theologians can present a human quest for immortality as a violation of God’s will. In addition, some religious leaders could see Big Tech’s quest for immortality as a threat to their business. Specifically, many religious institutions rely on wealthy elderly people’s fear of death as a source of income.
Silicon Valley’s Quest for Immortality will lead to Class Warfare
I can picture a 21st Century William Jennings Bryan fighting income inequality by attacking the blasphemous tech titans of Silicon Valley. In addition, I can also imagine billionaires like Thiel spending billions to destroy that individual to protect their Fountain of Youth.
Therefore, Silicon Valley’s Quest for Immortality could turn the debate over income inequality into all-out class warfare. Harari is right just the idea that human beings can cheat death and aging by science could disrupt everything.
For a far more detailed and insightful discussion of the coming battle over immortality see Harari’s fascinating book Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow.