Click investigates technologies promising to help you live longer, from young blood plasma injections to preserving your body for future resurrection.
Browse content similar to Cheating Death in Silicon Valley. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
That's it from me, Duncan Golestani
will be here at 2am.
Now on BBC News,
it's time to Click.
This week, preserving people during
life and after death. The digital
legacy that you leave behind. And
lots of reasons. -- freezers.
Ah, the streets of San Francisco!
Mecca for technology innovators and
officially on are those. A
destination where the cult of geek
reigns supreme. Everyone's got that
billion-dollar idea here and
everyone wants to save the world.
The ethos of nothing's impossible
runs in the veins and Twitter feeds
of every twentysomething Zuckerberg
wannabe. Now Silicon Valley is
taking on life's biggest challenge,
Dave Lee has been looking at how
Silicon Valley is trying to help us
all live longer.
This will be my last meal for 36
hours. Like a growing number of
people in Silicon Valley, I'm about
to try fasting, something some here
believe could contribute to
extending our lifespan.
My advice to
you is sleep in really late so you
don't have to deal with it!
Christian Brown is a biotechnology
journalist. She tells me living
longer is becoming something of an
obsession for many tech people.
tend to see people not just being in
the body as a machine but talking
about it metaphorically as a
Is it making any progress?
It's growing so quickly right now,
we understand so much more this year
than we did last year even but the
other thing about science is the
more questions you and so, the more
questions there are.
morning my first stop after a
skipped breakfast was Jeffrey Woo.
He is chief executive of a firm
called human. He says fasting can
improve productivity and increase
our lifespan. Jeffrey promotes the
36 hour faster that I'm on and his
company sells products they claim
will boost your body's reaction to
So when you're extending
beyond a 24-hour fast you're dipping
into a metabolic state called key
ptosis, which stores your body fat
into an efficient source of energy.
As one gets better at being in key
ptosis, cognitive clarity ends up
being a productivity boost.
it we measured the key to level in
my body with a simple blood test. My
ketone levels were low, has to be
expected, but next I drank one of
their ketone producing products.
can expect to within 15 minutes are
equivalent to five to seven days
worth of fasting in your system.
science behind what benefits can be
had isn't exactly watertight. One
study suggests one of human's other
products may not have any greater
effect than a cup of coffee. The
moment of truth for me came around
30 minutes later. Wow.
Eventually equivalent to having
fasted for three or four days in 30
Theeb session with reduced
the nation and longevity here has
even been satirised on HBO's Silicon
It's my transfusion
Like all great comedy,
it's funny because it's true.
One incredible idea being tested
here can be traced back to this man,
Paul Burt. In the mid-1800 he
claimed if you took an old mouse and
literally stitched it together with
a young mouse, the young mouse would
become more agile, have a better
memory and heal more quickly once it
had the young blood flowing through
its brains. Of course we can't start
stitching humans together but there
is a start-up that thinks it can do
than expected thing.
This is a California based start-up
that believes weekly injections of
blood plasma from young people can
help fight of our signers.
treated these patients once a week
for four weeks with one unit of
plasma and we found the treatment
was safe and very importantly,
although it was a short study to see
learning and memory improvements,
but it was good enough to see some
The team said it found those treated
were more capable of basic daily
tasks and more aware of their
surroundings. Encouraging but far
from conclusive. So far it's only
been proven that this technique
works with mice, but it's hoped that
extensive human studies might help
this team unlock the secret to
easily rejuvenate in humans.
Ultimately we might be able to
identify agents that can be
To gather this database set up a
partnership to get the blood plasma
from great Falls, a major
pharmaceutical firm based in Spain.
People are being paid to give up
their young blood.
Well, that's a
fascinating ethical question. I
actually think that there is a large
pool of donors currently which is
increasing and I think there's an
increasing recognition of how
valuable plasma proteins are.
some answers on whether or not
fantastical ideas could actually
work, I went to visit one of the
world's foremost experts on ageing.
Fasting elicits a response in your
body that triggers a protection
against many diseases associated
with age. So growing realisation
that multiple forms of fasting might
be beneficial in the long-term.
of them or perhaps outrageous ideas
is that you can transfer young blood
into an older person and that will
rejuvenate and slow the ageing
process, is that true?
talk about the science in mice. It
is actually amazing work. The
science is really strong. Now,
taking this and bringing it to
humans is a completely different
story, so the idea for example that
one would take human plasma or human
plasma product and give it to humans
to prevent ageing is, in my opinion,
Finally, my 36 hours were up. I'm
not sure it's worth it, the lows I
had last night and this morning were
awful and to do that regularly I
think might lead to a longer life
but it certainly wouldn't be a
happier one. What could be really
interesting, though, is if these
companies can recreate the positive
effects of fasting without the hard
work of having to go without food
for such a long period of time. But
for now, I think I'm going to choose
That was Dave Lee. And while the
quest for a longer life might take a
little while longer, technology has
been looking at other ways to help
us live on through avatars. The
University of Salford California has
been creating virtual versions of
Holocaust survivors for the last few
years, preserving their memories and
experiences for future generations.
Survivors are interviewed at length
inside a special light stage used by
Hollywood to capture them in 360
degrees. Using voice recognition and
machine learning, anyone can
interact with these digital
holograms at special exhibit sites.
One end, that was my dad's Aston
Martin survived, so from the
immediate extended family there were
three of us that survived.
I went along for a scan myself. Now
the rig admittedly looks rather make
sure with lots of low-cost cameras
capturing me from different angles.
By scanning some extreme facial
expressions, most mouse movements
and emotions can also be simulated
by merging between them.
we can capture ourselves as we are
today, perhaps our people, our lives
are going to get older and the next
generation would see them any more.
Can I capture grandma and grandpa?
Can I capture enough of how they've
moved, what they think to a certain
extent, we combine that with
artificial intelligence where it
would be possible to have an
interaction with a person who is not
alive any more.
Here in the UK the four of the
project is also working on a similar
idea at the national Holocaust
centre and museum, virtually
preserving survivor experiences.
Bardet digital legacy isn't just for
people like these. Most of us will
leave a will regarding our
possessions or instructions for our
funeral arrangements but now
emphasis is also being placed on our
digital footprint too. I spoke to
Facebook's head of global policy
about our postmortem account
options. This is such an incredibly
sensitive subject that for Facebook
I would imagine is an impossible
task to get right.
It's certainly a
very difficult area for us. Losing
people is so hard and at Facebook we
want to make sure that we are
respecting that person's life and
respecting the choices that person
made, but we also want to make sure
we're making this process as easy as
possible for the family members that
are going through it and actually
it's sometimes hard for us to
satisfy both of those.
imagine a lot of people do not tell
you, Facebook, what they want to
happen to their accounts after their
death, so how do you know what to
That's right, a lot of people
don't. I want to be clear that there
is a way to tell Facebook what you
would like to happen to your account
after you pass away, we call it our
legacy contact. You can actually
designate someone who can look after
your account after you're gone.
Basically this gives the person, you
can choose what authority you want
the person to have, but this gives
the person the choice to, say,
change your profile photo or add
friends or put a post at the top of
your profile. They do not become
you, they cannot control every
feature of the account, they can
take some actions, they can choose
to delete the account, but they do
not have the ultimate control to
look at your private messages.
Family and friends have particular
feelings about what happens to
someone's memories when they're
gone, they don't always agree. How
do you even begin to settle those
We will delete the profile if one
person asks for it. Now, having gone
through this myself, I lost my
husband a little more than a year
ago, and my experience was that it
was very powerful for me and very
comforting for me to be able to look
at things that he had written, to
see photos that he had posted. It
made me feel like I could still
connect with him and that he still
was a very active presence in my
I wonder whether you had any
advice to people watching this on
how to go forward if they experience
I think the
important thing is have the
conversations now and talk about how
you would want to treat your digital
legacy, including what do you want
to happen to your online presence,
your Facebook account, your other
accounts, and what is your plan for
making sure that your estate, all
the practical things that we don't
like to think about very much in our
daily lives are taken care of so
your loved ones don't have to go
Welcome to the week in tech. It was
the week that the head of Microsoft
said the world is running out of
computing capacity and that quantum
is the only way forward.
A new degree in flying car
engineering was announced at an
e-learning school in Silicon Valley.
And Facebook invented a new unit of
time called a Flick. It's designed
to help video editors and people
working in visual effects. The new
unit lasts longer than a nanosecond
but is shorter than a microsecond.
And Sky decided to take on the likes
of Amazon and Netflix, launching its
new now TV stick. It's also
announced its goodbye to the old sky
satellite dishes as all its services
go online from 2019. Also this week
General Motors became the first of
driving car manufacturer to be sued
over an accident. Its Chevrolet
bolted a motorcyclist back in
December. Meanwhile Tesla had its
own autopilot problems when a model
-esque ploughed into a fire truck.
The race to put the first privately
funded spacecraft on the moon is
over and not with a rocket launch
but a tweet and a statement. The
Google lunar X prize offered a $200
million prize fund for the first
team to land on the moon by March.
Finally, a robot working in a
supermarket has been fired by just
one week for scaring customers
await. Fabio was an Experian to see
if robots would interact well with
shoppers but it turns out it's
instructions such as the beer is in
the alcohol aisle infuriated people
rather than helping them. The job
market is tough out there!
item in bagging area...
phrase, but as we've seen this week
one that we may not need to hear
much longer. Amazon Go's Seattle
store finally launched on Monday.
You can check in with your phone,
cameras and sensors will log what
you pick up and you will be
instantly charged. They -- aren't
the only companies trying to crack
the cashier was supermarket model.
It's time for a rather
unconventional shopping experience.
The first thing I'm going to do is
get out my bag. I visited this north
London convenience store, where IBM
have been putting their prototype
instant check out to the test.
Because when it comes to actually
checking out, the ID cards that sit
on all of the products will be
instantly scanned in one go, so you
can put everything on here
straightaway, although it does sort
of feel wrong. And something sweet.
So I have everything they need in my
shopping bag, but I can't leave just
yet. In fact, this is the fun bit.
It's time for the instant check out.
I put down my bag full of items and
immediately what's on at that
seamlessly comes up on the screen.
If your cons -- you are concerned
this could make things too easy for
shoplifters, because obviously it
looks like you've legitimately paid,
then fear not. There is something to
overcome that. Readers can be placed
right by the doors, so if anybody
does try to leave with something
that hasn't been scanned, the alarm
will go. For customers who are happy
to share their habits and behaviour,
artificial intelligence will come
into play to combine that
information with data on their
Convenience store like
this will drastically change what
people will come in and buy, how
many people come in and when. It
able to use all of those mass
volumes of data, with
predictability, all of that means we
will be able to tell the retailer
what to keep in stock and when.
that's a real driver behind all of
this. To understand our shopping
habits from the moment we enter a
shop until we leave. This mill and
store, dubbed the supermarket of the
future, features a lot of screens.
-- Milan store. There are cameras
collecting data on customers'
movements and interactions with
products. The designers of the space
of that as well as providing an
insight into the retailer the data
collection will better the overall
A lot of
information available regarding food
does not appear anywhere when you
get into the supermarket, so all of
this data availability doesn't show
up, so we need to give that kind of
information back to the customer.
But while most of us are still
actually engaging with humans, it
seems that the cashier less shop
could be coming to a place near you
Now, we've been looking at various
ways to try and extend human life,
possibly indefinitely, but
researchers can't do it yet and so
on till they can there are those who
are offering to put your life on
pause. Marc Cieslak has been the
Arizona to meet the
Debt and taxes, as the saying goes,
are the two things none of us can
avoid. What about if there was a
workaround for death, some way of
extending our physical existence on
this planet? This was founded in
1972 in order to preserve people at
the point of death, freeze them and
then when technology is sufficiently
advanced revive them in the future.
A process it calls cryonics.
an interesting graphic on the
history of cryonics, which goes back
to 1773, when Benjamin Franklin
fought about the future of America.
What goes on in this space? I am
seeing this simulates what you would
normally perform when somebody dies.
Exactly. We have to wait for the
legal death to be declared. Remove
the patience to the ice bath, we
cover them ice, and it the same time
we will restart all kinds of things.
We will use a respirator to recover
breathing, we will use this
mechanical CBI device and we are
doing that because we want to
administer a series of different
medications to protect their cells.
It is even though the patient is
If I when you donate an organ,
even though the person has been
declared dead that doesn't mean all
of the cells are suddenly dead.
Patients are effectively pumped full
of antifreeze to protect their
tissue from freezing the process
which comes later. It costs up to
$200,000 to preserve a full body and
$60,000 if somebody just wants their
This is the
operating room. We put the patient
on the special operating table. This
is designed to shape the patient for
long-term storage. We don't want
someone at a low B with their arm
-- with their arms
sticking out. Usually when we do a
separation, we do it if you
vertebrae down, and then place the
brain plus the skull upside down.
Essentially it is the same process,
we remove the blood and fluids from
the brain and protect them against
Why would people want their head
separated from their body?
My view is that unless I die early
in an accident, my body will be in
lousy shape anyway and the whole
thing will have to be regenerated.
Why go to the extra cost of storing
my whole body, which is ten times
the volume of just my head?
The corridors here are aligned with
photos of people who are already
frozen in Alcor's storage facility.
This is where we store all of our
patients, we have 152.
These are all
of your patience?
Yes. All of our
patients here. About two thirds of
them are in Europe. -- are in a
They are just
Yes. Half of the members are
full body. This contains four full
Doesn't have any
legal obligation to the people
stored here, as they technically
donated their bodies to science.
What happens if you have a power
We don't need electricity for
this. These are passive vessels,
very expensive firma flasks. We just
use the liquid nitrogen to maintain
Alcor says it's a
non-profit organisation and it has
1150 people signed up for its
services, including Silicon Valley
billionaire Peter Teele. But what
makes ordinary people shall upto
$200,000 for cryogenic preservation?
Act in the UK, this man has not
himself and his family up for just
that via a different outfit called
The Cryonics Institute.
being on your deathbed, dying, and
then immediately waking up
straightaway because the passage of
time would mean anything, because I
will be dead. So I'll wake up
immediately and hopefully I will be
able to remember things. Have my
memory intact, hopefully.
family is going to be preserved as
Yeah. Luckily my wife and
daughter are for the idea and are
signed up members of the institute.
But it is all too good to be true?
We spoke to a neuroscientist who
have serious misgivings about the
basic foundations of cryonics.
really can't afford to freeze
biological tissue until it has been
appropriately protected, but unless
you take it down to those low
temperatures for protection quite
quickly, it will continue to
decompose. My problem with the
cryonics dream, the wishful thinking
contracts that are sold, if they
haven't resolved that conflict.
There is no evidence that they can
get the antifreeze into all those
micro nooks and crannies in the
brain and satisfactorily protected.
We put this to Alcor, who provided a
Said is this the ultimate insurance
Yeah, it doesn't cost
us anything. A bit of money.
That was Marc Cieslak and that's it
from San Francisco the now. Don't
forget, there's loads of extra stuff
from us on Twitter and on Facebook.
Thanks for watching and see you