When he’s not busy chasing robotics and AI, Sam Altman is a man of action. He’s a serial entrepreneur who has founded several startups, and most recently, the startup incubator Y Combinator.
He’s also a philanthropist who uses his wealth and fame to help charities that are close to his heart. He started a nonprofit to fund women’s health organizations, and he’s helped to launch a project called VotePlz that helps young people in swing states register to vote.
His biggest projects are also some of his most personal. He is a longtime advocate for fusion power, which he believes could help us to get off coal and gas and power the world with energy from plasma. He is also a staunch supporter of OpenAI, an AI research lab that has made chatbots capable of writing poems and answering questions.
One of his biggest investments so far is Retro Biosciences, a company that is working to combat the aging process. A year ago, he invested $180 million into the startup, which plans to develop therapies that use autophagy and cellular reprogramming to keep the human body youthful longer.
In the years since, Altman has cultivated an enviable reputation for making bold moves and finding out how to execute them. When he took over YC, he re-tooled the accelerator’s entire system to better support companies earlier in their lives and to provide them with funding as they grow.
That change has landed him in the center of a new tech wave that will see the rise of artificial intelligence and robotics. He’s become a celebrity in the startup world, with his Twitter account reaching 1.5 million followers. He’s also a major benefactor of many startups, including those that have come through YC.
He’s a self-described “futurist” who studies current initiatives and threats to society and then focusses on pragmatic actions that will advance or impede them. He’s even been known to brood over the upcoming presidential election.
A few years ago, he was invited to join an anti-aging group that was examining the progress being made by scientists in the field. The group, called the Covenant, met semi-regularly in his home to discuss the latest breakthroughs and brainstorm ways to take them further.
While the technology behind this new life-extension therapy is still in its infancy, some scientists are already saying it has the potential to extend human lifespans by as much as 10 years. That’s a big deal, given that the average lifespan in the United States is around seventy-five.
But it’s unlikely that Altman will ever be able to use this technology himself. His personal anti-aging routine includes getting blood tested, taking Metformin and trying to eat healthy, exercise and sleep enough. And, like Bryan Johnson, he’s willing to spend money to do so. He has invested more than $180 million into Retro Biosciences, the largest-ever individual investment in a startup that’s pursuing life extension technologies.