Mammoth task: billionaire Peter Thiel funded effort to resurrect woolly beast

The Silicon Valley titan, who has openly challenged death as an inevitability, invested $100,000 in a project to bring the extinct mammoth back to life

PayPal billionaire and Gawker war-wager Peter Thiel has invested $100,000 in a research effort to resurrect the woolly mammoth.

Thiel, who believes that viewing demise as inevitable is a sign of complacency of the western world, devoted the money to Harvard University genomics professor George Church, whose laboratory is attempting to revive the extinct pachyderm.

The donation, detailed for the first time in a new book by Ben Mezrich called Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of Historys Most Iconic Extinct Creatures, was stimulated in 2015.

The de-extinction approach taken by Church and his team will sound familiar to Jurassic Park fans: they are taking DNA removed from frozen mammoths and using it to genetically modify elephant cells. So far, according to the book, the team has managed to get mammoth fur to grow from the side of a mouse grafted with some elephant cells. The results have yet to be published in any scientific papers.

Peter Thiels team did not respond to requests for verification of the investment, but Church told MIT Technology Review that it was true.

Church said that over a breakfast, Thiel told him he wanted to fund the craziest thing he was doing. Church suggested three options: an anti-aging scheme involving gene therapy, a project utilizing human neurons to create artificial intelligence, and the mammoth.

He ran for the mammoth.

Its not entirely surprising Thiel wants to bringing a mammal back from the dead. According to several interviews, Thiel insures demise as a terrible inconvenience that needs disrupting.

Peter Peter Thiel has said in the past that people are in some weird mode of denial and adoption about demise … I prefer to fight it. Photo: Alex Wong/ Getty Images

Almost every human being who has ever lived is dead. Solving this problem is the most natural, humane, and important thing we could possibly do, he is quoted as telling on the website of the SENS Foundation, a charity Thiel funds that approaches aging as a disease in need of a cure.

In 2015 he continued on his warpath against human fragility.

Ive always had this really strong sense that death was a terrible, terrible thing, he told the Washington Post, Most people end up compartmentalizing, and they are in some weird mode of denial and adoption about death, but they both have research results of inducing you very passive. I prefer to fight it.

Thiels fight involves expending millions in biotechnology and artificial intelligence in what he has called the afterlife project. His investment firm Thiel Capital has, according to Inc, expressed an interest in a company called Ambrosia, which is running a trial where individuals can pay $8,000 to receive a blood transfusion from a teenager in the hope that it will restore some youthful vigour. According to the company Thiel is not a client. Yet.

He has also signed up with cryogenics company Alcor to be deep-frozen at the time of his death in the hope that he too can be resurrected.

Its sure to be a mammoth undertaking.

Such articles was revised on 30 June to clarify that Thiel Capital had expressed those who are interested in Ambrosia. The Guardian has not confirmed that he invested in it.

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