Examining the record of donations made by the crypto rich reveals a pattern of support for goals that others may feel belong in the pages of science fiction novels. Having benefited greatly from recognizing the potential of peer to peer electronic cash earlier than the masses, it is no surprise that they have great optimism in the power of technology to radically change our lives for the better.
The rise of cryptocurrency is changing the philanthropic world by causing the redistribution of wealth from old money to visionary innovators and early tech adopters. The new crypto rich invest their donations by supporting scientific research in groundbreaking fields that may one day enable humanity to cure aging, reverse death and completely change the relationship between work and income.
The Cryptorati Want to Defeat Aging
One of the main benefactors of this type of donation focus is the SENS Research Foundation located in Mountain View, California. The non-profit SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) defines its goal as working to develop, promote, and ensure widespread access to therapies that cure and prevent the diseases and disabilities of aging. Unlike the traditional medical approach of only treating or managing old age problems as they kick in, this approach focuses on comprehensively repairing the damage that builds up in our bodies over time, thus mitigating the aging process as much as possible.
In the early 2000s, Michael Novogratz donated to the research organization and the Pineapple Fund gave SENS $2 million in BTC last year. Moreover, Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin also donated $2.4 million to SENS in 2018 and another $350,000 in January 2019. The regenerative medical therapy organization also raised another $4.1 million in cryptocurrencies last year in addition to the Pineapple Fund donation.
The chief science officer of SENS, British biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey, talked about the relationship between his venture and crypto proponents last year and detailed that many have donated to the research organization. “I’m not in this to do science for the sake of doing science”, de Grey explained. “I’m in it for the ultimate goal.” He further revealed that a few anonymous donors have given SENS $1 million each and other cryptocurrency personalities are also long-term donors of the foundation.
The Cryogenics Connection
Another main benefactor of donations made by crypto personalities is the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. This nonprofit based in Scottsdale, Arizona, advocates for, researches, and performs cryonics. This entails the freezing of the whole human corpse or just the brain in liquid nitrogen after legal death, with hopes of resurrecting the individual when the requisite technology is developed in the future.
According to reports, a number of crypto rich have anonymously donated to Alcor’s cryonics research. The top connection between the field and cryptocurrency is that Alcor might be preserving the body of a man some believe to be Satoshi Nakamoto himself. Hal Finney is the computer scientist who received the very first bitcoin transaction and helped get the network up and running during its first year. On Aug. 28, 2014, Finney’s body was taken to an Alcor facility soon after his death and underwent the cryogenic process. In May 2018 the foundation announced that cryptocurrency enthusiast Brad Armstrong gave it a $5 million research contribution, being held in the name of the “Hal Finney Cryonics Research Fund”.
Another connection between cryptocurrency and cryogenics is that computer scientist Ralph Merkle, known for creating cryptographic hashing, the Merkle tree and other inventions, is also a researcher and advocate of cryonics. He reportedly knows a few crypto people who have donated to cryonics and also helped raise funds for Alcor.
Universal Basic Income and MDMA
A more economic research topic, but one that could have drastic implications for human society no less than curing aging or cheating death, is Universal Basic Income. UBI is one of the hottest economic debate topics of the last couple of years, talked about as a possible solution to technological unemployment, preventing humans from falling behind once robots take over all the jobs. The idea has even gained support from various politicians around the world recently such as U.S. democratic candidate Andrew Yang.
Basically the UBI plan is to provide everyone with a stipend so that they can live their lives without worrying about making enough money from work just to survive. This raises several questions as it goes against how many believe the world should function and it will also be an unprecedented experiment in the human condition. The Pineapple Fund made a $5 million donation to the organization Give Directly in 2017 to sponsor cash transfers to people living in extreme poverty in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda where it is possible to test the UBI concept before it’s implemented in more expensive regions of the world. The Pineapple Fund has also donated more than $1 million to aid in the research of using MDMA as a treatment for PTSD.
Crypto rich and well-known community personalities have of course donated to other causes than the above mentioned scientific research projects. To list a few examples, Justin Sun gave $3 million to the Binance Charity Foundation, $250,000 to the ALS association and over $4.5 million to Glide which aims to alleviate poverty. John McAfee donated a 27-foot boat worth $1.1 million to the Belize Coast Guard. The CEO of Coinbase, Brian Armstrong, even signed the Giving Pledge, the drive started by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates for rich people to give away the majority of their wealth instead of leaving it to their heirs.