‘Let’s create the OS of life’

October 22, 2014

On Monday, Bryan Johnson, the Braintree founder who bootstrapped and then sold the company to eBay for $800M, announced he used his own capital to launch a $100M “OS Fund.”

The fund’s charter is to invest in entrepreneurs, scientists, and inventors who aim to benefit humanity by rewriting the operating systems of life, Johnson says.

OS Fund

As Fortune reports, “He has already invested $15 million in seven startups. Planetary Resources, one of those companies, wants to spark an interstellar gold rush by mining asteroids for precious metals. Another called Vicarious wants to build a computer system that learns like the human brain. Human Longevity aims to lengthen the human life span to 120 years. Meanwhile, Matternet is fine-tuning a new kind of $3,000 drone for emerging markets and third-world countries.”

Thinking at the OS level

Johnson believes we are at one of the most exciting moments in history. “At no other time has the distance between imagination and creation been so narrow,” he notes on Medium. “We now have the power to build the kind of world we could previously only dream of. With new tools such as 3D printing, genomics, machine intelligence, software, synthetic biology and others, we can now make in days, weeks or months things that previous innovators couldn’t possibly create in a lifetime.”

Johnson suggests we need a new metaphor to effect real change for humanity at a global scale: “We need to “think and operate on a fundamental level: the operating system … In the same way that computers have operating systems at their core — dictating the way a computer works and serving as a foundation upon which all applications are built — everything in life has an operating system (OS). It is at the OS level that we most frequently experience a quantum leap in progress.”

He believes OS-level thinking can “redefine medical discovery and cure aging; recreate the biological toolset of our existence; become a multi-planetary species; reinvent global transportation infrastructure; enhance our minds; safely create advanced machine intelligence; and produce abundant clean energy. …

“If you are working on a quantum-leap discovery that promises to rewrite the operating systems of life, we hope to hear from you.”