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- In 2016, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan pledged a $3 billion donation to "cure all disease."
- In a recent interview with The New Yorker, Zuckerberg said the reception he's received is either one of two things: he should focus on something else or be less ambitious with his goals.
- But Zuckerberg isn't deterred — he thinks there's an upside to speeding up the increase in life expectancy, and he believes the framework behind his plan will do just that.
In 2016, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan made a significant step toward humankind: Announcing that the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) will donate $3 billion to fund a plan to "cure all disease."
According to Chan, a pediatrician, the goal is not for no one to ever get sick, but to drastically reduce the frequency and severity of global disease.
In the two years since, Zuckerberg has soaked up a range of criticism and response to this ambitious objective. In a recent in-depth interview with the The New Yorker, Zuckerberg said people in Silicon Valley react in one of two ways:
"A bunch of people have the reaction of 'Oh, that's obviously going to happen on its own — why don't you just spend your time doing something else?' And then a bunch of people have the reaction of 'Oh, that seems almost impossible — why are you setting your sights so high?'"
But Zuckerberg is one for a challenge. The foundation intends to make riskier projects possible for scientists, even if they won't yield results for 20 or 50 years. "They want to give medical scientists the opportunity to work like coders in an ambitious Silicon Valley startup," Business Insider previously explained.
In 2017, the organization created an independent nonprofit Biohub, which committed $50 million to 47 scientists, technologists, and engineers working at UCSF, Stanford, and UC-Berkeley, reported Business Insider's Lydia Ramsey.
Despite the dubious reactions he's received, Zuckerberg remains positive about this plan.
"On average, every year for the last eighty years or so, I think, life expectancy has gone up by about a quarter of a year. And, if you believe that technological and scientific progress is not going to slow, there is a potential upside to speeding that up," he told The New Yorker.
He continued: "We're going to get to a point where the life expectancy implied by extrapolating that out will mean that we'll basically have been able to manage or cure all of the major things that people suffer from and die from today. Based on the data that we already see, it seems like there's a reasonable shot."
The billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates seems to agree.
"There are aspirations and then there are plans, and plans vary in terms of their degree of realism and concreteness," Gates told The New Yorker in regards to Zuckerberg's objectives. As Gates put it, Zuckerberg's long-range goal is "very safe, because you will not be around to write the article saying that he overcommitted."
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