Elon Musk Says in Podcast He’d Rather Be Dead Than Living to 100 With Dementia

"I don't think I want to be a burden to society or have dementia and not knowing what's going on."

Elon Musk
Elon Musk holds his son as he arrives at the Atreju political convention organized by Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy), on December 15, 2023 in Rome, Italy. Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

Among the world’s wealthiest individuals, especially those over 50, there seems to be a growing shared passion for discovering the elixir of life. Billionaires including Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Larry Page and Michael Bloomberg have all invested personal wealth in biotech startups that research everything from cancer cures to cell reprogramming. Elon Musk, the richest of them all, is a notable exception. Although his main business endeavors—doing away with fossil fuel on Earth and colonizing Mars—have time horizons spanning decades and even centuries, the entrepreneur himself isn’t that interested in immortality.

In a podcast interview with Peter Diamandis, the founder of the nonprofit XPrize Foundation, that aired on Jan. 4, Musk said he would prefer to be dead than living to 100 if he can’t stay in good health.

“I don’t think I want to be a burden to society or have dementia and not knowing what’s going on. I’d prefer to be dead,” Musk, 52, said when Diamandis asked him whether he aims to live to at least 100.

Diamandis’s XPrize hosts innovation competitions in areas such as space tech, clean energy and robotics. In 2021, Musk sponsored a $100 million prize for anyone who can find a safe and cost-effective way to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it away for 100 years.

Musk doesn’t have any known investments in longevity-related projects. But in principle, he thinks extending lifespan or health span is a promising area to see progress. “My opinion on the subject is that I think it’s actually not that hard to solve,” the entrepreneur told Diamandis.

“The cells in our body all age at almost exactly the same speed,” he went on to explain. “I have not seen anyone who has an older left arm and a younger right arm. Not even once. How are the cells communicating? What is synchronizing their behavior? There’s a very clear mechanism for synchronizing aging among the 30 to 40 trillion cells in your body.”

In the podcast, Diamandis, 62, said he hopes to live to 120 to 150 as technology rapidly advances in his lifetime. In July 2023, he posted on X, “We are edging closer toward a dramatically extended healthspan—where 100 is the new 60.” Musk challenged his optimism and responded, “We seem to be leveling off with a mid-80-year lifespan.”

In recent months, Musk has repeatedly expressed his concern over the low birthrates in major economies. “If we don’t make new humans, we won’t have humanity, even with longevity,” he told Diamandis. We will live longer, but we won’t live forever. I’m concerned that a lot of people think our planet is overpopulated, and it’s contributing to low birthrate.”

Musk has 11 known children with three women. “We actually have a civic responsibility to have kids to at least keep the human population constant,” he said. “Ideally we should grow it, but we should at least not have a population collapse, which is what we currently have.”

Elon Musk Says in Podcast He’d Rather Be Dead Than Living to 100 With Dementia