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Software billionaire Paul Allen is already using his riches to further brain science, spaceflight, rock 'n' roll history — and oh, the Seattle Seahawks, too — but he's not done yet: Artificial intelligence and cell biology are the next big ideas on the agenda for the guy who calls himself "Idea Man.
Allen, the 60-year-old co-founder of Microsoft, laid out his plans during an interview on the sidelines of the Allen Institute for Brain Science's annual symposium at Seattle's Experience Music Project Museum (another one of his creations).
Thirty years after Allen left Microsoft to deal with his case of Hodgkin's lymphoma, he has taken on a bevy of business interests — including movie production companies, cable TV, ticket sales and dot-com ventures. He owns the Seahawks football team as well as the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers. Allen has also spent millions on spacey ideas ranging from SpaceShipOne and Stratolaunch to the alien-hunting Allen Telescope Array.
"I've always been interested in many different things," Allen admitted.
But if you had to pick one philanthropic enterprise to be Allen's jewel in the crown, that would be the brain science institute he founded 10 years ago: $400 million of his estimated $15.8 billion fortune has gone toward the Allen Institute's open-source efforts to map the brain and the genes that influence its function.