Exploring Life Extension

An almost 2 hour film by the Immortality Institute on, you guessed it, immortality, or if you prefer a more politically correct term, ‘Life Extension’. I won’t comment on it at length, as it is a vastly complex matter, both socially, technologically, scientifically and philosophically. The film also includes a section dealing with breaking away from our physical existence through the employment and fusion of technology in a post-Singularity world giving rise to post-human lifeforms.

The film features several of the main figures involved with Life Extension research including controversial Cambridge researcher Aubrey de Grey [You can find his presentation from TED2006 on Google Video. I found it quite funny]. It mentions several methods studied in prolonging life, such as calorie restriction, nanobots, cryonics, stem cell research and ageing reversal among others. It also attempts to cover some of the important social and cultural aspects involved although it’s by no means comprehensive.

I find the topic fascinating, if a bit presumptuous at this stage. Some of the approaches represent a fresh view, that of treating the human body as a machine, that deviates completely from the strictly-by-the-book approach that medical doctors (and sometimes biologists) often take; ironically de Grey is a computer scientist-turned-biologist and takes what he calls an ‘engineering approach’ to solving the problem of ageing. All in all, irrespectively of whether there’s any value to the work presented in the film (and I am in no position to express an opinion as it is beyond my knowledge), it introduces several broader and very interesting topics worth thinking about.

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