“Amortal: Unable to die from disease or age.”
Amortality: A dream that could become reality in our lifetimes.
Google has invested $1.5Bn in its strange and secretive project Calico, which has a mandate to “kill death” and stop human aging.
Mark Zuckerberg’s also invested $3Bn in projects to eradicate human diseases before the end of the 21st century.
Peter Thiel pays teenagers $8,000 per vial of their “young blood” as part of his personal quest to live forever.
What if they succeed?
Imagine a world where humanity has defeated the grim reaper to the extent that no illness is incurable. Where ageing is a choice, not an inevitability. Where life can be extended indefinitely. Where “natural” lifespans become a thing of the past and the only way to die is through a deliberate choice – either your own or one made by someone else.
To age or not to age, that is the question.
The ethics of amortallity are one of the biggest debates of the present age.
Should life be extended at all costs, just because it can be extended?
When is extending life doing more harm than ending it? (And where does that leave what’s left of the Hippocratic Oath, which demands physicians both “do no harm” and “do not kill”?)
If the only way to die (eventually) is through euthanasia – that is, through a deliberate choice – how will that affect religions that equate suicide with eternal damnation?
How long should we “let” aging humans live for before we force them to give up their lives – and their demands on the earth’s resources – to make way for new, as yet unborn generations?
What about work? Retirement? Social benefits? Access to expensive life-extending treatments and tinctures?
How long is long enough?
(And even then, once we have decided when and how it is fair for who to die under which circumstances, what, exactly, is death – in an age when men can be kept alive by machines in ICUs, when body parts can be swapped, printed and replaced, and when the living can choose to cryogenically freeze themselves for a future resurrection? But that is another question for another day.)