Should we try to cure death?


David Alvarado, who made The Immortalists with Jason Sussberg, described a similar pivot to me after the film’s premier at South by Southwest. He said he went into this project feeling skeptical of the science behind life extension. Three years and countless hours of filming later, however, it struck him that, eventually, we will radically extend human lifespans—it’s just a question of when.

If humans could live forever, it would transform our civilization in ways more profound than just about any other technological breakthrough. Lifelong marriage—already on the ropes in the age of ever-lengthening lifespans—would cease to make sense. Overpopulation could become an even more significant issue than it is now. The cost of war might have to be re-evaluated. We could live long enough for humans to reach other stars. Young people might find themselves unable to compete in an ossified job market, full of people with centuries of experience.

The Immortalists poses a straightforward question: Why shouldn’t we cure death? But the answer to that question depends on who is asking it—any individual one of us, or all of us.