We May Already Know How We Will Cure Death—But Should We?

Written by on March 29, 2014 in Futurism & Inspiring Inventions, Sci-Tech, Science with 5 Comments

Source: By Christopher Mims | Quartz

Aubrey de Grey is head of a Silicon Valley-based research team bent on reversing aging just in time for de Grey to live forever. David Alvarado & Jason Sussberg

Aubrey de Grey is head of a Silicon Valley-based research team bent on reversing aging just in time for de Grey to live forever. David Alvarado & Jason Sussberg

A pair of advocates—they do legitimate research too, but their ardor is so intense, it’s hard to call them scientists—believe that they will, within their lifetimes, make ours the first generation of humans to live forever.

Their quest is elegantly laid out in The Immortalists, a new documentary making its away around the film festival circuit. The Immortalists follows the triumphs and tragedies of three years in the lives of William H. Andrews and Aubrey de Grey, two men who prove just as interesting as the work they’re doing. The Immortalists is really a film about death, not life, which is what makes it so fascinating.

Here’s the trailer:

The goal of Andrews and de Grey is not merely to extend life, but to actually reverse the aging process. “Once we are really truly repairing things as fast as they go wrong, game over,” de Grey says in the film. “We will have the ability to live indefinitely.”

The mechanisms by which each man proposes to end death are radically different. Andrews suggests that in order to lengthen our lives, we may have only to extend the length of our telomeres, which are caps on the end of our DNA that shorten as we age, leading to the breakdown and demise of cells. This mechanism for extending life has the advantage of a potentially straightforward solution: If we can find a pill that lengthens telomeres, we’ve won. Andrews spends the duration of the film searching for one.


De Grey, a theorist who comes across as the better scientist despite his lack of experience “at the bench”—scientist parlance for doing research in a lab—disagrees with Andrews. While his solution to mortality isn’t as clearly articulated in the film, it seems to line up with the strategy articulated by the dean of transhumanism (a movement that aims to remove the limitations on human existence), Ray Kurzweil: Stay alive until microscopic robots that swim through our bloodstream and physically repair our cells are invented, in 20 or so years.

All this may sound crazy, but de Grey has convinced Silicon Valley luminaries such as PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel to give him millions of dollars to fund a full-fledged research foundation devoted to testing his ideas.

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  1. dee121261@yahoo.com' Detrina Kofroth says:

    I don’t think immortality is such a great idea. While you are searching for such a drug, imagine the possibility of dude effects. Then there is the question of selective genocide. If you have little cell repairing the body what do you intend to do about repair of the mind? Would you really want a body that lives forever with a deteriorating mind? There are so many reasons why this is a bad idea, I dint even know where to begin.

  2. hillwiz22@gmail.com' John Dodds says:

    This would have already happened if platonic philosophy had not been chosen over Aristotelian 2,000 years ago. A Manhattan type project
    to cure death would be the most valuable thing mankind can do.

  3. Torbacula@yahoo.com' Tricia says:

    I am certain somehow this will turn out to be all about who has the money to but the pill and then what if you sell the pill to a douchebag that the world would have been better off if they were never born let alone now they never die and what is the world going to do with all of these people if no one ever dies where will they live?

  4. LadyAmalthea12@yahoo.com' Karolina Borkowski says:

    Imagine what a mind trip that would be to get the “treatment” or whatever it is to live forever. Imagine how strange it would be to watch countless generations that started simply because you existed and co-created. Interesting stuff. I would love to be given the opportunity to be on this earth longer, to heal the planet, to do more good. But what about ascension into the higher realms?

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