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Brainstorming session

Which movies present feasible ideas for biological immortality?

Which movies present feasible ideas for biological immortality?

Image credit: a frame from the movie "Death Becomes Her"

By Povilas S on Sep 13, 2020

Creative contributions

Three examples

"Mr. Nobody". I want to mention this movie because it was probably the first thing that sparked my initial interest in the actual probability of biological immortality. The movie is centered around a story of one man’s life lived in different possible ways. Immortality is not a central theme in the movie, it’s just briefly mentioned in it, nevertheless, it pictures a future society where no one dies from old age anymore and therefore encourages to consider if such a society is actually possible. Mr. Nobody – the protagonist of the movie is the only man still left who is about to die from old age. The reporter, who’s interviewing him in his death bed, briefly mentions that at a certain point humanity learned how to induce endless cell division and achieved biological immortality. "The Age of Adaline". This movie centers around biological immortality and suspended aging. Apart from being interesting to watch, it also gives a theoretical explanation on how biological immortality was accidentally achieved in the time when it was "not yet discovered by science". A combination of anoxic reflex caused by sudden body’s immersion in freezing water and a lightning strike induced “Von Lehman’s principle of electron compression in DNA, which will be discovered in 2035”. The principle is of course purely fictional, nevertheless, this encourages to think of how the body might react to an unlikely combination of such extreme conditions, even more so because extreme cold is already associated with life preservation. "The Man from Earth". This might be the most down to Earth (as title suggests) movie about immortality. The reasons behind biological immortality of the protagonist are not given in this movie, but the whole style of the movie is a bit documentary-like and the whole movie is set up like a thought experiment. The plot of the movie shows few close friends and colleagues academics, one of whom unexpectedly reveals to be a 14000-year-old man who survived since the Upper Paleolithic, discussing the plausibility of such a case. All the counterarguments, why this couldn’t be the case, are slowly answered and makes you wonder about the possibility that such extremely rare cases of extraordinary biology, whatever the mechanisms behind it, could exist naturally, but are not known/believed in or hidden by individuals themselves for obvious reasons.

by Povilas S on Sep 13, 2020

Altered Carbon

Although it is not a movie but a series on Netflix, I think it is worthy of mentioning. It's based on a 2002 novel and tells a story of a future (specifically the year of 2384) where people have their minds, consciousness, and memories stored in chip-like structures in the back of their necks, called "the stacks". If the stack is intact, a person lives. In contrast, when you destroy the stack, that person is dead forever (unless it has a backup, which is usually reserved for the wealthy ones). The bodies (they call it "the sleeves") are just like cars nowadays - you just use them to materialize your persona; the better the sleeve (combat, sensory, technological add-ons), the better you perform in a real world. Besides the real world, there is also cyberspace where virtual life, sessions, therapies, and other mind-playing games happen. These two worlds are inseparably intertwined and affecting each other. The described future is a nice add-on to the brainstorming session on the effects of longevity (https://brainstorming.com/sessions/what-are-some-valid-objections-(and-their-counterarguments)-to-extreme-human-lifespan-extension/47). It offers a visual representation of some of our recent ideas and emphasizes that the mind could be a critical element that sets the pace of human preparedness-for-longevity progression. It is then intuitive to think that the mind, not the body, could be the future source of killer diseases.

by Juran K. on Sep 13, 2020

Povilas S 14 days ago

That's a good remark about TV shows, I'll add that in the initial description of the session:)...

All of them below are potentially promising

1. Ghost in the Shell (original Japanese anime series) You have all at least probably heard of it, but here's a mini synopsis. We are in the age of some 2030-2050s, where it is common humans can get cyber enhancements. They range from cyber particular body parts to full prosthetic bodies. Additionally, cyborgs are characterized for being able to connect to the "Net" and with other cyborgs and androids. This is achieved through ports located on the back of the neck, where a plugin allows one to learn, share info and practically exist on this parallel level of reality. Biological immortality, or at least a very long life span is achieved through perfecting body or fully replacing it, so it can be enhanced and repaired over and over again. 2. Gattaca (1997) I know it may not answer this session's topic straightforward, but the main premise lies on the gene enhancement people are able to perform. One of the character, Vincent, is not able to travel to the outer space due to his inferior genetics and thus commits a gene ID theft (in a way) by purchasing another man's genetic ID. But, this story ends up in the potential abuse of public info on an individual's genetic. 3. Blade Runner, part 3 (?) Well, I am eager to see how they bridged the human/replicant reproduction, since we meet the daughter in the second part. All we know is Rachel possessed reproductive system. How it works, yet to be seen. Then maybe human life can be prolonged, by the sheer fact it is not based solely on human genetics. 4. Elysium (2013) It's 2159, CRISPR system has already been highly developed. Medical care is on such a level, disease can be detected alongside diagnoses within seconds, and then cured. Injuries taken care of even easier. (There is an example of a girl who gets Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia detected and cured in under some 30 seconds.) So I guess since these sorts of possibilities correspond to longevity achievements through the roof, they can also be considered to go towards a much longer and healthier, if not immortal life.

by Anja M on Sep 15, 2020

Povilas S 11 days ago

Good selection. Judging by past tendencies, if Blade Runner part 3 will ever be made, it's likely to happen sometime in 2050's ;D Would be happy to see it though, if I'll be around. Maybe it will become a reality by then. I personally liked the movie version of Ghost in the Shell too. But it's better to watch anime version first....

Anja M 10 days ago

Well, I REALLY hope the current Blade Runner director doesn't die or get some tough disease before making up his mind to continue/finish it, because his style fits perfectly for the franchise. And of course, for us to live long enough....

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