The New York Times recently published an article (“In the Singularity Movement, Humans Are So Yesterday”) which suggested that the merging of machine and human will eventually overcome such terrible, counter-humanist nuisances as death and illness. The fountain of youth will do away with the primacy of youth altogether, it turns out, uploading our minds into some death-proof, and body-free server.
In a great example of the perils of lack of interdisciplinarity, the anti-aging scientists in the timidly honest documentary To Age or Not to Age ruminate on the ways humans might live up to one million years (or a meager 10 percent more than we live now, depending on who you ask), focusing solely on the physicality of the human body. The life-saver here isn’t some Second Life-cum-Real Life virtual databank, but a soon-to-come pill that blocks all diseases and renders death from natural causes only possible in a work of science fiction.
It feels, at times, anachronistic—and at once fascinating and silly—watching a barrage of experts pondering the demise of death while leaving all non-biological technology out of the equation. This approach, punctuated by awkwardly essayistic interventions from the narrating filmmaker, turns the film into a kind of bogged down, buzz-killing experience and exposes how dangerously alienated scientists and academics can be.
The most interesting line of thought brought up in To Age or Not to Age is the potentially mind-fucking can of worms of hypothesizing about the social and psychological consequences of a death-free human experience. These fantastic predictions on the possible-yet-costly bypassing of disease and dying, which may turn the haves and have-nots of today into the mortals and immortals of tomorrow, dies rather quickly in a film which takes the staid rhetoric of talking heads more seriously than it should.