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The Methuselah Generation: The Science of Living Forever

Imagine a world in which there are no limits on the human lifespan, no restrictions on our capacity for intelligent thought and exponential technological advancement, no barriers to our saturating the universe with consciousness.

Imagine all the people, living for forever.

Indeed, John Lennon might have gotten a kick out of imagining himself casually interfacing with artificial intelligence, nano-engineering solar panels in space, breathing molecularly cleansed air through bionic lungs…but if this is a reality you want to see, you’ll have to “live long enough to live forever”, as Terry Grossman and Ray Kurzweil claim in their book of the same title.

What Grossman – the main subject of the forthcoming documentary The Methuselah Generation: The Science of Living Forever – means by this is bolstering your longevity enough to be able to utilize the tools and treatments of the biotechnological revolution. From there you will need survive into the nanotechnological age, and onward until artificial intelligence and mind uploading have rendered us machine-human amalgams, or, as many have opined, post-humans.

The Methuselah Generation will explore the tenuous passage outlined by this trajectory.

This character-driven documentary will examine longevity through the experiences of the scientists, economists and doctors studying and evaluating the science and sociology of life extension. The filmmakers don’t just want to talk about life extension, they want the viewers to experience the science and philosophical ideas as they happen in real time.

The documentary film (which just entered principal photography) will feature biogerontologist and experimental scientist Dr. Aubrey de Grey of the SENS Foundation; science fiction author, plasma physicist, and astrophysicist Dr. Gregory Benford, whose company Genescient has conducted research with extremely long-living fruit flies dubbed “The Methuselah flies”; and economist, futurist, and cryonics enthusiast Robin Hansen, who discusses being reanimated into a future dictated by a post-Singularity economy.

Filmmakers Jason Sussberg and David Alvarado will interweave these stories with that of family physician Dr. Terry Grossman, who runs a geriatric clinic. Interestingly, though Grossman believes extreme life extension will be possible, he himself does not want to partake in it.

From still-theoretical gene therapy treatments such as RNA interference and cell transdifferentiation to current efforts to refurbish the human genome with the use of pharmacogenomics, The Methuselah Generation will take a hard-hitting look at the science of life extension, as well as the social, economic, judicial, and emotional impacts of extended lifespans. For example, does a person convicted of a life sentence get to live forever in prison, eternally sapping taxpayer dollars? Will poor people be able to come along for the ride, or will the future be a society of the privileged few? Say your friends and family can’t afford the life extension therapies. How appealing is a future in which everyone you know is dead?

Angling towards more personal and emotional elements of the issue, the film will explore the characters dealing with the pain of losing loved ones. Gregory Benford, for example, recounts how his interest in life extension accelerated after the death of his first wife. In this way, stories about the fantastical future are seen through the prism of the present, in which we are still very much human.

Can we be life extensionists AND working class heroes of the sort John Lennon imagined? Find out by supporting the filmmakers. Check out the film’s Kickstarter page to see how you can get involved and possibly even become a producer.

Editor’s Update:

Please help the Life Extension discussion reach mainstream media by voting for “The Methuselah Generation” here: http://apps.facebook.com/my-polls/?poll_id=lux3jdk6

About the Author:

Jake Anderson is science fiction author, satirist, and filmmaker who is interested in how the Singularity will influence the working class. He is currently writing a satire about the robot uprising.

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  • Jake Witmer

    We would be at an indeterminate lifespan already, if we attained a libertarian society that had true freedom of choice.  The AMA and FDA are mostly responsible for our short lifespans.

  • I am not sure it is as simple as that Jake. Deregulation, or even complete libertarianism, will not on its own bring in the technological breakthroughs that we need to accomplish in order to get to “indeterminate lifespan.” I see no silver bullets my friend.

  • I would have to agree with Socrates. Federal agencies are responsible for the bridges, roads, schools, libraries and hospitals you use on a daily basis. While it’s not a perfect system, entrusting our livelihoods to unregulated prospectors is, in my opinion, much scarier. I don’t think getting rid of the AMA and FDA is going to necessarily inject nanobots into our bloodstream. I also don’t see anything incentivizing biotech companies (or nanotech for that matter) to cater to the endless masses besides people actually wanting to live longer, healthier lives. Right now, it doesn’t seem like most first worlders want to be healthy, otherwise they wouldn’t smoke and eat fast food. They also don’t want developing nations to be healthy, otherwise they wouldn’t systematically deprive them of resources. Like alternative energy (which will be required for extending the life of our ecosystems) I don’t think there is one single option that will promote extended lifespans for humans–it will take the combined efforts of scientists, doctors, entrepreneurs, health care professionals, and technological innovators.

  • Quite surprising that Grossman wouldn’t be on board with his own potential life extension. Similar is Aubrey de Grey’s “take it or leave it” attitude to his own potential indefinitely lengthened life span. Two geniuses of life extension who have devoted their lives to helping others reach longevity escape velocity, yet who don’t personally subscribe to the notion.

  • Yes, I was surprised myself but then again, at least since the time of Moses, there have been similar decisions like that one…

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  • Lance von Ende

    I see the project was funded about a year and a half sgo.
    Where can we see the film ?

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