The quest for eternal life is as old as the hills. Mankind has forever sought to stay one step ahead of the grim reaper, but it always ends in the same way — death!
That is until now.
Well at least according to a bunch of men in white coats who believe we are only a heartbeat away from immortality.
And just how is humanity about to embark on the ultimate death-defying trick? Easy! A combination of cryogenics, head transplants, holograms and uploading our minds onto computers will turn us all into a nation of immortals capable of living for thousands of years. Perhaps millions.
In the future, when the body you were born with gets a little worn ands torn, you’ll just replace it with a brand new one. Box-fresh and ready to roll.
If you can’t afford to pay for the head transplant operation, and current estimates suggest it’ll be out of reach for all but the wealthiest billionaires, then you can either upload your mind into a computer and live on as an app, become an Avatar, exist as a hologram, or go for the traditional deep freeze option and hope that the ticket to a destination called “immortality” becomes a little more affordable in a few hundred years.
Yahoo! reports that activist Saul Kent is a firm disciple of cryogenics. So much so, in the wake of his mother’s death in 1988, he had her head frozen and is now heavily involved in a massive facility shortly to be constructed in Texas called Timeship.
The people behind Timeship say that the site will host 50,000 frozen dead people for centuries, or until the time comes when technology has advanced sufficiently to revive the patients inside and cure them of their ills.
As bizarre as it may sound, cryogenics is nothing new. Contrary to popular belief, Walt Disney wasn’t the first person frozen after he died. The Mickey Mouse creator was cremated on December 17, 1966.
The first person to receive the dubious honor of being put on ice was James Bedford, who was cryogenically preserved on January 12, 1967.
Yet being stored in the freezer like a piece of meat is not everyone’s cup of tea, and elderly billionaires are already discussing the prospect of buying healthy, young bodies to transplant their heads onto in a bid to secure eternal life.
Such an operation may sound like an apocalyptic nightmare but it’ll become a reality if controversial surgeon Sergio Canavero gets his way.
The “Dr. Strange” of the medical world claims he has already successfully transplanted a monkey’s head and practiced the procedure on human corpses.
And now he has his very own human guinea pig who has volunteered for the operation later this year.
Russian man Valery Spiridonov is extremely ill and despite the huge risks involved is willing to make the leap of faith into the great unknown and allow Canavero to transplant his head.
But why lose your head over the primal fear of death, when in the future you’ll get to upload your mind into a computer and live on inside an android body?
That’s the stance taken by Russian media billionaire Dmitry Itskov, who believes that by 2035, computers will allow us to defy death digitally.
“Different scientists call it uploading or they call it mind transfer. I prefer to call it personality transfer.
“We are really at the time when technology can affect human evolution. I want us to shape the future, bring it up for public discussion, and avoid any scenario that could damage humanity.”
Yet as far-fetched and fantastical as immortality may sound, Cambridge scientist Aubrey de Grey believes those who will be blessed with eternal life already walk amongst us.
Aubrey de Grey believes old age is just another disease, and like all diseases, will one day be cured.
“If we ask the question: ‘Has the person been born who will be able to escape the ill-health of old age indefinitely?’ Then I would say the chances of that are very high. Probably about 80 percent.”
Yet here’s the rub. There’ll be no overnight breakthrough and hey presto! Behold the new dawn of immortality.
According to De Gray, slow and steady will win the race, as small scientific breakthroughs extend human life to roughly about 30 years at a time, until the little breakthroughs add up and spell “immortality.”
“We will be able to keep one step ahead of the problem and keep rejuvenating the same people as long as we like. That is what longevity escape velocity is all about.”
And when it comes to biting the bullet and shuffling off this mortal coil, if you do not want to go gently into that good night, how about opting to freeze your brain, waiting for a few decades, and having it transplanted into an artificial robot-like body.
Such is the vision of tech company, Humai, which is adamant they’ll be able to resurrect people from beyond the grave in 30 years time using developments in robotics and medical treatments.
CEO Josh Bocanegra told Popular Science, “We’ll first collect extensive data on our members for years prior to their death via various apps we’re developing.
“After death we’ll freeze the brain using cryonics technology. When the technology is fully developed we’ll implant the brain into an artificial body. The artificial body functions will be controlled with your thoughts by measuring brain waves.
“As the brain ages we’ll use nanotechnology to repair and improve cells. Cloning technology is going to help with this too.
“I think the body has limitations and I don’t believe the body was evolved with the best possible functions. I think an artificial body will contribute more to the human experience. It will extend the human experience.
“So much so, that those who accept death will probably change their mind.”
Brace yourself people. The world is about to get a lot more crowded in a future where nobody ever dies, as quantity wins out over quality, and an insatiable appetite for the everlasting trumps contentment in the here and now.
Or as Danny L. Deaubé once said, “Our existence here on earth is a sliver of the eternal pie. Our focus should be on the whole pie, and not the sliver.”
(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)