Over at h+ Magazine you'll find an interview with Jason Silva, director of The Immortalists short film, and an article by Silva that outlines his view of what he calls Immortalism. I see his positioning in the same vein as the name of the Immortality Institute - the aim is to move the bounds of the discussion over longevity science by planting a flag far out in the field.
But take a look and see what you think.
Really, for me the human condition is summed up better by Ernest Becker's work, The Denial of Death, than any other thinker I've come across. He talks about the mantle of this acutely aware, self-aware creature called man that knows he is mortal. And because he knows he is mortal, he has consciously or unconsciously biased all of his actions. This mortality causes a tremendous amount of anxiety. So, we have to do something with that anxiety, right? I think all of our greatest endeavors - as well as our greatest flaws - stem from this acute awareness of mortality.
The desire to transcend this anxiety with technology, rather than art or religion or a romantic relationship or something like that has led me to biotech, nanotech, and the accelerating exponential fashion in which technology was developing.
The Immortalist Solution is simply this: the time has come for man to get over his cosmic inferiority complex. To rise above his condition - and to use technology to extend himself beyond his biological limitations. "We must never forget we are cosmic revolutionaries, not stooges conscripted to advance a natural order that kills everybody," says Harrington.
While Ernest Becker identified our need for heroism and our extensive attempts to satisfy it symbolically, Alan Harrington proposes that we move definitively to engineer salvation in the real world. He proposes that we move directly to physically overcome death itself, "Spend the money, [hire] the scientists and hunt down death like an outlaw."
Cosmic revolutionaries indeed. The human race is change and creation made manifest; we no longer live in caves and filth because our ancestors worked hard to alter that reality. Nowadays we live in the midst of a revolution in biotechnology, and far grander aspects of the human condition are ripe for change: disease, aging, pain, frailty, and involuntary death. We and our descendants will engineer away all these things in exactly the same way as our predecessors engineered away past woes.