Today’s Planet Earth Report –“Death as an App” –Silicon Valley’s Obsession With Morftality

“Consider this fact of modern life: Nearly all of the technological products that we buy and use are designed with planned obsolescence in mind. They are built specifically to fail after a relatively short period — one year, two, maybe five. If you doubt that, think about how often you have to replace your smartphone. Gadgets are designed to die.”

The irony, however, is that the same Silicon Valley culture that produces these gadgets seems to be obsessed with living forever, continues Allison Arieff in the New York Times.

Today’s “life extension” movement includes venture capitalists like the tech billionaire Peter Thiel pouring money into anti-aging and life extension start-ups. (While the rumor that Mr. Thiel receives regular blood transfusions from 18-year olds turned out to be false, there is, of course, an actual company — Ambrosia Plasma — that provides young plasma infusions for $8,000 a liter.) And Google launched the biotech company Calico to increase its “understanding of the biology that controls lifespan,” and bolstered that goal by conducting research on the long-living naked mole rat, a species that shows little to no signs of aging.

 

In recent years, the lure of disrupting death has become a hot industry. Paul Bennett, a partner at the design consultancy IDEO, was among the first to tap into it. A profile in The California Sunday Magazine in 2015 described an epiphany he had: “ ‘Oh,’ he told himself. ‘You need to redesign death.’ ” Since then, an entire new market has flourished. Death as a conduit for innovation. Death as a participatory exhibition. Death as the organizing principle for networking dinners. Death as an app.

There are now people who refer to themselves as “longevity entrepreneurs,” who see death not as a problem but rather as something to be eliminated. Instead of pursuing a good death, why die at all? Beneath the surface of this quest for eternal life seems to be an unwillingness on the part of its proponents to imagine the world without themselves in it.

In a very fundamental way, this tendency is inhuman.

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