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Altered Mortality: Why the Quest for Immortality is Regaining Visibility in the Media


Media carry the message of the scientific community into the wider world, though sometimes it would be more appropriate to say: of a certain scientific group. For the field of bioethics, this is particularly true. From films such as Gattaca to TV series like Black Mirror, the relationship between science and science fiction appears evidently bidirectional. This relationship is not new of course, but this paper discusses quasi-science-fictional experiments such as that of Sergio Canavero and the recent TV series Altered Carbon through the lenses of the philosophical background they both rely on: immortality is achievable—and it should be sought with vehemence. At least by the rich.

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  1. E.g. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and Transcendence (2014).

  2. The acronym they use for the head transplant operation.

  3. Although unable to expand further in this occasion, I should clarify my position regarding this point. If clones are other individuals (hence personality cannot be transported from one body to another), it would be hard to find a convincing ethical justification for such an expensive technique to “produce” other individuals. Even if the clones would be a true opportunity for extending one’s life with a continuity of the agent, however, problems will not be discarded. As mentioned later on, the extension of life for therapeutic reasons should not be left uncriticized either, as—when expanded to everyone—this scenario is unsustainable. The catch I try to show here, is that those that support this view, might in fact foresee the option only available for the few rich (indeed as in the case of Altered Carbon).


  5. For a deeper analysis of ethical and existential challenges that immortality poses to humanity, see among others: [15].

  6. In a paper with a colleague, we discuss if we could put a “cap” to the amount of years one should live (we say 100). See: [16, 17].


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Correspondence to Mirko Daniel Garasic.

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Garasic, M.D. Altered Mortality: Why the Quest for Immortality is Regaining Visibility in the Media. Nanoethics 13, 255–259 (2019).

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  • Altered Carbon
  • Head transplant
  • Immortality
  • Longevity
  • Posthumanism