I MEET THE immortals on a Wednesday evening in January. We’re upstairs on Russell Street, in a workspace shared by a couple of tech start-ups. Though it’s after 6 pm, most of the workstations are occupied with coders cocooned in Skullcandy headphones. The tap-tapping is a droll background for a discussion of life, the universe and everything. Around a table sit three core members of LongeCity’s Melbourne branch. Originally the Immortality Institute, LongeCity is an international not-for-profit organisation with a rather ambitious mission statement: ‘To unite and organise the forces of life to end involuntary death, end ageing and rejuvenate humanity to a state of perfect health.’[i]
Surprisingly, for an association centred around life-extension, all the attendees have most of theirs still to run: they’re all in their twenties. Unsurprisingly, they are childhood fans of science fiction. They are also all atheists, and they are all male. The founder of the group, ‘Harry’, is not your typical health nut: ‘The hyper-optimistic end goal is that I live long enough to be effectively immortal in a society of superhumans living in gradients of pure bliss.’ His voice is soft and unhurried, as if he has all the time in the world. And perhaps he does. He spends the next twenty minutes describing his longevity regimen. His diet is an obsessively researched smorgasbord of fish and fish oil, coconut (for the medium-chain triglycerides), olive oil (for the polyphenols), fibre, nuts, cocoa (for cardiovascular health) and protein (of plant rather than animal origin). All mealtimes are calculated to keep his circadian rhythm stable. Exercise takes place in front of infrared bulbs to generate a healthful heat-stress response. He also ingests a range of supplements and off-script pharmaceuticals for their life-extension properties. His is a life optimised. Harry is aiming for a hundred and twenty on the low end, but has one eye on forever. He hopes that biologists will eventually be able to hack the human body and end ageing altogether.
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