What is society going to look like if you have a certain number of people living forever?
Mark O’Connell is best known for his bestselling, prizewinnng To Be A Machine. In that book, he describes various fringe projects around the world dedicated to extending human life as much as possible.
In this interview, he connects that adventure among the posthumanists with his latest subject – people who are making serious preparations for the apocalypse.
The posthumanists and the preppers offer plenty of comic potential, but they are all fired by an era-defining anxiety. The end times are coming. What is to be done?
The problems they tackle are big and small, sublime and ridiculous. What will people do when automation takes their jobs, what are the ethics of treating robots, what should you pack in your bug-out bag (your emergency rucksack)?
With serious money from people such as Peter Thiel behind this research, formerly fringe ideas are moving into the mainstream. What kind of politics comes with the belief that the greatest inequality on earth is between those who are living and those who are dead?
O’Connell’s journey into the heart of radical change brings him into unusual territory. As he spends time across the United States with highly individualistic libertarians and race-obsessed survivalists, he watches the small beginnings of Donald Trump’s bid for the US presidency.
It seems that the near future really does hold some unexpected surprises.
Maybe these people are on to something.