Accepted Paper:

Death without Limits and Living without Ends: The Future Present of Necrotechnologies  

Author:

John Troyer (University of Bath)

Paper short abstract:

Human life ends in death, either by accident or the unfolding of time. Over the last fifty years, however, human death (and the physical act of dying) has been transformed into a kind of illness.

Paper long abstract:

Human life ends in death, either by accident or the unfolding of time. Over the last fifty years, however, human death (and the physical act of dying) has been transformed into a kind of illness. In short, death has become pathologized to such an extent that everything must be done and at all costs to prevent it from occurring. The logical conclusion to this pathologization process goes beyond the concept of an ageless body wherein physical aging is significantly slowed, while lifespan is exponentially increased to construct another kind of impossible body. The ageless body is increasingly being replaced by an emergent discourse that advocates the deathless body, or a human form-of-life in which dying is eradicated. These arguments can be located in both Transhumanist literature about the future human as well as in Palliative Care arguments against assisted suicide. While both of these groups are extremely disparate in their philosophies, one overriding premise remains true: no individual should ever just choose to die.

Yet the concept of the deathless body will only succeed if it is understood as an alternative to the postmortem pathologization of biological life, i.e., that death itself is a curable disease. The constant use of new necrotechnologies (as both machines and concepts) affecting human death brings me to the following question: What happens when human death is patented? What such a patent entails is finding a method, a concept, some combination of practical and theoretical technologies that turn death into a man-made invention.

Panel T125
Technologies at the Frontiers of Death