My quest for eternal life begins at 8 a.m. in a place called the Grossman Wellness Center, with ten vials of blood and a bottle of what tastes like Sunny Delight.
From the outside, the sleek building in Lakewood looks nothing like a medical office. But the high-tech location makes sense: Inside, I'm being poked and prodded and wired up and calibrated and deconstructed and reconstructed like a very complicated machine.
I haven't been allowed to eat or drink anything in twelve hours, but my early-morning stupor dissipates with the arrival of a tray full of needles and empty vials, courtesy of a very cheerful medical assistant named Paula Florez. As Paula inserts what appears to be a spigot into my arm and begins filling vial after vial after vial, I watch my fingers for signs of withering. When a sizable quantity of my plasma rests on the tray, she hands me a bottle of fluorescent orange liquid and tells me to drink. As I down the sickly saccharine fluid, she explains that it's used to gauge my body's reaction to glucose. That's why the spigot stays in: She'll have to take more blood later.
Before I have time to complain, an even more cheerful medical assistant, Diane Henry, pops in and wraps a blood-pressure meter around my arm. "Is your blood pressure always like that?" she remarks at the results, then hurries away. Now Paula is back, carrying a bowl of ice water. "Stick your hand in this." One minute, then two minutes tick agonizingly by, as the ice in the water seems to seep, burning, into the pores of my hand. Finally Paula takes my blood pressure again: "You react to stress!"
I'm told to lie down and take off a sock. Paula places one electrode on my toe and another on my hand, to somehow measure my body fat. Before anything seems to happen, the electrodes are off and she's angling a pair of scissors toward the back of my head. As she snips a chunk of hair that will be used to assess my concentration of internal heavy metals, she says it's a good thing I have long hair: "If people have short hair, I can really jack them up." Then she's gone, leaving me sitting there, a spigot in one arm, a cold numb sensation in the other, with one sock off and a lock of hair missing.
The path to immortality doesn't feel glamorous so far, but it's worth it to people from all over the world who pay $3,000 for a one-day "longevity evaluation" or $6,000 for the two-day regimen. The program is run by Dr. Terry Grossman, co-author, along with noted inventor Ray Kurzweil, of the 2004 book Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever.
The book makes a bold claim: that technological advancement will eventually reach a point called the "singularity," where computers will allow people to live forever and change human existence to such a degree that people today can't even imagine what the ensuing world will be like. And it will happen, say the authors, in roughly forty years.
As weird as the assertion seems, it's catching on. Fantastic Voyage has sold more than 100,000 copies and has been translated into Chinese, Czechoslovakian, Portuguese and other languages. The book's attraction isn't just that it describes eternal life, but that it also lays out a road map to reach it. All we have to do, write the authors, is stick around long enough to witness the singularity — and they explain over 400 dense pages and 2,000 footnotes exactly how to do that, using precise diet, exercise and natural therapy recommendations. If that's not enough, people can come to the Grossman Wellness Center, a clinic that's described on its website, www.grossmanwellness.com, as one of the largest longevity centers in the country, to be treated by Dr. Grossman himself and his staff of nine.
That's why I'm here, subjecting my 29-year-old body to the most physical of all physicals, to determine my biological expiration date — and what I can do to avoid it.
But first I have to undergo more tests. Diane's back, with another bowl of ice water. My hand is once again throbbing when Paula looks in with surprise and lets Diane know she already ran this test. "Oh, you poor thing!" the two exclaim, giggling, before cheerfully changing the subject. "Almost time for you to get poked again!"
Terry Grossman doesn't look 61. His tanned face — one that may look familiar, since it was recently featured on a Barbara Walters special about aging — is noticeably lacking in the wrinkle department. In fact, you could say that his thin, healthy physique is actually just forty years old, since that's what medical tests at his clinic suggest his age is biologically, based on his physical and mental health.
Grossman is also remarkably calm and collected for someone who spends three busy days a week looking after patients at his medical practice and the other two days in his home office writing books. But that's the way he is: ardent about control, down to every crease of his button-down shirts and slacks, every well-coiffed thread of his hair.
When I first met him at his Lakewood office, several weeks before undergoing my longevity evaluation, he eagerly showed off his latest technological doohickey with a toothy grin: an iPhone, which he uses, along with his Amazon Kindle electronic book device, to keep his contacts, his schedule, even his reading material all tidily arranged.
Behind his uncluttered desk, his office walls are tiled with qualifications and honors. There are precisely positioned certifications from the National Board of Medical Examiners, the American Board of Holistic Medicine and the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine; his medical degree from the University of Florida; a printed-out page from Amazon.com noting that Fantastic Voyage had become the number-one selling science book on the site in December 2004; and a plaque quoting from a 2600 B.C. Chinese medical text: "Superior doctors prevent the disease. Mediocre doctors treat the disease. Inferior doctors treat the full-blown disease."
Grossman even clocks traffic lights on his way to work, calculating the delays between red and green, to determine the most efficient route. No wonder he's obsessed with defeating the messiest, least controllable part of life: the end of it.
And he's not the first person in his family to resist shuffling off into the dark ether. Jacob Light, Grossman's grandfather, lived to 104, with only one hospital visit. When he turned 100, Grossman asked him his secret.
"It's simple," he told his grandson. "Right after I was born, I took a breath in, and then took a breath out. And I kept repeating it."
So maybe there was something about Grossman's genes from the get-go, a hereditary quirk that inspires him to cling to this mortal coil as long as possible. If so, it took a while for that trait to be expressed. The Florida native first moved to Colorado in 1970 to be an organic farmer in a Huerfano County commune. He decided to change careers, though, after reading the Michael Crichton book Five Patients, which deconstructed the hospital system. He attended the University of Florida med school, then returned to Colorado in 1980 and became a general practitioner in Grand County.
He enjoyed the gig, relishing the old-fashioned charm of treating inmates at the local jail and teaching fifth-graders about the birds and the bees. But he had an epiphany, or at least the beginning of one, when he realized that drug companies kept encouraging him to prescribe new, more expensive pharmaceuticals just before cheaper, generic versions of the old pills came out. "My job as a physician was essentially to peddle drugs for drug companies," he says. "I felt I was kind of duped."
There had to be a different way to heal people, Grossman decided — and he found it through one of the people he was caring for.
When Grossman began suffering from residual knee pain from a skiing accident, a patient recommended he try an herbal remedy made from the inner bark of a pine tree found in the south of France. The therapy seemed to work, and Grossman found himself a convert to holistic medicine — which he threw himself into with all the passion of a born-again believer. Rather than just retroactively treating diseases, he began focusing on preventive medicine, finding holistic ways to stave off diseases before they occurred. And, once he attended the first annual meeting of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine in 1994, he pledged to prevent the greatest disease of all: aging.
So Grossman moved to Denver and founded a nutritional medicine practice in Lakewood that increasingly emphasized longevity treatments. Business boomed, the practice moved to a larger office nearby, and Grossman began research on what would eventually become his first book, The Baby Boomer's Guide to Living Forever.
But his conversion wasn't complete. The final step came with a chance run-in with inventor Ray Kurzweil at the 1999 Foresight Institute Conference on nanotechnology in California. Kurzweil is to technology what Grossman has become to medicine: a maverick who delights in pushing boundaries of conventional thought. Though in Kurzweil's case, those boundaries are blown to smithereens. He believes that information technology is accelerating at an exponential rate, doubling in computing power every year. At that rate, technological progress will soon reach radical, blinding speeds, leading us to the singularity.
"This is the point at which we have merged with our technology by putting it inside us," Kurzweil says. "By 2045, we will have expanded our intelligence a billionfold, according to my calculations. It's an event horizon that's hard to see beyond, because it is so transformative."
The way he sees it, computers will become far more powerful than the human brain. People will be able to learn, compile and share vast quantities of information instantaneously through a pervasive cerebral Internet. Nanoscale robots will be able to repair or replicate every process in the human body, as well as manufacture food, water and anything else out of thin air. It's a world of post-humanity, where we will all achieve immortality.
The theory may sound downright loony, but Kurzweil has a knack for being dead on when it comes to believing computers can do remarkable things. He's spearheaded technological breakthroughs in computerized text reading, text-to-speech synthesis and computer voice recognition, earning him twelve honorary doctorates and a prestigious National Medal of Technology and making him a multi-millionaire. In his 1990 book The Age of Intelligent Machines, he predicted that computers would likely beat the world chess champion by 1998, an event that occurred in 1997. He also foretold that the world would soon be transformed by a global Internet, an idea that must have seemed almost as ludicrous at the time as the concept of singularity does today.
Grossman liked what he heard. Here was the concise, orderly and seemingly logical solution to mortality that he had dreamed of. To him, the idea of man merging with computer didn't sound crazy at all — in fact, he already saw it occurring all around him. "We have already begun to enter this phase of transhumanism," he says. Just look at his dad, who is on kidney dialysis: "My father is part human, part machine."
The doctor and the inventor hit it off. "He was the kind of doctor I was looking for," says Kurzweil. After all, Kurzweil's calculations peg the occurrence of the singularity at around 2045, at which point they'll both be nearing 100. In other words, Kurzweil has foreseen the future; now Grossman must keep them alive to see it.
The blood tests and bowls of ice water are just the beginning of my longevity evaluation. A few hours in, Diane, armed with a disposable razor, tells me to take off my shirt. They're going to cover me with electrodes and put me on a treadmill, but first they need to make sure the electrical conductors make contact with my skin. Soon the floor is covered with hairballs, and my torso is dappled with clean-shaven swaths. "You might just want to wax the rest," Diane advises before moving on to step two.
"What's that called?" I ask about the viscous liquid she's squirting onto a paper towel. "Liquid sandpaper," she says, then demonstrates why, vigorously rubbing the abrasive goop on the spots she shaved to remove my uppermost layer of skin. "That wasn't so bad," I manage unconvincingly when she's through, my red and blood-dappled chest heaving. "Well," she replies, "I haven't put on the alcohol yet."
Diane takes me to a small gym in another part of the office building for the treadmill test. When it's over, she suggests I clean up in a nearby bathroom. I walk in sweaty and shirtless, electrodes plastering my raw, half-shaven chest — and come face to face with a man washing his hands at the sink. I try to act casual.
When I finally meet with Grossman, he explains that all of these assessments are to determine my age — not my chronological age, but my biological one. He wants to know just how well my body has stood the test of time and what I can do to improve upon that. His method for doing so combines what he believes are the best practices from conventional and alternative medicine into a single, comprehensive procedure for detecting and preventing any and all ailments. He may sound like he's improvising, but as he's fond of saying, "Life is not a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial. You only have one shot at it. So we make the best choices with the information we have."
Grossman and Kurzweil believe this sort of aggressive anti-aging strategy is the first of three bridges that will lead humanity to eternal life. The second bridge is the biotechnology revolution, a point in the next ten years or so when scientists will learn to control our DNA, turning diseases off with ease, not to mention cloning and regenerating our organs, developments that will dramatically increase life spans. The third bridge is the point at which nanotechnology and artificial intelligence allow humans to control their existence at the atomic level, the dawn of the singularity.
For years, the two fleshed out these ideas in e-mails sent back and forth from Grossman's office in Denver and Kurzweil's headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. When they reached 10,000 missives, they figured they had enough for a book.
To figure out how far I am across bridge one, I'm left alone in a room in front of a computer. On the screen, a computerized woman runs me through one aptitude test after another to determine my biological age. I listen to high-pitched noises through bulky earphones to check my hearing. I hold a subtly vibrating box to gauge my touch sensitivity. I furiously punch computer buttons to demonstrate my muscle movement time. I eventually reach a memory quiz, during which the computer flashes lights in patterns that I have to repeat by pressing corresponding buttons, patterns that get increasingly difficult. It's just like that old electronic rhythm game Simon, at which I used to excel. Sure enough, I match the computer's pattern time after time, until a message flashes on the screen: "This is where I quit. Congratulations: You've beaten the computer!"
Grossman is impressed. "You redlined the computer," he remarks, something that only one other American and two Japanese patients have managed to do. The feat proves I'm doing fine, age-wise: The computer reports that I'm 28 years old biologically, a year younger than my chronological age. Not too shabby.
Searching for immortality has a dubious distinction: It's unquestionably the world's least successful occupation. This dreary track record hasn't stopped members of each succeeding generation to egotistically believe that they, unlike all the folks before them, will surely witness the conquest of death.
These days, the immense baby boomer generation, which has always gotten everything it's wanted, is now sauntering into its twilight years and has decided it wants everlasting life, too. It's no wonder then that products promising to make people look or feel younger have now ballooned into a $50 billion U.S. industry, or that the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine claims more than 20,000 member physicians from 100-plus nations.
Modern medicine has scored many victories in its battle against aging. The life expectancy of a child born in this country in 2005 was 77.8 years, up from 47.3 in 1900. (As Grossman points out in his longevity lectures, the oldest person in recorded history was the French woman Jeanne Louise Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122 — and might have lived longer if she hadn't started smoking at 100.) But some of the ideas associated with anti-aging are questionable, verging on modern-day snake oil. Last year, federal and state agencies indicted twenty people for illegally peddling human growth hormone for its alleged age-defying properties — a type of steroid championed by the founders of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.
Grossman shies away from the more controversial ideas associated with life extension. He used to prescribe human growth hormone, which is banned by the Food and Drug Administration for all but a few treatments, to his patients and took it himself, but stopped several years ago when he decided the steroids' risks outweighed their benefits. "Growth hormone is live fast, ride hard, die young," he says now.
He's also changed his tune about cryonics, the process of deep-freezing recently deceased humans so that they can be revived in the future. He was on the medical advisory board of Alcor Life Extension Foundation, one of the country's leading cryonics facilities, but he says he resigned that post for ethical and personal reasons. And while he practices caloric restriction — a method of limiting dietary energy intake that has been shown to extend the life of some lab animals — he prefers the modest dietary curbs followed by residents of Okinawa, Japan, who are reported to have the longest life expectancy in the world, over the considerable food constraints associated with the extraterrestrially pale and waifish members of the Calorie Restriction Society.
After all of the exotic claims about immortality are stripped away, the Grossman Wellness Center is essentially just a holistic preventive medicine practice — and several wealthy clients undergo Grossman's evaluations solely as their annual executive physical. Some of the most unusual treatments he uses aren't associated with longevity, in fact, but are instead part of the disease-treatment arm of his operation, the Frontier Medical Institute, where Grossman uses integrative — and sometimes controversial — therapies such as chelation (the process of removing heavy metals from the body by intravenously injecting organic compounds into patients' bodies) to treat ailments like angina, macular degeneration and others he says "fall through the cracks of the medical system."
While he is far from the only person advocating natural supplements and lifestyle changes as life-extension strategies, his partnership with a technological authority like Kurzweil has freed his claims from much of the usual stigma of natural-medicine mumbo-jumbo.
"I completely agree with their reasoning," says Aubrey de Grey, a biomedical gerontologist at the University of Cambridge in England who's one of the leading scientific proponents of a cure for aging. "Their impact among the general public has been considerable, not least because of Ray's prominence in other areas of technology."
But other aging experts have challenged him. "Fantastic Voyage makes for a wonderful science-fiction novel," says S. Jay Olshansky, a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago who researches the upper limits to human longevity. "This doesn't mean there won't be breakthroughs in the field of aging; it's just that their claims of forthcoming immortality so far have no basis in science."
Olshansky and his colleagues point out that death is way too complicated to be blithely called a disease that will soon be cured.
Aging is an ongoing biological process, explains Bruce Carnes, a professor at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center who studies aging. It's the buildup of all the damage a person's building blocks are exposed to from birth. In other words, death isn't a disease, life is — one that would be a doozy to cure. To do so, he says, would involve around-the-clock surveillance of each of the trillions of cells comprising a human body, not to mention each of the 25,000 genes in each of those cells.
Even if Grossman does somehow succeed in extending the human life of his patients, skeptics wonder if he'd be able to figure out what worked and replicate it, since his longevity regimens involve so many different components.
"He's eating two kilos of vitamins a day," says tech guru, science-fiction writer and Wired magazine columnist Bruce Sterling of Kurzweil's regimen of 180 to 210 vitamins and minerals a day. "You can't cram all those things into you in the vague hope that you will live for 200 years. There is no control group."
And it comes at a price. The cheapest longevity option at Grossman Wellness Center, the half-day option, rings in at a hefty $1,500. A stockroom in the clinic is packed to the ceiling with more vitamins and supplements than any health-food store. Grossman and Kurzweil sell them online at www.RayandTerry.com. where a month's worth of their "Longevity MultiPack" pills goes for $79.95. It adds up to a very expensive way to live forever, especially considering there's no money-back guarantee.
But patients like Robin and Lani, a husband-and-wife team of nurses who run a home-care business for medically fragile children out of their Monument home, aren't worried about that. In 1993, when he was a 43-year-old instructor at the Air Force Academy, Robin had two cardiac episodes that may have been heart attacks. Between that and his declining physical well-being, he figured he'd surely be a goner by 75. His wife also seemed to be losing the battle with her body: Hormone imbalances had caused her to gain a troubling amount of weight.
That changed in 2004, when Robin noticed Grossman's first book in the 25-cent bin at a Goodwill Store and the two decided to undergo two-day evaluations at Grossman's clinic. The tests determined that Lani's pituitary glands weren't producing enough of the hormone cortisol, which was causing the weight gain, so Grossman recommended a natural cortisol supplement and diet tweaks. Robin's diagnosis was more exciting: The clinic had discovered that he had severely elevated levels of lipoprotein(a), a largely overlooked but toxic form of cholesterol associated with coronary heart disease and stroke. Grossman said he could bring Robin's lipoprotein(a) levels down with supplements, and recommended lifestyle changes to slow his aging.
Now, Robin says, he has considerably less gray in his hair, more stamina, and doesn't expect more heart problems anytime soon. Lani has lost seventy pounds.
"We are very optimistic that if things work out well, we could live to our nineties, or one hundreds, maybe even beyond that," Robin says.
The two apparently aren't the only ones happy with Grossman's treatment. The Denver Better Business Bureau has never received a complaint about the operation. The clinic's only apparent blemish is a 2005 letter of admonition Grossman received from Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners, of which he is a member, for allowing a naturopathic physician employed at his office to provide medical services without proper supervision. Such a letter is the board's lowest form of discipline, says program director Cheryl Hara; in fiscal year 2005, the board issued 27 letters of admonition among the roughly 14,000 physicians and physician assistants it licensed. "It's not serious, but I took it seriously," says Grossman, who no longer employs naturopaths. "I am not looking to be controversial. I am looking to do the best for my patients."
He acknowledges that his treatments are expensive. But he insists that he made more money as a small-town mountain doctor than he does now. Considering the amount of high-end tests and medical personnel involved in his longevity evaluations, "it's actually cheap," he says, and if the program is out of reach, people can get the same information from Fantastic Voyage. And soon, Grossman promises, the secrets behind the singularity will be even easier to access. He's building an online clinic where most of the information will be free. He and Kurzweil are also putting the finishing touches on their follow-up book, Your Fantastic Voyage to Staying Young...Forever, due out in March 2009, which they say will be a more user-friendly version of their ideas (more pictures, less footnotes).
Finally, if people still have qualms about his practice, Grossman lets them know about his success rate: Of the 500 or so people, ages 22 to 84, who've undergone his longevity evaluations over the past four years, "no one has kicked the bucket."
Several weeks after my longevity evaluation, Grossman calls with good news: "You're gonna live." To let me know exactly how long, he suggests I come by his office to look at the results — which he's compiled in a forty-page dossier.
That dossier, which he goes over with me page by page, is mostly positive. My blood pressure and heart rate — when I'm not getting blood siphoned out of my arm — are fine. My phase angle, which measures the health of my cell membranes, is optimal. There are no obvious precursors to cancer. I have some toxins lurking in my body, but not much more than anyone else living in the 21st century.
The biggest problem, says Grossman, is that I have elevated triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and too much weight around my waist. While a typical physical probably would have spotted all of this, Grossman's assessment goes one step further. He believes these issues indicate that I have metabolic syndrome, a combination of disorders that affects roughly 25 percent of the American population and increases my risk of a heart attack later in life by 300 percent. Most examinations wouldn't have caught this, he says, since metabolic syndrome often goes undiagnosed. "Other doctors have people in and out of their office all day. The economics force them to do that. But they can't help people change their life. And that's what we try to do. We try to change lives."
To change my life, he recommends a specific diet that reduces my calorie load by replacing carbs, starches and sugar with healthy proteins and veggies, along with regular high-impact exercise, which together should stave off the metabolic syndrome.
Grossman also suggests I start taking eleven supplements a day: two multivitamins, two doses of the essential fatty acid EPA/DHA to improve my cholesterol level, two Vessel Care supplements to lower my slightly elevated homocysteine levels, two supplemental DHEA capsules to increase my somewhat depleted amount of DHEA hormone, plus roughly two months' worth of twice-daily Tanalbit 1 pills to weed out the bad bugs living in my gut and twice-daily Florastor supplements to replace them with good bacteria. Since he still prescribes conventional medication, too, he also gives me a scrip for an asthma inhaler to increase my lung capacity when I exercise. If I follow all that, I should easily be happy and healthy until the singularity, says Grossman.
"I think there is a good chance you can live for several centuries. I think a life span of two centuries is not unrealistic, and perhaps well beyond that," he adds.
But wait, I say: A life devoid of my beloved pasta carbonara isn't worth living! "Let's prioritize," he replies. "How often do you need to eat your pasta? Can you eat it once a month? I can live with that. Can you have it once a week? That's too much."
And besides, he adds, not all of his recommendations are hard to follow. For example, he discovered I'm a "hot reactor," which means my blood pressure goes dangerously through the roof when I'm stressed — a state I'm in way too often. To calm myself down, Grossman recommends simple meditation techniques, regular massages, more vacations — and lots of sex. He even writes me an official prescription to give to my wife: "For hot reactor status, needs frequent marital relations."
Sign me up for the singularity.
The secret to immortality is a life full of perfect days.
That's Grossman's approach. Have a perfect health day, and then do it again tomorrow. For him, it's a challenging hobby, carving healthful order out of the chaotic temptations of daily life. His day today, he's happy to report, has been essentially perfect. He woke up and ate a bowl of granola with unsweetened soy milk. He worked at home, organizing his office, a thoroughly therapeutic way to prepare for all the future books he plans to write.
For lunch, he had a green salad and grilled chicken, not to mention a portion of the 23 pills he takes each day (four multivitamins; two fish-oil capsules; two vitamin C tablets; two magnesium pills; two grapeseed extracts and two of grape skin; one dose each of diindolylmethane, OncoPLEX, ubiquinol, vinpocetina and an antioxidant formula of his own concoction; and six dosages of a Chinese herb to keep his blood pressure low).
In the afternoon, he went Rollerblading, since it's too late in the season to go snowboarding. He didn't partake in his one unhealthy weakness, his one personal threat to longevity: riding his Harley. And now, sitting in the dining room of his comfortably sized home in a nice east Denver neighborhood, we're enjoying a sumptuous yet healthy dinner: Israeli salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, onion and sprouts paired with Japanese green tea salmon miso soup.
"Every choice you make every day, you make yourself get older or you make yourself get younger," he says to me as he slices himself a sliver of well-aged cheese from a serving platter. "Eat a meal like this, you make yourself get younger. We are doing everything just about right tonight. We are anti-aging."
And to that he raises his glass of very good pinot noir — of which he recommends at most two glasses a day — and toasts with me and his wife, Karen Kurtak. She's 35, though admits she's healthy enough to pass for someone in her twenties. Her age difference with Grossman, who has two children and two grandchildren from a previous marriage, has made them unwelcome at the social functions of at least one well-off client of the Grossman Wellness Center, where Kurtak, a licensed acupuncturist, works as an expert in nutrition and Chinese medicine. Not that the two mind. Her mother set them up ten years ago; Grossman was a family friend while she was growing up in Grand County. On their first date, breakfast, they both ordered scrambled tofu, brown rice and green tea. On their second, they attended a biochemistry conference. It was obvious they were meant to be together.
They agree on the singularity — more or less. "I don't see much of a difference between our bodies living forever and our souls living forever," says Kurtak, who's studied Buddhist beliefs such as reincarnation. "When you start studying some of Ray's theories like singularity, it actually kind of parallels a lot of religious beliefs."
But like even the most fervent believer, Grossman has his doubts, and they're not that eternal life will lead to massive global overcrowding, increased environmental degradation, debilitating energy shortages and catastrophic food shortages. He believes that by the time technology cracks the secret of death, it will have surely solved these comparatively paltry predicaments — common qualms leveled at the theory of singularity.
Grossman's foreboding is about whether technological singularity leads to society's self-destruction rather than human omnipotence. With atomic energy came the atomic bomb. Antibiotics gave rise to superbugs. The Internet led to computer viruses. When progress reaches a point where computers enter human bodies and nanoscale robots can build essentially anything, the prospect of technological blowback can be terrifying.
And even if humans do make it through the singularity, what would post-humanity be like? Grossman and Kurzweil believe it's possible that computers will become so robust that they will allow people to download their consciousness onto mainframes, letting them live forever in a real-life version of the Matrix. Would such an existence even be enjoyable?
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Grossman isn't sure, but he wants to be around to find out.
But enough doom and gloom for one night. "Let's not worry about living forever. Let's care about living until tomorrow," he says thoughtfully, enjoying his blueberries and cream, the perfect dessert for the perfect dinner. "It's really comforting to think, here we are today, and we are probably going to be here tomorrow."
Kurtak smiles back at him in agreement. "Today was a good day."
"It was a good day," he replies. And tomorrow should be, too — just as long as he doesn't hop on that Harley.