Moral Dilemmas of Immortality

The movies we have watched so far throughout the course all share a common theme of “the end of the world.” Along with that theme are the moral and ethical dilemmas that present themselves during the destruction of the world. For example Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer posits whether Curtis’ decision to overthrow the train’s high class members was right or whether he was disrupting a perfectly functioning, albeit inhumane, ecosystem/society. However, I feel the short film World of Tomorrow presents the most interesting ethical dilemma out of all the films.

It transports the viewer to a world 227 years in the future where humans have successfully mastered cloning in order to achieve immortality. Yet after spending so much time perfecting cloning, the film makes us question whether it was necessary in the first place because the humans in the future don’t seem to be entirely happy with their lives. For example, the first message Emily’s grandfather sends after being uploaded in a digital cube is “Oh. Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. Oh my God. Holy mother of God. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh God.” He’s clearly a distraught man. Everyone living forever sounds ideal, however it is not worth it if it simply prolongs a meaningless existence. Additionally, life-extension technology would most likely be expensive when first developed meaning only the wealthy would be able to afford it, further dividing already existing social disparities between the rich and the poor.

The film rehashes the old adage of “quality over quantity.” I believe it shows that the quality of life matters more than the quantity. A 35 year old man who at his deathbed is absolutely content with his life, has achieved things in life he’s passionate about and feels fulfilled to me has lived a better life than a 70 year old man who at his deathbed never found happiness in life, did not work towards his passion and lived a life that he was never happy with. The advice Emily’s clone leaves for Emily prime encapsulates that adage. She states “do not lose time on daily trivialities. Do not dwell on petty detail. For all of these things melt away and drift apart within the obscure traffic of time. Live well and live broadly. You are alive and living now. Now is the envy of all of the dead.” Because if we as humans achieve immortality yet continue to live a repetitive life without feeling fulfilled, are we not better of being mortal?



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