We are born, we live, and we die. For most, this is the expected life cycle of our complex human existence. However, there are idealists and hopefuls on the far end of the spectrum who beg to differ. Through the aid of progressive science and technology, scientists and experts have discovered unimaginable ways to enhance and elevate the human condition and the world we live in. From developing artificial intelligence, assistive technology, bioengineering, to pushing the boundaries of knowledge to find the antidote to mortality. With the proper tools and research, futurists believe that death shouldn’t be the culmination of life, but rather a disease that is treatable and reversible.
Filmmaker Johnny Boston had the privilege of meeting and developing a meaningful friendship with an extraordinary man beyond his years, FM-2030, at the tender age of ten. He ignited Boston’s curiosity and shaped his critical thinking from then on. When the news broke out that scientists were on a mission to reanimate FM-2030’s cryogenically preserved brain for the first time, he strips himself of all his fears and reservations, daringly crossing lines to capture the highly controversial and monumental event unfold through his sci-fi documentary entitled 2030 (2018).
The 20th Century Man who Envisioned to Live Forever
One of the pioneers of this philosophy is renowned futurist and transhumanist, FM-2030. No, he is not a bionic man nor from outer space as his name suggests. He is very human, just like us. In the ’70s, he changed his legal name from Fereidoun M. Esfandiary to FM-2030 to strongly reflect his revolutionary ideologies and confidence in a post-humanistic world.
In his own words, “conventional names define a person’s past: ancestry, ethnicity, nationality, religion. I am not who I was ten years ago and certainly not who I will be in twenty years. The name 2030 reflects my conviction that the years around 2030 will be a magical time. In 2030 we will be ageless and everyone will have an excellent chance to live forever. 2030 is a dream and a goal.”
…futurists believe that death shouldn’t be the culmination of life, but rather a disease that is treatable and reversible.
His radical forward-thinking and belief in the technological advancements in medicine, engineering, and computer science enthused him to envisage a world that will be free from the norms, principles, and values that bound today’s society, human limitations and adversities, scarcity of energy and resources, and the birth of a human race that will live on for eternity.
Unfortunately, FM-2030 succumbed to pancreatic cancer, but his death was only the beginning of his extraordinary journey to immortality. Since 2000, FM-2030’s brain has been vitrified and cryogenically preserved at one of the world’s leading cryonic facilities, Alcor Life Extension Foundation, in hopes of being resurrected or reanimated in the future.
Death Will Eventually Become A Thing of the Past
2030 (2018) is a thought-provoking and enlightening narrative that explores the unconventional, liberal, and scientific approach to the fate of our existence. The documentary follows Boston as he embarks on an arduous journey to seek the true meaning of humanity and this innovation through the eyes of his loved ones, colleagues, and experts, while reflecting and preparing for FM-2030’s reanimation, which if carried out successfully, would be the first case of cryonically-preserved human revival.
Boston enthusiastically brings up his bright idea of filming the process to FM-2030’s life partner, Flora Schnall, only to find out that she vetoes his proposition and wants to keep the reanimation top secret despite FM’s approval. At the cryonics lab, Schnall introduces Boston to Sebastian Smith, a doctor and student of FM at The New School who will lead the reanimation team. It was clearly established from the get-go that this endeavor would be strictly private. But being the ambitious and rebellious filmmaker that he is, he stops at nothing. Eager to document FM’s return, he used covert body cameras to put all conversations, meetings, and interviews on record. This bold move revealed a plethora of classified information that only elevated and sustained the tension and conflict of the story.
As soon as the credits have rolled, I found myself ten open tabs deep into my research.
For people who are just learning about this concept, 2030 (2018) engagingly and effectively provided an in-depth and digestible understanding of the world of cryonics. It responsibly dissected and presented insightful opinions and perspectives of neuroscientists, cryonicists, robotics engineers, psychotherapists, transhumanists, and ethicists that are crucial in understanding the science behind this process. The most remarkable and fascinating part, that hints at the possibility for reanimation, was the trial of Cleon, a cryo-preserved pig who was successfully reanimated after six months.
While it does serve its purpose of being informative and educational, I must admit that this documentary was a tad bit dramatized and methodically structured. Instances such as Boston and Schnall’s emotional falling out, Smith’s animated character, a doctor turned whistleblower who mysteriously disappeared, and cryptic file transfers of confidential information. Towards the end, all hope was lost for Boston as Schnall pulled the plug on the project and forbids him to attend the reanimation. However, a plot twist ensues when Boston discovered Smith’s illness and intention to use FM as a guinea pig for the main event – Smith’s eventual reanimation. Together, they confront Smith about this revelation and completely deauthorize FM’s reanimation, putting a halt to this mission.
As someone who resolutely believes that everything has a beginning, middle, and end, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the absurdity of restoring a frozen deceased body back to life, which cryonics indisputably claims to achieve. But Boston’s documentary somehow effectively steers the skeptics in the right direction to give it the benefit of the doubt. As soon as the credits have rolled, I found myself ten open tabs deep into my research. No matter what its intended purpose, 2030 (2018) has succeeded in raising awareness and disclosing vital knowledge about a highly complex system that could change humankind forever.
The documentary at its core inspires us to reevaluate our purpose, beliefs, and hopes for the future. It imparts new wisdom and encourages us to have an open mind so that we are able to empathize with people who choose to walk this path.