A journalist dives into the world of experimental science funded by some of Silicon Valley's wealthiest technocrats—such as Google's Larry Page and "singularity" enthusiast Ray Kurzweil—who are hoping to find a cure for aging and even death.
... [an] absorbing story ... While Immortality, Inc. is focused on aging and the efforts to defy it, the book is also a gripping chronicle of private-sector experimentation and ingenuity in the face of inertia in Washington ... Ponce de León would have been impressed.
Immortality, Inc. isn’t always easy to follow: It’s stuffed with a dizzying array of the names of people, corporations, and projects, shifts in point of view, and leaps forward and backward in time. Readers might also find Mr. Walter’s writing style distracting. He does offer some nice turns of phrase ... often, Mr. Walter seems inspired by the antic style of Tom Wolfe (who is honored on the dedication page), and it doesn’t always suit ... a bigger concern is the lack of dissenting voices ... Yet Chip Walter stakes out a spot on the technophile end of the spectrum...and the fact that critics have real doubts about this research gets scant attention. Similarly shortchanged are worries that making people immortal might have, you know, downsides ... a valuable look at this particular playing field, but Mr. Walter might have taken a harder look at the implications of the game.
...a readable tour of the search for immortality through the eyes of some leading personalities involved ... this book does little to explore the motivations of the 'customers' who lend their support — and ultimately their bodies — to the cause. It is dominated by the heroic narratives of the big men (most here are male, as are the clients), paying far less attention to the views of underlings, dissenters and outsiders with critical insights into the organisations described, the strategic choices made and the scientific difficulties ... Walter touches on stem cell and regenerative therapies and the injection of young people’s blood into older people; tantalises readers with the dramatic longevity of bowhead whales and orange roughy fish ... But there is not much to support his underlying faith that the cause will ultimately succeed ... Walter might have gone further and reflected in greater depth on the philosophical and practical implications of living forever, not least overpopulation ... For now, immortality remains science fiction.