7 INTRODUCTION The mission of the Immortality Institute is to conquer the blight of involuntary death. Some would consider this goal as scientifically impossible. Some would regard it as hubris. Others say: “Don’t mention the ‘D–word’, it will just scare people, and turn them away from the very real possibility that modern science will help us to dramatically extend our healthy life span.” What should we make of this? Is it possible that scientists – or at least humankind – will “conquer the blight of invol- untary death?” If so, to what extent will we succeed? What is in fact possible today, and what do the experts predict for the future? Is such a thing as ‘immortality’ feasible? Moreover, is it desirable? What would it mean from a political, social, ethi- cal and religious perspective?   This book will help to explore these questions. When the Institute was approached regarding the possibility of distilling some of the lively and insightful debates that take place within its online forums into book form, questions arose over what such a book should contain. In the last few years, a couple of very good books on the scientific conquest of death have been published. (These are indexed in the bibliography at the end of this work.) How would this book be special? After careful consideration, the answer seemed clear: This should  be  the  first  truly  multidisciplinary  approach  to  the topic. We would discuss not only biological theories of aging,