Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 287–293 | Cite as

Science fiction and human enhancement: radical life-extension in the movie ‘In Time’ (2011)

  • Johann A. R. RoduitEmail author
  • Tobias Eichinger
  • Walter Glannon
Scientific Contribution


The ethics of human enhancement has been a hotly debated topic in the last 15 years. In this debate, some advocate examining science fiction stories to elucidate the ethical issues regarding the current phenomenon of human enhancement. Stories from science fiction seem well suited to analyze biomedical advances, providing some possible case studies. Of particular interest is the work of screenwriter Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, S1m0ne, In Time, and Good Kill), which often focuses on ethical questions raised by the use of new technologies. Examining the movie In Time (2011), the aim of this paper is to show how science fiction can contribute to the ethical debate of human enhancement. In Time provides an interesting case study to explore what could be some of the consequences of radical life-extension technologies. In this paper, we will show how arguments regarding radical life-extension portrayed in this particular movie differ from what is found in the scientific literature. We will see how In Time gives flesh to arguments defending or rejecting radical life-extension. It articulates feelings of unease, alienation and boredom associated with this possibility. Finally, this article will conclude that science fiction movies in general, and In Time in particular, are a valuable resource for a broad and comprehensive debate about our coming future.


Human enhancement Life-extending therapy Immortality Ethics Aging 



Funding was provided by Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung (Grant No. 165222).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johann A. R. Roduit
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tobias Eichinger
    • 1
  • Walter Glannon
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of MedicineUniversity of ZurichZürichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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