Altered Carbon Video: Sci-Fi Drama's Consciousness-Swapping Explained

How, exactly, does one transfer the sum of a person’s memories, personality, intelligence — an entire being, really — and just pop it into a new body?

To hear the minds behind Netflix’s Altered Carbon explain it, swapping consciousness involves the same basic principle, and only a little more effort, than sliding a DVD into a player and pressing PLAY.

The streaming video service released a featurette Tuesday that offers some crucial background related to its upcoming sci-fi drama, which is based on Richard K. Morgan’s 2002 novel of the same name. Per the official logline, the dystopian series “is an intriguing story of murder, love, sex, and betrayal, set more than 300 years in the future. Society has been transformed by new technology: consciousness can be digitized; human bodies are interchangeable; death is no longer permanent.”

To illustrate this point, we watch as a resistance fighter played by Will Yun Lee (Hawaii Five-0) and known as Birth Kovacs is put on ice until his consciousness is plugged into another body more than 200 years later. That new body or “sleeve,” as the show calls it, belongs to Takeshi Kovacs (The Killing‘s Joel Kinnaman), who is then propositioned by a rich man named Laurens Bancroft (The Following‘s James Purefoy) who wants Takeshi to solve a murder: Bancroft’s own.

As we watch, Kovacs is reanimated in a new body, which doesn’t look like much fun at all. And given that — as Lee explains — Kovacs was once part of an uprising determined to end immortality, you can imagine he’s rather angry about the whole deal.

Press PLAY on the video to hear Kinnaman, Lee, showrunner Laeta Kalogridis and other cast members discuss one of the series’ central concepts, then hit the comments: Are you planning to watch Altered Carbon when it’s released on Feb. 2?