Comments on Futurist Gets Around To Digital Immortality
Ian Pearson, head of the Futurology unit at BT, claims that the wealthy will be able to download their minds into computers by 2050. Science fiction writers have been making the same claim since the 1960's. (Read
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|"And, of course, it's the whole premise behind Robert J. Sawyer's new novel Mindscan."
(Edward Willett 5/29/2005 1:53:47 PM)
|"Another example can be found in John Barnes' Thousand Cultures novel, A Million Open Doors. Your personality and experiences can be archived, and in case of death, you can be restored (usually) from your backup."
(DrPat 5/30/2005 10:22:00 AM)
|"The million monkey syndrome, forbids technology from following rational guidelines, and will not in this case either. Need drives invention, plus greed. The current silent move by Corporations to tie all new inventions under them will assure underground development, especially if against the law. Perhaps "downloading " will be , but you can bet it will be for synthetic soldiers, not something like a pleasure body, that is the foolish dreaming of the wealthy idle."
(Kyle Gosnell 5/30/2005 8:01:06 PM)
|"What a joke! If a one even has a smattering of understanding of neuroscience and the problems of AI, artificial intelligence, this claim is a laugher. I always wonder how seriously this sort of claim is put forward. Is it just for shock value or to garner some quick publicity, or does this person, who is supposedly a rational scientist, really believe it? This so reminds me of the early sweeping claims of "strong AI" advocates that we'd easily have true thinking, conscious machines by now. Every time another year goes by without thinking, conscious machines, the "strong AI" faithful just keep moving their prediction date ahead into the future, with an almost childlike, blind belief that sheer technology or computing horsepower will magically solve what may well prove to be insuperable problems. I'm sorry, this kind of grandstanding may make for some attention-grabbing headlines, but in the end, such wild unsupportable claims merely give science a very bad image at a time when religious fundamentalism is calling into question the very bedrock of many demonstrable scientific theories and facts."
(Steve Fair 5/31/2005 9:48:40 AM)
|"Frederick Pohl's Gateway/Hechee Saga made extensive use of "digital immortality", for both humans, and the Hechee who had their own version of the technology.
Frankly, the medical, genomic, and biosciences are going to start making significant headway into "meat immortality" for humans, and to avoid the obvious Malthusian issues involved with corporeal immortality, digital immortality is a very attractive alternative.
If the coming basis for immortality is purely biological, who will be allowed to have it? Will new births be strictly limited? If the immortality is only available as a germ-line alteration before birth, who gets the unenviable job of telling the existing generation that will be the last to face death, "too bad"? What kind of social and political upheaval will it cause? How bad will the wars be? If it's availability is unlimited, where will everyone live, and what will they eat? Will our technology and social institutions be up to those challenges?
Even the most optimistic among us know the answer. Probably not.
A society with digital immortality would still have it's issues, a culture where it's elders never really depart us might be strange indeed, but the problems seem small when compared to the alternative. It would obviate most of the problems surrounding overpopulation, war, resource allocation, environmental damage caused by unlimited biological immortality, and the social injustices that are possible if those issues were instead addressed by limiting it to only a select few.
It's not unreasonable to assume that computing capacity will continue to increase exponentially for some time to come. Naysayers would like to point out that Moore's Law may be reaching it's breaking point for silicon within the next two or three design generations, but such criticisms fail to take into account technologies that are in their infancy, such as optical computing, quantum computing, nano and molecular switching, and biological computing. All these fields are where the IC semiconductor industry was back in the 1960's, and they did not have the mature state of today's computer technology to back their efforts either. I would be surprised if at least one of them, if not a combination, did not hold the promise to create the second digital revolution.
My only caveat is that I would not like to enter binary Valhalla as a mere "copy". Perhaps it's vanity, but I would prefer to maintain some continuity of "self". I would find being networked with my digital self, sharing thoughts and memories, making a gradual transition as my body aged and died, a more comforting prospect."
(Andrew Walkowiak 6/1/2005 12:24:10 PM)
|"Hey, maybe someday we'll be able to download celebrities off the web!
(See simstim from Neuromancer; the book specifically discusses downloading the sensory experiences of celebrities!
( 6/2/2005 9:05:14 AM)
|"you forgot to mention the movie
the 6th day"
(Lucindrea 6/3/2005 9:52:41 AM)
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