Would You Trade Humanity for Immortality?

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I was reading in Popular Science about a new institution and team of researchers and scientists who are striving to achieve the capability to transfer human consciousness to a computer by the year 2045. The first goal is to achieve true artificial intelligence and then to see if a human conscious can be transferred and stored inside a computer system or robot which would technically be reaching immortality at the price of the human physical body. I was discussing this with my wife on the choices one would make and if this became something that people can purchase (and was within the average price range), would you choose to merge your intellectual mind into a computer system at the expense of losing your physical form?

Realistically who is to say we deserve immortality, perhaps the highest intellectuals and true brilliant minds of the world come close to deserving such preservation but why become immortal? Would you want to attain it for the fear of what exists after you are deceased? In my case, I would want to see the technological breakthroughs of the future, live to see what other worlds look like and the future technology of centuries beyond. I mentioned this to my wife who also reminded me that you are much more likely to witness horrors and atrocities at such a scale, there may not be a society far into the future.

If your mind existed in a computer, you wouldn’t have hormones, chemicals and all the physical and natural elements that make up mood and influence how people think. Without these factors would you really be conscious or just a collection of memories and thoughts? Imagine never being able to smell, feel, taste, desire…etc from losing a physical form. My wife made it absolutely clear that giving up “Humanity” is not worth it, however if conscious could be transferred from one body to a genetically cloned one of your own DNA, thereby preserving youth and vigor this might be a path she would be willing to take.

This again points out, why? Why should people who think they deserve immortality be granted immortality? It would be selfish for me to want it, but I would want it just because I am curious and want to explore the infinite future. What are your thoughts on immortality? Is this a sin that mankind should avoid? Is this destined to never be achieved? Or do you think individuals will eventually be able to “exist” forever in some state or another for a price?

Which would you choose?

-Justin Germino

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Updated: December 26, 2009 — 3:36 pm