Immortality and Other Musings

If you could live forever, would you do it? The obvious answer is “yes, duh” but that’s only because the face of the question doesn’t go deep enough. Pretty soon, we’re going to have to start doing some heavy thinking about this topic. What if you could live forever, but you had to stay locked in a room and hooked up to machines for all eternity? Or what if only the brain could be kept alive, so you could only experience immortality as a floating consciousness? Like maybe a consciousness hooked up to a virtual reality that can only simulate the real universe? But if the virtual reality was indistinguishable from physical reality, would you even care?

 

morpheus_pill

“You take the blue pill and-” Let me just stop you right there, Morpheus. I’m with Cypher on this one. Gimme the blue pill.

 

Maybe. But what if the body could be somehow cured of aging? After all, it’s just a gene that can be turned off (theoretically). Granted, true immortality at the cellular level would require much more work than that, but suppose that work gets done. What then? Sounds fantastic for the individual, but potentially disastrous for the human race. If no one dies, the population would increase so dramatically and so quickly that we would be unable to feed ourselves, employ ourselves and (eventually) house ourselves. All societies across the globe would have to adopt austerity measures heretofore unimaginable. What kind of life would that mean for our immortal race?

The only answer to that seems to be interstellar spread of our species. But man, we’d have to spread like wildfire to keep ahead of our population growth. But what kind of species would we even be at that point? Would we even be human anymore? We’ve been dying every instant we’ve been alive. We hold these truths to be self-evident: Everybody is born, everybody dies and everybody poops. Everybody poops, right? That’s not just me? I’d look it up, but that’s a Google search I’d rather avoid.

And how unfair to everyone who has lived and died up to this point! Nyah, nyah. You all had to die, but we don’t have to. Ugh. The guilt.

But, of course, we wouldn’t be truly immortal. I mean, turning off aging doesn’t make you immune to a car accident or a disease or a case of sudden, high-impact lead poisoning. With no fear of aging, we’d have a much larger fear of anything that involved any sort of risk. We would never want to gamble our precious immortality on anything as chancy as a night out on the town. We’d become a race of shut-ins.

But let’s go a step further. What if you no longer had to worry about your body at all? I mean, you’d still have a body, but it could be replaced. After all, consciousness is simply a collection of data being processed by a powerful organic computer that is the brain. What if you could just download that information into another brain in another body? Die in a car crash? That’s okay. You remembered to back up your brain last night, right? They can just download your latest save point into a new body. You wake up and get set to go to work and then see the day is Saturday and not Friday. Whoops! Must have bought it on Friday. Oh well. I hope the office knows I had to call out dead that day.

 

boss_late

“You were dead on Friday? That sounds pretty convenient. I want a coroner’s report on my desk Monday morning or you owe me 8 hours.”

 

Which brings up another question. When you wake up in your new body, are you really you? Sure, your memories are all there and you look like you, but did the REAL you actually die and now this new person is just some sort of clone? See what I’m saying? If you died, would you actually wake up in a new body, or would your consciousness disappear at the instant of death the way it does now and the next day a clone wakes up convinced he is you?

How would you know? How would anyone know? And what about that cloned body? Even if it was grown in a tank and has been preserved at some ideal age of twenty-something, doesn’t it already have some nascent consciousness of its own? Even if it never experienced anything, if it’s a brain in a physically matured body, hasn’t it already begun to form its own personality? Would your personality just overwrite that one when it gets downloaded? Would that be murder?

Sounds like some great ideas for science fiction stories, don’t they? And some great books have already been written about all of that stuff. I’m sure more will be written. I might even try my hand at playing with one or two immortality ideas. I don’t know if I’d be interested in immortality in real life, though I imagine at the moment of my own death I’d most likely think – “Well, maybe just a few more years couldn’t hurt….”

 

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Oh, hey! Did you hear? Spy for a Dead Empire just got reviewed by Andrew Ferrell on his blog. I didn’t even have to pay him or anything! Always nice to wake up in the morning and see that someone has enjoyed my book so much they wrote a review.

 

"Yep... A good day."

“Yep… A good day.”

 

That’s all for this post! Just some random thoughts loosely connected in a larger theme too complex to tackle in any one blog post. Back to writing and revising Grant Scotland!

Be like Andrew and leave a good review! Be like Jim Carrey and leave a big tip!

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