If it were possible to digitally live forever, would you want to?

RawBert

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jan 19, 2010
1,727
62
North Hollywood, CA
About five years ago, I read a very interesting article. It said that within 50 years, technology would give us the ability to download the human brain into a computer.

Ever since then, I have wondered and imagined what this means for humankind.

Once a person’s memories, personality, consciousness, imagination, etc… have been turned into data, the possibilities are endless. For example, we can have robot bodies and interact in the real world or live as programs within a main operating system, as in The Matrix. Eventually, when your hardware gets old, you can simply load yourself into another machine. We can even travel across the universe without the limitations of a human body.

Of course, problems may arise if or when we get to this point such as viruses and who knows what else. But it is a real possibility. I’m 31 now and by the time I get close to the end of my lifespan, I might have the choice. That’s if I can afford it.

The question is - would I want to? Initially I thought, “Of course.” But now I’m not so sure. The whole idea is kind of weird. Another thought is – what if this is what John was talking about in The Book of Revelations? Now, I’m no religious nut. But I do believe in God. I wouldn’t want to defy Him just for a (neurotic) need to keep living – artificially. I know that last part sounds crazy, but…

If you had this option, would you consider it?:confused:
 

iBlue

macrumors Core
Mar 17, 2005
19,174
15
London, England
What, so our entire consciousness digitized? I'm not sure how they could extricate the intricacies our minds from our bodies because so much of it is inseparable... but okay, lets say it is somehow possible.

I don't think so but it may depend on a lot of factors which are nothing but fiction right now. I'm an atheist so the god factor doesn't daunt me but I have my reasons for thinking this has bad idea written all over it. The main reason I might consider it is if there is a possibility of easing curiosity, to learn what becomes of life on earth, other planets, etc. Given limited (real) information, at this point all I really would want out of it is knowledge.
 

leekohler

macrumors G5
Dec 22, 2004
14,162
19
Chicago, Illinois
No- I am not religious and don't believe in an afterlife either. Who would want to live forever? How boring that would get after a while. It would be torture.
 

eawmp1

macrumors 601
Feb 19, 2008
4,130
5
FL
ANOTHER immortality thread (albeit in different format). This topic just won't die!
 

MacRy

macrumors 601
Apr 2, 2004
4,241
4,917
England
Great question!

One thing in life that really bothers me is the fact that I won't be around to see what technological and sociological advances humanity will make in the future. I hear all of these futurologists predictions and think "That is going to be so cool......but I won't get to see it!" So from that point of view I would go for it in a heartbeat. But then another part of me worries that I would become trapped within my own consciousness forever and never be able to do anything about it which would pretty much blow so i'm not so sure. Interesting concept though. I'm going to say.....yes.
 

Ca$hflow

macrumors 6502
Jan 7, 2010
447
67
London, ON
It would really only be a simulation of me. What about my spirit. The is no way a machine can replace that. An archive of your past, perhaps. Your spirit, no.
 

quadG5guy

macrumors member
Jan 26, 2010
96
0
Richmond, VA
There's a big difference between merely downloading, (i.e. storing the content), and putting that content into another vessel that will allow you and your conscience to "keep living".

Download the content of a brain is just storing its content. Like ripping a Nintendo Cartridge into a ROM file. The ROM file in and of itself is not terribly useful. You need a Nintendo Emulator program to use it. Likewise, you would need a "brain emulator" or "conscience emulator" to make use of the stored content downloaded from a brain. That technology is many centuries away, if it's even possible.

The brain is the least understood part of the human body, and intangible things like conscience even less so.
 

MacRy

macrumors 601
Apr 2, 2004
4,241
4,917
England
Indeed. We need to determine what consciousness is in the first instance. Is it a result of the collection of our memories and synapses or something altogether more abstract?
 

Antares

macrumors 68000
This topic has been covered in a lot of movies and tv shows. I, for one, wouldn't mind my consciousness being downloaded into a fully functioning android body. To a lesser degree...a computer. That way, a form of me would continue forever.

However, you need to realize that there is a major catch this concept. The problem is, you are only creating a copy. Unless you preserve your original brain, intact, and that brain continues to operate indefinitely, your original consciousness will not continue. If you "digitally downloaded" your brain, a copy of you would exist. However, your current self would never get to "live on."....you (your current self) would cease to exist once your original brain died. You (your original self) would never get to experience what your copy would experience. You would not live on. Only a copy of you would live on.

What I would ideally want is a way for my current brain to live on forever. Perhaps my living brain could be transplanted into an android body. I would technically become a cyborg, then, I guess.

My point is, you can (rather, someday will be able to) create a copy of your consciousness, with all of your memories, all of your skills, all of your personality. However, you will never be able to transfer your consciousness. Unless you preserve your original functioning brain, your original self will cease to exist.
 

quadG5guy

macrumors member
Jan 26, 2010
96
0
Richmond, VA
What I would ideally want is a way for my current brain to live on forever. Perhaps my living brain could be transplanted into an android body. I would technically be a cyborg, then.
Good points about "making a copy". Quite true, you would die, and your copy would live on. That's a very different thing from YOU continuing to live.

But a brain transplant is not just the one organ. The brain, brain stem, spinal cord, and entire body's nervous system are one and the same. You might be able to attach the nerve ending in a wrist onto a bionic hand which your brain could control, but that's completely different from *replacing* all of the nerves in the body with electrical counterparts.

Aside from that, even if you could transplant your brain, you would still end up with age-related brain diseases like Alzheimer's. You would be a forgetful senile old man in a robotic body.
 

JNB

macrumors 604
However, you need to realize that there is a major catch this concept. The problem is, you are only creating a copy. Unless you preserve your original brain, intact, and that brain continues to operate indefinitely, your original consciousness will not continue.
I think the point was that your consciousness would be transferred, in other words, your sense of self, that which makes you, you. The meat is immaterial in this case. Whether 'tis a copy or not, you would still have your own memories, experience, and thought patterns, assuming any of this were possible in the first place.

And yes, I realize that the organic makeup of the grey matter and how any two neurons may connect plays some unknown part in how you perceive yourself and all, but as this is just a thought experiment and not a practical exercise, I think we can let it pass.

Roddenberry called it "suspension of disbelief." ;)
 

Disc Golfer

macrumors 6502a
Dec 17, 2009
582
0
The promise of death is what makes life worth living. Immortality would be the equivalent of eating pizza for every meal for the rest of your life. Barf.

Besides I'm holding out for head in a jar tech..

 

barkomatic

macrumors 601
Aug 8, 2008
4,027
1,798
Manhattan
Nope, dying is part of the natural world. The truth is, no one knows what exactly what consciousness is -- or has a full understanding of how the universe works. I'm tired of people claiming to "know" what absolutely cannot be proven one way or the other.
 
No! I would not want to live like that! I'll die naturally and normally thanks.

And also another thing that hasn't popped up:

Let's say that we copy my brain into a robot body and it works. However I am still naturally alive so am I conscious in the robot body or my natural one? The way I see it, how could you move your consciousness out of your current body if your brain etc. was still there?