When questioned about eternal life something that keeps surfacing is the idea that we could digitally map our brains and upload it to a cloud style server and live on in an electronic reality.
While there is nothing new about this concept, as it has been a staple of science fiction for a while, The Matrix is probably the most well known for a negative view and Black Mirror – San Junipero, for a more positive spin.
There are many other examples, such as Star Trek – Voyager where large portions of the show are dedicated to the Doctor whom is arguably a sentient digital being. On the show he is treated as an object, but as it progresses he develops a personality beyond his ‘programming’. Another example would be from Red Dwarf, where the entire crew has been digitally mind mapped and stored as back up copies in case of accident or emergency. The difference between these two is that Rimmer, from Red Dwarf, is a fully formed replica of an actual person, where the Doctor is not. Have a look at both of them – one is intelligent and insightful, and the other has fancy buttons.
This idea is well established in popular culture, almost to a point where it is an agreed upon state and we are just waiting for the technology to catch up. The point is would you do it? In the Black Mirror episode you can pick between several rooms or worlds to live in, could you see yourself living in a stylized version of a decade? Even though the world would be a total fabrication and all the things that happen to you would be the creation of a programmer just to keep you happy. Interestingly this is exactly what phone developers and gaming companies are doing right at this minute. Stimulating your brain to make you happy in order to keep signing in; one day you may go in never to come back.
As technology moves faster and faster toward artificial intelligence, surely it would become easier to digitally map our minds. Researchers would start to see the connections and how things work in order to recreate it. There is the brain in the jar thinking that because everything is a creation of our minds it is possible that we are not here at all. With that style of thinking would living in a digital reality be any different, you would still have the same wants and desires, and the same fears and phobias, but isn’t that what makes us what we are? Could I be on a space ship filled with multiple data banks sailing thought the endless void right now? I doubt it, but it’s something to think about. Knowing that there is no ‘life after death’ and if the technology could recreate the world so there appears to be no difference, I think I would sign up.
Rob has traveled extensively in Australia and uses his experiences to write compelling stories. He enjoys testing out new technologies that are designed to make life easier. He is married with two children and lives in the outer suburbs of Melbourne.