Tuesday, April 20, 2010
RE: Old Fart/Death and The Next Step...
Wow. I sure got a spanking. Firstly I will answer a few points then move on to what I consider the next step in our conversation.
One. I do need to get out more....however.
Two. Your points on various fears are well taken. I didn't mean to trivialize them. I understand that cardiac arrest could be the result of, say...your being hugged by a clown, or a globaphobic being thrown in a room full of balloons... or at least sweaty panic. But then again, these phobias aren't really comparable to the fear of death, as much as they are probably simple brain-mapping mis-wirings. But I don't intend to get into psycho-babble about their deeper meanings here. I have bigger fish to fry.
Three. When I said "...get from it what you can", of course I wasn't referring to the material or the sensual. I was merely stating that one should "learn" what you can...then move on.
Four. You are correct. You HAVE no choice. You are dying as we speak. We only have a choice of when we die by means of suicide. But I won't go into the benefits or drawbacks of that right now either.
Rather I will take the next step in my somewhat warped pattern of logic, and the path I have always intended for this series of discussions.
You guessed it. Transhumanism.
Transhumanism, for those that are unaware, is a movement of people that see our next step in evolution as eventually leaving the biology of human-ness behind and becoming new technological beings. It isn't as scary as it sounds...and it won't happen in my lifetime or yours, but the concept is here and now, and deserves serious consideration.
Although I have yet to send for my secret decoder ring, or to subscribe to H+ magazine, I have been looking into the movement very seriously.
It is my belief so far, that this isn't only AN alternative to the travails of life as we have known it for a couple million years...it is the ONLY inescapable next step. I don't say this with dogmatic intent. I am trying to be coldly logical about the issue.
We cannot continue as we have been for another 500 years. I would think that is obvious. Our medical technology has so surpassed the obvious life-span of which our biology is capable, that it is fast approaching the ridiculous. We can now keep a human "alive" more than double the time than the body can function normally in the environment in which we exist. The life-span has been increased but the quality of those extra years declines at such a pace that most people that live into their 90's, spend the last 20-30 years of their lives either in severe pain (or dependent on medication to alleviate it)...or in the throes of some degenerative mental disability that renders "who they were", merely a memory to those that have to wipe their butts or deal with constant guilt for "warehousing" their decaying bodies and minds somewhere out of the way of their own lives. A consummation devoutly NOT to be wished....even by the most thoughtful of us. Of course I refer to "most" humans in these terms. There are of course many exceptions to this trend in which people live healthy fruitful and enjoyable lives, well into their 80's and 90's. But that isn't the rule...or the point of these observations.
I will never criticize the field of medical technology as a whole. In my estimation they have FAR exceeded their responsibilities as practitioners of the art of keeping our bodies alive and as healthy as possible. They have done this to the point where our intellect must now take over our evolutionary process. Therein lies our future. We must transcend our biology to survive as a species and evolve to our purpose...whatever that might be. We will not get there, by constantly putting out fires of our biological shortcomings of disease, old age and death. Nor do I think we were ever intended to do so. We should redirect our efforts now spent in prolonging biological death, to pursuing our personal intellectual immortality.
Before you start passing out torches and pitchforks to the villagers to storm my castle and "kill the monster"...let's examine this prospect calmly and logically.
The very idea of "uploading" a human's entire mental storehouse of memories, personality, and capabilities...his very being...to a virtually indestructible machine/computer is staggering in its implications and of course morally challenging. The knee-jerk reaction would of course boil this prospect down again to that death thingy of fear/loss/unknown. However they must grasp that this advancement can produce a "death" which we can actually "UNDERSTAND" qualitatively, and over which we can exercise control. Effectively cheat the grim reaper.
In the beginning of this technological revolution( I DO believe it will happen), one will be able to live a full(say 40-50 years on average) biological life, and then transcend to the virtual techno-life, retaining all the memories of the biology of the self. Childhood, young adulthood, marriage and procreation will still be experienced and stored for uploading later. The virtual or techno-life will have everything that the biological one offered and more. Old age will no longer need to be a time of slowing down physically or mentally. Memories will be fresh and muscles will be firm and pain-free....for as long as you like. Of course in further stages of this evolution, less and less time will be spent in human bodies, as the benefits of a perhaps carbon-fiber and steel skeleton under an indestructible synthetic skin, will be appreciated.
Of course the "real" question of this concept will be answered in the first stages of experimentation in this exciting new field. That question is whether or not our "being" or consciousness and sense of self is INDEED merely the compendium of our experience, stored in the brain. When the first subject awakens after undergoing a transhuman transplant, will he think of his new body as himself....the one that went to sleep as a biological being. I believe he will. Or maybe it will be a "she".
I believe this will change the human brain(and it's new home in a computer hard drive) dramatically. It will change the way it senses the world, obviously. But I think it will radically alter many ancient detrimental DNA instructions with which we constantly do battle, within these frail frames now.
I know this sounds like a brochure description, but the possibilities are endless and the drawbacks that I perceive are few if any.
I intend to do more reading about the subject and understand the agendas behind those pursuing this dream of our next step in evolution. Until then I would like your input on my initial reactions and observations...limited as they are.
How is this for "alternative ways to explore the uncharted"?