WaPo ran an enormous cover story about Silicon Valley’s search for El Dorado (or sorry immortality). On top of which, I just listened to this Podcast featuring philosopher John Gray being interviewed by novelist Will Self, and as usual, Gray was in rare form.
So how do these two pieces interconnect: The concept of GNOSTICISM. Although Gnosticism has many aims, the thrust of it is: the QUEST FOR KNOWLEDGE. KNOWLEDGE will free you from the burden of being HUMAN and at the mercy of GODS (who might be evil). The modern gloss on this is: FREEDOM FROM DEATH (the only GOD we’ve been unable to defeat).
However, Gray brings up this point (via Ray Kurzweil and his followers at Google intent on downloading our consciousness, and outfitting us with cybernetic body appartuses), which is we still know so VERY LITTLE about what makes us human. We don’t fully understand CONSCIOUSNESS, we don’t understand a concept like QUALIA. If we understand so little about the brick-and-mortar of what make us US, how can we program an artificial intelligence to make us experience something quantifiable to our terrestrial existence or cognitive processes in the ether of cyberspace?
As a side note, I do BELIEVE all of what Kurzweil et al are attempting will happen, they have the means and are brilliant — I just wonder if it will be as utopian as they hope. And on that same note, and why I hope they slightly downgrade their enthusiasm, is an article that sums up my opinion (although not discussing it via immortality):
The Internet as a collective existence has been around for less than 20 years, and in that time it’s been subjected to vicious hacks, multitudes of viruses, illegal surveillance, and exists under severe STATE-CONTROL with kill switches in some countries.
So let me ask you: If you can’t trust your credit card number or social security info ONLINE, do you really want to trust your LITERAL IDENTITY to a liquid space with no borders or protection? If the time when we upload our consciousness, or connect to the hive-mind becomes a reality, we better hope a bunch of Russian Hackers or the US Government can’t download your dreams and arrest you for LITERAL THOUGHT CRIMES, or run a virus through your digital DNA code when you become a problem.