Living “forever”

Recently I had been made aware of a tech startup aiming to be able to transfer people’s brains or consciousness into artificial bodies. The company, called Humai, believes that by doing so humans will be able to live forever, and that a human being will be resurrected for the first time within the next 30 years. A lot of people have been talking about how terrible the idea is from a practical point of view when the company founder, Josh Bocanegra (previously the creator of a dating site/app called Loveroom), told everyone about it. But for this post, I don’t want to talk about the practical implications of the Humai project as much as the question of the “immortality” that Humai proposes. Namely the question of why? Why would anyone want what Humai is offering in the first place?

First of all, the notion of physical immortality, the eternal survival of the body, seems like nonsense to me, especially if it involves simply transferring your consciousness into another body. For me, it doesn’t matter whether or not you put your consciousness in a machine, or an artificial body, or a computer, or whatever else, because you’ll never actually live forever. One day the Sun will die, and the Earth will be destroyed. Eventually the galaxy will meet its destruction, and ultimately so will the universe, time, and all matter. In either case, I highly doubt any body human or mechanical will survive, certainly not at the point when all matter dies. And in the event that creation starts all over again, I don’t think you’d be alive to see it or even participate because your body will have been destroyed beforehand. So much for “conquering death” then.

Second, I have a suspicion that something like physical immortality would be reserved for the upper classes. You know, all the rich people and the so-called elites would be the ones who get to live as the equivalent of living gods and the rest of humanity would be consigned to mortality. And then the people in the upper classes will think they have the right to treat the everyone else like garbage because they’re purely mortal. At any rate, I don’t expect consciousness transfer to be a service made cheaply available, so most people would stay purely mortal just because of the price tag. The best technology (if you could call it that) always tends to be in the hands of the wealthy few rather than the consumer majority.

Third, in my opinion, all physical immortality means is that people no longer have to deal with death as a part of life, and that we’d no longer have to feel particularly grateful to be alive. Worse, I think we’d be a bunch of entitled bastards who think the world, and life, revolves around them because they can’t die (except when they’re bodies are destroyed eventually anyway, like I said before, not that they’d know), or because they’re humans, and they’d think any life that isn’t they’re fake immortal life is a crock of shit (much like people who dismiss any video games that aren’t 60fps). And if you could live in the physical world forever, and have what could be millions of years to not worry about death and live a complacent life, that means you’d live a complacent life spiritually. You wouldn’t grow as a soul, because why would you when you can stay in the material world forever? Why think about any kind of spiritual consciousness or afterlife or any dimension of reality other than plain material existence? And aside from that, why would you even think to do something with your life, when there’s no pressure to do so because you live in the material world basically forever. And in that situation, life loses its meaning because death is part of what gives life meaning. You are born, and someday you will die, but your life in between all that is the thing that matters. People would be richer simply for being grateful with the lives they have and making something of them while they still can rather than living in this world forever and life being either peachy and uneventful or the Great fucking Gatsby. Besides, staying in the material world forever? I don’t think it would be long before people get bored of that. I’d say living forever in the material world just isn’t like anything in the afterlife, or the stillness of oblivion if you’d rather that instead. And don’t get me started on the thought of generation after generation being preserved forever. Billions of people never passing on and taking up space as machines. I don’t think I can imagine it.

If consciousness transfer becomes a thing any time in the future, I’d want to be buried in secret so that the people doing it could never get their hands on me and force me to live in the body of a machine.

Disappointment

Even though my brother and I are physically identical twins, we have different attitudes. Lately, my brother seems to be very tight and edgy when it comes to work. For him, work means completing assignments in college (not to be confused with university) and completing an extensive series of paintings alongside that. Sometimes I feel he just gives himself too much to do that he isn’t going to do in the time he has planned. I don’t like seeing him act so disciplined and uptight, it feels like a pretense. But when he does act that way, and when I find myself disgusted by it, I also somehow become less ashamed of not doing as much as I want to do, even though at the same time I feel I am suffering from the excess of sloth.

Part of me now feels like I have put too much expectations on myself for what I’m going to do during the holidays just because I have the time, and then I didn’t do all that I had planned to do. Part of me is not ashamed of not meeting expectations if it means not being tightly wound, but part of me still is for not raising the spirit to change that.

Under the sword of destiny…

Well I’ve finished the first term of university, for the most part. There’s still one assignment for one of the modules that’s been extended until January 8th, which means I’ll have to do some work over the holidays. But otherwise, I’ve finished my first term of my second year at university. But when I had after the main presentation, I was still left with a feeling of unease: I feel like there are things that I have been unconscious of this entire time, that I may not of paid as much attention to as would be ideal. And afterwords, one of the lecturers said that one of our problems as a group is that we still aren’t living as a team, instead we’re doing our own thing, and we were warned that we can’t just act as individuals. There’s probably many ways this could be interpreted from the standpoint of game development, but to me the meaning couldn’t be clear: I might have to live or work as a team unit, or at least moreso than an individual. I don’t think I can do it. I want to excel myself as a designer but I don’t want to be just a unit in a group or team. I want to be an individual. And I might be overreacting, but I’ll never get to know until I come back in January. I still can’t help but think that if I operate more as a team unit and I get used to it, where will it go from there? For now, I want to continue further in the course, and I think I might, but at the time I feel like I may not, and I’m soon to approach a turning point that a large part of my life hinges on. And I’ve said it before: it’s all about morale.

That sense of doubt would be enough to deal with without something else happening alongside that. For the one module that’s due in January we actually did have a lecture, but most of the animations students we were meant to be working with weren’t present for that. The students I was working with said they’d be in today, but only one showed up and even then he was late. We also had a fire alarm go off, and after we went back inside he left. As for the ones who did not show up, I wanted to have a word with them about why they did not attend. One of them responded, but after he explained his reasons, we had the usual friction about our work versus our professional practice (the latter of which is more important than the actual work in this particular module), but this time things got worse. The student accused me of tracking everything he did and getting on his case even though I did less work than him, but my complaints are not about his work, but rather about his professional practice. Anyways, after an argument over Skype (one of the methods we communicate with for our project) he decided that he didn’t want to participate in Skype meetings with the rest of the group and just work on his own behind the group. I wouldn’t go feeling sorry for him if I were you: the same student tried to get someone who works for a company called AMC (and supposedly is a third year student) to do some of the work for us in exchange for paying him about £50 from each of us in the group. And if that’s not enough, the animation students were told repeatedly over the module that, while you still have to produce work, the work itself is less important than the planning and professional practice behind it. But the animation students I work with always lead me to believe that they never listened, and not only has this not changed, my relationship with at least one of them has deteriorated badly because I have to tell him why he’s wrong and he won’t listen. But that things deteriorated in such a way is the only thing I feel bad about. Otherwise I’m just too arrogant and too stubborn, let alone proud of it, for the right reasons, because in my mind I feel I know I’m right, and this student was simply too dumb to listen to me. The way I see it, I’m the most disciplined person in my team for that module and the main reason for our team running just fine, and that team-mate who chooses to ignore me is just a peon, and so is everyone like him.

And yet, it may be that stubbornness and arrogance that may lead me to believe that I’m ultimately unfit to continue the course, or at least I feel I’m more likely to feel that way when I find that deteriorated state of affairs blown up in my face. Or maybe I only feel that way because I just feel tired of dealing with dummies who don’t listen to me, or who tell me to loosen up when I’m trying to talk business with them, or who make assumptions about the way I act without respect to the fact I’m just not like other students: not in the game design course, not in animation, not anywhere, and frankly it should be obvious at an early point to everyone who I dare to work with.

Anyways, through all that, I think my journey in the world of games design is slowly becoming less clear-cut than I’d like it to be, and I believe I will not know the full truth about where I stand and where I’m going until I return on the week of January 4th. Until then, the time between today and January 4th is a period where all I can do is wait. At least I have plenty to do in that time, and plans to make. But all the while, I’m walking to towards a path with the specter of certainty and what may dare be called destiny, awaiting the moment of truth, waiting to see the writing on the wall.

Rembrandt, Belshazzar’s Feast, 1635.

A desire to watch the world burn?

Apparently this month has been host to its fair share of doomsday theories. Many people thought an asteroid was actually going to hit Earth this month, and people also seem to believe that the blood moon set to appear by the end of this week is supposed to be a sign of the end of the world, obviously referring to somewhere in the Book of Revelations that says the sun will turn black and the moon will become red with blood. It seems like every now and then someone throws up a doomsday prediction set to fulfill itself in this lifetime, often coinciding with religious beliefs or an old prophecy (the second coming of Jesus being a common example), or a familiar doomsday prediction springs up again and people believe it again, or an unusual cosmic phenomenon occurs and, since we tend to fear the unknown, we greatly exaggerate it (like those solar flares from two years ago). If the scientific community is right, the end of the world won’t happen for a few billion of years, and even then there’s no telling whether or not it will necessarily coincide with the extinction of the human species. But until then, humans seem to be very impatient for the world to just up and get destroyed within their lifetime.

Any moment now.

I feel that there’s a rather bitter reason for people to keep believing in the imminent end of the world happening in this lifetime, or keep throwing up predictions. I personally have a feeling that people want to believe the world is going to end soon because they don’t seem to like life on Earth a whole lot, and when the end of the world happens and they die, that would all go away. Think about it: in death, you don’t have to deal with the life you lived anymore, and the responsibilities of life are naturally finished. To me, people wait for doomsday because they want to be swept away from all the responsibilities of this life. People are anxious die and go to heaven, hell, or just plain oblivion the easy way without ever having to be responsible for their own lives. That’s my opinion anyway. Or, it be, as Michael Caine put it, some people just want to watch the world burn.

Living a good life before it falls out of your hands

My brother and I were talking about the 1988 movie Heathers, which we saw three days ago. The basic idea of the movie was that a girl named Veronica (portrayed by Winona Ryder) becomes tired of her clique of friends and particularly how one of her friends (a girl named Heather Duke) acts towards her, so she teams up with a young man named J.D. (Christian Slater) to kill her, along with two high school “jocks” named Kurt and Ram (one of whom tried to advance on her) and make it look as though they had killed themselves, only for Veronica to discover that, after they died supposedly by their own hands, they wound up becoming more loved and popular than ever despite that they were airheaded and unpleasant in their worldly lives. As Veronica put it, “suicide gave Heather depth, Kurt a soul, and Ram a brain”. She also discovers that after their deaths teen suicide ends up being glorified in her school to the point that when the least popular girl genuinely attempts a suicide and survives, it is derided as simply an attempt to be popular, that the adults turn the deaths of Heather, Kurt, and Ram into a cause, and that J.D. starts killing more kids and plans on blowing up the entire school and making it look like a mass suicide all in accordance with his bleak and nihilistic view on the human condition (and that she was on the slippery slope to becoming a monster like him).

We were talking on some of the essential points of the film, particularly the scene wherein Veronica rushes to counsel one Heather McNamara to prevent her from committing suicide after the latter announces her intentions to do so on a TV show via radio. Veronica tells Heather that had she killed herself,  her death would be used as another statistic in the “U S Fucking A”. I pointed out to him that it made sense in the real world because in death you leave behind your worldly life, and logically this means that the life you lived in the past is no longer under your control. This effectively means that your life can be taken up by others for their own purposes and interpret them in any way they wish and you wouldn’t be able to stop them because you have died and are now in whatever state of existence you believe you will attain after life, and that loss of control is probably a crucial force behind the fear of death. It occurred to me that this may form part of the reason to live a good and worthy life, because that life can serve as a beacon of light and inspiration to others, whereas as a scandalous and bad life would be taken as yet another example of the “evils” of humanity. The only problem I can see with that idea is that it might end up amounting to living for others instead of yourself.

Hyperactivity, depression, drugs, and isolation

One time I almost got dragged into an appointment with a doctor because my mother was worried about me being depressed and hyperactive. Apparently she thinks I’m constantly depressed, when in truth I have not been depressed for very long. In fact, I haven’t been seriously depressed and/or anxious in weeks or months, and even then I only feel occasionally depressed and with good reasons. She also seems to think I need medication for my hyperactive tendencies. The thought occurs: why is hyperactivity such a menacing thing that it has to be suppressed with drugs? Hyperactivity is natural to me, it’s a sign of having an energetic personality that needs nothing more than expression and exercise. You cannot and should not keep that energy bound up or sealed in a bottle, no matter how inconvenient it may be for others.

Regarding depression, there have been times during my first year of university when I have felt very depressed, but I have never taken any medication. All did was try to find people to talk to, or take some time to myself, and settle down until I become able to rise above it. And you know what, I got through it. I talked to friends, sometimes tutors, and a staff counselor to sometimes when I felt it necessary, and I eventually ended up feeling fine afterwards. I don’t think I’d like being on pills instead of that. For me, depression is something we all just go through in life, and isn’t something that should be repressed by drugs or peer pressure, but instead conquered by the will of the individual and interaction with people you trust. I feel like the idea that you can just repress your depression with drugs rather than talk to people about it is a sign of some kind of social isolationism. Because we choose to suppress our feelings with drugs instead of talking to people about them, we isolate ourselves from interacting with other people who might be able to help us out of the problems we may face, and build walls around ourselves instead which, I feel, can only lead to more problems in the long run.

Regarding drugs, I wonder, why the crap do we think it’s such a good idea to give people drugs because they’re different from the normal drone-like state of human being? Especially young people. Why not just let people be themselves without them like they’re crazy, particularly while the truly crazy can be treated like they need help after committing a crime instead of us concentrating on punishing them for their crimes?

There’s a song I think about when I think about this subject, which you can see below:

The simple life

A lot of times I wish I led a simpler life. To me a simple life means a life without unnecessary complications and less things to be driven insane over. A life where I can learn things entirely at my own pace, without having to work to towards project deadlines. A life where I can just write, draw, paint, play video games, maybe make some music, maybe go outdoors, live, and love, all without so many complications and all without any sort of grind that undermines it all. I don’t particularly care what job I’d have to do to pay for it as long as it has some dignity and is not necessarily an absolute bore.

I only say this because a lot of times the life I lead right now isn’t much fun or very simple.