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.