Immortality via technology

I have no way of knowing if this was already discussed, if it was, oh well. If it wasn’t, oh well.

If you had a computer that could scan you brain to the synapse level and code all the intricacy that makes you you. And it then had the ability to recreate this mess of electrical pulses with cells or wires. Would it have your memory, quirks and more importantly, would it have your ‘awareness’? And if it did, are you then immortal?

Only if it also has the capacity to learn and grow (not physically grow, but grow in mind) – oh, and you’re only immortal if the computer doesn’t have a hard drive crash. :slight_smile:

I think you’d be able to extend your life as long as the system lasted. . .could be quite some time, but not forever.

I think some more interesting questions are these:

Say you could do what you described, but instead of residing completely within the system, you (by wireless remote) let your neurons trigger the corresponding neurons in a human body. Sort of like a R/C car.

Furthermore, the neural transmitters are two-way, allowing you to give and receive stimulae. Now your mind can reside in one location and your body in another. If the body dies, you may inhabit another (back-up).

1. Would the body have to be human?

2. Can you control more than one lifeform at a time?

3. If you implanted the remote transmitters in a live being (sentient), could you control the lifeform or would you have to wage war?

4. Where is the soul in all of this?

I read in a recent book (The Case for Immortality?) a theory that after the end of the universe God was going to put all of the possible personalities we could have had into eternal computers. So we would be dead, but He would “resurrect” us (and all our possible variants) in this manner. Interesting theory, but he seemed a little weak in the logic department when he tried to prove why this had to be so; it’s not like God couldn’t use any other manner, that’s one of the perks of being omnipotent.

“Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting.”

  • Bertrand Russell

If the computer did not have any sensory imput, i.e, it could scan in your brain at a given moment, but had no periphial devices capable of seeing, hearing, touching, downloading, etc., methinks one would get awful bored.


  1. Probably wouldn’t need to be human, but the neurology would have to be at an equivalent level of complexity. A dolphin would probably do, but not a dog. You can’t run 32-bit programs on an 8088 chip.

  2. I have enough trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time. I can’t picture controlling two bio-remotes simultaneously.

  3. Mind-raping a sentient being is unethical. We’ve called it demonic possession. If we developed the technology to do this we would have invented a brand new sin.

  4. Don’t know where the soul is as things stand now…

Dr. Fidelius, Charlatan
Associate Curator Anomalous Paleontology, Miskatonic University
“There is one thing even more vital to science than intelligent methods; and that is, the sincere desire to find out the truth, whatever it may be.”
-Charles Sanders Pierce

Sake asked:

Same place it is now – nowhere.

Immortality via technology?

I’m for it. Thanks for asking.

Oh, and to reply to the topic, there’s no such thing. Even if an copy of my mind is scanned into a computer, its still just a copy. I am still going to die, eventually. The copy may go along for a while, but it will diverge from being me with every passing moment and experience.

What would things look like to the copy? It would probably believe itself to be me, so would it want to talk to me? See me getting older every year? Eventually hear that I had died?

I actually plan on achieving immortality by not dying. So far, so good.

DrF: I wish you luck and plan to join you in that quest. If you do succumb and somehow die, please let me know how it happened so I can avoid similar situations. Thanks.

DrFidelius: You’re not thinking about this enough. Let’s try it this way: We have a computer scan the first layer of our brain, then slowly remove it and replace it with electronics. Then go to the next layer, and do the same thing. Continue until the whole brain is gone. No ‘copies’ were made, and you could even have been awake through the whole process. Now you have a computer brain. Now, we do the same thing with the body. Remove the arm, connect all the sensory inputs that come from the arm to a new mechanical arm. Repeat until the entire body is gone. Now you’re a robot, and you’ve been awake through the whole procedure.

At some point along the way do you lose your ‘soul’? Do you stop being self-aware? Are there any other differences?

If not, now let’s make a copy while you are sleeping and download it into an identical robot. Both of you wake up, both thinking that you are ‘you’, and having the same memories right up until the point when you fell asleep.

Do you both have a consciousness? Do you both have a ‘soul’? If there’s a heaven, which one goes? And why? If you destroy one of them, is it murder?

As long as Bill Gates didn’t sell the software…

I could see that now - “Okay, Mrs. O’Neill… We have your husband saved right here, now all we need to do is hit save and…”


Yer pal,

“I don’t want to acheive immortality through my work! I want to acheive immortality through not dying!” — Woody Allen

Fascinating! Even a hard drive crash would not cause death, BTW, because you could be restored from your backup. You did remember to back yourself up, didn’t you? :slight_smile:

I take issue with one of David’s statements, and will comment here, but it sounds like a new thread:

That is a dogmatic assertion, no more provable or disprovable than Jeffery’s or my assertion that there is one. From the scientific point of view, the best assertion that can be made is that there is no proof one way or the other.

Ah, but Poly, even if there is a soul, it would exist “nowhere” – outside the measurable space and time in which we exist.

(Jeez, can’t anybody take a joke anymore? :wink: )

I know there are more than 3 trillion neurons or something, PLUS the brain is massively networked - so how much memory would you need to back up the average human mind?

Visions of the planet Earth in the year 2434 being ruled by the Evil Terror That Is William Gates ver6.02!

I think may be no need for software at all. You might simply construct an exact replica of the brain and PRESTO: mini-me!

The interesting thing about these ‘thought-experiments’ is to follow them to their logical conclusion and see where they lead you, and then see if you can gain insight into the nature of existance, or religion, etc.

Exactly, dhanson. The nature of identity is being debated here.

Perhaps this thought experiment has already happened and this mortal coil we move around in all day is hollow. Our actual selves exist elsewhere. We don’t realize this due to the flawless interface (well, not quite flawless, but our rational minds refuse to process the bugs as reality). Maybe you, unbeknownst to hollow you, are controlling several beings. Finding your soul-mate would take on new meaning.

We all could be the product of one (severly MPDed) being.

Barbara Hambly, in her book The Silicon Mage, has a character (the bad guy) who is a wizard, Suraklin, who wants to make himself immortal by downloading himself into a computer (he’s the “evil wizard” and the good guys are trying to stop him). At the very end, when it looks like he might succeed, he changes his mind and commits suicide.

One of the good guys (a student of the evil wizard from long before) explains that Suraklin killed himself because he remembered that the important word in the phrase “live forever” isn’t “forever”, it’s “live”.

Kind of a deus ex machina ending, IMO, but relevant to this discussion. How much can you be “living” if you are just a big ol’ binary file and all your input is digital?

Very logical.

You realize that we had tentatively concluded that (1) we live within a black hole, and (2) God is suffering from a severe inferiority complex. Both these conclusions were arrived at on this board after thorough analysis.

Therefore I can concur with your conclusions.

“You shall know the truth
And the truth shall make you flee” - Lazarus Long