You get to come back as someone famous: who would you pick?

Assume that, through technology or other means, you could experience life as someone famous: someone who has already died or is still alive.

[li]You will be just an observer, that is, you can only experience what they are experiencing and can’t change their actions (because that would change history)[/li][li]You will experience their whole life, from birth to death, in real time (i.e. it will take you 70 years to experience 70 years of their life)[/li][li]If the person is still alive, you will experience their life all the way till the end, which is a bit of a risk, since you don’t know what happens to them between now and their death.[/li][li]Once the experiment has started, you can’t opt out or cut it short.[/li][li]The person can be anyone who has lived or is still alive (e.g. Einstein, Napoleon, Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, Mother Theresa, you, etc)[/li][/ul]

[li]Would you sign up for such a thing?[/li][li]Who would you sign up as?[/li][li]Would anyone sign up to re-live their own life from the beginning (under the rules mentioned above)?[/li][/ol]

Siddhārtha Gautama

I think that Leonardo da Vinci or Benjamin Franklin would be my picks. I wouldn’t want to experience my own life again, it was painful enough the first time around, thanks. Now, if I could go back and CHANGE some of my decisions and actions, yeah.

Eh? 70 years trapped in someone else’s body, unable to move or talk or act on my own free will? I’d probably be some aborted baby. Or Ron Jeremy.

That sounds like a horrifying prison.

Not only no but hell no! Aside from being trapped, it’s happening in real time, so my own body is aging.

Assume you have no body to worry about aging, e.g. just before your body dies, you upload your consciousness to the “cloud”. Once there, you quickly get bored and decide you want to experience the life cycle again, only this time, you decide which one you experience. Once you decide, the life is experienced via some sort of simulation.

I can see the feeling of being trapped, but, if we give the hypothetical experiencer the ability to make decisions, history will be changed, and then you won’t be experiencing exactly the life you signed up for.

How about this: While under this experience, you make decisions on what to do, out of your own “free will”, so you don’t feel trapped, it’s just that the system alters your faculties/abilities so that you end up making the same decisions as your original target.

I would see the problem that most people had at least some days in their life that they felt really bad, whether it would seem that bad to you or not. But since you are experiencing it from their point of view, that would be torturous.

My own problem is that it’s a very long commitment unless I pick someone’s life that was short.

If I’m understanding some people’s responses: given the ups and downs of life, the bad outweigh the good, so that no one’s life is worth experiencing?

Surely people are more upbeat about life, right?

If the good outweigh the bad in your life, and you consider life to be worth living, why does this change when you have the choice to experience someone else’s life? [If, while experiencing this other life, you had no recollection of who you really are and really thought you were your target, would that change your answer?]

This reminds me of something a comedian said: “My life is like a B-movie. I’m curious to see how it ends, but I wouldn’t want to see it again” :slight_smile:

But one of the things that make my life worth living is the choices I made… it’s as if what you had originally in mind was “being able to view life through that person’s eyes” but you’ve later chanegd it to “being that person”. Doesn’t compute, which is which? If I am someone else, then I am not me; if I am watching someone’s life through their eyes, do I have to put up with the parts where they get potty trained, have toothaches or get into fights with their siblings? If I am someone else and making the decisions they made then that’s not me, where have I gone? Me being me, if I had been born Maria Sklodowska it’s highly unlikely I would ever have become Marie Curie; either I’m watching or I’m in charge, but it can’t be “both at the same time”.

Madonna or Kate Bush

Teddy Roosevelt

Joanne Woodward. Because she got to marry Paul Newman. Rawwr…

Sheryl Cooper because she’s married to Alice and gorgeous.

Alice Cooper. For the same reason. And the fact that he’s a much better golfer than I.

Julia Child.

The great love she had with Paul, the world she got to travel, the foods she got to taste, and the true joie de vivre in which she experienced her life.

Then it’s indistinguishable from the life we’re living right now. So how do I know that I’m “really” the person I think I am?

You either remember your prior consciousness or you don’t. You can’t have it both ways.

If I were somebody else without any memory of having been me, well, this question is moot since I would essentially cease to be at that point and the other person would just be re-living their life, unbeknownst to the now-nonexistent me.

On the other hand, if I still maintained my own consciousness, I don’t see any way out of that trapped feeling. Even in your hypothetical example, the universe would feel as though it were conspiring against my every thought and action. “No, no, don’t go there… phew, ok, I’m not going there… wait, why am I there anyway?!”

I’d much rather be able to experience, vicariously, these people’s lives if it didn’t have to be whole damned thing and just the fun bits and pieces.

God, just the thought of living through somebody else’s infancy is horrifying. The constant crying, that packed-diaper feeling… and being utterly unable to change the outcome or even walk away from it? :eek:

Keith Moon.

ETA : oh, and emphatic no on reliving my own life. Just the once sucked enough, thankee kindly.