Immortality Through Photocopying - Does it Count?
Information and Theories 6/17/11
By: Chris Capps
One of the theories of immortality that have been proposed in the past is that we simply take the consciousness of a person who is about to die and transfer it via computer into a memory bank where the entire personality of a person can reside for an indefinite period of time before it is Ã¢â‚¬Å“downloadedÃ¢â‚¬Â into another human body. The idea behind this is that the identity of the person when combined with a specially grown human body will actually allow the person to become resurrected and essentially gain a sort of immortality. Of course it also leaves many questions.
For example, if someone were to wish to use the machine just before they were to die and then later turned out not to be dead at all, would they be the same person? Or someone completely different? This has been the premise of countless books and films, perhaps most famously portrayed in the science fiction blockbuster starring Arnold Schwarzenegger Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Sixth Day.Ã¢â‚¬Â In it, a man attempts to come to terms with his own mortality and his copied existence and overcome a conspiracy to bring him down after he unexpectedly survives an attack on himself and finds that human cloning and immortality may be two completely different things. But while it's an interesting trip through Hollywood science fiction speculation, how would such a method look in the real world?
If you had downloaded your consciousness into several different forms and died several times already, the idea of dying may eventually become no less solemn than Ã¢â‚¬Å“beamingÃ¢â‚¬Â in the Star Trek series. You simply shed your previous form and are recreated in a new body in an entirely new place. Of course in Star Trek, each time a character beams somewhere they are essentially dying off and being reformed elsewhere in an exact copy of themselves complete with memories and what many would consider the soul.
But then we have to consider that all lie, every action we take, is a very active process to never let this very death off the body happen. We are constantly struggling to ensure our bodies and our consciousnesses continue to interact and do things in this world. And when we no longer consider the human form and the continuity of our own bodies to be a matter of importance, what remains? Most people would agree the conscious mind is the most important thing in a person's life Ã¢â‚¬â€œ even more so than the body or the brain itself. It seems if we are to discover the location of the soul within the body we may never find it, but this consciousness seems to contain this soul. And yet even if the consciousness contains the soul, and the brain contains the consciousness, there is nowhere in the brain we can simply point to and suggest this must be where the soul lives Ã¢â‚¬â€œ otherwise immortality would be a far simpler thing to pursue.