Apparently modern technology is advancing in such a way that scientists are predicting that a form of immortality may be possible in the future;our minds could be digitized and our consciousness could exist within a computer or a robot of some kind (more information here if you’re interested). This got me thinking. Would I want to live forever, not within the me as I know me now but with all my thoughts and feelings still intact?
The answer is I don’t know. Death doesn’t scare me because I know it’s inevitable but pain and suffering does. I watched my husband die slowly and painfully from cancer and it’s not something that I would wish on my worst enemy so the thought that my life, if I reached that stage, could be interrupted and my consciousness transferred to another entity is not unappealing. However, the best part of life is experiencing as much of our wonderful world as we can in the time that’s available to us and, if that experience was purely digital how much pleasure would we get from it? I suppose it would be no different than living in a permanent dream state but what if it became a nightmare? If there was a direct connection and interaction between our minds and a machine where does one end and the other begin? Would it be like The Matrix and what we experienced within a digital reality would become the norm and we would have no sense of another self?
There are so many questions that arise from considering something like this but really those questions are no different to those that have plagued mankind for hundreds of years. The first vampire story was published in 1819, the Mortal Immortal was published in 1833 and ever since many books and films have fed our fascination with living forever. It’s strange that the vast majority of those books and films betray immortal beings as beautiful, superior in both physicality and intellect but what if the reality was that you’d just end up as a brain in a jar linked to the 2050 version of an i-phone?
We are living longer there’s no doubt about it; the oldest recorded man has just died aged 146 but, in the end apparently, he just stopped eating and drinking because he didn’t want to go on living. Modern medicine is progressing at such a pace that many of the diseases that most scare us now like cancer, MS and AIDs could be a thing of the past in the next few decades. It’s possible that, in a few years time, medical research and new technologies will enable us to live a healthy and active life well into our 90’s or 100’s – this nun is doing iron man competitions at the age of 86!
For me, having thought about it all, I wouldn’t like to live forever; knowing that we have an expiration date pushes us to get the most from life. What advancements would not have been made if there was no time limit? What would you do when you had done everything and seen everything and there was no such thing as a new experience? No, I don’t want to live forever but another good few years of health and happiness would be most welcome………….what about you?