Within the next few decades, humanity may be able to achieve a sort of immortality by merging our minds with machines, according to a prominent futurist. This could mean we live on through androids even after our bodies die, allowing us to attend our own funerals.
- Futurist Dr Ian Pearson says humans could merge their brains with technology
- Would allow us to become electronically immortal, have a new body after death
- He also warns it could mean we no longer own our minds, as they're on the cloud
Within the next few decades, humanity may be able to achieve a sort of immortality by merging our minds with machines, according to a prominent futurist.
This could mean we live on through androids even after our bodies die, allowing us to attend our own funerals, and get back to life with a ‘highly upgraded body.’
But, according to Dr Ian Pearson, it could also mean you no longer own your mind.
The expert warns a shift toward ‘electronic immortality’ will require careful planning – otherwise, our cloud-connected brains could be used for purposes beyond our control.
In a new blog post, Dr Pearson says human intelligence, memory, or senses could be connected to external technology by 2050.
Rather than creating a backed up copy of your mind, most of your intelligence would simply be running from a place outside of your physical brain.
‘It isn’t uploaded, it simply grows into the new platform seamlessly and as far as you are concerned, it is very much still you,’ Pearson writes.
‘One day, your body dies and with it your brain stops, but no big problem, because 99% of your mind is still fine, running happily on IT, in the clouds.
‘Assuming you saved enough and prepared well, you connect to an android to use as your body from now on, attend your funeral, and then carry on as before, still you, just with a younger, highly upgraded body.’
As this would require the use of a purchased or rented android and cloud space ultimately owned by a tech company, however, the expert says we could run into problems with the fine print.
Companies could use it to ‘enslave’ workers after their deaths, according to Pearson, by maintaining ownership of the mind for their own benefit down the line.
Dr Pearson says human intelligence, memory, or senses could be connected to external technology by 2050. Rather than creating a backed up copy of your mind, most of your intelligence would simply be running from a place outside of your physical brain
‘Maybe the cloud company could replicate your mind and make variations to address a wide range of markets,’ Pearson writes.
‘Maybe they can use your mind as the UX on a new range of home-help robots. Each instance of you thinks they were once you, each thinks they are now enslaved to work for free for a tech company.’
HOW SOON WILL WE BE ABLE TO UPLOAD OUR MINDS TO A COMPUTER?
Brain and memory preservation has been explored at length by futurists, scientists and science fiction junkies alike.
Many say it falls under the category of 'transhumanism.'
Transhumanism is the belief that the human body can evolve beyond its current form with the help of scientists and technology.
The practice of mind uploading has been promoted by many people, including Ray Kurzweil, Google's director of engineering, who believes we will be able to upload our entire brains to computers by 2045.
Similar technologies have been depicted in science fiction dramas, ranging from Netflix's Altered Carbon, to the popular series Black Mirror.
Another prominent futurist, Dr Michio Kaku, believes virtual reality can be used to keep our loved ones' personalities and memories alive even after they die.
Scientists and futurists have different theories about how we might be able to preserve the human brain, ranging from uploading our memories to a computer to Nectome's high-tech embalming process, which can keep it intact for thousands of years
'Imagine being able to speak to your loved one after they die ... it is possible if their personality has been downloaded onto a computer as an avatar,' he explained.
These ideas haven't been met without criticism.
McGill University Neuroscientist Michael Hendricks told MIT that these technologies are a 'joke.'
'I hope future people are appalled that in the 21st century, the richest and most comfortable people in history spent their money and resources trying to live forever on the backs of their descendants. I mean, it’s a joke, right? They are cartoon bad guys,' he said.
Meanwhile, neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis said recently that such technologies would be virtually impossible.
'The brain is not computable and no engineering can reproduce it,' he said.
'You can have all the computer chips in the world and you won't create a consciousness.'
A similar scheme could take place within company medical plans, or even families that may want to keep you around against your wishes.
It all ultimately comes down to planning.
‘Get it right, and you can live in deluxe cyber-heaven, hopping into the real world as much as you like and living in unimaginable bliss online,’ according to Pearson.
‘Have too many casual taster sessions, use too much fully integrated mind-sharing social media, sign up to employment arrangements or go on corporate jollies without fully studying the small print and you could stay immortal, unable to die, stuck forever as just a corporate asset, a mere slave.’