The Geek in me gets all moist at the prospect of the artificial housing of human consciousness, but the pragmatist in me sees nothing but the end of humanity. Allowed to float around our imaginations untethered by reality, history, and precedent, the concept of immortality seems great. But when you really look at immortality for what it would almost certainly become, the prospect is horrifying.
First and foremost, immortality would undoubtedly become an option only for the rich and powerful. If power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, then the prospect of immortality would afford the greedy and powerful an opportunity never to relinquish the reins of their dominion. Whether political or financial, the urge to remain in control would result in the exponential accumulation of power and wealth to the cataclysmic detriment of the rest of humanity. Land of The Dead is a good analogy to this; the wealthy sit comfortably inside their golden tower of comfort and luxury while the poor live in squalor.
The second problem with immortality would be the stagnation of human progress, as well as the death of all moral integrity. No longer would humans strive to make the world a better place as the privileged few, controlling all the world’s resources for countless generations, would route all efforts into maintaining their private paradise. Creativity would cease, aside from expressions of rebellion and organized resistance, and all of humanity’s potential would be stifled.
A third potential problem would be the actual, literal death of our species. No longer would any money and effort be put into health care or agriculture or law, and so slowly the population would dwindle. At some point, perhaps only a small feral population of humans would remain on the planet, while near ageless human consciousness’ would be the majority. Once this happens, how would the new artificial human population reproduce? Would they start breeding programs using feral humans, only to extract their consciousness, discarding the worthless biological husks? Would we still be human if all human experiences were taken away before they could ever happen?
I shudder to imagine immortality in such a form. And although all of these problems could potentially exist if biological immortality were ever possible, removing the flesh would most certainly be an unmitigated disaster. Let’s leave the realm of artificial life to artificial intelligence… but that opens up a whole different Pandora’s Box.
Image Source: [HaloNation]