Let me begin this thread by stating that I read through the topic of transhumanism started by our esteemed TA member Nate Lundgren last year and felt like it did not address the issue of consciousness transfer. There was a lengthy debate on the definition/semantics of transhumanism and whether it is rightfully characterized as dogma. Hopefully this thread will focus more on the implications of transferring human consciousness into an alien body.
If the technology was available and you were near the end of your physical life would you consider transferring your consciousness into a droid/robot? If our consciousness is our primary essence would this process not ensure our existence 'in perpetuity'? Also, if you could specify, would you request having the dark unfortunate memories of your current human existence not transferred?
As technological advancements gain increasing momentum we are toying with the ability to transfer our very cognitive thoughts at some point. Would our taking over the controls of human evolutionary development in the "posthuman age" lead to an improvement as a sentient being or it would it all unravel and be our ultimate demise?
There are certainly many considerations. A large one being would we retain our present compliment of emotional states after the transfer? Would our mental state develop in the direction of being a purely logic-oriented being devoid of compassion and empathy? That would be a wrong turn in my estimation.
I see where it could become a very slippery slope indeed. On the other hand having the ability to glide endlessly into the future with my consciousness jumping from agent to agent is alluring.
It would only be a facsimile of your consciousness. Like stepping on a Star Trek transporter, you are destroyed and a copy is constructed somewhere else.
But to the 'transportee' nothing has changed.
Really? The 'transportee' could be obliterated, but a perfect copy produced elsewhere. You'd be dead, but someone else identical to you would have come into existence.
In the fictional world of Star Trek. However, it isn't clear that a transporter clone (which is what it is, in a way) who has the same body and memories as the original transportee is actually the same person. They might simply be a facsimile.
This may be all the Starship Enterprise needs, but did a personal consciousness get transported along with the reconstructed body and brain? Who knows?
Look at it this way: If we could create a clone of you and put you beside that clone, would your consciousness be in two places at the same time? I don't think so. It would just be a person who looks like you and thinks it has the same personal history.
Do you admit there's a problem when you look at it that way?
I am interested in transhumanism but not in the illusion of immortality. I would argue that religion is a pre-scientific expression of the desire for people to live forever and that this desire among some transhumanists to achieve immortality by scientific means is a last gasp of this desire.
If you could copy my brain somehow and paste it to another agent I do not think that would be the same as being immortal. Why wait until you are dead? Why not make a hundred copies of your consciousnesses and activate them before you die so you can decrease the odds of being erased by an accident or disaster. The desire for immortality is a fetishism of the self. (Wow, somebody real smart must have already said that.) I think we need to go back further and ask ourselves "what are we?"
I contend that the person I was 20 years ago is now gone, forever. All that remains are some memories and personality traits. Every moment is a little death as the person you are is replaced by a new you. The best immortality to hope for is that the others that come after you benefit from you having been here, even if they have no idea who you were.
The desire for immortality is a fetishism of the self.
Nice, Dave. I may have to tweet that :)
"The desire for immortality is a fetishism of the self."
As cognitive beings is it irrational to look for a means to self perpetuate? Self preservation is the greatest of motivators.
Explain atheists in fox holes. Their actions may lead to their permanent demise. They must have more than self preservation motivating their actions.
You make a good point, however self-preservation IS a major motivator, but so IS self-sacrifice. Which is more of a motivator? An interesting paradox.
"Every moment is a little death as the person you are is replaced by a new you."
Your body's cells are totally replaced over a period of 7 to 10 years (the time estimate depends on the source). It is the design ot form determined by the DNA which is constant. (source)