Interesting idea raised by Jimmy in another thread - if an advanced race fully understood their DNA they could recreate themselves as they saw fit. Topic for discussion: What would be the ultimate modifications?
I'm imagining almost all brain, living in an almost indestructible metal shell connected to robotic limbs that could be changed out as necessary. What do YOU think?
Here's a quote from that article about Hawking:
"I think the brain is like a programme in the mind, which is like a computer, so it's theoretically possible to copy the brain onto a computer and so provide a form of life after death.
"However, this is way beyond out present capabilities. I think the conventional afterlife is a fairy tale for people afraid of the dark."
It appears that either Hawking was misquoted or he misspoke (mistyped?) It makes more sense to compare brain to hardware (computer) and mind to software (program).
I was carried away with the idea, and got it. As for the terminology, it doesn't matter to me which word is used. I guess it would be important in a thesis, if your grade depended on it. I tend to see the brain analogy to hardware also, and the mind analogy to software.
I liked this part also:
"I think the conventional afterlife is a fairy tale for people afraid of the dark."
I enjoyed that quip as well. :D
Extending your life through consciousness transfer - copy/paste doesn't do this, but there is a way.
If we were to augment your current brain with technology that could speed up numerous processes and add more memory, perhaps even more accurate memory, and we were to improve and improve these augmentations until they became so much more efficient than your current wetware that, well, your thoughts ended up bypassing your old brain, even for mind/body interface because we provided augmented interfaces for that as well - well then you might not even notice if your old brain just switched off one day.
That would truly be an extension of your own consciousness, with complete continuity, into a new vessel.
I've heard this called trans-humanism. I think it is really the only way we'll evolve to anything better.
This has been a theam for many SF stories also, from intentional GMH's, to accidental variations induced by space exploration and mutation. I think I even wrote a short story in HS about this idea, suggesting that over time, given space exploration, that needed adaptations to new plantery environments would put pressure on human genetics.
The Book 'DUNE', rather quietly discusses the decision between biological and technical adaptations, with some cultures choosing biological over technical.
Our culture seems to have placed emphasis on technical over biological, in part due to rather old religious questions about being 'human'.
In the end, I expect we will come to the same place asking 'what is human'? So far even our most modified citizens show little outward signs of overt modications. I expect as our population ages, and health technology 'improves', our concern for heavy divergence from the common human frame will soften.
In the early 1990's there were a few very early websites dealing with 'cyberpunk'. At that time folks were writing web-based stories with this as a common theam, I think as an attempt to simulate what would happen to culture, as a 'worst case' as this technology become practical. After reading some of these stories, I noticed that the technology could be used as a platform for personal power and competion. With this technology a decay into a 'war of all against all' might develope for fear that the least modified might fall victum to the other real 'monsters', in short a new 'arms race' now personalized. I expect in that alternative future, something like the UN might demand international law and treaties to control the proliferation of this technology.
Maybe as the planet's ecology continues to diverge from 'normal' parameters, there might be a push for technical/biological adaptations. Sadly I expect that Obamacare will not cover such 'modifications by choice'.
Maybe that next 3 to 5 administrations out, will be very different than the more recent. With the focus of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer, such a personal jump into extream modifications could show up, which could seal all attempts to reversal of some ugly trends. 'Why change a damn thing, when all we need to do is adapt?' Maybe in the end, 'aliens are us/them' will become the new activist chant.....
I think, "EWWW!"
I can imagine human beings having been modified to fit in to different niches in the environment (see Jack Chalker's Rings of the Master series), or manipulated to be better suited to different tasks, such as underwater exploration. I also believe that changing ourselves too much would be grotesque. Maybe that's just my aversions to the idea of massive manipulations.
I hope to see 'rentalable Avatars' in time. I would love to visit the Moon for a nice walk, and just sit on that very dry beach watching the Earth rise.
Have you read The Holy Machine, by Chris Beckett. It is thought provoking.
On a lighter side, I think it would be cool if they could develop gene therapy to alter the colour of your hair. :D
What's wrong with the color of my hair?