Non-biological bodies & digital immortality

The director of engineering at Google, Ray Kurzweil–who has written a couple of books on these subjects– told a conference that in about 30 years, we will be able to download our minds into the internet to achieve “digital immortality.”  We will also be able to dispense with our physical bodies in favor of “non-biological bodies.”

Think of these goals as the promises of a new religion for our day.  Note the gnosticism, that ancient but always recurring heresy that denigrates the body and the material creation.  No families would be needed, since there would be no need for reproduction.  This would seem to herald the end of sex, though perhaps it would simply be the next step in internet pornography replacing sex.  (Though what would be the locus of desire without bodies?)  Getting rid of biological bodies, of course, would mean killing them, so this opens the door to mass murders, but that would be all right since people’s “minds”–which is the only part that counts–would be downloaded into Google’s servers.  Not much privacy there, but we could access everyone else’s minds, which would be the new version of human relationships, replacing such retro concepts as love and community.

What else?  (After the jump, details from Kurzweil’s sermon to the futurist conference.) [Read more...]

Relationships with virtual human beings

You have probably heard about Manti Te’o, Notre Dame’s Heisman Trophy candidate, whose dying girlfriend turned out to involve an on-line relationship with a woman who didn’t exist.  Now he is being accused of knowingly participating in the hoax to take advantage of the sob-story to give him publicity.  Some people are saying this is going to hurt him in the draft, with NFL teams not wanting to take him with this humiliating  baggage.  Finally Te’o has told his side of the story to ESPN.

I have no problem believing that the young man started an online relationship with someone he thought was sick and calling her his girlfriend, even though he never met her in person.  And that it turned out to be a prank by an acquaintance of his–well, this is the virtual world that many people live in. [Read more...]


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