I’m straying from my experiment for blog posts this week slightly today. As a reminder, I’m taking a line from a song that was playing on the store’s music system as I go to lunch break and developing my post from that. I’m doing that in a way today but I’m not getting too literal with it. As I went to lunch “Modern Love” by David Bowie came on the radio. But no matter how much I tried I couldn’t take any of the lines I remember from the song and think of anything directly related to them. I could have taken the obvious route with “No religion” but I cover that all the time. Instead I’m taking the titular line of “Modern love” and re-think it as “Post-modern love.” Probably given the subject matter “Future love” or “Computer love” would be better titles for the post. Unfortunately, they don’t play either The Incredible Moses Leroy or Kraftwerk at work so I’ll stick with what I’ve got.
One of the ways that people are proposing to reach immortality is via uploading our minds to computers. I’ve covered this before and said that I’m not a fan of the idea. Supposing that the person in the computer is a living, self-aware being that still doesn’t mean that it’s the same person that was dying in the first place. But let’s push that aside. Let’s suppose that we’re now computer programs and our minds are as identical as they can be to what they were before. Do we still love? Do we have emotions at all? I think the problem will arise with the fact that we would have memories of emotions, including love. We’ll also mention lust, and while we no longer have bodies to feel the physical benefits of sex we’ll still desire it. We’ll have to find some way to figure out hardware that can interact in a way that we can still “feel” the pleasures of sex.
We could also go with the popular fiction concept of the computer afterlife with the idea that we’ll be software programs that interact in a virtual world. In this world we’ll be able to feel. Without the physical means to feel sex in “real life” we’ll have to have additional programming included in our software to be able to feel the sensations in question. In other words, as well as software that comprises our minds we’ll have to have some software that replaces our bodies. I suppose that we’ll have waste in the form of files we no longer need, and some whimsical programmer could include a going-to-bathroom program that takes care of this act.
This makes me think of a really weird experiment to conduct: reproduction. If we have the whole immortality thing going for us anyway we won’t need to reproduce. However, somebody could still try writing a program that allows two people to form a new piece of software that includes attributes of their programming–in other words, a computer “child” based on “genetics.” Would this child be self-aware? Would this child be a living being? What if the parents catch a computer virus and get erased? Could it be that reproduction could occur in such a manner? Could it be possible that there could be several generations down the line that are composed of nothing but these offshoot programs?
Let’s take this one step further. Suppose that scientists find a way to replicate the bodies we had in life and download our minds into them. As such we get our old lives back. That would be great, but what about our children? I’m talking about making bodies that replicate us but are mindless shells until we download into them. If these bodies were to reproduce, would the offspring also be mindless, or would they be bona-fide biological children? In that case, would these “real” children be used to measure the accuracy of the software children? Could the software children then become jealous? I would think so, and things could get nasty.
Hey, I have the workings for a science fiction novel here….