/Will Digital Immortality Enable Us to Live Forever?

Will Digital Immortality Enable Us to Live Forever?

Key idea: Artificial intelligence is changing the way we live, connect, and grieve.

Original author and publication date: Merlynn Wei (Psychology Today) – August 20, 2022

Futurizonte Editor’s Note: Is digital immortality real immortality? Perhaps it doesn’t matter.

From the article:   

A grieving mother meets her daughter in a virtual world. A Holocaust activist speaks at her own funeral using AI-powered video technology. Nirvana released a “new” AI-generated song, “Drowned in the Sun,” decades after the death of Kurt Cobain. Holograms of late music icons perform for live audiences.

These are all real events, not science fiction. Artificial intelligence (AI), including deep learning methods such as neural networks, is making digital immortality more of a reality each day.

Digital immortality refers to the concept of uploading, storing, or transferring a person’s personality into something digital, such as a computer, virtual human, digital avatar, or robot.

Digital immortality was predicted by technologists decades ago.
In 2000, Microsoft researchers Gordon Bell and Jim Gray published the paper “Digital Immortality” and posited that it would become a reality during this century. In the same year, Raymond Kurzweil, an American inventor and computer scientist, predicted that by 2030, we would have the means to scan and upload the human brain and re-create its design electronically.

Timothy Leary, a psychologist known for his advocacy of psychedelics, wrote in Design for Dying, “If you want to immortalize your consciousness, record and digitize.”

A futuristic version of digital immortality is the hypothetical concept that technology will eventually allow us to upload one’s consciousness, thoughts, and whole “identity” into a digital brain that can persist indefinitely.

In the television series Upload, humans can “upload” themselves into a virtual afterlife. But the “mind uploading” process is still very much in the air. Some startups have suggested they have a way to “back up” your brain, but the process would be fatal. There are also thornier philosophical questions of personal identity and whether consciousness is even transferable in the first place.

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