Sunday, March 09, 2014
What are we?
I’ve always thought of myself as a six-foot overweight man with a middle income lifestyle. But that’s not the real me. I am memories and lessons learned. The physical body without my memories and learnings is no more me now than it will be after I die, which would be like a computer that has been turned off.
The living me is still a computer with memory and an artificial intelligence operating system. The body has some built-in unintelligent functions but they are not me. If you took my memories and learnings and installed them in another body, I would essentially be the same person – the same personality – in a different body. The computer analogy would be to move the hard drive from one computer to another. Everything that the hard drive, with its memory and operating system, could achieve in the first computer chassis, it can do in the second computer chassis as long as it has the same accessories (printer, display, camera, etc.). Changing the computer chassis doesn’t change me, any more than I would be changed if one of my legs were cut off or my body’s eyes went blind.
When the computer is turned off its hard drive can be removed and installed in a different chassis. When the hard drive in then turned on, we have the same computer – the same memories and operating system - within a different chassis.
Likewise, if my memories and learnings were moved from one body to another body while I was asleep, I would be the same person in a different body after I woke up. With our current technology my memories and learnings could only be moved to another body by moving my brain to the new body. But, the physical brain, like my arms and legs, is not me. Only the memories and learnings that are stored in the brain are me. In fact, to move a computer from one chassis to another I can move the hard drive or I can transfer the information stored in one hard drive to another hard drive as long as the capacity of the new hard drive was equal to the capacity of the old hard drive. In the same sense, I would be essentially the same in the new body as long as the new body has the same accessories and the same brain capacity.
It would also be true that my memories and learnings could be copied to more than one other body and upon waking, there would be two of me with the same memories and the same learnings. Both of me would cease to be the same as time goes on and each has different experiences, thinks and forms new memories. However, the instant we wake up there are two of me who are exactly the same person.
With every passing moment both of me become more and more unique. We rapidly become two different persons who have the same past up to the moment that I was copied into a two new bodies.
It’s also true that my memories and learnings could be copied into a second body but not erased from the original body. Again, when both awake there are two of me, with the same memories and learnings.
Now assume that my memories and learnings are copied into a second body and the original body – the original me – allowed to die. When the second body awoke, I would still exist but in a different body even though the original body with which my memories and learnings were formed was dead and the memories and learnings it contained are lost.
Since I exist as long as my memories and learnings are intact, then I exist no matter what my memories and learnings reside in as long as I can think and access the memories and learnings. I don’t need arms and legs or eyes and ears; I only need the capacity to think in order to be me. So, I don’t need a brain – human or otherwise. I only need a device that can store my old memories and learnings and think. Today that is a computer equipped with artificial intelligence. Compared to the human brain it is significantly limited but in time man will develop computers with greater thinking capacity.
In the future, any of us will be able to exist forever by keeping our memories and learnings in a computer. That form of existence might not be nearly enough for most people but it’s not hard to imagine a manmade body in which the brain containing one of us resides.
Many may argue that I’m ignoring the human soul which they believe cannot be moved or copied. It is God-made and all of them are one-of-a-kind. We think of the soul as something that can and does survive death, God permitting. Perhaps it’s like the one-of-a-kind serial number that accompanies a computer’s software. There can be many copies of the software but each will operate only when a serial number is provided and each serial number can only be used in one computer at a time.
Can we be duplicated many times or are we dependent upon a single user serial number?