Can people live forever?

I attended a talk themed “Living in tomorrow, today” in the past weeks by a futurist who researches things that are expected disrupt life as we know it and change the course of history.

I must say, my mind was opened to things  things I had not even begun to imagine, my mind was blown! By blown, I don’t mean shot at with a pump gun kind of blown, I mean someone dropped a hand grenade inside my head kind of blown.

The speaker shared a lot of insights into disruptive technologies and what the sum of these mean for the human species. This got me thinking, what if we could live forever? 

Now, I know this is not thought to be possible, but I think it is. Of course the body is not built to endure “forever”, however, “we” can live on after the body dies.  It looks like technology will change the rules, because it is not constrained by the limitations we have as humans and so technology does not conform to human standards, it can’t.

Now let me explain:

It is true that each one, well most of us creates a digital identity containing the experiences we have in our lives, some over a longer period than others depending on age.  We preserve and “can” these experiences through the various digital platforms that we interact with and therefore, put simply, these platforms are able to record events in our lives.

For instance,

  • Google keeps our calendars, knows were planning a vacation before we go one one, knows where we go, live and work, what time we leave our houses for work and vice versa.
  • We are connected to friends on Facebook, we check in, share updates about what we think and feel, where were travelling to, what were doing and who were with.
  • On Twitter, we share our opinions and views about certain topics (#), we interact with organizations that service us, we follow people that we have an interest in.
  • On LinkedIn, we keep our professional history, our skills and capabilities and professional connections
  • Instagram on the other hand, allows us to talk in pictures, we visualize where we are, who we’re with and what we’re doing using pictures and videos

The sum of the above platforms know who you’re connected to, where you are, what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with. Now in life at a high level, we have a network of people, we go places and we do stuff. Isn’t it starting to sound like, these platforms are a recording of your life that you can play back? At this very moment, Facebook reminds you what you did, or what you were thinking  at any point in time as long you posted it there.

The world is changing and technology is changing it. There impressive developments in the Internet of things (IoT), Virtual reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) space. What this means for us is that we can now use these technologies to record every aspect of our lives in a form that generations to come can be part of. From an IOT perspective, we can now record every detail of our day, whether we have milk or not, when we turn the lights off in our houses, when we’re there and not there  and even how healthy our bodies are. VR allows us to be somewhere we physically are not, it allows us to be part of a ecosystem from a remote location. Artificial intelligence allows us to program into computers, logic that allows them to do certain things by themselves, it allows us to make computers think, therefore creating a digital brain.

Let me make this real, say you and your partner are getting married, using VR cameras, every aspect of the wedding could be recorded, in 3D. Sensors on your body could record the sweat on your palms, the rate at which your heart beats and maybe even count the butterflies in your stomach as you say, “I do”. Ok maybe counting the butterflies in your stomach is taking it a little too far, but these are the capabilities of sensors in the IoT world. Using other data like your financial situation, what you spend your money on and what you do at certain times of the day, AI could predict certain events that may occur after the wedding, things like your chances of divorce, level of happiness and quality of life during the marriage.

Let’s fast forward 30 years down the line, your grandchildren won’t need to watch a video to see the wedding, they could be there using VR glasses that publish the data measured with the sensors(heart rate, butterflies in your stomach, etc.), and have a voice narrating to them through AI about the predictions made on that day, ,why they were made and what the result actually was.

I watched a movie some months back called “Her” where a woman in a computer through AI learned how to be a companion to a human. Now I’m not going to go into the detail because this didn’t end well for the first human she was a companion to.

If in the same way, you had a personality unmistakably identical to the one you have now, living online, like “Her” and in addition, you had a face, real human experiences and a representation of your emotions in the form of sensory data, would you not live forever?

This article was originally published on LinkedIn


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