Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato


Friday, September 6, 2013

Immortality is Just around the Corner

     Hang on, boys and girls; eternal life is right around the corner.  Raymond Kurzweil, Google’s director of engineering, author, and futurist, believes that it’s just a matter of time before we become increasingly non-biological to the point where the non-biological part dominates our biological part.  In other words, we will soon be more machine than flesh and blood. As machines, we can be repaired, parts replaced, upgraded, and re-programmed.  Immortality is within our grasp. But there’s more.

            Kurzweil and others see a time when your entire brain can be downloaded onto a computer.  Just think…you may have the potential to become a computer.  How do we know it hasn’t already happened?  I’m suspicious.  I have a love-hate relationship with my computer and I’m convinced it’s female. 

            My computer takes awhile to warm up and I have to push the right buttons to get it started.  If I type in the wrong thing, it shuts down.  Even if it doesn’t shut down, pushing the wrong key gets me an emphatic and blatant warning, reminding me that I’m a clumsy moron. 

            Operating a female computer is like negotiating a minefield, but if you do everything right, it’s a great partnership.  She, uh… I mean “it” will even correct my spelling and fill me in on gossip.  So far it hasn’t told me to take out the garbage. I have a wife for that.

            I’ve learned not to be “heavy-handed” with my computer, but rather to be patient, gentle, and understanding. The “understanding” part is actually the hardest part, because I can’t possibly understand what makes my computer tick.  Sigmund Freud, after years of study, concluded that even he didn’t understand women.  Again, more reason to assume that my computer is female.  It has a woman’s memory.  Every mistake I’ve ever made is retained somewhere on its hard drive.

            Kurzweil says that soon scientists will be treating biology and the brain as software.  Think of the ramifications of downloading your brain onto a computer. You become the computer.  Someday you may be carried around in a laptop.  If you’re lucky, you could travel to distant lands, sit in on business meetings, take the cruise you’ve always hoped for, or rest comfortably on a gorgeous woman’s lap. However, if you’re unlucky and hit a glitch, you might be recycled into a tin can.

            We are already at a point where we have artificial parts.  I have an artificial knee that walks by itself and talks to me.  I once had a sinus lift where ground-up bovine bone (cow bone) was surgically implanted in my jaw to support a molar implant.  It took hours of therapy to break me of the impulse to eat alfalfa and juicy grass, but the oral surgeon assured me that I wouldn’t lactate.  Unfortunately, I don’t see any evidence that they used bone powder from a bull, doggone it.

            Functioning prosthetics of all kinds are being developed, so transferring the contents of our brain onto a computer may be the next step, according to Kurzweil. I wonder if the day will come when they can mount a computerized head on a human-like torso, creating a robotic you or me.  I don’t think it would take a lot of ram, gigabytes, mini-bytes, maxi-bytes, nibbles or chomps for the brain capacity of some of our political leaders and the voters who put them in office, but that’s another story.

            Since having a biological body would obviously defeat the purpose of eternal life, it’s more reasonable to expect that my “computer brain” would be sitting on a desk while one of my great grandchildren would be playing computer games on me or digging into my memory and posting all my misdeeds on Facebook.

            Not much is known about this new “immortality” technology, but at first glance I think I’d rather check out the old fashioned way and leave eternal life to my Creator. 


  1. Speaking of eternal life, check out a TV program on the Bio channel called "The Ghost Inside my Child". You can also find it on You Tube. The TV program is on Monday nights 8:00 to 9:00 PM.
    Your Forever friend,
    Jim Loar

    1. Although reincarnation is not my belief regarding eternal life, I know it's a daunting challenge to explain "memories" that people have of previous lives.

      Near death experiences, as in the book, "Life After Life" and several others, as well as things like "past lives" are mysteries we'll never completely understand. I can't even understand all the mysteries of my own Christian belief. Our minds are incapable of grasping these things in totality.

      I always go to Soren Kiekegaard, probably the first existentialist philosopher, who found it futile to explain our "absurd" world intellectually.

      There is no shortage of conflicting views and there are things we'll never understand. The experiences you refer to are one of the many things I don't understand.

      I went to the site you mentioned. Amazing stuff. It boggles the mind.

      But as Kiekegaard implies, whatever you believe will always require "faith." I guess that's the way it's supposed to be.