Originally posted here on my ancient blog site.
Technology has taken its fastest strides in last century. We have already started playing god in so many fields. But one thing at last undoes all that we do throughout our lives, our death. Its the ultimate end, the eternal and most peaceful sleep. Over the years, definitions of death have also changed. It used to be the last breath,then last pulse, then the last neuro signal and so on. But ultimately it seems like the last irreversible damage after which a being can no longer have any motivated action on its surroundings. That means that we can as well stretch it through some means to eternity!!!!
Lets define Immortality first. Rene Descartes very wisely put life’s definition as ITTIAM, and it holds to this day. So the main challenge is to make our thoughts live.i.e. Our brain or some artificial equivalent of brain has to live eternally. The rest of the body may be changed or made durable. At present, the most promising steps taken in the direction of immortality are in the fields of Artificial Intelligence, Genetics , Stem Cell Research, Nanotechnology.
Artificial Intelligence– we might in future have machines that are capable of human behaviour and have the gigantic memory that we have.(even the lowest estimates put it to arnd 2-3 TeraBytes which is about a 20 harddisks of a present day computer.The highest is unimaginably high). Apart from that we have the densest network in the known universe in the space between our two temples. And Brain’s compression algorithms beat all the algorithms man has ever designed for storing data neurons down 🙂. Despite all this complexity, in 30yrs or so,we might after all start to make artificial brains. Nano technology may make ckts smaller by a factor of 1000.And Artificial Neural networks would have come close to their natural counterparts.With both these put together its definitely possible. But now comes a huge question. How do we transfer all that our brain has?? First of all even now, very little is known about the way brain stores huge chunks of data. Once we know that, we need to have non-Intrusive scanners that will scan all that our brain has in it. One can’t imagine the data rates at which it will have to do the transfer. Otherwise it might take a year or more considering the huge memory(The poor fellow in the scanner would have died of inactivity by then ;)).
Okkkkkk!!!!, Once all this is done our artificial brain can be plugged to an artificial world where it will live for ever like a software till someone pulls the plug.Yeah!! the same thing in the famous Sci-fi movie Matrix. Ofcourse it will never feel that its not in a real world. In-fact that world can be filled with all kinds of real things minus the so called bad ones like AIDS virus,Mosquitoes,Rodents.etc.Seems like heaven isn’t it? We might have another more real solution too. Clones. We would have perfected the art of preservation of bodies by then. So make ur clone, put it in a freeze till age of 20, by then u will be say, 50, and then put ur brain’s info in the 20 yr old. U r back to youth again!!But be sure u do that with ur spouse too 😉.
Coming to Genetics.We already have a little idea of the genes that cause ageing. What this means is that till now we were programmed by nature to die. And we were also programmed such that we lose all interest to live before we die. That’s why we wear off as we grow old, lose teeth, lose all senses and so on. We might as well modify these genes to suit our needs.The big trick is to modify them so that we age till age of 25 and then stop ageing. Otherwise, we might have eternally living stupid babies only. And one more thing, if u r already even a zygote, this technology even if discovered cannot be of any use to you. So I wonder about trauma the scientist who discovers it will go through. He will die happy if he thinks the Jesus way.
Speaking of the Nano-Technology and Stemcell research, this seems like the most possible solution and most the desirable one too. Stem cells have the capability to convert themselves into any kind of cell.We have already had one scientist,Mr.Hwang Woo Suk, Having made false claims about Human Stem Cells and got his due for that. Lets leave it at that. These cells can be made to grow a complete human body and then go the AI way or can be made to grow parts of human body and then replace the original parts one by one. So our body after every few years will go through a servicing period where in all worn out parts get replaced. The big trick here will be do to do it with neurons. Future may throw some light on that too.The role of Nanotechnology is to help repair body parts using tiny robots that identify ageing parts and repair them. They will be infused in our bloodstream where in they will do all the work. I wonder if they can get small enough to pass through the ever vigilant filter,Kidney. Otherwise they’ll Piss Off everyone, literally!!!. So we will need to program the robots to identify damaged parts,which will be another headache.
So can we or should we hope that all these speculations will be a reality before we pass out of our youth??
Coming soon… One more article on immortality dealing with the effects that it can have on society and individuals and more.