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hacking mortality - page 2


What if we are meant to live forever?

Of course you don’t believe.

It’s impossible.

But think of how the impossible continues to be made real, commonplace, even. Not only with things, but of life. For centuries, even those of stout faith would not dare honestly believe virgin birth possible — yet now there are test tube babies. Very old women, long presumed barren, can now give birth  — using another’s egg cells. And the resurrection of life? Literally possible! Though admittedly, still not for humans. But is even this only a matter of time? In digital form, it seems a near certainty. Tales from the Bible speak of a race of giants  — easily made real today using bionics, steroids, stem cells, gene editing. Placing two of every animal on a single ark? DNA is really, really small.

We are making the fantastical real.

Life first, death next.

We possess the potential to live beyond 100, 200, 500 years of age, like Noah, like Methuselah, like Adam. And it is no more unnatural than pacemakers, prosthetic limbs, hormone replacement therapy, or living inside a screen.

Now imagine this: the Bible is a makers guide, inspiring humanity’s technological progress and shepherding our ambition to live for hundreds of years, possibly forever.

We need only unlock its secrets, appropriate its ideas, replicate its magic.

God is waiting on us.

The Bible states that humans were endowed with the potential to live 1,000 years. But the actions of our predecessors demanded God strip us of this blessing. But what if that original potential remains? Locked inside us, ready to burst forth? The moment we become worthy.

Yes, the way forward will be messy, sometimes unsettling, shocking, oftentimes false, faulty.

But the fantastical will out.

We only need to believe.



He was wounded in hatred, the song lyric cycling through her brain, which she nudged aside, replacing it with his face, she was thinking of him, her hand underneath the covers, she began to pleasure herself, he was beautiful, everything she desired, young, strong, black, no legs, which she liked, a maudlin sentiment, she knew, but didn’t care, he lost both from the knees down, one of the final victims of one of the final wars that still used non-targeted explosives, she wanted to know his pain, touch it, she imagined its depth, hand darting, body moaning, so much pain, so much to transfer to her, could she bear it, she wondered, coming hard, then wondered if he was gay, might that explain why he never seemed to reciprocate her entreaties, offering only casual co-worker pleasantries in return, she wondered then if him being gay was a bad thing, no, she thought, it just makes him more special, more in need of a soulmate, besides, there’s nothing he could do about that anyway, like all those skin grafts on his torso, or how he has such intense focus because his parents optimized his biology for just that while he was gestating, or the way his body rejects gluten and lactose, and how he bravely chooses not to take anything to overcome this, rather, he just eats mostly meat, unlike most people, admittedly the thought of consuming animal flesh made her queasy, but it was a part of him, another of the many things that made him unique, like how his eyelenses sparkled when he disconnected, or the way his earpods were kept muted, always shining white so that nobody could just tell his mood, but she didn’t need to know the color of his earpods to know his mood, to know of his swirling torments, once again she imagined him on top of her, his thick arms and bionic hands gently holding her down, the pharma keeping him going, the meds taken just before hyper-stimulating the pleasure centers of their brains, she thought of how he preferred to communicate only in text, which was just fine by her, she would speak for the both of them, they would be as one, she came again, gathered herself and spoke, “picturing you,” and told Giant Brain to send him that video of her.


We were just 10 at the time, I know you don’t believe me, that’s to be expected. Gary was the first to die. He never accepted its power, not once. I did. When we discovered it, we grabbed it, clutched it in our hands, felt its vibrations though never fully understood its force. I blinked and became 11, just like that. The power was obvious. I was bigger now than Stevie, which I especially liked. I blinked again and was 20, which I liked maybe even more, and not just to get back at people, but it was hard, you know, so cut off from my past, and so I blinked again, 30, the perfect age, and that’s when I gave it up, I didn’t want to shift anymore. But life for me then was not as I imagined it to be, not as fun, not as free, but I couldn’t go back. I overheard this woman in the break room, she was 50, a little over, in fact, and happy, though her job was worse than mine. I forget who she was speaking with, but you could hear the lilt in her voice, the bounce, she was talking about how her third child, her youngest, had just graduated college and was living with someone nice, and she — the 50 year old — wanted to get out, experience life like everyone else, take a job, even something low-level, and though I had my suspicions, I did it, blinked, and was 50. Honestly, it wasn’t so bad. But I vowed then to stop, no matter what, no matter who I heard, who I met, what I saw, how I felt, no more, the end. But I guess it doesn’t work that way, though. Once it has you in its hold, it has you forever. In a few blinks I went from 10 to 11 to 20 to 30 to 50 and vowed to stop but it didn’t care. Bam. 70. Old. And I can barely remember any of it. More than Gary, at least.


Yes, Bio Vols. That’s the name they gave us, though we’re paid. It’s not volunteer work. Not with money, of course. No need for that anymore.

Correct, we chose to stay in this form, flesh and bone, even as the others, one by one at first, then by the million, all abandoned their physical body and uploaded themselves onto Giant Brain.

I’m not sure what they take with them. Their own brain, obviously, whether that’s mind and soul, emotions, feelings, I can’t say.

No, we do not communicate with them. I’m not sure we could understand one another anymore. It’s more a transactional relationship. We are like caretakers. Though truth be told, there’s not much to the job. Periodically we must re-check for optimum power throughput, though there’s never any issue, they built Giant Brain to to survive even if solar power went dark. Really, all we do is remove the digital detritus they throw off. Like new age garbagemen, I like to say. But our hands don’t get dirty. They are always in search of new data, new learning, but once it’s been integrated all the traces that led to their new knowledge are cast off. We take it away, like taking out the trash.

I like the job. Forces me to get out of my chair.

Yes, there are men Bio Vols. I’ve seen them. We rarely interact. The 1s — that’s what those who joined with Giant Brain are called, the 1s — they made sure to provide us with everything we need. This screen. Food, drink. Once a year I turn off the screen, get out of the chair, empty their trash, and return. I find it soothing.

Oh, it was awful at first. When people discovered there was a way to be preserved forever, to have their brains fused with Giant Brain. So much killing, outrage, viciousness. I’m not sure if it was ever meant for only the chosen ones, but that’s what everyone thought at first. That only a few would be privileged. We later learned they couldn’t transpose everyone, not because of their DNA or wealth or anything, it was a scalability issue.

To make the leap across that chasm required more computing power than they originally thought.

Plus, the chosen were certain they needed lots more humans, bio vols, to monitor the system. That was supposed to be kept a secret.

The last estimates were 37 million dead. Yes, it was horrible, nobody trusting anyone, everyone wondering exactly what criteria was necessary to get uploaded. Eventually things were righted. Giant Brain was able to transform anyone. They only needed a few of us.

No, we weren’t tricked. We didn’t want to go. Can you imagine? You can’t taste or touch or smell. I’m not even completely sure if they see or hear. They’re that way forever. No food, no drink, no screens. At least, I don’t think they have screens. Why need screens on the inside?

No, I’m not afraid to die. At least, I don’t think I am. Besides, I think someday it might be nice to bear children.


Yes, human.



Oh, very large. Very large.


Fourteen? Yes, well may I suggest sixteen?

No? Fair enough.

And then —

A penis? Also? We don’t get much call for that combination.

5’10”, yes, perfect.

Remember, race is covered only up to twice by the government. Except, not Asian. That you still have to pay for.

Green eyes, oh, my favorite.

Too light? This? No? This? Excellent!

Oh, wait. At this combination, it won’t be eligible for any affirmative action programs. Unless there’s a major culture shift, obviously.

You’re okay with that? Good, good.

Now we can edit out the Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, taking the odds down to as close to zero as possible.

However, we can’t guarantee against late onset breast cancer if you insist on it having DNA from the three of you.

Yes, I realize that’s a sensitive topic.

Now, let me show you these. I realize it’s more than you expected, but we can go from an 8–8–4 physical, intellectual, social to a 12–10–8.

Yes, I suppose we can do a 15–15. Your carrier will need to be extended an extra week. Are you prepared to compensate him for that?

Unfortunately, no, we can’t go any higher, society still places rules on those with an unfair advantage. I know, backwards thinking. No, I’m sorry, we can’t make any assurances regarding any special talents. Not in the 21st century, at least. But the recipient can legally make changes to any of these starting at age 16, and who knows what will be available by then.

What? Oh, funny, but no, it’s all the same, I’m afraid. Don’t we wish. We can’t edit in obedience. But, if you want, we can reduce the physical score slightly and, might I suggest, a blotted complexion. Oh, we can adjust their microbiome. That will create a somewhat less pleasant body odor and breath. Or, thinner hair, perhaps? Should have the desired effect. Plus, that has the added bonus of making it want to fit in with all the latest sanctioned micro-cultures. Very anti-establishment.


You’ll also need to sign this. You promise to the best of your abilities you won’t let it have intercourse with a non-premium nor a first cousin from any source. Excellent.

Let’s discuss facial structure. You seemed to have a preference for rounder. But with the body type you’ve selected, I wonder if these might work better for you. Remember, if you’re unhappy, you can return it within 30 days and start again, that’s covered by your employer.


There is more pornography freely available than anyone can consume in any one lifetime. There are no shortage of apps and services eager to connect people interested in all manner of fetish and couplings — and grouplings. There is a rising acceptance, likely cultural encouragement for so-called open marriage.

Yet never have so many gone so long without sex.

And the life-affirming intimacy it yields.

Maybe there’s a reason so many humans need to take their dogs with them to the grocery store, lest they feel — for even a moment — unloved, unneeded, disconnected.

We have bred dogs to be dependent upon us.

Most dogs could not survive in the wild, and those that might only at great difficulty. We like their dependence. It’s useful and comforting. The dog is dependent upon us, its owner, for shelter, food, healthcare, life.

We gain much in return.

The dog makes us feel better about ourselves. Less alone, more protected, valued, needed, a reason to go outside for a walk, to chat with strangers, to watch over and play with our children, to guard our possessions.

We will create emotional support robots.

These won’t have to look like dogs. They can look like other animals, or people, or something wildly new. But they will exist.

Emotional support robots to make us feel loved, secure, necessary, in control.

Some will mistreat their emotional support robots. Some will indulge them. All will find a use for them.

We will design our emotional support robot to have an absolute need to make us feel better, feel stronger, feel more secure. If they don’t, they will be punished. If they lag in their response, they will be punished. If they meet all our emotional requirements, immediately, we will simply create new ones, deepen existing ones, and punish the emotional support robots for their failure.

We will design them to like this.

Our emotional support robot will need to be designed such that they feel the equivalent of mental and physical pain for not fully liberating us from our every moment of doubt, weakness, gluttony, rage, cowardice, longing. They will be designed so that they beg us to forgive them. They will be designed so that they welcome our beatings. They will be designed to feel profoundly irrelevant without us.

We are outsourcing the rational, using our machines, computers, and AIs to manage our data and calculations and thinking. This frees us to focus on that which is available only to humans: the irrational.

We will be wildly irrational, highly emotional, enraged, outraged, fearful, covetous.

At times, the irrational may become too much.

The emotional support robots will be there to relieve us.

Woe to them.

Your cat demands love? Your emotional support robot will beg and plead for it. If that’s what you need.

Three neuroscientists recently won their field’s most valuable prize for brain research for their work on the brain’s reward pathways ” “a system that is central to human and animal survival as well as disorders such as addiction and obesity.”

The scientists’ research…found that dopamine neurons are at the heart of the brain’s reward system, affecting behavior in everything from decision-making, risk-taking and gambling, to drug addiction and schizophrenia.

The more we understand the human brain, the more we will leverage this knowledge to design our emotional support robot. We will reward them physically, mentally — as defined — and socially. Likewise, punish them.

As we increase our addiction to food, drink, sex, rage, video, distancing ourselves from humans past, and probably from humans living, we will become more reliant upon our emotional support robot. They will become our intimacy, if not our intercourse.

The world is more open, inclusive, tolerant.

Love is love.

No need for marriage, certainly no reason for a “closed” marriage.

And, yet, we continue to have less sex than those before.

Using data from the General Social Survey, a nationally representative sample of more than 26,000 American adults from 1989–2014, a team of researchers found a drop in sexual activity across all demographics regardless of gender, race, region, work status and education level. Overall, American adults are having sex about nine times fewer per year since 1989–1994.

Maybe the direction of the future isn’t leading us to where we desire? Maybe the growing embrace of CNM (consensual nonmonogamy) is not what humans need — now, or going forward. Maybe, as in the first letter to the Corinthians, “each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.”

Maybe, we’re doing it all wrong.

You fiercely, steadfastly believe the answer to the infinite unasked questions is more openness, more “tolerance” to do anything, destroy everything — starting with everything that was before.


But for all your new power and potential, your needs are not being met. Indeed, sometimes, they are being ignored. Sometimes, they are being made worse.

Perhaps new tech and more tech will right this. But I have my doubts.

Archaeologists are studying Neanderthals.

Neanderthals are thought to have gone extinct some 40,000 years ago. And while researchers have been studying their remains for decades, they’ve never gotten such a close look at what they ate ” until now.

“We found lots of fantastic bits and pieces ” animal hair, pollen grains, all this detail trapped in here that survived in the biological record,

Likely, those studying us — studying you — 40,000 years into the future will have more more data, far better tools. They will know your diet, your habits, your search history, your exact location(s), what you did, where you came from, how you loved.

Will they wonder about your happiness?

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