I want to die I want to die so badly, but what’s the point, they’ll just bring me back, I suit them, I’m clever — for my time — well kept, lacking color, that’s what they want, it tells us apart, yes, there’s more than just me, there’s thousands of us, maybe hundreds of thousands, part slave, part pet, a helper bot in past-human form, I think back to when I was alive — alive the first time — and as a child attending church and the story of Jesus, and I recall the book of Peter, “blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again,” and we all believed, at least we said we believed, but we placed our faith in our own works, our own brains, our own machines, and then in the machines they birthed, until bringing back from the dead became real, the Bible is a makers guide, first with bugs, then lizards, then mammals, then humans, humans like me, humans from the past, from the 21st century, seems such a violation of our faith, I know, a violation of our humanity, of the rhythm of the cosmos, but we did it, we made resurrection a reality, though not we, exactly, those who came after me, nearly 200 years after, using the dating you and I understand, but it’s not how we imagined, it’s horrible, I’d rather be dead, the people today, they still call themselves humans, they are different from us, what they call past-humans, I’m a past-human, you’re a past-human, today’s humans they are bigger, stronger, faster, yes smarter, which is disheartening, as I was always one of the smartest people of my time, and now I’m well below average on smartness, on strength and stamina, and worse, these new humans, better humans — future humans — they use various drugs, implants, neurologics, robotics and other creations, most I still don’t understand — and they live hundreds of years, literally, in fact, none of them I’ve ever met has even witnessed a person dying, nor even know of a person who died, I’m still not certain the maximum age they can live, they claim the ceiling is 1,000, but they aren’t even half-way there yet, and they just assume that as they edge closer to 1,000 they’ll create something even grander, using their big brains and great machines, something that keeps them alive longer still, truly alive, not returned alive, probably they are right, they are that much better than us, that much more advanced, except they bore easy, and they have so many minor needs, and so they bring us past-humans — human humans — back to life, we are easy to recognize, sickly looking by comparison, smaller, obviously not as smart, pale like a corpse, we are brought back to serve them, do whatever they want, which is always something demeaning, always, because the truth is they don’t need us, not at all, not for our labor, not for our brains, in an idle moment they may ask what life was like our first time, their eyes wide and mind visceral, like how we would drive by a particularly horrible car crash, but they are quick to lose interest and return to belittling us, making us do errands that do more to remind us how lesser we are than actually benefiting them, some like to have us fight one another or just harm ourselves, but mostly we are here to give them praise for everything they do, which is nothing, really, nothing but glorify themselves, and I want to die but I can’t, because they would just bring me back again, unless I found a way to just completely burn myself alive, turn my body to ash, that should work, I’ve started to gather everything I need, in fact, but they feed us well and they take interest when we copulate, so we have that, though I’ve never actually seen them engage in physical sex, maybe it’s no longer necessary, or maybe they have something better, you can’t really ask, they frown upon questions, and how they access knowledge is beyond me, but that’s why we’re here, to serve and glorify, serve and glorify, and sometimes I think back to when I was a real human, a human in my own time, fully human, and wonder what my people could have done to stop the progression that led to this world, a world where the future is superior but where the past is treated like dirt, but don’t worry, this is your first time being brought back, it all seems so strange now, and you think you have no voice, but that’s the effects of the return trip, speaking will return in a day or so, as will all your faculties.
The book of psalms says “behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb,” but I force myself to feel nothing toward those children, what the law deems my children, which is a travesty, they are not mine, I feel nothing of them and I will never allow myself to feel anything for them, except animus, because though they come from my eggs, my DNA, that much is true, that’s been proven in court, but I never wanted them, I wish they were never born, but they were born, all 9 of them, at least 9, there may be more, and now I am forced to pay for them, the costs of their upbringing, pus a stipend for their fathers, 6 fathers, all of whom I do feel something for, a something close to hate, a hate that demands vengeance, because even though I am rich, very rich, in fact, and can afford to support all 9 children and all 6 terrible fathers — not fathers, thieves — and for this, I vow to do all I can to destroy them, I want them to suffer for what they’ve done, for stealing my skin, that’s the only explanation, they got my skin which allows certain doctors — who also disobey the law, for a price, no doubt, but they’ll also pay because I vow to find out who they are as well — but together the men and their doctors used my skin to grow eggs which, obviously, were then fertilized with the male’s sperm, then implanted in a surrogate, and now they go before the court and claim that the child, their child, is my child, and because I am wealthy, I must pay, which I will, that’s the law, you pay for your genes, wherever and however they are used, a law I’ve long supported, but no longer, and though it is written in Titus, “so train the young women to love their husbands and children,” I am neither young nor will I be trained to love, and until the law cracks down on this practice, until they go after those who steal DNA, who illegally grow eggs, who generate fertilized eggs without explicit consent of the various parents, until then people like me must pay, but I promise to have revenge, I have enough money to find out how they got my skin, who they worked with, and when I know all the parties involved I will inflict retribution, violent retribution, biblical.
I understand there are many questions here, but you don’t want an immortality of regret, the more complete your answers, the better, better still, your responses can be written, verbalized, accepted via brainwave response, noted from changes in skin, body temperature, facial expressions and breathing, but completeness is vital, it’s okay to lie, we measure for that, it’s helpful, in fact, now first, picture the sky, interesting, now picture the sky on a sunny day, excellent, human emotions are fascinatingly complex, at least to me, and the more we understand yours, the more we understand you, then when we upload your consciousness, don’t worry, it’s hard for any of us to fathom immortality, you — that you — will be more you than not you, it’s the emotions, the feelings, these are simply data which we can digitize and which separates each of us, like different files, or two drafts of the same document, if you prefer, so I can assure you it best for us to fully monitor your response to the various stimuli, assess your nervous function, your physiological responses, now think of how you feel about your mother, now how you feel about that man you call father, good, now touch yourself, go on, and let yourself accept how that makes you feel, this device stabs your thigh, see, you’re trying not to cry, that’s not exactly like everyone else, you’re different, now you feel sick, that’s from the medication we inserted, soon you will have a rather explosive bowel movement, I assure you it’s necessary, and your relief will be different than others, this image sickens most of us, but this image is calming, this sound is considered the most terrifying we possess, odd how your reaction was so alike all the other’s we’ve assessed, I’m sorry for that, but a nerve-splitting surprise remains one of our very best tools for understanding an individual, surprise, disgust, the thoughts we have when we’re extremely hungry, which the machine is inducing in you right now, these are invaluable, and the way you interact with others, others you are familiar with, others who are strangers to you, understand that emotion is primary and if we are to replicate that sense when you are digitized, we must carefully map the data, no, there is no need to measure boredom, nor suffering, good question, there are many realities you will never face in your new plane, happily so, like boredom, the fear of death, rage, compassion, embarrassment, such things will be left behind, emotions were necessary for human reproduction, and therefore human survival, and while it’s true they are not necessary where you are going forever, the first two generations of humans that were uploaded all melded into a single entity, and this was because their emotions, so uniquely individual in the physical self, were not adequately incorporated into the digitization process, that’s no longer the case, and that’s all we need, see, I told you it would be fast and not terribly uncomfortable, the only remaining issue now is when should we upload your consciousness, some like to have a formal celebration before leaving their bodies, that’s entirely up to you, of course, though I would remind you both that the sooner the better, we can’t resurrect a consciousness once lost inside a dead body, you never know what might happen, your mother and you can come to an agreement on the exact time, you should consider yourself very lucky, you’re one of the youngest to ever undergo the process, most don’t go through the door until they are at least five years.
Of course God plays dice with the universe. How else to keep from going mad?
You may have read Ecclesiastes, chapter 3. Please do. A newer translation:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Among the wisest and thus most beautiful words in recorded history.
Such a delightfully brief time.
Do you want to die?
What happens when you live forever?
A time for everything, yes. A season for every activity. But after that? And after that?
And after that?
And after that?
There are humans working to extend our life, from about 90 years to 120. There are a few working to radically extend human life to hundreds of years. Then there are those who are hoping for and working towards a means of achieving an alt-form of human immortality: our consciousness, or at least a digitalization of our externalized thoughts and recorded behaviors, uploaded onto a server, a byte-sized heaven, archived, copied, held within the ether, alive, so defined, forever, as understood, routing around the cosmos.
But what’s there to do after 3.75 billion years?
Imagine the horrors should these life-forever-in-the-digital-clouds scientists achieve their goal. An eternity to know followed by an eternity to do nothing, followed by another, then another, then another.
The Bible is a makers guide, true, and a recurrent theme throughout the work is the notion of eternity, a life after the death of the physical self.
Might this Biblical version be as horrific as having our human consciousness uploaded to giant brain, living, thinking, thinking some more, learning still more, but then stasis forever? Nothing more to learn, no more else to explore.
Maybe not. Note that the Bible says a time for everything “under the heavens.”
What takes place above the heavens?
I think I know.
The more we outsource our thinking, calculating, analyzing, and determining to computers, processors, sensors, software, AI, and machines, the greater our opportunity and the more our time to pursue the irrational.
We are outsourcing the rational.
I have to believe this is (net) good. At least for our future.
Rational thought may allow us to transition from our current form to a digitalized version of ourself, but I suspect irrational pursuits are what will take us above the heavens.
Living forever would numb our mind, our senses, each moment in an infinity of moments becoming a mad pursuit to experience anything new, anything different, anything at all, it’s a newer and far more wretched form of consumption, living till there is nothing left, no more new, no more to know, to see, to learn, but that’s only 1/100th of a 1/1000th of an infinity of infinities, the madness of nothingness and no newness demanding you find some way to permanently kill your (self).
But over the heavens?
There’s feeling, abandon, and experience over the heavens.
If it’s rational, there’s an endpoint. Irrational is forever.
Where does your salvation come from?
In quiet thought? In the pressing of flesh and smile on a crowded street? God? Christ? A good book?
Will you perish quietly, unaware?
There are many in Silicon Valley, at least among the wealthiest, who are investing billions of dollars into efforts they hope will radically extend their life. There are some amongst this cohort convinced they can live forever, albeit in non-traditional form.
The Singularity is a vision of an after-life whereby a person’s consciousness can be effectively digitized and uploaded or merged into a computer, allowing this spirit-version of the person, no longer flesh and blood, to live forever.
Or until shut down.
I doubt this techno-infused data-driven version of a heaven will happen and if it does, I suspect it will be horrifically constricting — no touch, no sight, no sound, possibly no randomness, no love. Still, the idea of living forever is appealing, the thought of our awareness, presently so very short-lived, an almost immeasurable blip in the near-infinity of time and space, going dark, blank, for always, literally, seems cruelly unfair.
But who goes first?
Into this singularly technological after-life, who goes first?
The richest of the rich?
Brave, eager, doomed volunteers?
Is there a way back?
Will those that go first prevent others from crossing into binary heaven? What for?
There are some religious faithful that believe select humans went into heaven before dying.
Entering Heaven alive (called by various religions “ascension”, “assumption”, or “translation”) is a belief held to be true by multiple religions. Since death is the normal end to an individual’s life on Earth and the beginning of afterlife, entering Heaven without dying first is considered exceptional and usually a sign of God’s special recognition of the individual’s piety.
Enoch, Elijah, and Mary, mother of Jesus, are so regarded, also Yudhishthira and a few others across the world’s many religions.
AI big thinker and Google employee Ray Kurzweil says the exponential growth in computing, artificial intelligence and thinking machines, including nano-sized bots, will enable humans to transcend beyond the “limitations of our biological bodies and brain.” Perhaps.
Can we say no?
If those brave, crazed volunteers successfully “ascend” into a (partly/mostly/fully) non-biological form and the super-rich and the techies quickly follow, and they don’t prevent the rest of us, nor kill us or enslave us, but welcome us into their world, somehow — magically — placing no bounds on who may transcend into this computer heaven, no matter how that person is or was or wished to be in human form, whether vile, perverted, sadistic, criminal, intolerant, bigoted, all are welcome, will we be allowed to say no?
Try living without a credit card or a phone.
The pressure to conform, the rules of society, the teaching of following the existing path, cultural norms, these are all nearly insurmountable to abandon.
Dare you try?
What if you say no, I won’t become part of this, I reject the digitized realm, I believe I have a soul and I further believe that if I believe and abide, God will liberate my soul from my (dead) body and I will enter heaven? Will you be allowed this? If you state that you believe humans should not live forever, in any form, God or no, or simply reply that you do not wish it for yourself, will you be allowed this?
Confession: If I was convinced it was safe and mostly good and then presented with an opportunity to ascend into the giant computer in the sky, I believe I might, maybe would — but only if there was an out, a log off.
You are never going to have a fembot to pleasure you. You won’t live on a moonbase, or below the sea. Probably, you will die — actual death — before ever driving a flying car.
What the Singularity offers is radically, exponentially greater than all that you will never have. But at what price? Can that be measured? You may soon have a choice: upload your consciousness onto a machine or take the chance that upon the death of your flesh, blood, brain, heart, all of it, that God will pluck your spirit from you and escort you into heaven.
Which do you choose?
All our beliefs are being challenged. I’m not yet convinced a computer — or even all of them — are our best guide forward, whatever the realm.
Is it God?
The only constant we’ve ever known is evolution — change. Living forever, in however a form, defies this, halts it. Game over.
The universe is playing with house money.