First appeared in The Apple COREspondent
Newsletter of LAMALUG, Mac User Group of Lansing, MI
JULY 1990

 

TIME MACHINE - Part 3

Good grief! I just saw the movie Total Recall. And I thought I was being so original. (Way too much violence but the 1st part is worth the rental for the ideas alone.) People were taking vacations to Mars without leaving their home, and they could also become someone else during their stay. Would you choose to vacation as a famous personality or a secret agent? A perfect vacation without exhausting flights, lost luggage, or bad weather. As much or as little excitement as you'd like, all in your mind and with no real physical danger to you regardless of your choices.

I guess the only thing to talk about now is where I left off at the end of the last article - eventually we will give up our bodies altogether. First, we'll find ways to save the essence of a person in software. If someone is killed in an accident, we'll be able to create a clone of them and download their personality and their memory into the clone. I guess that's when we'll find out what the soul is all about. Either we'll have our old buddy back with us, or it'll be some empty "Night of the Living Dead" substitute.

Regardless, that will only be one step. Once we can store our personality in some form, we'll find a way to "live" without a body. It may sound farfetched until you consider this; some amputees suffer from a weird problem where they "feel" their phantom limb. That may give you some idea of the power of our mind to completely imagine a nonexistent part of ourselves. For this future, I've been talking about a much more powerful mind - where everyone is a genius with photographic memory and all information since the beginning of time available to everyone. If you can exist without a body, and yet feel absolutely as if you had a body, the question becomes; what's the point of maintaining a body?

Some advantages of giving up our shell: Since you won't actually breath (you could still feel as though you did) clean air won't be important. You can go anywhere, anytime, with whomever you please inside your mind absolutely as though you were there. In fact, you'd have no way of knowing the difference. Talk about your Star Trek transporters...! You can look any way you can imagine, and your friends and partners can look as you'd like, or you can let them tell you how they'd like to look to you.

It's interesting that some of the questions asked by philosophers take on strange meaning here; Is life real or an illusion? Or is everything except myself an illusion and all other people created within my mind for my amusement? I think, therefore I am... uh, at least I think I am.

We'll be able to extend and perhaps add to our senses rather than be limited to seven (sense of humor counts as one doesn't it?). We might choose to hear high frequencies that dogs now hear . Maybe we'll want to "see" the sounds. We can already use a computer to do that. Or maybe it would be of interest to be able to see in the infrared light spectrum. You could have sex that would last as long as you like with whomever you fantasize - without disease or birth control problems. Using up earth's natural resources for heat, clothing, food, shelter and entertainment will be a thing of the past. Not only will it be unnecessary, even if it were to continue it would be of no harm to we new human beings. World hunger vanquished. There will be no shortages in the very real world of the software mind.

Animosity would have long ago been eliminated as expert systems help grow mentally healthy young people. Anyone will also be able to use expert systems to help them negotiate "win - win" situations where everyone can live with the outcome. People might then choose to experience conflict as a history lesson about what it was like to be a human being before the 22nd century.

Trends and fads will spring up and sweep the population like brush fire and disappear just as quickly. There will probably be some viruses, but they won't be from maliciousness. Just the byproduct of people trying to entertain themselves in new and exciting ways.

I'm not clear as to how this gigantic database will be maintained. I'm not exactly picturing a bunch of silicone chips hooked up to the turbines at Grand Coulee Dam. Besides, the accumulated knowledge will grow exponentially so that this collective memory/intellect will eventually double every hour, then every minute and then every second. What could contain it? Well, I guess I'll have to wait a hundred years to write the next article.

--JONATHAN STARS

 

© 1992 Jonathan Stars

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