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Will my new holographic body adapt to my new artificial brain?

Francisco Miraval

During my Philosophy 101 class, I usually challenge my students to explain if a hammer would still be the same hammer after you replace the handle. Then, I ask them if it would be the same hammer if both the handle and the head were replaced it.

The ensuing discussion generally turns into a debate about identity, difference, time, and memory. The students never find a satisfactory answer.

After talking about the hammer, I usually ask similar questions about other entities. For example, if a soccer team moves to a new stadium and changes the colors of its jersey, is it still the same team? Or if a man suffers an accident and, being otherwise totally healthy, he loses his memory, is he still the same person?

As it is obvious, students offer all kinds of answers, usually contradicting themselves in more than one occasion. And then, when they ask me to provide “the” answer, I confess to them I do not have an answer and there is no final answer.

Those basic, almost superficial philosophical discussions should soon leave the classroom and achieve new levels of depth and seriousness in the context of a recent (July 27, 2012) announcement indicating that by 2045 we humans could achieve immortality thanks to artificial brains and holographic bodies.

According to the story published by Discovery News (news.discovery.com), a Russian non-profit organization, 2045 Initiative, has presented an schedule of technological advances that would allow us to have an artificial brain by 2030, a holographic body by 2040, and immortality by 2045, when we should be able to transfer minds to holographic bodies.

The goal of the project, according to the story, is to free humans from suffering and death, something that, in fact, we humans have been trying to do since precisely we became humans.

Will technology finally provide us with something that so far religion, theology, mysticism, mythology, and who knows how many other human expressions have failed to provide (at least no with absolute certainty)?

The idea of minds (souls?) transmigrating from one body to another is as old as mythology itself. However, if we accept that idea, we need to point out there is a difference between being reincarnated into a flesh and blood body and being “reincarnated,” better yet, “downloaded” into a holographic body. (Obviously, I do not know if such difference exists.)

And if we accept that humans live and then they die only once, what would be the point of spending eternity “inside” an artificial brain and holographic body?

Perhaps I am becoming so outdated that I even think that these are conversations we should have with our children and grandchildren. Perhaps trans-humanism is unavoidable. Perhaps, as in many other topics, Nietzsche was right.

When I think about this issue, mythology mixes with science fiction. For that reason, I still do not know if I would be the same person inside another body. Can you please pass me a hammer? I need to think this issue farther.

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