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Digital Immortality

A long, healthy life. Isn’t this our main goal? From holograms and mind-controlled prosthetics, technology has evolved so much that the fountain of youth and immortality may not be as far off as we believe it is.  

 

Sci-Fi: Rooted in Reality?

Transhumanism is a theory/philosophy that has recently popped up where humans transcend organic limitation through technology. The Conversation’s recent article highlights Altered Carbon, a Netflix original series set in the future where the “soul” (including all our memories) is stored in a “stack” and can be inserted into any body.  It goes onto explain shows like Altered Carbon and any other sci-fi show/movie aren’t based on fiction, but rather a snapshot into what our present and near future could look like should we continue the path we are on. 

 

Our Present


Source: commons.wikimedia

 

In a way, the technology needed to make this a reality already exists. Holographic technology, while it might seem futuristic, is exactly not a new technology since it has been around for a few years now.  In this CBS Sunday Morning piece, hologram technology allows you experience a live concert with an artist who’s been dead since 1977. In 2012, Tupac was “resurrected” and performed at the Coachella concert; while in 2014, the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, performed at the billboard music awards. While holographic technology has its limitations, there are still plenty of real-world applications from holding a concert to (thanks to the advancements in AI) holding a conversation with a lost loved one. The latter might be a little creepy, but you get the idea.

 

Our Future

Given the trajectory of technology, why stop there? In this IFLScience article about technology’s ability to help us achieve immortality, a former rocket scientist and IT engineer “claims to have an 85% success rate ‘when looking 10-15 years ahead’ “. The article continues to discuss how recent advancements, specifically in biomedical and computer technology, will result in victory over death.

 

One way experts are hoping to accomplish immortality is through android bodies.  Again, with computing technology advancing at break-neck speeds, neuromorphic engineering isn’t too far off. Our bodies can only last so long, so why not create these brain/computer interfaces which link to a larger system, like the body. As prosthetic companies continue to design limbs controlled via brainwaves, why not make a whole body out of it?  Like holographic technology, this isn’t totally new—prosthetic companies have already started integrating their products to the body’s nervous system.

 


Source: commons.wikimedia

 

Technology will always advance. As it does, there’s always a new set of questions and implications on society. Just when we think we’ve decided what’s right or wrong, the lines get even more blurred. It can certainly be frightening, but without pushing the limits how do you adapt or progress?

There pros and cons to the progression of technology like this and it goes without saying there are a ton of moral and ethical points of view regarding disciplines such as transhumanism. It’s understandable to want to work towards living a long, healthy life; there is no contest there, but is forever too long? Will it cure diseases? And since when did technology designers have to think about moral/ethical issues?  

For now, good old exercise and healthy eating will have to do.

 

The author of this article is Thai Luong, Product Marketing Manager at Cadence Design Systems


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