How I’d Like To Die

Or not die

Dave Gutteridge

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According to some guy I listened to on a podcast recently, there are four essential routes to immortality. At least, four ways humans have aspired to immortality.

They are resurrection, reincarnation, extension, and transference. As in, your body gets up again, you come back as a different body, you make your body last longer, or you take yourself, whatever that is, out of your body and put it into something else.

All of these are highly dubious, even when they’re taken out of old mythologies and put in a context of modern engineering. They all have correlations in cryogenics, cybernetic augmentation, rejuvenation, and uploading your consciousness.

I don’t think most of those approaches will work because your mind needs continuity in order for you to not simply perceive the end of your self, even if you are replaced by something that looks and acts like you so much so that all your friends thinks it’s you. So, even if you freeze yourself and are revived, I don’t believe consciousness is something that can be turned on and off. Your experience of you will stop. That thing that is arguably you, again not still, picks up from where you left off without you ever knowing about it.

Uploading your consciousness seems like a better bet because of continuity, but most methods people conceive of imagine your consciousness as a separate entity from your physical brain. Essentially, people think of their thoughts as software, and the brain as hardware. But that’s not how it is at all. I’m not a neuroscientist, but I spent a bunch of time in my life researching brain stuff for a book I wrote, and I know enough to know that your thoughts are only possible because of the physical construct of the brain. What you think influences the structure of your neural network, which in turn influences how you think. You can’t separate them.

I believe you could, potentially, create a more ethereal form of your consciousness by a sort of “ship of Theseus” approach, by essentially extending your brain, adding components without destroying the underlying structure until you had sufficient activity in the new areas. It would necessarily take time, and technology far in advance of what we have today.

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Dave Gutteridge

I don't post often because I think about what I write. Topics include ethics, relationships, and philosophy.