The Universe of Discourse

Sat, 18 Sep 2010

The coming singularity
A Wikipedia user asked on the Wikipedia reference desk page:

You know the idea that eventually we'll be able to download our brains/personalities to computer, to achieve physical immortality?
There is a big trouble with this version of the immortality thing that people rarely mention. You go to the scanning and uploading center one day and write them a check. They scan and upload your brain, and say "All done, time to go home!"

"That's it?" you say. "I don't feel any different."

"Well, of course not. You're no different. But the uploaded version is immortal."

Then you go home and grow old, and every once in a while you get an email:

	From: Mark Dominus (Immortal version) <mjd@forever.org>
Subject: Wish you were here

Having a great time here in paradise! Haven't aged a day.
Thanks!

Or maybe one like this:

	From: Mark Dominus (Immortal version) <mjd@forever.org>
Subject: Guess what I just did?

Today I had sex with Arthur C. Clarke while swimming in a
giant hot-fudge sundae. It was totally awesome! Too bad you
couldn't be here. I know exactly how much you would
have enjoyed it.

Sorry to hear you're sick.  Hope the chemo works out.

Then you die, and some computer program somewhere simulates the immortal version of you having a little ritual observance to mark your passing.

Sometimes the proponents of this scheme try to conceal this enormous drawback by suggesting that they obliterate the original version of you immediately after the upload. Consider carefully whether you believe this will improve the outcome.