Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Virtual Afterlife: Questions You Never Thought You'd Ask

Artifacts - digital (automatic) - 2007, DS
(a gift to Mac, Xmas, 2007 - click on for clearer image)

"And then what? Well, such a technology would change the definition of what it means to be an individual and what it means to be alive. For starters, it seems inevitable that we will tend to treat human life and death much more casually. People will be more willing to put themselves and others in danger. Perhaps they will view the sanctity of life in the same contemptuous way that the modern e-reader crowd views old fogeys who talk about the sanctity of a cloth-bound, hardcover book. Then again, how will we view the sanctity of digital life? Will simulated people, living in an artificial world, have the same human rights as the rest of us? Would it be a crime to pull the plug on a simulated person? Is it ethical to experiment on simulated consciousness? Can a scientist take a try at reproducing Jim, make a bad copy, casually delete the hapless first iteration, and then try again until he gets a satisfactory version? This is just the tip of a nasty philosophical iceberg we seem to be sailing towards."

- excerpt from: The virtual afterlife will transform humanity by Michael Graziano, 12/18/13, Aeon Magazine

Remember Dmitry Itskov... from this post? Well, for all of Mac's fellow transhumanists out there, over at Aeon magazine, Michael Graziano, a neurologist (and a musician) asks a number of intriguing questions about the reality of a "virtual" existence. He isn't providing many answers here, but, personally, I find this is a tremendous relief (!).

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