Michael Battalio


Friday, December 09, 2011

Serious conversations (part 32):

        This series is a continuation of my conversations with an atheist friend of mine. These are my edited responses from that conversation. The thirtieth through thirty-third entries deal with death.



More on being mechanized:


        The main problem I have with becoming mechanized is that for me some things are physical and would lose their meaning if I could just “download” a program to my computerized brain like how they could do in the Matrix and have superhuman speed, reflexes, strength.  As an example, how would you feel about being able to download a program to become a master at your instrument of choice?  Wouldn’t that remove the fun, the sense of accomplishment, the challenge of actually learning an instrument?  Being able to play an instrument or a game, to be really smart or a good artist, any skill or talent becomes meaningless because everyone could download the required algorithms necessary to excel at a certain task.  In a sense, some of our individuality, our uniqueness, is removed by becoming mechanized.  To become better at something, all we have to do is upgrade a given component – whether it is an arm, leg, brain.  They all just become tools.  They aren’t really you. Once we are mechanical it doesn't matter what is a higher brain function.  Those biological restrictions will be meaningless.  So now even though when I'm playing an instrument I don't have to consciously think about what notes I'm going to play when I play them, somewhere, something does make that thought, and it can be programmed and copied.  It doesn’t matter what conscious level the thought occurs, it can be copied. Although, I suppose it really matters exactly how our consciousness operates and in what medium that it operates in.  I do believe there must be some sense of self that decides what to download and learn.  That really is what we are and who we are-the personal decision making mechanism.  


        Going back to just genetics: Just because someone is at a certain age does not mean they must have what we commonly think of as characteristics or infirmities for that age.  I think that medicine will not only extend life but extend the quality of life as well (otherwise what is the point of living to be 150?).  I think that 100 year olds will be able to behave as those in their 50s today, and those who are 150 will be like 90 year olds.  This will make overpopulation a problem, but overpopulation is already a problem.  The planet is at 7 billion people.  It wasn’t that long ago when the 6 billionth person was born (just a few years).  The rate we are already reproducing will cause a population problem rather soon.  If the economy will fix itself in a few years, we’ll be able to resume advancement into space.  I think our progression into space is inevitable (assuming we don’t kill ourselves off first).  Necessity requires we leave this planet at some point.  I am of the opinion that as medicine advances so will the rest of science, particularly interplanetary flight.  Within the next 100 years, we should be mining the Moon, Mars, and perhaps even further out.  We might even have permanent bases there.  This is all just speculation on my part, but I don’t think we should worry about the older generations (and our generation at some point) being a burden.  We will solve the resource problems we have soon enough (We have to; there is no other option except die, which pessimistically, we might end up doing.).

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