Wednesday, September 5, 2012

To Join the Sea of Electrons...

I was poking around TV Tropes  last night prompted not by boredom (as I usually am) but by someone giving me (and a blog I was on in general) a recommendation for a fan fiction for a fandom I'm not in but have read listed around the 'net.  (Apparently, it's pretty popular.  If I were a reader of the books it was based on and not just a casual watcher of the movies who forgets most of their content, I might give the fic a shot)...  Anyhow, since it's been Troped, I was clicking links from it about the author and such, as what happens when one browses TV Tropes, and wound up round-about reading about Transhumanism and the scientific quest for immortality...

... I remembered a PBS special I saw a long while ago that was narrated by astronomer/physicist Degrasse, I think... all about this thing and and shaking my head at one guy who was trying to extend his life by taking hundreds of vitamins and supplements every day to ward off aging and thinking "That guy's gonna get hit by a car."

Yes, I'm a stupid dumb-dumb non-scientist and a bit of a cynical bitch. Live with it.

Anyway, the special had all kinds of other physical immortality bids, including brain-uploading to software.  This very thing has been explored in some of the animes I've watched and loved. The title of this post is a reference to an episode of "Cowboy Bebop"  .  One I've seen that takes it to 11 is Kaiba  (Linked from Tropes rather than main Wiki because I have the window open and it's handy). 

In addition to that, I remember recently reading a couple of articles about this stuff  (half news, half opinion) on Huffington Post regarding scientists thinking we are on the very cusp of just this sort of thing.  It's a pretty interesting idea, but I can't say I'm not a bit suspicious of the "Singularity" just because I can see it being the domain of the privileged that leaves out the disadvantaged (This was a major theme in "Kaiba" listed above.  I recall there being a revolutionary group dedicated to killing the physical souls/memories of the dead that existed in that universe just to get rid of the inequality of the rich abusing the system.  Death may be a bitch, but at least it's equal). 

My thoughts on the subject of death are rather weird... I *do* want to live forever, in a way,  but I trust a divine hand/spiritual matters for that more than I'll ever trust even the smartest of humans or machines. Even if the divine/spiritual does not exist, mankind has hurt me too much to have a lot of trust for it (yes, if it came down to it, I can easily see myself trusting in Nothing more than Humanity, especially since I suspect "eternity" might be subjective/a matter of perception, anyway).. Machines, well... I can't even trust those with my art files: Also, yesterday, I accidentally overwrote my awesome maxed-out I-can-climb-the-impossible-tower! save-file on "Shadow of the Colossus" because I wasn't paying attention, so.... trust my consciousness to a computer or to people running one?  Urgh!   Anyway, I probably don't deserve to live forever,  anyway.  I'm one of those cracked/insane people they'd weed out of the program real early...

That said, if I ever get the IQ-boost I need to write a decent fiction story on such a complex and genius-philosophy subject, I'm tempted to write something in which we're all minds uploaded into a massive computer-database or free-floating on the Internet or in the "sea of electrons"  and since we're all immortal and cannot kill each other anymore, we've achieved an unprecedented level of peace until... 

A million-year-long flamewar breaks out about whether or not Smurfs lay eggs. 

Or people's entertainment preferences. 

Or people get so bored that the collective computer consciousness starts increasingly becoming composed of  people doing nothing but sharing videos of cats and the occasional cat-brain that's been uploaded interrupting peoples' free-floating philosophy-sessions with plaintive cries of "Tuna!" or "Ear itchy! Scratch now!" (It doesn't matter if the cat has no body and no ears anymore... cats are cats).  

... Yeah. I'm too dumb and nuts to deserve to have my mind live forever in the material / electronic world. I sometimes think even self-awareness itself for me may be more of a curse than a blessing. 


  1. In my more wistful moments, I love the idea of a transhumanist future where you can upload your consciousness into a computer and stuff. But I think you're right about the profound problems with transhumanism - one of the comments on this very interesting article says: '[The transhumanist] outlook can be encapsulated by the a Sad Children cartoon which in one of its frame says “in the future, being rich and white will be even more awesome.”'

  2. It is one of the "End of Existance" scenarios on a site called Exit Mundi (too lazy to look it up right now - it's a site that analzyes End of the World scenarios, quite entertaining, though nightmarish). One of the scenarios is "Humanity transcends mortality and becomes a floating God-cloud. After exploring absolutely everything in the universe, we get bored and commit collective suicide, possibly by fragmenting ourselves into component parts. Some think this may have already happened."

    I think it could be neat to be a part of a floating purple God-cloud exploring the uni/multiverse, but if the Internet is any guess as to what an electronic/upload world would be like, I think I'd be in for an eternity of arguing about whether or not guns should be allowed in "The Legend of Zelda" and being innudated by cat-macroes and political ads. *Laughs.*

    And that isn't even the part of me asking "What about the Amish?"

    As for the magic vs. science thing the article you linked talked about... I immediately thought to an anime I know, "Fullmetal Alchemist." It's ridiculously popular, one of the better known ones in recent years. I've only seen the first version of it (there are two, the latter being more based on the original source material) I've read that the basic world premises are the same, though. "FMA" takes place in a parallel world that resembles parts of Europe in the 1920s-1930s (the first anime's attatched movie involved characters on "our side of the gate" living in 1930s Germany).

    Only in this world, Alchemy is a real science. People with the appropriate skill can transmute materials by drawing an array and clapping their hands to channel a mysterious energy that exists in their world. It's "magic" for all practical purposes, but it is treated as a hard science in that world - with research and peer reviews. State Alchemists working for the main nation in the series are all but expected to be atheists, too. There is a monotheistic religious minority that sees alchemy as forbidden. They lost the last war and are heavily persecuted. As I recall, before the war, they lived with much of the same tech-level as the main nation, it was only alchemic process that was forbidden, and it would seem, in part, because of of a practice that even the main nation banned: Trying to bring back the dead with alchemy - which always turns out very, very bad. (The young protagonists tried this, it screwed up their lives and kicked off the excessively tragic "fix what went wrong" plot)