Who could resist the temptation of “eternal life?” But what if to even have a crack at achieving it, the one promising it would ask those who want it to give up the very thing they want to sustain forever- their own lives?
One start-up giving people the alluring invite to imagining their minds being uploaded to a digital cloud and existing forever. Such start-up is not only a fictional character in a movie or television show, it is real, it exists. It is called Nectome and this month it is poised to pitch investors on a “mind uploading service.”
Nectome’s website proclaims its mission statement as: “Committed to the goal of archiving your mind. We’re building the next generation of tools to preserve the connectome. Our ambition is to keep your memories intact for the future.”
The company is said to have developed a state-of-the-art embalming technique that, when combined with advanced computer imaging, allows it to map a person’s brain down to every cellular detail. The purpose is so that in the future when biotech is ready and able, this replicated model is transported to a new realm where consciousness is jump-started and one would be free to resume thinking and recalling and existing as he once did.
Such process or procedure, or whatever system it falls under will not exactly come cheap. In order to “avail” of it, one must be ready to shell out a fully refundable $10,000 to join the company’s waiting list. But it’s not the monetary price of the process that is most prohibitive but what it truly entails, most likely a deal-breaking catch. The company says the process is “100 percent fatal.”
More than money, the price of everlasting consciousness is death itself. Such is because Nectome can preserve and reconstitute one’s brain only by killing the subject. Another way of putting it is that this isn’t exactly an outpatient procedure — to get in, one never gets out. It also means to exist in perpetuity, one must die in the here and now.
What Nectome is audaciously pushing — that is if the science is even feasible given what we already know about the dynamic nature of the brain’s electrical and chemical activity - is that one is a code. A person existing in the cloud, an algorithm. But can one still be himself if he is no longer himself? And why would a person want to exist forever if he’s no longer himself?
Then there are also concerns on the technical level, among them the possibility of hackers infiltrating the system.
Lastly, what could initially appear to be an appealing proposition is actually a vain, selfish endeavor of being obsessed with one’s pursuit of immortality when there are so much more real and pressing problems of this generation at hand.
Also what about the beauty of living fully in the here and now, with one’s loved one, and things and values one cares about, fully conscious that one’s time would soon be up and everyone’s ultimately just but passing in this lifetime.