If you had the choice to become immortal, would you take it?
Would you want your friends and loved ones to live forever?
That episode of Black Mirror wasn’t too farfetched after all because one day, humans could live forever by uploading memories to a computer.
We could even live as self-aware, biomechanical robots one day.
It sounds wild, but experts believe that by 2045 this technology will be very real.
Singularity is the idea that AI will one day develop superhuman intelligence essentially rendering human brains obsolete.
This concept terrifies some science and tech experts like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking who fear this situation could threaten humankind’s very existence.
Others, however, are embracing the idea. Ray Kurzweil is an inventor, futurist, and Google engineer. He is fairly confident that by 2045, robots will surpass human intelligence.
Pretty scary considering that’s only a few decades away.
Even more terrifying? Other experts say that by 2100, robots could actually overtake humans.
Uploading memories for immortality
Experts believe that once we’ve reached singularity, humans will be able to upload their brains onto computers or other devices thus achieving immortality.
This will actually erase the need for humans to inhabit physical bodies.
Through neural engineering, scientists are developing technology to actually replace bodily functions. In application, these strides could drastically improve life for people with limited mobility.
But what about the rest of us? One day we could live forever either through computers or robots.
How does it work?
Well, it doesn’t yet. Scientists have a few ideas, but nothing is set-in-stone.
One method could analyze speech, social media posts, and other user-provided activity. This route, however, is extremely limited since it relies on an outside source for data to create an algorithm unique to each person.
Another method involves analyzing brain activity to record memories at the source. Theodore Berger, a neural engineer at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles wants to replace the brain’s hippocampus with a brain-computer interface (BCI). The BCI would record electrical activity in the brain responsible for producing memories.
From there, the BCI sends a digital signal to another device. This information could then be used to store thoughts or help convert short-term memories into long-term ones.
How to get there
In order to achieve immortality by memory uploading, scientists need to fully understand how the brain works.
That’s a huge hurdle in itself. Researchers would need to map the entire brain, and this is hard to do considering we don’t really know that much about how the brain works. Even experts aren’t exactly sure how memories are stored, for example.
That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s impossible.
Theoretically, uploading memories is very possible, now researchers just need to figure out how to do it.
Even if you upload your memories, it won’t really be you because the computer or robot won’t have a personality and human conscious, right?
Just like memory uploading, AI consciousness capabilities are only a few decades away.
How? Researchers believe that consciousness is really nothing more than computations which create self-awareness.
By analyzing how the brain works, and creating AI that functions just like a human brain, consciousness becomes possible.
What does that mean for immortality? Once the technology has been developed for both AI consciousness and memory uploading, theoretically, you should be able to live forever as a self-aware robot.
But would you really want to?