The Age Of Spiritual Machines Essay Research — страница 4

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originating on someone s computer then propagating through the internet. A Neural Download would entail a similar process: you would completely download your brain into a Neural Net, causing a duplicate consciousness of yourself to be created. On the personal level, this would cause some frustration. Both the original human and the digital clone would claim to be the same person. All their memories, emotions, and perceptions would be identical. This process would not work if a dying man wanted to live: though the copy would rejoice that he has been saved, the original man would find himself in heaven or hell, rather perturbed that the process failed, unaware that his replicant has been installed in a cybernetic body and is conducting business as usual. But on the other hand,

every single atom in your body is dfferent than the ones you had five years ago. So maybe you’re not really the same person. Maybe you just think you’re the same person. The point of the question is to show that maybe we’ll never answer that question but we’ll believe it to be irrelevant. On the evolutionary level, however, this is a positive thing. If all x billion of Earth s inhabitants downloaded their brains before a flash virus wipes them all out, the human race could extend their existence as a race of machines; completely nonorganic, but retaining the drive and spirit of humanity. The Neural Download will also mean that we can service and improve our software and hardware during our (perhaps infinite) lifetimes. Physical mechanical bodies capable of manipulating

the environment like we have done for millions of years will ensure that when the hardware parameters improve, we can update ourselves. And unlike John Perry s fear that if we move from body to body, our perceptions as a spirit will not be able to jive with the new set of instructions in the new body, we will be able to update our software to deal with the advancing technology. Since, despite superficiality, we seem to like our bodies, an alternative to Neural Download is Cellular Nanotechnology. In its early stages today, nanotechnology is the creation of working machines that are only a few microns in size. Conceivably, if DNA is only a software code — and Kurzweil contests that it will be fully unraveled by 2009 — surely nanomachines could conceivably be able to replicate

DNA functions, and improve it. They could create new cells containing more nanomachines that replace the old DNA-Based ones. Nanomachines acting as DNA would be able to finely tune and improve every function of the body, including the brain, gradually restructuring neurons to be faster, sharper, and better. But that brings up another issue. When we’re at this point of manipulating and changing our bodies and brains on at the scale of a nanometer, then essentially what is the difference between living and mechanical? Organic, by definition, means to contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. So suppose we can manipulate our bodies through nanotechnology to gradually yield a fully inorganic being. Would that be drastically different than remaining an organic species? Would that steal

our soul? Maybe it isn’t really different than a neural download into another machine. Naturally, the latter two have their share of drawbacks. Nanomachines, besides being a very complex process, could also malfunction or be used as viruses, breaking down the cells and eventually the body. Viruses could be introduced into a Neural Net, crippling the individual, or even an entire network of individuals. To use a basic analogy of the Evolutionary Algorithm again, we program the computer, ask a question, and it retrieves the answer for us. An Evolutionary Algorithm or even a Recursive Formula computer could conceivably run for public office and map out political strategies to optimize its jurisdiction. But as humans, we seem to enjoy the politician who walks through the street to

kiss babies, because he is warm and unpredictable. And we don t need computers as much as we think we do anyway. We got along fine without them for centuries. But then again, we want so much more out of the world that cannot be done without their help. Soon, we will understand the full scope of their abilities when they get up and talk to us. They will relate to us, confide in us, and we will them. We will fall in love with them, and as in any union of true love, we will want to merge with them. If Ray Kurzweil s roadmap of the 21st Century proves to be accurate, man and machine will become one, feeling and appreciating experiences while functioning with speed and flexibility. All our dreams will be realized, and all our new perceptions will deliver us new ones. The machine is