Do you want to be immortal?

Within our grasp…

Image: HeadstoneWouldn’t the earth become terribly crowded if nobody ever died? Where would we find space for new people to be born? Babies would have to be banned at some point, wouldn’t they? But here’s a thought:

I heard on the radio this morning (BBC Radio 4, Today, 19/2/15) an interview with Professor Michio Kaku in which he said that experiments on mice had shown that their memories could be recorded by means of an MRI scan, and when later replayed into the mouse’s brain the mouse immediately “remembered” its previous behaviour. Okay, that’s an over simplification. The MRI scan records blood flow in the brain, which Kaku said is thought to represent memories in action. But consider what this might mean:

We already have the concept of preservation of DNA in the sense that we can clone living creatures, including ourselves. Dolly the sheep. Dinosaurs resurrected from fossilised toenail clippings or whatever to eventually break out from their pens and wreak havoc on humanity. Never mind the cynicism. You get the idea.

Kaku suggested that if a person’s memory could be scanned and recorded by MRI or some similar future technology, then we have also the concept that a clone of ourselves could be programmed with all of our own memories, knowledge, emotions, reactions to everything and all circumstances. Would this not then be to resurrect ourselves after death? Shades of the horrors of immortality mentioned above?

Except, how many times have you wished you could live your life over again? I guess not everyone would want to do that, given the horrific experience of life some people suffer. You get born, life’s a bitch and then you die. But I for one certainly would, if it was possible, even if it meant starting out as a new born baby and making all the same stupid mistakes that I have. For me, and I hope for many, the good times have been worth suffering those periods of doom and gloom, the regrets for opportunities missed and things said and unsaid that were hurtful to loved ones and can never be taken back after their death, and so on.

If I have seen further…

But how much better would it be to live your life again starting as a new-born baby, but knowing all that you know now, possessing from the get-go all the wisdom that you have accumulated through your present life of strife and struggle? Think about that. Newton (was it?) said, If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. How much more wisdom might be accumulated in the world, and how much more rapid the progress of mankind and civilisation if we could start our lives already possessing that wonderful store of hindsight that took us a previous lifetime to acquire.

Yes, like many developments of technology it opens the way to a bunch of horrors. The time delay would be a handicap if we tried to clone a lost loved one. We would grow old while the clone is growing up. But how about, when a loved one dies and we are sunk in grief, we abduct someone else’s body and reprogram their brain. Some useless, worthless person, say. Any volunteers? Yes, we’ve lost the original body, but way-hay! we have a substitute for that, and with reprogramming have we not in essence re-created the person? By careful choice of target we might even improve on the original. Perhaps you fancy a slimmer/blonde/blue-eyed/taller/shorter/chubbier/more curvy/more muscular spouse than the one you just lost. Oh dear! Meat there for dystopian future fiction, I think. Any takers? Hugh Howey?

Anything that possibly can happen…

Hmmm. Needs a bit more thinking about, I guess. But I’m a believer that anything that possibly can happen, will happen eventually, regardless of laws against it or human disapproval. So bring it on, Professor Kaku. You want a guinea pig? Look no further; I’m your man. Given another lifetime or two maybe even I could achieve something approaching wisdom.

Image: Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Millions long for immortality image by Duncan C. (Creative Commons)

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