Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Preserving Our Minds

"Digital Self-Portrait" by Paul Micarelli

Like most people, I often wonder how long I'll be remembered after I die.


Part of me wants to save some aspect of myself & the life I've led. That's why I do things that might preserve my identity.

I create art, save photos, engage on social media, and write on this blog- all to leave some kind of lasting imprint of my physical presence. Who knows how long websites such as Facebook or Google will last, but perhaps by leaving these digital artifacts, they will be archived in whatever format the Internet takes in the future.

There are now websites, like Networked Mortality, that help us to prioritize the information and aspects of our life that we want to continue on, after we depart this physical world.


One day, I'd also like to have children, to continue the legacy of genetic information that has been passed on to me since the very beginning of Life on this planet.

On the other hand, my contemplations on the philosophies of Buddhism, Taoism, & the Greek philosopher Heraclitus have made me aware of the folly of such endeavors. Impermanence & change are inevitable, and I've tried to cultivate non-attachment to the things of this world.

I think ahead 10,000, or 100,000, or a million+ years into the future, and it's hard to conceive that any remnant of my existence will survive. It's even questionable whether any trace of the human race itself will remain. However, it is in our nature to survive, and that means we are compelled to try to preserve some part of ourselves for as long as possible.

As technology advances and we find ways to model the human brain more accurately, it is possible we may eventually be able to preserve the individual mind. Will such a back-up system be simply a recorded copy of our brain's mental accumulations, or would it be a complete & aware consciousness that's embedded in a new medium?

Consciousness is complex & malleable. Right now, being "conscious" includes not only our mental activity, but also our physical sensations & emotional states. As our consciousness becomes augmented by electronic devices & digital media, there's no limit to the states of mind that could be experienced. Perhaps we could even gain extra senses or enhanced perceptions, such as people who've embedded magnets in their skin and can detect electromagnetic fields.

This is the excellent article that got me thinking about this post, and brings up many thought-provoking points about humanity's efforts to preserve the mind in some way:


I try not to be too concerned with what will happen when I die, or if there's some way to cheat death through artificial means. I simply live my life to the fullest each day.

When it's time for my body and mind to transmute back into the infinity of the Universe, I will hopefully feel satisfied that I made the most of it, while I was here.

One of Jason Silva's brief, but brilliant, "Shots of Awe" videos.

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