In a Wired interview (11/18/02), leading transhumanist and Google’s director of engineering, Ray Kurzweil, spoke about living forever. He was asked: “Will you have your entire body preserved or just your head?”
The usual method of preservation, upon physical death, is freezing. Then, when the technology exists, sometime later, there would be the unfreezing and the reanimation. The dead person would come back to life…
Kurzweil said: “I think there’s some part of our identity and valuable information in our bodies. There’s more in our brains, but there’s some in our bodies as well. It gets into some technical issues. There’s a better way of preserving the brain, which they haven’t been able to do with the whole body yet. The vitrification process, which does a better job of preserving structural integrity in the cells, they do with the head but not with the body. At any rate, I’d go for the grade A plan.”
Kurzweil would apparently have his brain and body preserved, for future reanimation.
There is, of course, an underlying question:
What about consciousness?
Assuming the technology will exist to “bring back” the body and the brain, will the consciousness of being alive exist? Or will the process reinstitute something entirely mechanical?
Mechanical, as in: “The car was sitting in the garage on blocks for 50 years, and then we fixed it and made it start again.”
Biologists and physicists are bothered by the “consciousness question.” When they discuss it, they assume the brain produces consciousness because, well, where else could awareness come from? In other words, they resort to unscientific circular reasoning.
At the same time, they assert that the basis for all matter and energy in the universe is tiny particles; none of those particles have consciousness; and the particles make up the brain; the brain is composed entirely of those non-conscious particles.
This is called a trap. Hard scientists have no reason to assume consciousness exists at all. Yet it does exist. That implies consciousness is coming from somewhere other than the brain, somewhere other than particles—but according to these scientists, that “other somewhere” doesn’t exist.
So they retreat back into “consciousness is in the brain”—even though by their own science, it isn’t.
Preserving body and brain in a state of suspended animation, and then bringing it back, would not, according to a proper reading of their own science, bring back consciousness.
What would come back is some sort of mechanical functioning, and nothing else.
A conscious Ray Kurzweil would never come back.
His body and brain might hum again, like an old car that was fixed, but that’s all.
People continue to argue, of course, that in some very complex way the brain causes consciousness, we just don’t know how yet, but we’re getting there. That’s not evidence. That’s a naked assumption. They may as well be saying the moon is surely made of cheese and one day we’ll prove it, so for now just accept it.
“Well, folks, we just brought back Ray Kurzweil from fifty years of suspended animation. Remember him? He was a futurist at Google, or the CIA, it’s hard to tell which. Apparently the two organizations were one. Anyway, Ray is back.”
“Wonderful. Is he talking?”
“There is brain activity. No talking yet.”
“Is he looking at anything?”
“We assume so. His eyes are open. Also, his hands are opening and closing.”
“Is he gesturing?”
“It’s theoretically possible.”
“Is he conscious?”
“Of course. There is brain activity.”
“Well, there could be brain activity without consciousness.”
“Where did you pick up that idea? Are you crazy? He’s conscious. That’s all there is to it.”
“Maybe there is no ‘he’. There are just electrical signals.”
“Idiot. Life is electrical signals. What else could life be?”
“Life could be conscious, as in ‘hello I’m alive and I’d like to take a walk and look at the clouds and read a book and here’s an interesting passage on page ten, let’s discuss it’.”
“What’s your name again? Guards, take this man to the re-education center. He’s lost his basic programming…”
But don’t despair. In the future, when there are 10,000 brains and bodies in a warehouse, and technology allows them to be reactivated, they might, combined, generate enough electricity to run, say, a toaster, a refrigerator, and an oven in a micro apartment in San Francisco.
The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free NoMoreFakeNews emails here or his free OutsideTheRealityMachine emails here.