Shakespeare said : “To be, or not to be, that is the question.”
Recently, in response to a question tweeted by Dogecoin founder Billy Markus “If you could upload your brain to the cloud, and talk to a virtual version of yourself, would you be buddies?” ， Musk tweeted that he “already did it.”
Before that, Musk has said his neurotechnology company, Neuralink, is working on developing a brain-computer interface. The ultimate goal is to extend an individual’s existence in history, and even if the body dies out, one can still keep his/her consciousness and realize “immortality” at the level of thinking.
Since the very beginning of civilization, the pursuit of “immortality” has never stopped. During Qin Dynasty, Emperor Qin Shi Huang sent scholars to visit the world in search of the elixir of life. The Egyptian Pharaoh was willing to be mummified after his death, waiting for coming back to life from the tomb.
Thousands of years has passed, such attempt still continues. Instead of physical and material “immortality”, there’s a trend of development toward achieving consciousness “immortality”.
Ideology is the cornerstone of action. The change in the understanding of “immortality”is first reflected in literature and films.
The film“2001: A Space Odyssey”, released in 1968, ends with the hero Bowman transforming from human into a “star child” composed of energy. Only a moment after the “star child” wakes up, he travels to the outer space and ignites a one-megaton nuclear bomb, bringing “nuclear dawn” to the dark hemisphere.
The concept of “immortality” in the film “2001: A Space Odyssey” can be seen as an individual being transformed into a demiurge. Fear of “immortality”is expressed cryptically by comparing different attitudes toward human species before and after the transformation. While, the serial comic book “BLAME!” published in 1997 shows a cruel and dark future that the pursuit of “immortality” will bring.
“BLAME!”shows that in the distant future, the gap between rich and poor is extremely wide. The rich have successfully uploaded consciousness to the internet through “network terminals” similar to a “brain-computer interface”, thus realizing immortality. But people of low social position have achieved alternative immortality by transforming themselves into silicon-based organisms.
Sadly, no matter how they have achieved immortality, they all think they are separated from the “human” identity, and destroy the cradle where they were born without any hesitation.
Someone might say this is nothing more than an exaggerated science-fiction creation, which is pure falsehood and imagination.
However, sci-fi is not illusory, but a reasonable assumption of the possible world in the future. Each piece of work is like a branch of the world line, and in every possible world line we all see the fact that such development may lead to a devastating future. Is it what you want?
Anthropologist Hu Jiaqi once said in his speech : “We are constantly pushing our luck. We would not stop until something that can exterminate humanity appears, would we? What is so significant that we must bet on it with the fate of all mankind?”
Let alone the fact that there’s no such thing as an idealized world. Where there are people, there is competition. Even if they don’t compete for territory or materials, they would compete for other scarce resources, which may be of no value to human beings. But the differentiation it brings will lead to class polarization.
In a completely digital world, once there is an administrator with authority, “a divinity”is created by human beings, which can control others’ consciousness, manipulate their actions and falsify their memories. If so, everyone of us would be exploited by it and its kind. Class solidification would be so severe that no human beings can break it.
The collective existence of human beings is the eternity of consciousness. The pursuit of individual immortality equals the destruction of the human species. The overall existence of mankind is above everything!