I still can’t top the phrasing of Danny Estulin, from his book TransEvolution:
We stand at the threshold of a new renaissance in science and technology based on a comprehensive understanding of the structure and behavior of matter from the nanoscale up to the most complex system yet discovered–the human brain.
Will our quest for immortality overshadow the values that make us human? Will our desire to be free overcome the elite’s desire for complete control?
As I thought about how to define THE PROBLEM, I keep puzzling about what we want to fight for. It seems wrong that our lives are now under constant surveillance, that our standard of living and way of life seems to be eroding bit by bit. Even the idea of freedom is getting lost. But so what? What is so precious that we need to devote our lives to defend it?
The answer is that our humanity is really a divine gift. We are made in God’s image. To be made in God’s image is very different from being merely a bio machine. a meat machine that is programmed with a set of desires and capabilities. What is that difference? Can we pinpoint that difference and articulate how it is under threat?
At this point we move into the area of consciousness. What is this self-awareness? Do animals have it? Do plants have it? Do computers have it? The focal point of this discussion is Ray Kurzweil’s claim that one day, maybe not so far off, we will be able to reverse engineer our brains and then download our conscious self and its contents into this machine, along with digital enhancements that would turn our brain into a supercomputer linked to the internet. Will such enhanced human hybrid be conscious?
I have always felt, without proof that consciousness is self-existent and irreducible. In the scientific literature on consciousness it is called panpsychism. This view holds that consciousness is a property of matter and is a causal factor. There is a spectrum of consciousness from the quantum level to the animal, to the human all the way up to the spiritual.
Thus, in the quest for immortality, will we be able to create technologies that will contain our consciousness and thereby live forever? How would that be a threat to my humanity, conceived of as made in the divine image? I really don’t know. But I assume that such advanced technologies of the near future will be used in two ways: for control of the 99% in Brave New World style, and enhancement for the few who could afford it.