Sunday, June 2, 2013

Data without Delight; Immortality without Id; Cerebration without Spirit



Link to article in today's NYT

This Man Is Not a Cyborg. Yet.

By DAVID SEGAL

Published: June 1, 2013
The  body of Jeremy Bentham, utilitarianism guru,  is carefully preserved by a taxidermist , and sits in an enclosure in the British Museum.  At annual Board meetings, it is rolled out and the secretary records "Mr. Bentham is present."

Perhaps this copse should be Mr. Itskov's first target for a brain download.
(Let's hope it is a worthy brain, not one stuffed with "The Price is Right" and  "King of Queens"  television episodes.)
PDK
(although it appears in the June 2, Sunday edition, a day later than publication date)
Dmitry Itskov, Russian internet guru
and multi-millionaire,
seeks to create Eternal DATA Configurations he calls brain downloads.








                             Sheol Forever

Why anyone would want to live forever is beyond me, especially as a Data Configuration programmed to "receive" (as opposed to flirtatiously offer?) stimuli, including sexual pleasure. 


It seems the ultimate in narcissistic  self-involvement, a kind of eternal room of mirrors.


Half of the fun of life is knowing that it's finite, and trying to figure out what's coming next.  


Mr. Itskov's cybor-scenario sounds a little too like the Old Testament underworld of Sheol, with disembodied spirits stumbling around in the dark, except that the dark here would be the fog of life without delight, immortality without Id; cerebration without Spirit. 


BTW, Wikipedia incorrectly states that Sheol has a punishment component. I took the JOB seminar  at Yale offered by the world's leading expert on that baffling book in the bible [sic],  the late Marvin Pope. 




Marvin H. Pope (LINK)




We spent a good deal of time talking about Sheol.


There was no "punishment" component in Pope's explanation of "the pit," as it was known.  It was like drunks stumbling around in a dark barroom without alcohol, but rather unsteady on their feet anyway.


Let's face it.


Mr. Itskov's above ground cyborg plantation would be no picnic.


It would be hell.


PDK

M.A., M.Div., M.Ed.


(excerpts from Times article, link above)


It is hard to imagine a day when the ideas championed by Mr. Itskov, 32, a Russian multimillionaire and former online media magnate, will not seem strange, or at least far-fetched and unfeasible. His project, called the 2045 Initiative, for the year he hopes it is completed, envisions the mass production of lifelike, low-cost avatars that can be uploaded with the contents of a human brain, complete with all the particulars of consciousness and personality.
What Mr. Itskov is striving for makes wearable computers, like Google Glass, seem as about as futuristic as Lincoln Logs. This would be a digital copy of your mind in a nonbiological carrier, a version of a fully sentient person that could live for hundreds or thousands of years. Or longer. Mr. Itskov unabashedly drops the word “immortality” into conversation . . . 


In fact, the more you know about Mr. Itskov, the less he seems like a businessman and the more he seems like the world’s most ambitious utopian. He maintains that his avatars would not just end world hunger — because a machine needs maintenance but not food — but that they would also usher in a more peaceful and spiritual age, when people could stop worrying about the petty anxieties of day-to-day living.


“We need to show that we’re actually here to save lives,” he said. “To help the disabled, to cure diseases, to create technology that will allow us in the future to answer some existential questions. Like what is the brain, what is life, what is consciousness and, finally, what is the universe?”

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