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Download Your Mind into Another Body? To No Longer Die Changes Everything

At some point this century, we will confront the prospect of immortality, says Steven Kotler. After our bodies die, it will be possible to upload our minds into a computer, and then download them into another body.

Steven Kotler:  In the face of immortality, morality is going to radically change, right. We’ve evolved to die. Like for the entire history of life on this planet life has come to an end. There is nothing, you know, consciously there’s nothing period out there that says this is how you behave if you live forever. This is how you start to structure a society if I can store my personality on a computer. This is what I do. I can store that personality onto a computer and download it into another body. These are huge, far flung really strange questions, right. And they seem totally science fiction at this point but everything we’ve seen over the past 25 years, right, is most of the science fiction cannon from the twentith century has turned into science fact in the twenty-first century already. So this twenty-first century sci-fi idea of mind uploading is probably going to be here by the twenty-second century. So we’ve got 50 years, 70 years to start figuring out these really complicated hard questions.

The idea in mind uploading is that we can store ourselves on silicon. We can upload our personalities, our brains, some part of our consciousness onto computers and they can stay around forever. It is a far out there technology for sure even though British Telecom is working on it, even though people are working on it. It’s very early days. Ray Kurzweil has famously kind of pegged the date when we’re going to have to deal with this problem as 2045. That may be really, really enthusiastic. I think it’s a conservative prediction. But the point is that at some point in the century this is probably going to get real. And you’ve got to stop and you’ve got to go for all five of the world’s major religions just to start there. Use the threat of the hereafter, right. What’s going to happen after this life to steer morality and shape behavior. So what happens to theological morality in the face of technological immortality is the big kind of metaphysical question.

If you look at the science fiction work of Richard K. Morgan whose fantastic, he talks about what happens when consciousness becomes downloadable and bodies become expendable and what that means for soldiers and armies and mercenaries and things along those lines. So there’s a really like a gritty cyberpunk underbelly in the mind uploading technology even though it’s being developed for educational purposes so we can preserve the brains of the Einstein’s and the Beethoven’s and the Richard Feynman’s of the world and really kind of get inside them. But it’s sort of like I think of it like television, right. When they created television they thought it was going to be used for educational purposes and that was the only – ask the creator of TV what do you think this would be good for. Well education of course. Fifty years later there’s not much education. There’s a whole lot of crap and I think we can see the same thing with mind uploading. But the difference of course is that mind uploading, storing selves on silicon, even teetering on the edge of so-called immortality changes everything about what it means to be human at a really fundamental deep level. And when I say fundamental deep level I mean we’re starting to muck around and mess around with evolutionary processes. Processes we have no idea what happens if you interrupt them because we’ve never done it before.

 

At some point this century, we will confront the prospect of immortality, says award-winning journalist Steven Kotler. After our bodies die, it will be possible to upload our minds into a computer, and then download them into another body. The implications for humanity are difficult to fathom.


As Kotler says, the basic engine of evolution is death — by physically adapting to our environment, our genes are preserved long enough to pass to the next generation. But human culture would also be thrown into uncharted territory.

Religious systems claims to guide the morality of human action, and they posit what exists after our natural death, so it's unclear what claim these dogmas would have to human behavior in a world where we live forever.

Kotler's latest book is, Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World.

Remote learning vs. online instruction: How COVID-19 woke America up to the difference

Educators and administrators must build new supports for faculty and student success in a world where the classroom might become virtual in the blink of an eye.

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Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • If you or someone you know is attending school remotely, you are more than likely learning through emergency remote instruction, which is not the same as online learning, write Rich DeMillo and Steve Harmon.
  • Education institutions must properly define and understand the difference between a course that is designed from inception to be taught in an online format and a course that has been rapidly converted to be offered to remote students.
  • In a future involving more online instruction than any of us ever imagined, it will be crucial to meticulously design factors like learner navigation, interactive recordings, feedback loops, exams and office hours in order to maximize learning potential within the virtual environment.
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Has science made religion useless?

Placing science and religion at opposite ends of the belief spectrum is to ignore their unique purposes.

Videos
  • Science and religion (fact versus faith) are often seen as two incongruous groups. When you consider the purpose of each and the questions that they seek to answer, the comparison becomes less black and white.
  • This video features religious scholars, a primatologist, a neuroendocrinologist, a comedian, and other brilliant minds considering, among other things, the evolutionary function that religion serves, the power of symbols, and the human need to learn, explore, and know the world around us so that it becomes a less scary place.
  • "I think most people are actually kind of comfortable with the idea that science is a reliable way to learn about nature, but it's not the whole story and there's a place also for religion, for faith, for theology, for philosophy," says Francis Collins, American geneticist and director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "But that harmony perspective doesn't get as much attention. Nobody is as interested in harmony as they are in conflict."

Signs of Covid-19 may be hidden in speech signals

Studying voice recordings of infected but asymptomatic people reveals potential indicators of Covid-19.

Ezra Acayan/Getty Images
Coronavirus
It's often easy to tell when colleagues are struggling with a cold — they sound sick.
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Octopus-like creatures inhabit Jupiter’s moon, claims space scientist

A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute
Surprising Science
  • A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
  • Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
  • The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
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Supporting climate science increases skepticism of out-groups

A study finds people are more influenced by what the other party says than their own. What gives?

Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new study has found evidence suggesting that conservative climate skepticism is driven by reactions to liberal support for science.
  • This was determined both by comparing polling data to records of cues given by leaders, and through a survey.
  • The findings could lead to new methods of influencing public opinion.
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