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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Would You Become An Immortal Machine?

Marcelo Gleiser
npr.org
Originally posted March 27, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

"A man is a god in ruins," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. This quote, which O'Connell places at the book's opening page, captures the essence of the quest. If man is a failed god, there may be a way to fix this. Since "The Fall," we "lost" our god-like immortality, and have been looking for ways to regain it. Can science do this? Is mortality merely a scientific question? Suppose that it is — and that we can fix it, as we can a headache. Would you pay the price by transferring your "essence" to a non-human entity that will hold it, be it silicone or some kind of artificial robot? Can you be you when you don't have your body? Are you really just transferrable information?

As O'Connell meets an extraordinary group of people, from serious scientists and philosophers to wackos, he keeps asking himself this question, knowing fully well his answer: Absolutely not! What makes us human is precisely our fallibility, our connection to our bodies, the existential threat of death. Remove that and we are a huge question mark, something we can't even contemplate. No thanks, says O'Connell, in a deliciously satiric style, at once lyrical, informative, and captivating.

The article is here.
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