Disclaimer: This one is all sciencey and what not.
One of the thought problems I have been using to keep stimulated over the past few days has been attempting to reason out some sort of “life after death” scenario. Not exactly a heaven and hell BUT one has to account for the principle in science that complete information about a physical system at one point in time should determine its state at any other time. So what happens to our consciousness and soul after we die?
First, one has to define exactly what those are. An interesting concept in creating a virtual avatar for an individual is that with the interconnected nature of society today, it is possible to gather enough information to plug into an algorithm that could correctly predict every aspect of your personality as it relates to the outside world. So conceivably, a computer can synthesize “you.” Virtual Justin and Real Justin would appear to be identical in terms of their personalities but is the ability to order BBQ sauce with EVERYTHING really indicative of the person? After gathering every piece of information about me possible (from receipts to social networking pages to blog posts to even pictures and medical records and a ton more stuff) how can someone turn historical information and trends into more than just an outward reflection of a personality?
Put simply, we don’t know what it is that creates individuality within each of us. What goes on inside our minds, separate from interaction with the world, is far more than simple response patterns based on historical trends in our lives. How does one synthesize that? At this time, we really can’t. It could be something as simple as a chemical balance within our brains that impacts how our synapses fire or it could be something far more mysterious.
In humanity’s quest for everlasting life (and not that immortality is necessarily a good thing when you look at it from a more worldly vantage point rather than a more self-centered point), the concept of creating clone shells for our body and mind crops up. We see this in everything from science fiction to politically and religiously based arguments against this type of research. What one has to ask one’s self is: “How do I get ME inside that clone shell and that mind?”
Quite simply, the day will come when we are advanced enough, technologically speaking, and we are integrated with technology (think Borg but probably not as gross or zombie-esque) that we can simply flip a switch and download all of our consciousness into a new body.
So where does that leave those dead so many years ago? I am not saying that we would necessarily be able to bring someone back to life, even in a computer algorithm, but one has to ask one’s self where that information (their soul, consciousness, etc) goes when they die? Can it be retrieved? Can it be recreated? If it is recreated, are they actually the same person? Modern scientific principles state that matter cannot be created or destroyed. Everything in our universe was present inside the singularity at the very instant of the big bang. Modern scientific principles also state that information cannot be destroyed. “Information,” in this case, is a funny linguistic term that means “Defining nature in a way we can comprehend it.” (Ed. Thank you, thank you. I did come up with that definition on my own without a dictionary or googling it) Everything is already out there and “information” is the form in which we understand “everything.” So what does that mean for our consciousness and our “Soul?” Where do they go when we die? Can they be retrieved?
All of these questions and this reasoning points toward the possibility that, maybe, we might be able to move beyond our time-withering bodies. It even suggests that we might have a way to bring back those long passed on.